Monday, May 13, 2013

Greece - Sun & Water

Ten days relaxing in Greece resulted in a serious vacation hangover!  Now we are back at it - the daily grind in Frankfurt; learning to walk, coaxing out words ("Mom!") and daily food fights not to mention getting a lot of use out of our new bicycle and loving it.

But, Greece, WOW!  Definitely a place that beckons one to take pause, rest, relax and enjoy the simple things in life.  And to be in awe of the natural world.  On so many of our excursions thus far we are running around, cramming in sites and soaking up history so this trip to Greece was very welcomed for the slow pace, fresh food and expert insider guides (we traveled with friends and stayed with their family).


Hard to believe that we were in Athens after only a three hour flight - pinch me!  From there we headed to Sounio where we stayed at a very chic resort, Cape Sounio Grecotel, my first time at a place of this kind.  Luckily it is not high tourism season so the rates were reasonable.  These are not the places we normally stay, but they sure are conducive to relaxation.


View from our hotel room.

Waiting for sunset at the ruins.
 The resort offered a grand view of the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, which were breathtaking to see up close and in person.  It is not everyday that one can stand so close to ancient history.  And at sunset, well, there are no words, but I did feel enchanted and at peace.

Fresh food.  I must admit that I didn't know what to expect, whether I would like the food or not was a big question for me leading up to our departure.  Everyone was quoting "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" when John Corbett's character is offered lamb because he is a vegetarian.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the very fresh and local food.
Ruins of the Temple of Poseidon

The ruins and a lone olive tree.

Solace.

Good night to the beautiful sun.  



After three nights in Sounio we headed to Volos to our friend's parents home.  The family was wonderful and welcoming and great cooks too.  They had a great little plot of land on the mountain side city where they grew so many things.  I found myself wandering around admiring their gardens, studying the hens in the chicken coop and pining for my own plot of land and little farm.

We visited several little beaches and towns during our stay in Volos.  Everywhere we went the water was insanely blue, the food was fresh and delicious and the views were unreal.  Speaking of food...I was adventurous, so adventurous I surprised myself, but when in Rome...you know.  Well when in Greece, I tried (and liked) octopus, mussels and the rice served with them was the best thing ever and we ate a ton of fresh fish.  I know, I said I was a vegetarian - technically if you like labels I think you'd call me an ovo-lacto Pescetarian.  I ate fresh and local and that is what is important to me.  But octopus!!!  Still surprised by that leap into the culinary unknown.  




Road trip!

One day we drove over Mount Pilion - a healthy verdant ecosystem - to the Aegean Sea side in a small village called Agios Ioannis (I still can not pronounce this correctly).  We spent time at the beach and eating at a little seaside Tabepna (pronounced Taverna, yes like a tavern).  The food was quite possibly the best of all the restaurants we ate at the whole trip.  Simply blissful!
Bridge to paradise....maybe

Agios Ioannis on the Aegean Sea.  Beach.  Love it.  
We did find that relaxing at the beach and sun bathing are quite impossible with a toddler especially one who likes to eat rocks!

Taste testing the rocks of Agios Ioannis.

We spent an afternoon walking around the isolated mountain town of Makrinitsa.  Locals call this special village "The Balcony of Volos" because of the spectacular views over Volos.
View from Makrinitsa - "The Balcony of Volos" 

Crazy roads - there are few if any cars and only on some of the roads.

Water running to the left is part of an intricate and interesting irrigation system.
We were in Greece over Greek Orthodox Easter, which is a very big deal and loaded with tradition.  Travis and I both participated in our own regard.  On their 'Good Friday' night I joined in on the procession from the village church up the hill to another church and back down again.  The procession is symbolic of the death of Jesus so it was like funeral procession.  It was dark out and everyone was carrying long beeswax candle sticks - the experience was pretty cool and felt unifying even though I did not understand what people around me were talking about - I was happy to just be a part of the tradition.  Then on Easter Sunday - we ate hard boiled eggs with the shells dyed red - only red in Greek Orthodox tradition.  For the main event on Sunday the family was roasting a goat - ugh! - poor thing was...well, hard to look at so I tried to avoid it.  My loving husband reassured me that the goat tasted like he lived a happy life.  Well, Travis thoroughly enjoyed his Greek Easter participation followed by an afternoon siesta.

Our last full day of vacation we spent time in Afissos to celebrate our friend Jorgo's name day.  In Greece rather than celebrate your birthday they celebrate your name day - what a great idea and you don't have to remember birth dates.  The beach in Afissos is lovely.

Happy baby!

Afissos.

Feeling filled up with gratitude for all these amazing travel opportunities, wonderful people we've met along the way and for Hannah being such a flexible happy traveler.