26 December, 2010

O Vrachos @ Rafina

For the first time we went to the mythical Rafina.

To you, there might be nothing mythical about Rafina, but for us who had not had car for a long time, it was a place where every one of our friends has been to and so much talked about, but we have never seen in our own eyes.

To be honest, to be such a mythical place, we did not find anything special.

We entered one of fish tavernas with view.

These photos were taken from the fish taverna.

There is a view, but we think Piraeus has more scenic tavernas.

The taverna was called O Vrachos, the Rock.

Some tables were occupied, but considering it was a Sunday afternoon, there should have been more people.

Having eaten too much on the previous day (i.e. Christmas Day), we ordered modestly.

Fried squids, Assorted boiled vegetable, fried potatoes, and tyrokafteri.

Nothing specutacularly good, but quite acceptable.

Psarotaverna O Vrachos
Plateia Tachydromiou Rafinas
Tel. 6936 3961 138

Here is our bill:
Bread €1.40 (for 2)
Tyrokafteri €3.50
Boiled Vegetables €5
Fried Potatoes €3
Fried Squids €8.50
Water € 1.50
Bottle of Coca Cola €1.90

Total € 24.80

OK sort of price, isn't it?

When we went out from the restaurant, a Greek man came to us and said hello shaking our hands as if he knew us. He said he admires yellow race. I think he was drunk.

25 December, 2010

Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

Happy Christmas and other holidays!!!

But this year Christmas coincided with Saturday and we lost one national holiday. A shame.

Never mind. Yesterday Friday we Hubby & I finished work (I was ousted from the office, although I had not really finished work!) at 2:30 and met up in Syntagma.

It was not only us who want to do the same and most of the restaurants and cafeteries were absolutely packed regardless of the fact that the customers are constrained to pay 10 obligatory gratuity.

We headed for Valaoritou Street thinking that there we should be able to find a table as there are several cafeterias. The best tables of course were occupied but we managed to find space in Sofia's (free tables were only two!).

This was the second time for me to be here (the previous visit dates back 1.5 year ago).

Hubby, how had not eaten yet, ordered chicken club sandwich and frappe, while I got a pot of tea having already eaten and drunk coffee.

Hubby was disappointed to find crisps instead of French fries, but said that it was the best club sandwich ever.

My tea was served in heavy iron tea pot.

It was called "Silk Road" (on the menu it was written "Way of Silk" or something) and tea leaves were blended with pink pepper, cinnamon, ginger etc. It was similar to Tazo Tea of Starbacks which I like.

It was about 16 Euros in total incl. Christmas gratuity.

Valaoritou 15, Athens
106 71
Tel. 210-3641530

Stoa of Spyromilios was nicely decorated.

Then we went home to clean and prepare the Christmas tree.

Have a happy and peaceful Christmas, everyone!

19 December, 2010

One Week To Christmas

Next Saturday is Christmas.

Did you know that?

As I had a very busy week, I was not thinking about it and now I realize it is so close. We did not even manage to prepare Christmas tree (and if it isn't ready yet, I am not sure if we can make it in time until 25th Dec.)

Today, although it was Sunday, the shops were open for Christmas shopping. The shops were to open also last Sunday, but it did not happen because the Public Transportation decided to strike. The shopping districts were quite busy yesterday and today, but they say that people were not really spending.

The income was decreased (maybe not salary itself, but many people do not get traditional Christmas bonus which is usually to be spent on presents and Christmas/New Year fests), but the value added tax was increased.

Yesterday at laiki (weekly open market) near my house, I did not find almost anything costing 1 Euro for a kilo. Aubergine 1.50 Euro per kilo, leek for the same, pear 2.50 Euros for a kilo...

When were were having pie and coffee at Grigoris, eldery people were shouting each other whose fault was this economical crisis, while a sick man came in to beg for some coins so that he could eat something. In such an environment, it was difficult to enjoy our humble coffee and pie.

I look around for hope which is nowhere to find at this moment.

P.S. Tommorrow's 24 hour strike is confirmed for Tram, all 3 Metro lines, and Trolley. The Blue Buses (ETHEL) work from 9 to 9 o'clock.

18 December, 2010

Zachos @ Varkiza

It was a difficult week for me (and probably for most of the Athenians).

The public transport was paralized for about 3 days and the commuters were constrained to use private car. Obviously the roads were heavily congested and many people spent twice much time than usual to get to work place and to go home.

It was even more painful, as the gas price went up again by 7 or 8%. 1 litre of gas costs 1.50 - 1.60 Euros, sometimes even close to 1.70. I see that the Greek government needs money, but by increasing so much fuel, I am afraid it decreases people's will to travel and to spend, and consequently less tax income for the government. It is a vicious circle, as the Government needs to increase the tax even more. As many economists and many people with common sense point out, this circle should be cut open at some point to get out, but the Goverment seems not to know what to do.

Besides, my colleagues were on holiday and I had to do 3 people's work by myself. It will get better, as they will return on Monday, but the strikes continue. I heard that the public transport stops Monday and Tuesday. sigh...

Two Sundays ago, we went to Varkiza.

We have past here so many times, but have never actually stopped.

It was Sunday but a fisherman was selling live fish at the fish market. How nice to live somewhere you can buy live fish every morning.

But we went to eat meat. Because this souvlaki place was full of people and looked welcoming.

Usually souvlazidika are full of young people and families, but this particular one was populated by elder generation.

Tyrokafteri, Lachanokaroto (cabbage and carrott) salad, and fried potatoes with cheese as starters.

As main we had one portion (merida) of pork souvlaki and one kebab in pita.

Meat was soft and tasty enough.

With a bottle of coke, the bill came to slightly above 20 Euros.

Maybe not anything excellent, but it is a good souvlaki/grill restaurant, in our opinion.

ZAXOS (Zachos)
Τηλ: 210 8975652 & 210 9656879

07 December, 2010

Public Transportation in Athens Strikes, Again

I heard that all the public transportations in Athens & the National Railways will stage 24 hour strike on 8th December 2010 (Wednesday).


Yesterday I went to Omonia station at 6 past.

I know. I should not go there, but I had to for my job.

Getting off the metro, I saw a young woman with her face covered with white powder. I was wondering if she was sick or something and then more and more young people covered with white powder coming toward me.

Then my eyes started to sore and some other people who got off the train started to cover their face with clothes.

Evidently tear gas that the police used to disperse the demonstration in Omonia square was lurking underground.

As soon as I got out of the station and breathed in the open air, I did not feel the pain any more, but there still was rioteous mood in the square. I speedly walk off to Athinas street, away from Omonia.

Yesterday was the second anniversary since 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot dead by a policeman.

05 December, 2010

If you want to get VAT refund...

I have of some cases of foreign tourists who shopped in Ermou avenue and were refused VAT refund forms. They could not get the refund.

I am not sure how many tourists read this Blog, but I want to warn anyway.

So, what happened?

These tourists were falsely convinced by the shop sellers that the VAT refund forms were available only at the airport and they should bring the normal receipts to the VAT refund counter to be issed refund form.

This is FALSE.

The VAT refund form can be issed only by the shops where you buy the goods and at the moment you arrive at the airport it is too late and there isn't anything you can do.

Now, the VAT level of Greece is 23% and the refund makes a big difference.

As the tourists do not have do not have responsibility in the current Greek economic crisis, they are fully entitled to refund.

If you are visiting Greece or you are working in tourism industry in Greece as I do, please be warned.

04 December, 2010

Agora @ Ampelokipi

It was Friday yesterday and we felt a need to do something different.

This something different wasn't so different after all: we met up in Ampelokipi and were to decide what to do.

When Hubby arrived he was very pale. He said he was very tired. So we did not walk around (although I did it alone before he arrived)and sat down in a cafe-restaurant called "Agora" just by Ampelokipi Metro station.

I took this photo quickly before leaving and that is why it is so blurry.

Agora in Ampelokipoi

A friend of mine had been to the other branch of Agorá in Evangelismos and she said she liked it.

It was still around 7.30 but there were a quite few people eating dinner, while some were enjoying beer or coffee.

We decided (or I convinced Hubby) to have a meal. A bottle of mineral water (2.10 Euros) and bread with cream cheese dip (1.80Euro x 2) was brought to our table: these seemed to be the obligatory order.

Hubby devoured a piece of bread with cream cheese, although he said he was not hungry.

Mexican salad (8.10 Euros) was brought to us as a starter. I say this because they waited to serve other dishes until we finish the salad.

Mexikaniki salata

What is Mexican about it is avocado, red kidney beans and sweet corn. Otherwise nothing really exotic. It was quite satisfying, although I would have liked little more chicken. Anyway it is a nice change from the usual Greek salad variety.

This is chicken, bacon and mushroom crepe (7.60 Euros) we ordered from "Starter" section.

Although it is a huge crepe, the supposedly not-hungry Hubby ate it from head to tale (except for a small piece he conceded to me). How the Greeks dare to call it a "starter"? I asked Hubby, but he could not answer.

The presentation leaves something to be desired, but generally it was a good dish, with big morsels of chicken and fresh mushrooms.

This fried sole with almond crust with leek & mustard 'sauce' served with risotto (9.10 Euros) from the recommended main courses section.

I was disappointed in this dish. It tasted like a failed attempt by Master chef contestant (which I used see this programme when I was in UK, but not in Greece, and guessing it is something similar). It lacked in sense of harmony (of tastes) and in technique. The crust tasted burnt & risotto was sticky.

We were offered two glasses of mastiha liqueur.

Besides above dishes, we had also a bottle of sprite (2.60 Euros) and the total bill was 33.10 Euros to become 35 Euros with tip.

Not a bad place for a casual meal as far as we don't choose anything over-tentative.

Agora Restaurant-Cafe
Vournazou 31, Ampelokipoi
Tel. 210 6426 238

On our way back we stopped at the metro station of Monastiraki to admire the new projection art of the platform. It is a video projected on the wall and of people and animal coming down with escalator. I like it very much and I had to show it to Hubby who for some reason has never noticed although he uses this station everyday as I do. It eases the tension of waiting metro in the morning. I don't know the name of the artist, but to whoever made it and put it in the station, "well done!".

01 December, 2010

Mezedes @ Galaxidi

When we went to Arta, we stopped at Galaxidi on our way back.

We found this attractive mezedopoleio and decided to have lunch.

As Galaxisidi is by the sea, most of the restaurants are concentrated in the seaside area, but this one is inside the down and there is no view whatsoever. The traditional architecture, however, is charming enough to make it up.

On seating, a waiter brought us 3 small jugs of wine saying that these are for tasting. We were afraid of rip-off, but eventually it wasn't. Evidently we should pay as much as we consumed.

Hubby drank only red wine and paid 2 Euros.

With bread, we were given these dips, one is olive paste and the other is tomato paste.

These are stuffed onions. We ordered it, because on the menu it was described as "Galaxidian".

Oblong onions were stuffed with minced meat and rice mixture. Maybe not particularly imaginative, but tasted very good.

This is pork morsels stewed with prunes we ordered as main dish.

It was served with crumbled feta cheese.

It was tasty and hearty, but it was too salty for me. I am afraid they add much salt to killed the sweetness of prunes. They should have used less prunes to avoid oversweetness.

The oven baked potatoes were brought to us when we were almost forgetting to have ordered it.

Surprisingly, the potatoes were served with blue cheese, which is unfamiliar type of cheese in Greece.

Baked potatoes cannot go wrong, but I thought it was a unsuccessful attempt to sex up potato to 5.50 Euro dish.

When we asked for bill, we were offered this homemade sweet.

It looked like ravani, but it wasn't. The waitress told me that it was just a oven baked semolina cake, but I don't believe her. It should have some other grain like rice and the syrup should be made from brown sugar. We liked it very much.

Although some of the dishes looked overpriced, he total bill was only 31,50Euros which looked just right.

We will be visiting this mezedopoleio next time we will be in Galaxidi.

Mezedopolio "O Bebelis"
Μεζεδοπωλείο Ο Μπεμπέλης
Tel. 22650 41677