Thursday, 20 September 2018

Kiwis and more Kiwis

The kiwis rellies came back with more kiwis in tow

All of them ex-pats, visiting the 'old country' (Britain, home of the ancesters) for their two year OE, overseas experience
London is the base for most Australians and NZers who travel to the northern hemisphere to see 'the rest of the world'.  They stay a couple of years but ultimately go back to their land  downunder.  They find a flat, get a job in the city and travel as much as possible.  Oh, and drink lots of beer even if it is flat and warm in Blighty.

Blighty - an affectionate nickname for Britain

I did the same myself 45 years ago.  I spent three years in London, working and seeing 'the continent' as it was called back then.  It seems to be known as 'Europe' now.

Many kiwis have British passports through their parents.  I had a special stamp because three of my grandparents were born in England and I could stay as long as I wanted.    On a NZ or Australian passport they can now stay two years and work during that time.  Kiwis ( and aussies too ) are good workers and are often sponsered by the company they find work with and stay indefinitely.

Most of us have rellies in the old country.  I have first cousins and others many times removed.  One of my father's cousins was Admiral of the Fleet during WW11 and another Governor of Malta.

Back to my young rellies

My nephew and niece left Poros and joined an 8 berth yacht to do a weeks  cruise around the Saronic Gulf islands (those near us).  On Tuesday they sailed into old familiar Poros harbour and berthed near the 'green chairs' cafeteria for the night.

We met them and three of their cruise mates, NZers via London, at the green chairs for a drink and then K took them up to an off the tourist track taverna, Platanos, the Plane Tree.

We sat out under the plane tree and gave the newcomers a taste of Poros hospitality.  K had very recently saved their dishwasher from disaster so the owners Eleni and Kamel, migrants from Egypt, gave us their very best.

The boys
K, Samouel, and Carl 

The girls - Victoria and Laura

The Greek and his ouzo

The grecophile and her ouzo, octopus ready on the fork

Grecophile - one who admires Greece and the Greeks

The owner Kamel (on the right) came out of the kitchen  and with our waiter raised a glass with us, our way of saying 'thank you' for the drinks offered by the taverna.  There is Katy, Katerina our honarary Greek, popping up in the middle

We started off with an ouzo and then tried all the wines
Red, white and rose were all local
and excellent

This marmelade cat entertained us leaping up the tree trying to grap the end of a piece of rope

We were shouted  carafes of wine, a watermelon shot each and when the dirty dishes were cleared then out came plates of fresh watermelon

Children and grandchildren joined us at the table for the usual loud, chaotic meal
Time for the group photo
and once again good-bye
I'm sure they'll all be back

Monday, 17 September 2018


This year our local beach has no bar, so nowhere to sit in the shade, no iced coffee to enjoy with a book beside the sea, no shower to wash off the salt after a swim.  And nowhere to go in the evening to watch the sun go down, sip an ouzo over ice and nibble on olives and salted sardines.  We still go for a quick swim there now and again.  The beach is dirty and the sun searing hot.  And I hate sitting around afterwards all covered in salt.

Neorion beach

With our niece from Australia we tried an old beach under new management
There are eucalyptus trees on the beach and a couple of pines right on the water's edge to give us shade
The beach was sandy.  I could wade into the sea without treading gingerly over small stones and falling unceremoniusly in front of an audience.  The water was warm 
It was calm enough to slow breaststroke out to the nearest buoy

A nargile for the adventurous
I didn't see anyone using them but it made for an exotic atmosphere
There were breezy curtains, a few fat pillows scattered on the sand and 'eastern' carpets
And the usual loud greek music

And the old familiar.  Chairs on the beach and cold beers from the canteen.  

Monastery Beach

on the other hand had got a facelift but judging by the prices the customers were being made to pay for it
My girls go down to this beach to see their friend Kelly who works there like a slave all through the crushing summer heat serving drinks to the sunbeds
She works from 10am till 7pm and then
Spends 4 hours, helped by her two children and husband, cleaning up sunbeds, righting umbrellas, collecting cigarette butts and raking the sands
I don't know how she made it to the end of summer

Monastery Beach
It was neat and tidy with wooden boardwalks, whitewashed stone work and comfortable wooden sunbeds.

Usual price for  sunbeds is 5 euros for two beds and an umbrella between them.  Here they are 10 euros. Makes for an expensive day when the beers and coffee are twice the price as well

If you want quiet then there is our old local
No canteen, no shade, no people
And most importantly, no canteen people to clean up the beach after a northerly breeze
No canteen people to scurry with a coffee as you rise from the waters of the Aegean

A beach bug came to visit  .. and wouldn't go away

Friday, 14 September 2018

Un-guided Poros

My niece and nephew went on their own explorations, up to the clock tower for the best view of the yacht harbour and the crowded houses of the old town, finding a taverna off the beaten tourist track, eating gelato and asking for freddo capuccini 'skase' instead of 'sketo'.  Sometimes a little knowledge is too much.  They asked for a capuccino and told the waitress to shut up instead of asking for a plain capuccino with no milk or sugar.


              Through the back streets  on our way to the wine bar

Bottles of fine wine imbibed in a greek alleyway
The bottles were 15 euros each but well worth the money
Paid for by NZ relations and very very much appreciated
It is not often (never) that we drink anything other than Vaso's wine or some other local plonk at 2.50 euros for a 1 1/2 litre plastic bottle fill-up
We drank fruity white, fragrant rose, a full bodied red and a bottle of the latest blue which wasn't worth the trouble
The wine is accompanied by a plate of cold cuts, cheese and bread sticks, hardly enough to fill up the stomach
Small children  were sent to bring souvlaki 
and some (one) sang old NZ tv ads and shouldn't have been allowed to drive home
Moi?  Never....

Sunset over the 'Sleeping Lady' and the bay of Poros

Another very pleasant Poros experience is sunset on our old roof-terrace, now where my daughter and family live.    My sister-in-law lives underneath, her two sons right next door over the few metres of communal yard.  Over the wall is an aunt and just up the steps a few other relations.

The outline of the hills opposite seem to form a lady sleeping on her back with her knees up.  You can't quite see her in this photo

Their stay was only a week but we managed to immerse them in family and greek life .

It was goodbye but not for long

The rellies came back .....

Note of thanks to all close rellies in both Australia and NZ.
Your visits and your generosity enable us to go places and enjoy taste experiences that would normally be unavailable to us because of this darn crisis.
Love you bros

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Un-guided Tour

Visitors to Greece must naturally visit a few ancient ruins.  You can't go to Athens and not climb up the Acropolis to visit the Parthenon, even if it does cost you 20 euros entrance fee and you risk your life scrambling over the slippery marble cobbles.

Around here, on the island and the mainland nearby, there are more ancient ruins than you can shake a stick at.

How many old worn stones can your mind appreciate before it rebels.

Here are 2 sites worth seeing... all else is repetition.

Everyone, but everyone,  is taken to the 4000 year old theatre at Epidavros.  

Still used during the summer season where  greek dramas and comedies are performed, in ancient greek

We took our kiwi visitors there for the obligatory viewing.  
  Parking was found under the trees out of the midday sun, away from the tourist buses.   While they wandered up to pay their 12 euros and be amazed at sight/site and sound we sat under the trees in a welcoming cool breeze, drank iced coffee
and tut-tutted at the rubbish blowing around the tables and the un-caring canteen staff. 
Environment conscious kiwis picked up rubbish as they departed 

Next compulsory stop, my own favoured ancient site, a  4,000 year old Mycenean stone bridge, piece of an ancient road network
A few photos, and our site/sight seeing was finished

On to our favourite village taverna
Once again we found parking under the trees and sat in the shade with a cool breeze and a glass of cold wine

This family run taverna is on the old route  between Athens and Poros
The taverna was a favourite stopping point for our foreign visitors until the new road opened and we drove straight through, bypassing the village
There was never much on the menu
Just the most divine lamb chops and grilled chicken, fresh cut and fried potatoes, greek salad and tzatziki
The food is still divine
and so is the wine

Yiamas ... cheers

On to Epidavros harbour for a freddo capuccino

You don't have to go far to find more antiquities here
In a local garden are the remains of
Afrodite's temple 

The temple?  A few stones at the rear of the photo

A sightseeing tour most tourists don't get to experience but all my family does.  Greek hospitality is not just food and drink.

Monday, 10 September 2018

More Rellies*

The next wave of visitors arrived at the end of August.  

They stepped off the hydrofoil and got straight down to business
In the shade
Fair dinkum kiwis
with their very traditonal greek Uncle.  'Alfa' is this summer's preferred beverage for everyone
Sweet as!

To the beach and more Alfa on the sands

These two were privileged to meet Vaso, our remarkable neighbour and star of this blog.  She communicated in pigeon english and much gesturing
Her english is minimal and so was their greek but she loved the company and chance to 'tell' a few stories
Sam and Katy are learning three greek words a day
ena, dyo, tria

Cooking genuine greek stuffed tomatoes and green peppers with a 
genuine Greek

Another family bbq

We all immensely enjoy these sociable family gatherings 
and to be a traditional feast
we must have
 grilled pork, chicken, beef, lamb, sausages, a pile of pita bread and a ton of tzatziki 
Yes, Kathryn, we did it all over again 

Grilled octopus

These genuine (dinkum) kiwis love offal... and seafood of any sort
Anchovies, salted sardines

 grilled sardines eaten head and all,
fish roe, marinated mackeral
 and ouzo

The long table on the back terrace was used instead of the balcony surrounded by grapevines under the stars
We needed cover because it actually rained, for five minutes

Seated greek style.  Stretched out over three chairs and a beer at hand. Usually the feet are resting on two other chairs

 They helped around the home, carting the ancient 100 kilo  (so it seemed) TV out for recycling.  Katy scrubbed the last of the winter carpets and hung it over the fence to dry.  The long handled cobweb cleaner is waiting for their next visit.  The cobwebs will probably still be there ....

Greeks dancing!

Greek saying
'A starving bear does not dance'

These 'cubs' were full of traditional greek goodies and kiwi pavlova

*NZ Talk

Rellies  -  relatives
Fair dinkum    -   genuine
Togs     -  swimsuit, bathers
Sweet as   - awesome
Hokey pokey - the best damn ice-cream in the whole wide world

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Pavlova Paradise

               When 'rellies' (relatives in your lingo) come to stay there are always nice surprises, from their bulging suitcases full of goodies from the 'homeland' to their  great enthusiasm for Greece and their willingness to join in and help with cooking, preparing innards, eating fish heads and washing the dishes.

We've had some great dishes made by them over the years.  Pavolva is one of the desserts that stands out, made by both NZers and Australians, and a wonderful peach meringue pie.

Pavlova is a meringue base, topped with a thick layer of cream and decorated with fresh fruit.  Egg whites are used to make meringue and these visitors make aioli with the discarded yolks.  Both live on in our memories.

The latest pav with sliced kiwi fruit on top for a real NZ experience


What was left of a large jar of aioli after a family dinner.

I've tried making this before and also mayonaise but not with great success.  Eventually I realised it was the olive oil which overwhelmed all other flavours.  This time Katy made  the aioli with sunflower oil, egg yolks and lemon juice.    The jar got handed around the table along with cries of 'poli oraia' and demands for the recipe and the secret to its wonderful taste. 

Aioli is basically a garlic mayonaise, though it is not made the same in all areas of the med.  In some places it is more of a garlic and oil sauce.

Neither the sweet or the sauce lasted long and I'll have to make some more of the garlic sauce for the next family gathering.  It goes with everything, fish, bbqed meat, cheese, garlic bread, grilled pita bread, salad.  Whatever we had on the table was accompanied by a spoonful of garlic mayo.

Who's next to visit?  Start practising your cookery skills.

More of the visitors very soon

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Summer Something-s

It's still too hot to write.   It is 8pm and the sun is sinking fast but I still have to sit in front of the fan to keep the sweat from stinging my eyes.  September 1st is not the beginning of autumn here.  
The wild billy goats are snuffling around in the field next door and the cicadas are still screeching away although at this time in the evening their voices are becoming a little feebler.

Did you know the world was supposed to end on 23rd September last year?  Well, just in case you were wondering , it didn't end.  I'm still here, no Nibiru, no planet X collided and turned me to dust.  

I just survived another summer.

What is it with these giant pink flamingos?  Last year they were everywhere, in the water, on the decks of yachts, floating out to sea.  I photographed this one in our old neighbourhood.  We have real flamingos in an estuary near us but they are white, not pink, just now.

And yesterday we saw a stork perched on the top of a power pole.  I was so excited I forgot to take a photo.  Storks are common in northern Greece where their huge nests are balanced precariously on high poles.  I remember their clack, clack sound.  I have never seen a stork this far south.  I  presume it was resting on its journey south to a warmer winter climate.

This is definitely a summer-something.  Not a 'something' that a real Greek man would drink.  

Alcohol free, or just lighter, beer was very popular this summer.  This one tasted quite fruity and was really refreshing

This fruit is called 'frankosyka' in greek.  Prickly pear in English and I see it is also called 'linguee'.  The fruit is sweet and tasty but so difficult to pick.  The 'pears' are covered in very fine prickles and can cause great discomfort if they get into the skin.  They have to be picked with gloves or  long handled scissors and peeled without the rind touching your skin.  They grow like mad here.

A sandy beach and the calm clear waters of the Saronic Gulf.  A wonderful way to cool off and spend the day, just swimming, reading and gazing at the activities of those around you ... with a cold drink in hand

What would a blog post about Greece be without food.  This dish is 'spetsofai'.  Multi coloured peppers (capsicum for those downunder) and village sausage stewed with fresh tomatoes.  And that is a bottle of ouzo in the background

To clear the palate at the end of a meal, at the end of the day, a slice of icy watermelon