30 December, 2008

Greek Diary (Day 4)

Today is Monday and Hubby went out to work.

Being an employee of an educational institution in UK, I am in a long vacation over the Christmas and New Year.

I passed all day writing blogs and websites, while waiting for the painter to finish painting the wall. I was told that he would have finished around lunch time, but in the end he did not finish it until 3 in the afternoon.

I was to meet the Hubby and a brother-in-law at Petralona in the evening. I was planning to take a walk in Athens before that, but after some fuss the plan was changed (happens very often in Greece, or maybe in this family; I don't know) and he was to come to pick up in Piraeus. This meant a still longer wait at home for me.

I did not go out until 7 in the evening. Then 5 of us went to Ikea, not far from Piraeus. Hubby and I went around to see beds and tables. We might be a bed from there. We should buy a table as well, but maybe later; with all my recent savings tied in GBP, I am reluctant to change money now.

I noticed the Greek Ikea offers a plate of English breaskfast for 1.40 euro.



I have heard it costs 1 pound in UK, meaning it was the same price in the last summer, but now it is cheaper in UK. UK used to be a very expensive country, but now everything looks bargain there.

Trachana

Yesterday I ate something called trachana (τραχανά) for the first time.

I have heard about its existence for some time, but as the Hubby does not like it, I have never eaten it till yesterday.

It was described to me as kind of small pasta made of flour and milk. The colour is like that of spaghetti before it is cooked. Normally, the Greeks make soup boiling it with water and sometimes use it as stuffing of gemista (stuffed vegetables baked in oven).

The trachana I ate was soup version. It looked similar to oat meal porridge, only the colour being yellower. I don't know what kind of grain they use. It might be mixture of more than one. It tasted also of butter, which should come from the milk used to make the pasta. It smelled of oat meal porridge and corn soup at the same time. I loved it. With a bit of lemon juice, it was even better.

I think the soup can be added with a bit of veggie and chicken to make it more substantial. And may be a dash of olive oil.

29 December, 2008

Xoriatiko Psomi (Country Bread)

Generally I like Greek bread as all the other Mediterranean bread.

The one I like in particular is Greek yellow bread. I asked my Hubby what it was called, but he did not know. Although he is a Greek native speaker, his knowledge of food is very limited and it is not strange he does not know it.

So, when we go to bakery, we often end up in asking "please give us yellow bread" (said in Greek by Greek Husband). Usually bakers look blankly at him for a few seconds, and then give him the bread they think is yellowest.

The other day we tried the bakery close to our new flat and they decided it should be Choriatiko psomi, or Xoriatiko psomi, meaning Country bread like "Pain de campagne" in French.

They said it is "prozimi". It probably means "sourdough" in the sense that it is natural leaven.

Choriatiko Psomi


Can you see that it is yellow?





The colour evidently comes from the semolina flour which gives an unique flavour as well as the colour.

This is not as good as the best ones I have tasted, but acceptable.

My quest for ideal yellow bread continues.

Flight from Birmingham to Athens on Christmas Day

I travelled from Birmingham, UK to Athens on 25 December 2008 using Swiss Airlines and here are some snaps from the trip.

I took a private hire from my flat to the Airport as there was no train or bus on Christmas day. I got a quote of "between 18 and 19 pounds" from the cab company, but on arrival my cab driver wanted 22 pounds. I simply mentioned the quote and he backed down only with a few words of murmur. This was not the first time private hire drivers did it to me. I think the company takes the quoted some and the drivers want some more money that they don't have to give to their company.


ANYWAY

The airplane was only about 10% full.




The food I got between Birmingham and Zurich was a brie and cranberry sandwich. There is nothing sadder than a sandwich straight from the fridge and that was it. As it was a Christmas Day, I was expecting something like a turkey sandwich, my expectation proved to be too high. But, as turkey goes often with cranberry sauce, may I say that I got a half of it? Maybe not. At least we got a "Season's Greetings" sticker on top.



Besides, it counted 3 types of E numbers in its ingredients.


Tasted like a loser's food.




I waited for 4 hours at Zurich airport. Meanwhile I had one tortilla wrap that I brought from home. Nicer than the one I had in the airplane.



On the Zurich-Athens flight, I got a seat in front of emergency exit. I don't know why they don't give this kind of seats to tall people. I am only 155 cm tall and hardly need any extra legroom. As it was in front of the emergency exit, I was told not to put any luggage under my seat and the person who was seating next to it was taken away even a handbag.




On this flight I got a better food.

Usually, between Zurich and Athens, they give us something they call 'calzone', but this time they gave me an 'Italian Chicken' pasty from Monty's Bakehouse.

Italian Chicken pasty from Monty's Bakehouse

It was made in UK. I have been living in UK for past five years, but I have never heard of this brand.

The package says "We only use ingredients from the kitchen cupboard".


Monty's Bakehouse pasty

What it meant was that it was made from kind of ingredients you and I can easily find in supermarkets. In fact, there is no E numbers and anything sounds like medicine/chemical.


Inside there are some bits of chicken (20% of the components), veggie and cheese. I suppose that what makes it Italian were mozzarella cheese and basil leaf.



I don't like pasties in general, but it was acceptable as airplain food.


Then we got this pretty biscuit.


Swiss biscuit
It tasted nothing special, but I would have given it "Good Design Award".

We landed in Athens 10 or 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

28 December, 2008

Greek Diary (day 2 and day 3)

Did not have time to write until now, so I start from yesterday.

Yesterday (Sat., 27 Dec. 2008), we went to the new flat to open the door to the Mr. Nikos the painter.

Then we headed for another Mr. Nikos who is a hairdresser. On our way we found a furniture shop and decided to ask prices of beds for our new flat. He tried to sell us 190euro all inclusive one on offer at this moment (that is what he said). What we wanted was a better one, and after 20 min of conversation that was not leading to anywhere (this is typical line of inquiry Hubby does), we finally found out what we wanted is between 360 and 480 euros depending on how good mattress we wanted. OK.

Mr. Nikos the hairdresser is a very nice guy and Hubby and I both go to him for the hair-cut. There was already one female client with her boyfriend who was smoking all the time. In Greece, it is not yet prohibited to smoke in public places and it really annoys me. Hubby paid 13euros for his hair-cut (I think it included festive tip).

In the afternoon, we were planning to go to Ikea to see more beds, but the brother-in-law who should have come to take us by car did not turn up, so we went to a shop elsewhere. We took notes of the prices of washing machine and cooking stoves.

In the evening, we went to a friend family's house for festive greetings and we came back with presents.

Then we dined at 11 o'clock.

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Also this morning we went to the flat to open the door for our painter. He said he will finish tomorrow.

And, then, nothing new now. We made a couple of calls and now we are waiting for the lunch. No plan afterward. Hubby said he wanted to go to see his god-father, but I am skeptical if he goes.

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P.S.

In fact, we did not go to see the God-father. I can read Hubby's movement, but there is not much to be proud of, as he is the most predictable person.

Instead we went to a coffee shop nearby to meet-up with a friend. These days, a coffee costs 5 euros (including 10% doro, which is the special service charge during the festive season). Now that 1 euro is almost 1 pound, it is really a matter of luxury.



OK. I finish here, as this is not my pc and have to give it up now.

26 December, 2008

Greek Diary (Day 1)

I am in Greece. Arrived yesterday night.

Without any respite, the preparation of our new flat started.

Today the wall painter came to paint the walls. He is an Albanian and acquaintance of my mother-in-law. He offered us a friendly rate of painting the whole flat for 250 Euros including the expenses.

The poor guy came in at 8 in the morning (mind; today - 26 Dec. - is Greek national holiday) and started to paint, but after a while started to complain about his head ache. He drank too much yesterday (Christmas Day evening), and, per consequence, was suffering from hang-over.

After a few hours, without even finishing the whole living room, he gave up and went home. He did not have the will to work and even while painting he could not stop talking to Hubby, who was there to work on the wooden floor of the bedroom.

He said he would return tomorrow and finish all.

But I am rather sceptical.

He still have to paint the half of the living room, bedroom, kitchen and corridor (fortunately for him, not the bathroom which is tiled). Let's see what happens.


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Then we went to take a look at the laiki agora (weekly market) in front of our flat. We bought a bottle of fresh olive oil for 5 euros. It was opaque and very very green. Tastes really fruity.




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In the afternoon, we went to my brother-in-law's house. His wife offered us a couple of her hand-made melomakarona, one of the typical Christmas sweets in Greece, which were very nice. Bravo tis!

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So was my first day in Greece.

Good night!

24 December, 2008

22 December, 2008

Stadium of Epidaurus

Another page on Epidaurus.

http://www.mesogeia.net/trip/epidauros/stadion_en.html

Stadion of Epidaurus

Actually I did not go down to see the stadium well and I deeply regret it. It is really difficult compromise my interest and my hubby's and I often run out of time and patience. There is no perfect world...

21 December, 2008

New Entry: Sanctuary of Epidaurus

Phew! It has been some time since I posted the last time.

I have been busy writing other things, and did not have time to update the English edition of Gate to Greece.

But, yesterday, finally, I uploaded the Top page of the Sanctuary of Epidauros in Argoris, Peloponnese.

Sanctuary of Epidaurus

http://www.mesogeia.net/trip/epidauros/epidauros_en.html



I am leaving for Greece very soon for New Year vacation. I might able to witness the unrest in Athens, but the main pourpose will be choosing and buying the furniture and electronic appliances for the new flat in Piraeus.

Have a nice weekend everyone, and very merry Christmas and happy New Year if I don't have a chance to publish a new post until then.

Cheers!
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