31 January, 2009
Hubby did a great work to arranges our stuff from UK and threw away lots of empty boxes. But now that we do not have clothes drawers or book shelves, some cardboard boxes are destined to remain.
By the way, while looking for furniture, we had a break at Grigoris. With cappuccino, Hubby had Kasseropita and I had this Mediterranean kouloura.
It was semi-hard biscuit-ey shell housing feta, tomato and green pepper (?) mix.
Even if slightly too salty, it was nice, filling and unique. I will have that again.
30 January, 2009
In Piraeus no such thing exists and home goods like soaps are bloody expensive in supermarkets, like double or triple the prices I used to pay in UK (according to the current currency exchange rate).
But I found an alternative: Brolias in Nikitas Street.
Not always quite as cheap as in UK, but the prices here are very competitive. If you have the same problem as mine, I recommend you to try this shop (but always check the price: not everything is the cheapest).
Click this to get the map.
When I told this to Hubby, he complained I should not have done, as the hygiene level of the Market isn't up to standard.
I ignored him, as he is slightly too nervous about the food hygiene. But then, TV news bulletin said that one of the butcher shop in the Market was closed down by the authority as a health hazard; they found cockroaches etc in the shop.
So, this morning, under the instruction of Hubby, I went to check if the shop in question was the one I had bought the meat from. I did spot a shop with the shutter down, just next to my shop (yesterday's butcher recognised me and said "Hi").
We were saved.
I had two observations about this incident.
1) As it is a semi-open market, it should be really difficult to remove all the roaches.
2) One butcher shop closed down for hygiene problem and it becomes national news; what sort of interest is this?
By the way, the pork steaks were very very nice: soft, moist and flavoursome. Probably I will buy from him again (without telling Hubby).
P.S. on 3 Feb. 2009.
Then I found this article on the English Ekathemerini website
According to statistics, the Greek consumers are among the most suspicious in Europe about the goods they buy in shops.
Both Hubby and Hubby's Mom are very very weary of the quality and hygiene standard of the food they buy from shops, sometimes to a paranoiac degree in my eyes. Mom wash always fruits with soap (even fruits like oranges that we don't eat skin anyway) and tells me not to buy cheese only from supermarkets as supermarkets keep better eye on hygiene.
She once threw away one whole chocolate cake a frend had just brought to her because she has just seen a tv programme denouncing some cake makers re-using chocolate products.
I thought she was particular, but evidently this kind of fear is wide-spread among the Greeks. I will verify by myself if their fear is reasonable.
29 January, 2009
Today I tried Greek rice called "Glase" type.
There is not doubt it is so called because of the shiny surface.
I bought this from a grocery shop near Piraeus station, for 1.30euro a kilo. It seems to be a popular type of rice, although I have never noticed it in supermarkets. The price is almost always the same in any shop of the area, but, as I observed, the quality of the rice varies from shop to shop.
The most difficult thing to cook a particular rice for the first type is the ratio of the water against the rice, as it is always different. This time, I used 350ml of water against 200g of rice, and soaked in the water for 2 hours (it was casually for 2 hours, because I went out for shopping meanwhile). I did not add any salt or oil/fat.
The result was quite satisfactory. It came out sticky and somehow al dente. I might add some more water, in case I want softer result. I ate it with the left-over tomato sauce and was lovely, but I would have prefered to eat it in a different way. It should be superb as pilaf; I will try that next time.
P.S. Hubby said this is a rice for gemista. OK. But I will still make pilaf.
Today I bought meat from a butcher for the first time in Greece. 4 pieces of loin on born for 5.40euro. I have to try it first to tell you if it was good buy or not.
According to internet research, these are Greek sweets made of grape must, sugar and flour. I have never tried it before. Next time I find it, I will buy some and report.
And a random cat photo.
I was looking at it from the window of nearby coffee shop. I liked his/her colour.
To tell the truth, we did not expect to received the stuff from UK so early, especially because of the road closures by Greek farmers. But yesterday at 9:30 in the morning, Hubby received a call on his mobile saying they were about to deliver the stuff in half an hour! He was at work, so I waited them at home. In less than one hour, they actually came and delivered all the 35 items we had trusted them in UK. Excellent! One of the guys knew English, so I asked him if they were affected by the road closure. He said that as the road closures affected principal roads, but, as they were driving a van, they could ran through secondary roads; if they had to come with a large truck, it would have taken one week more. I guess we were lucky. We paid 700 euros for this service, but it was in the end a good buy.
When Hubby called me to tell that the chairs would be delivered in one hour, I had just arrived at the central Piraeus for shopping. I called off my shopping plan and took the bus home immediately. It was a good idea, as they actually turned up in less than one hour. 6 chairs materialised. We did have sofa-bed, but life without chair in a Greek house was rather difficult.
On closer inspection, the chairs are not finely finished, but for the price we paid, we think they are more than acceptable.
Next things we need to buy are 1) Ironing table, 2) shelves and drawers, 3) curtains.
As all the kitchen stuff arrived, there was not excuse for me not to cook properly (yesterday, we just ate spaghetti with tomato sauce and some salad & horta).
Off to Sklavenitis again.
Mevgal proveio yoghurt - 1.06 euro
Sporelaio Niki Frying oil - 2.70 (-1.50 special offer) euro
Arakas green peas 1kg+450g - 3.60euro
No-salt butter Finessa - 2.22 euro
Frozen prawns 450g without water - 4.54euro
Dodoni Milk - 1.28euro (-0.30 special offer)
Fage Trikalino cheese 450g - 4.93euro
Passata tomato 500g - 0.48euro
Cubed tomato pack 370g - 0.48euro
Soft flour - 0.78euro
I cooked oven baked pasta with prawns and peas white sauce, grated trikalino and graviera cheese on top. I should have put more milk in the white sauce.
27 January, 2009
As today was a laiki (street market) day, I went for a shopping.
The first thing I looked for was curtains. But the cheaper ones are of a dubious taste and I need to consult Hubby before buying any (I know in many households, the wife can decide anything about household goods, but not in ours; he is rather particular and I want to avoid confrontation as I am the less fussy one).
So I bought some other miscellaneous stuff. Although we sent many household stuff from UK, I am afraid it takes more time than expected because of the road closures by demonstrating Greek farmers.
A sieve (1 euro). A must to cook spaghetti, rice and horta (boiled green veggie). As I have already some in transit, this will become onion and garlic bowl when our stuff arrive.
A grater (1 euro). This is another must to be able to grate cheese on spaghetti. I bought a vertical model, as I have already one flat type.
Coffee pan (1 euro). Our kettle is in transit as well, so I bought this to make some hot water for coffee/tea. The Greeks use this to make Greek coffee.
Plastic cup for 0.50euro. This is for powder soap for clothes washing. As I bought just powder yesterday, I needed something to scoop it up. I am sure I could have recycled something else, if I was in my old flat, but here I really have nothing.
A table cloth for 3 euro. Table clothes are also in transit. I thought 3 euros are ok for a small commodity.
I also bought vegetables: tomatoes, onions, garlics, horta, oranges, and a cucumber.
Then came the lunch time. I still don't have enough things to be able to make a meal and had to take out a spanakopita (spinach pie) from Gregoris. 1.70Euro.
Although I am a fan and supporter of small private business, I must admit that Gregoris (Greek fast food chain) makes better pies than many private bakeries.
And a coffee with the hot water I made with the coffee pan above.
This coffee cup and saucer is a Greek tableware maker Zoulovits' product. We got a whole coffee service set as a wedding gift.
After lunch, I went out again for some extra shopping in the market area. Unfortunately the market was already half-closed and I gave up buying meat and fish, but found barrel feta for 7euros/kilo and rice for 1.30-1.45euro/kilo. I tasted the barrel feta at the shop; it wasn't too salty and was quite smooth, not really crumbly. A thumb up.
These are casual photos of old buildings.
My shopping trip continued to Sklavenitis, because we didn't have essential olive oil and cheese for grating (Hubby does not live without these).
Shopping list from Sklavenitis:
Plastic food cases (set of 3) - 2euro
Cutting board - 3 euro
Olive oil 1 litre - 5.26 (-0.60 special offer) euro
Oregano - 0.44euro
Graviera cheese 350 grammes - 3.73 euro
Tomato sauce 370ml - 0.48 euro.
I feel I have done quite a lot, although I haven't really.
26 January, 2009
We are so close to be able to move in. It is possible we go to sleep there. Let's see.
Then I went to do some extra shopping in Brolias. With the washing soap I got, I can finally wash our clothes.
Today's shopping list
Plastic mesh stuff to put in the sink - 1.50euro
Pinches - 0.90x 2 packs
Atrix Hand cleam 150+30 ml - 2.80euro
Drothy Mil liquid hand soap 1 litre (for refill) - 1.90euro
Skip washing soap more than 2kg - 3.20euro
Hellmann's Mayonnaise 250ml - 1.14euro
Lurpak soft butter - 2.86euro
Alpha beer 330ml - 0.65euro
Vergina beer 330ml - 0.62euro
Spin Span strawberry jam - 2.42euro
Delta milk 1 litre - 1.34euro
Koutalothiki - 3.33euro
The butter costs twice as much as in UK. Very expensive.
25 January, 2009
We first entered Electro World, but two girls thought it was not good as Media Markt and we left.
In front of Electro World is Saturn. We did not entered here this time, but Hubby and I had seen it once. It looked OK.
In the end, we went to Media Markt where we bought a casual purchase of cordless telephone. It is GE (General Electric) product and we paid 15 euro.
24 January, 2009
This morning Hubby and I went to these three shops I wrote about yesterday. After some considerations, we choose a bed frame and chairs from one shop.
The bed frame arrived today, but the chairs we ordered them with the colours of paint and cloth we wanted and it will take some days for them to prepare.
This is the type of the chair we ordered but with different colour and cloth.
They look pretty decent for the price we paid and we are both very happy.
Then, we ordered a mattress. The shop where we bought the bed frame sells also mattresses, but the price was much higher than another shop we had got quote before and we ordered from this one. It will take up to 10 days.
Another thing we need to buy are curtains. A friend of ours advised us to buy from Laiki agora (open market) and we will try this option as it turned out to be quite expensive to buy from curtain shops (the cheapest option we've got was 36euros par one opening and we will need three of them).
Tomorrow we will finally assembly the tables from Ikea.
23 January, 2009
As we used to live in furnished flats in England, this means we have to buy all the furniture except for a sofa-bed that my in-laws will give us.
So far, we have bought a dining table and a sub-table that can be used as a computer desk and as an extention to the dining table. We bought these from Ikea, but the chairs in Ikea did not please us and the acceptable ones were out-of-stock.
We looked around other shops but we have not found anything we really like or even acceptable. I really do not want to buy chairs with white cloth/artificial leather that evidently is in mode in Greece. Hubby does not want to buy shaky ones. And we need to buy the chairs that match the colour of the tables. Our budge it is about less than 50euros a piece. On these conditions, we really could not find anything suitable.
But today, I went to some shops in Piraeus according to mum-in-law's suggestion. To my great joy, they have also workshops and we can choose the colour of wood and cloth. Some are shaky, but some are quite stable. Prices range from 30 to 45 euros. Nothing fancy or fashonable, but it is OK for us. I will be back with Hubby tomorrow to buy the ones we like.
Another problem was the bed. We had already one in mind, but we've just found out it is out of stock and no more manifactured. Again, Hubby does not want shaky ones and I don't like the ones of stern style. Also for this, I think to have found a solution. Let's see tomorrow.
If you are looking for cheap, or rather, affordable furniture in Piraeus, try these shops: not necessarily the cheapest solution, but you get decent stuff for reasonable prices.
Today's shopping list
Cleaning cloth x 10 - 0.80euro
Body soap 750ml - 3.15euro
Palmolive shampoo (big bottle) - 1.65euro
Paper napkins x 2 packets - 0.70euro in total
Cotton sticks - 0.60euro
Kitchen wrapping film (?) 20m (Carrefour brand) - 0.40euro
Vinegar - 0.69euro
Mevgal milk 1 litre - 1.19euro
Tomato in paper packet (Carrefour brand) 500ml - 0.58euro
Carrefour lemon tea - 1.29euro
Salt 400g (Carrefour brand) - 0.30euro
(You maybe wondering why I record all these prices; it is because I am paranoiac about prices. I am quite good at remembering prices, but when I arrive at a new place, it is not easy to judge which is the good price and which is not and my paranoia accelerates. So, please do ignore me; these are just my notes).
22 January, 2009
This is the first in the series. There was not enough space for me to pass between the parked car and the motorbike and I am not obese in any sense!
In my opinion, things are not much better in Piraeus. It is true that the buses are usually cleaner in Piraeus than in Birmingham and you never seen people smoking either cigarette or marijuana. You don't see teenage mums in training wear pushing baby-buggies with cigarette in their mouths.
However, you see the streets filled with rubbish, not because the passers-by toss small rubbish, but because workmen do not collect the refuse, dog walkers never carry bag for dog drops, and flyers left in front of buildings brown off by the wind.
People in general do not look civilised either. If you go to supermarkets, no one ever say "hello" or "you're all right?" (this is how they say "how you you?" in Midlands). If you hear "thank you", you are lucky. You are not supposed to say "hello" or "thank you" to bus drivers. They rarely say "sorry" when they rub your shoulder on the street.
As friends or acquintances, the Greeks in Piraeus (just to avoid the generalisation) behave differently, but as strangers, they are often rude and impolite. I don't understand why Hubby thinks the British are less civilised.
21 January, 2009
Not much change since I left on 7th January; Hubby and his brother brought in some of our wedding presents (that we received 3 years ago) to the new flat, but not much else. I think it constitutes only one third of all the dora (gifts) we received. We are very grateful to those people who had gave these. It is a great relief that we don't have to buy any tableware and cutlery AT ALL.
Poor husband went to work and I went twice to our flat to bring some of our stuff that arrived from Birmingham with us. I will go to shop some small things and return there again.
Not much else. Ah, Father-in-Law very kindly went to the police office to inquire what I need to present to obtain adeia paramone (residence permit), as my Greek isn't good enough. Very few things actually. 3 photos, my passport, stay permit (which is a stamp on the passport), identity card (which is the passport in my case, as Japanese citizen do not have one), marriage certificate, and a proof of insurance. Only the last item is slightly difficult to obtain, as Hubby does not have yet his (with my name on) after 3 months of employment.
I hope everything goes well.
Today's shopping list
From Marinopoulos/Carrefour near the station
Misko spaghetti 4x500gr (+1 pack free) - 3.80euro
2L of Delta milk - 2.49euro
Nescafe classic 200g - 4.94euro
Tooth paste - 1.13euro
1kg sugar - 0.76euro
Dish washing sponges (5 pieces) - 0.40euro
Dish washing liquid (750ml) - 1.75euro
Body sponge - 0.60euro x 2
Rubbish bags (black) - 0.40euro
Rope to hung the clothes (20m) - 2euros
Hair jell - 1.50euro
18 January, 2009
I really don't know what to expect from Greece; there are too many unknown elements.
Next post will be from Piraeus. Untill then, good bye.
11 January, 2009
I was also impressed by the fact that I saw the same chocolates in Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham UK where I live. Here are some of them.
09 January, 2009
The flight from Athens to Zurich was to depart at 6:40AM. I woke up at 3:00AM to get the bus at 3:40AM and arrived at the Venizelos Athens Airport at 4:40AM.
I felt very cold, then. After having checked in, I ran to Grigoris for breakfast. For those who do not know, Grigoris is a Greek fast food chain that sells pies, sandwiches and coffees. If you live in UK, you can think of Greggs with seats.
It is pretty ubiquitous in Athens and Piraeus (I don't know about elsewhere).
I bought one kasseropita (kasseri cheese pie) and one lukanikopita (sausage pie), both 1.80 euros.
I ate the cheese pie with a cup of coffee (2.20euro). I felt warm afterwards. The sausage pie was for lunch.
In the airport, I found this food court called Food Village. Here you can find Italian, Greek, Chinese etc food stalls. The main dishes are about 6 to 11 euros; not that bad for an airport restaurant. The Greek one offers even some regional dishes. Unfortunately, most of the stalls are open from lunch time and it was too early in the moring for me to see the food.
This is what I got in the Swiss flight from Athens to Zurich. A yoghurt and a sultana bun. As I was still full with the kasseropita, I ate the yoghurt only. (I took out the bun and ate it later; it was fine, but it would have been worse, if I had ate it fridge-cold in the airplane).
This was taken from the window of the airplane in Zurich, just before the departure to Birmingham.
In this flight again, I was assigned a seat in front of one of the emergency exits.
Wide legroom that I don't really need (I am only 1.53 cm tall).
I don't know why they keep on giving me the seat next to the emergency exit. First I thought it was a mistake (usually these seats are coveted by tall people with long legs). At the second time, I thought that they prefer people with short legs so that the exits are more accessible. But this time, I noticed all the other seats close to the exits were occupied by large-size men. Therefore, it remained to be a mystery.
To tell you the truth, however, I enjoyed the sandwich. It was because of my love for pickled cucumbers. They are so yummy.
Birmingham area was slightly covered with ice and looked very cold.
But, for some reason, I felt less cold when I was in Birmingham than I was in Athens this morning. Weird.
07 January, 2009
As I wrote on the other day, I visited Furin Kazan Japanese restaurant in Syntagma area. To tell you the truth I was rather disappointed, probably because I had too high an expectation after having read so many good reviews.
At Athens Venizelos airport today, I picked up "2Board", the airport's official magazine. It is an excellent guide to Athens and to Greece and it is a very good read with beautiful pictures as well. I recommend you to pick up one if you happened to come to the airport.
In it I read that Nobu (probably the most renowned Japanese restaurant group) has opened a new restaurant in Athens!
Well, it is not exactly Nobu or not exactly in Athens, but nearly.
It is called Matsuhisa (Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's surname) and it is in Vouliagmeni (where Vouliagmeni Lake is), but it should surely be the best Japanese restaurant in Athens area now.
Here is the website, but there is very little information.
It is inside the Westin Athens, Astir Palace Beach Resort, and its website is slightly better.
The price would be prohibitive, but, still, it is a great joy to have a decent Japanese restaurant in Athens area. I have to start saving to be able to try it!
06 January, 2009
Today is practically my last day in Greece. I will fly back to Birmingham tomorrow morning very early.
Today is day of Theophania, which is Greek national holiday.
Hubby and I went to see the service at Agia Triada Church in Piraeus. Archbishop of Athens was here as well.
It was FULL.
After the service, there was a procession to the sea. A cross should be thrown into the sea and the young and strong dive in to collect it. But in Piraeus, it was not open to the public. We should have remained home to watch it on tv.
We got antidoro and agiasmos and went home.
Hubby then had headache and remained in bed until 2:30.
Meanwhile I brought some of my stuff to new flat.
At 3, our coumparos family invited us for lunch in a restaurant in Profitis Ilias. Good company, good food.
In the evening, I brought some more stuff to new flat.
Leave from home at 4 o'clock. Och.
05 January, 2009
Not so much done today.
At 7 in the morning, Ikea called us to tell that the delivery will be done between 12 and 15 o'clock today.
They delivered the tables at 12.30. Then I painted the bedroom floor again.
Later I went to buy a toilet bin. For those who happen not to know, in Greece, you should not flush down the toilet paper, as the sewage system does not support it. You have to dump it in the toilet bin.
I found a bin for 5.50euro and found also a rack for washed dish for the same price.
Then I met up with Hubby to go to Media Markt. We bought a washing machine and a cooker.
That was it. I have a headache and will go to bed early. Tomorrow is Epiphany, Greek national holiday.
04 January, 2009
Recently I am finding many dumped mattresses on pedestrian sidewalks.
This is one example.
Here is another.
Is this a new mode or it is just me who have not noticed before?
It is Sunday.
We went to Agios Nikolaos Church in Piraeus. We arrived very late, at the end of the service and many people have already started to leave.
We married in this church 3 years ago. Also Hubby's parents and a brother got married here.
On our way home, we met this cat.
It looked she was waiting for the door to open, but at the same time she did not seem to be a house cat.
In Piraeus, I see so many miserable animals. It is sad. Only the dogs are super-protected. Even homeless dogs are left loose and some bark at me randomly. Very annoying.
Then we went to our new flat to install lamps that we had bought from Ikea.
It was a very nice day.
From our flat, we have a small view of the sea.
... although we cannot really say 'ocean view'. ha ha ha.
Hubby succeeded to install three lamps. Excellent.
On our way home, we saw this car.
Takahashi Kohmuten's car complete with address and phone number. It should be a used car from Japan.
Lunch at home, then nothing until now. We had an appointment with a friend for coffee, but it was cancelled. Here appointments are very casual and easily be cancelled.
Hubby is going out to meet a friend, but I opted out.
Tomorrow, Hubby goes to work and I will go back to the new flat to do some work.
There are two 'holes' from which we can admire antiquities of Athens. One is covered with glass as above and the other is open as below.
This is the view from the glass.
In front of Monastiraki station, there are three old grill restaurants. This is probably the most famous one: Thanassis (Θανάσης).
In front of Thanassis is Bairaktaris (Μπαΐρακτάρης). I read the menu in front. This place offers not only the grilled meat, but also other typical Greek dishes.
Next to Bairaktaris is Savvas (Σάββας).
All these places were very busy this Friday night.
Hubby went to buy one souvlaki from Thanassis. For take out, they have only biftekia (kebab) with pita for 1.80Euro.
Different from usual Greek pita roll (Hubby calls it souvlaki, but not everyone does) did not have fried potatoes, but he liked it.
We will be back to try again.