30 March, 2010
This Neo-Classic building should look familiar to those who passed Vas. Sofias Avenue, although this is not the main building.
As you can imagine, the occasion was to see the temporary exhibition about "Eros".
It has been highly acclaimed and is going to end on 11 April: I really had to go before it is too late.
The exhibition has nothing to do with Cycladic civilization. It collects artistic and non-artistic objects regarding Eros (carnal sort of love) from Archaic period to late Antiquity.
It is a beautiful exhibition. The best thing was that, as the theme is clear, the viewers do not get distracted and get bored.
I was, however, even more impressed by the permanent collection.
I must have visited here once before, probably about 10 years ago, but I did not remember almost anything. It houses cycladic sculptures (as above) and some objects from Cypriot Antiquity, besides things from more recent and familiar antiquity (what we usually call Greek-Roman).
Most of the Cycladic statues represent woman. It is not known why they made these statues and what was the use. Are they cult statues? Or are they just ex-voto of child birth? Did they have matriarchal society?
It is very mysterious and will remain as such, as there is no literature from this period.
27 March, 2010
Garbage men's strike has been over for some time now, but Piraeus is still full of garbage. Yesterday I read on Metro free newspaper that a part of Piraeus garbage men is stopping (it did not say how) 10 of 50 garbage collecting vehicles in protest to the city that installed GPS to the vehicles. There was also a comment by the Mayer saying that, as the vehicles are the city's possession, it has every right to know which vehicles are where and when.
I went to the taverna Psaras (Ταβέρνα του Ψαρρά) in Plaka yesterday and wrote a review.
All in all, it wasn't bad.
26 March, 2010
During the normal working days from today until Holy Thursday, the shops will be open from 9:00-21:00, except for Saturday (26 March), 9:00-18:00.
On Holy Friday, although it is a National Holiday, shops will be open from 13:00-19:00.
On Holy Saturday, shops will be closed at 16:00.
On Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, shops remain closed all day.
24 March, 2010
Peinirli might not be as famous as Tyropita or Spanakopita, but is a very popular snacking item in Greece and you can find it almost any pie & coffee shops. It is a boat-shaped piece of bread (dough is similar to that of pizza) baked with plenty of cheese and either ham or bacon.
Not being a big fan of pie pastry, I buy peinirli more often than not. As you can imagine for such a simple food, how good it is depends on the quality of the ingredients, especially of cheese. To be honest, I didn't like Grigoris's peinirli, because it tasted something other than cheese and ham, something like mayonnaise. (I liked much better 'special croissant' of Grigoris - cheese and ham baked in croissant dough).
What I has been wondering about Peinirli is that, regardless of rather obvious Turkish etymology, why the same food in Turkey is called 'Pide' rather than Peinir something.
The name Peinirli seems to have its origin in Peynir - Turkish word for cheese, which originates in Persian word for cheese Panir that is very familiar to us as an Indian white cheese.
Why the Turkish cheese pide came to known as Peinirli in Greek remained as a mystery. My hypothesis is that, as pide can be cheese pide or meat pide and the Turks used to call it 'cheese pide', the Greeks dropped 'pide' part and started to call it just 'cheese'.
Does anybody have an answer? :)
14 March, 2010
Orizontes is the only one cafe-restaurant on the top of Lykavittos Hill and for this reason it commands quite high price, as you can imagine.
I have been to Lykavittos several times, but this is the first time we went in Orizontes. It is spacious, but the tables and seats were fitted close together to put as many people as they can to a limited space. We were a group of 6 and there were hardly any place we could all fit in (the only solution was to occupy a table of 5 and seat 3 girls into a couch for 2). If you are in a large group, it is not a great place to go in winter (in summer, I guess we have more space outside).
The cheapest coffee costs 5.5euros. We had cappuccino and hot chocolate, both for 6 euros. Alcohol drinks and cakes cost more than 10 euros, while pasta dishes about 12-15.
The restaurant is in a different space, below the cafeteria, although the toilets are common for both.
The worst thing about this place for us wasn't the price, but the smoke. Although it is a closed space, many people smoke and the ventilation isn't good. In the later afternoon the smoke was so dense that the visibility got poor. At this point, we could not stand anymore and left.
We might go back for coffee, but we'd rather avoid busy hours.
12 March, 2010
Roads were still full of garbage.
Today they started to collect garbage, but it wasn't possible to dispose of all the garbage of the past 7 days and streets are still full of garbage and smelly as well. I wish not to see worms on the street...
First I stopped at Multi Trading, Indian grocery store.
The owner is an Indian from Punjabi and he sells various Indian and non-Indian products. Comparing to Indian/Pakistani shops in Birmingham, the range of products he has is very narrow, but, still, essentials are here and the price is fairly good.
Speaking about Indian, there are at least two Indian restaurants nearby. This is one of them. It is pretty old, 5 or 6 years at least.
We have never had courage to venture into. The other one is even more scarey (although it might not be scary at all).
I would rather try two Thai restaurants in the same neighborhood.
There are also Egyptian/Arabian shops around.
Then, I went to International Mini Market (Σαχτούρη 15, Πειραίας) and bought some Chinese and Thai stuff.
Again, it is not very specialised, but has food from all over the world (mainly from Thailand, Philippines, China, Japan, South America, Eastern Europe and Russia). The price again is reasonable.
Now that I have ingredients, am looking forward to Indian curry and Chinese stir-fry!
11 March, 2010
This Monday (8 March) yellow sand from Sahara came to Athens.
It looks like an evening shot, but it was just 11 o'clock in the morning. At some points, the sky turned really read and made a strange effect on us.
For several days, from last Friday I think, there has been no garbage collection in Piraeus and now there are heeps of garbage everywhere.
It is because either garbage collectors or garbage disposers (or both) are doing strike.
There was a fairly long garbage strike in December and also back then Athens and Piraeus were filled with household garbage. The court decided that the strike of garbage disposing personnel is illegal (because of the higiene threat posed to the general public), but it has not effect.
In theory, the people who strike do not get paid for the days they don't work, but I wonder how it works in practice. If they don't work 5 days, it should be a big loss for their monthly pay, and considering the wage level of lower public workers in Greece, it should be really difficult to survive. Are they risking so much to strike? It is a mystery to me.
Today (11 March) is another big strike day and there is almost no public transport in Athens and Piraeus (Metro No. 1 works from 10-16, but it is not much use to many of us).
10 March, 2010
In Athens there will be no Metro, Bus, Trolley, Tram and Proastiakos (Athens suburban railways). 24 hour strike.
Ilektoriko (Piraeus-Kifissia line, or Metro No. 1) will work between 10 in the morning until 16 in the afternoon.
There won't be no departure/arrival of ships and airplains.
And most of the public sector won't work either. Be well informed before you go anywhere.
07 March, 2010
Walking along the coastline (Akty Koumoundoulou), we were stopped by a guy from Tessera Adelfia restaurant and he insisted we had to eat there. Many restaurants in Mikrolimano use this tactic to invite in the passers-by. I am not sure if they had to do it at all, as people tend to avoid these restaurants that put 'talkers' in front.
In fact, it is one of the reasons why we did not eat at Mikrolimano.
We went up Kastella instead and dined at Rigas.
The food was good and I ate a lot. It was about 8 hours ago, but I am still digesting!
Ίδης 14 (Προφήτης Ηλίας), Πειραιάς
06 March, 2010
We did the sightseeing part first, and later went to eat. There is no shops around the Mystras site and you have to either stop at the modern Mystras town or at a few restaurants in between. The Mystras site and Mystras town are not far away, but it is not the distance I want to walk.
We chose to eat at the town, thinking there might be something to see there. We did not expect to see cultural heritage, but at least souvenir shop or cafeteria. But, no. Nothing. Maybe it was in January? I don't know.
But there was a restaurant called Ο Ελληνας.
It has also rooms to let.
The restaurant was pretty large. Capacity probably is 100 or so. The decor was Greek rustic style and lovely.
When I saw the menu, however, I felt disappointment. All the items are Greek standard and nothing stood out. Moussaka, souvlaki, pastitzio etc etc. And the price looked too much for a country taverna of this class.
Anyway, we ordered a few dishes. Here are melitzanosalata and cucumber-tomato salad.
Melitzanosalata did not have grilled aubergine flavour, but full of mayonnaise. I suspect they bought it in.
The main dish was pork roast and oven baked potatoes.
Our waiter did not advise us that the pork should come with oven potato and that is why we ended up with so much oven potato. If he told us, we could have ordered fried potato instead.
The pork was good, but potato was far too salty. We needed bread to eat potato. Absurd.
At the end of the meal, we were offered galaktoboureko on house, as it was St. John's day and the owner has a family member called John.
This was the best thing we ate at this restaurant.
I don't think you want to go there, but this is the address, just in case. :p
Πλατεία Μυστρά , Μυστράς
Tel. 27310 82666
04 March, 2010
Information, however, changes frequently (above webpages get updated), so please check out before you leave tomorrow.
03 March, 2010
Taxi drivers on strike (48 hours, 2 and 3 March) were occupying the Syntagma Square. It is not obvious from the photos, but all the taxis were parked and not moving at all.
Evidently drivers understood that their strike does not bother ordinary people so much and decided to give more annoyance.
When I passed here, only several men were arguing (with a little bit of bush and thrust), but, later I saw on tv that the demonstration got more violent.
Obviously the buses could not arrive at or leave Syntagma. I had to go back to Metro station to go home. I had just bought 6 litres of olive oil from the Exposition of Laconian Products at Syntagma Station(until this Friday) and it was very inconvenient.
Taxi drivers have right to strike as everyone else, but closing Syntagma Square is ILLIGAL, as the square is public possession.
Further strikes of public (and maybe private) workers are planned on 8th and 16th March. Watch out.
And in the streets of Athens and Piraeus, the neratzi (bitter orange) trees have started to bloom.
It smells heavenly!
01 March, 2010
The taxi drivers are against the proposed reform by which it gets difficult to declare lower income and evade tax.
It might sounds incredible, but there are so many tax-evading self-employees (doctors, lawers, etc etc) and employees, taxi drivers are upset to be picked up as a target.
It is however doubtful how effective is the strike, as it seems many Athenians are happy to find roads free of taxis and to be able to avoid traffic jam. The Athenian public transport system is pretty good and, althought it takes more time than taxi, you can arrive almost anywhere you want.
By the way, I went to Delphi this Saturday.
Until recently the site was partially closed and the visitors could not enter after the Temple of Apollo, but this time I found that it was again open up to the Theatre. The road to the Stadium, however, is still closed.
If you are planning the visit to Delphi, take it into consideration.