Wednesday 30 October 2019

It's New to Me

When visitors come to town they frequent places, tavernas,beaches
that for one reason or another are not on our list of  where to stay or eat, probably because none of our friends go there or the family that runs the place isn't our family

They do things differently, experience the island in their way, not ours.  It's always interesting to visit with them and try, usually not successfully, to answer their questions.

Why does the island have so many eucalyptus trees.  Those gum trees are native to Australia, not Greece.
Well. Wolf, first of all the name is from the Greek 'kalytpo' meaning 'to cover', secondly 'I don't know why the hell they're here'!  Which is what I said at the time.  Even google didn't help.  
Obviously they love the environment.  Poros has dozens along the sides of the roads and when they're trimmed every few years there's a fight for the wood.  They are terrific for burning on a wood stove.

Another question I remember (not from this lot) was 'do you still have to put used toilet paper into a bin and not down the loo?'
Yes.  Our plumbing gets clogged up by toilet paper and it's a 'hands-on' job to clear the damn drains.  Don't do it.  Though in the big modern hotels they must have sorted their plumbing by now.

The entrance to 'Anasa' beach.  A shallow sandy beach perfect for Mums who can let their kids dig in the sand, wade through the sea.  There are no waves and no sharks and the canteen has iced coffee, beer and even a greek salad

You can order an omelette for breakfast at our favourite 'Green chairs' cafe.  Not something we would ever order.  If we want something to eat with our coffee we bring our own cheese pies or pop across to the big supermarket (which looks like a mini market to out-of-towners) and buy a sesame bread ring.  The only thing we would ever eat there would be a plate of nibbles (meze) to go with an ouzo or raki

Roof terrace at sundown.  Haven't done that for months.  Didn't go up there all summer.  Too much hassle hauling all the food and drink up the spiral staircase and then hauling it all down again at the end.  Takes a visit from family to get poor Elli and Kyriakos up there finding cushions, seeing if the fridge works (can't have warm beer and the deadly sangria definitely needs ice), sweeping up a years detritus.  It was more than worth it, magical for first timers, watching the sunset and all the activity in the harbour and the old town below

Niki's village
It has been many many years since I went in here.
Just luvly.  It was full of German tourists having their breakfast around the pool and to our amusement there was a group of germans learning greek from a woman who spoke to them in english.  They were doing very well
Our own Niki stayed here.  It's not far from beaches and town, there is a bike hire shop virtually next door and in the summer there are 3 tavernas just a hop and a skip away.  The sea is right there in front of the hotel, not for swimming but idyllic to sit on your balcony and watch the fishing boats putt-putting out in the early morning and evening and just watch the activity (of the germans) below

Saga Hotel
I haven't been in here for donkeys years either.  It's in  back street, very close to the beaches, town and tavernas.  The family that run it are extremely friendly, always on hand.  Breakfast around the pool under the bougainvillia, whatever you need provided with a smile

Both these hotels have not been on our list of places to recommend to visitors but they'll be top of the list now. 

This is a view of our main back-drag in the centre of town.
I haven't been down here for a while obviously because all sorts of shops seem to have opened and there is a laundry, craft shop, clothes shops, electrical shop, scrummy bakery and the fish and meat market are on one side.  Oh, there's a great taverna with local food as well.
Used to be only tourist shops and then over the economic crisis years most shops closed up.  It's full of life now.  A sign of more prosperity, at long last!  There is even a municipal lending library for tourists!  Well done Poros

So, that's just a short photo trip
Till next time

Monday 28 October 2019

Flying The Flags .....etc

26th October
Feast Day of St Dimitris
Patron Saint of the northern city of Thessaloniki, capital of the district of Macedonia, Greek Macedonia

Name day of Dimitris, Dimitra and Danae
We have quite a few members of the family who celebrate name days on the 26th.  Younger family members.  They no longer continue the old tradition of open house and revelling long into the night.  The tradition was changing anyway but the economic crisis hit these festivities on the head.  Nowaday our kids have a few drinks with close friends.

In days gone by we had half of the island traipsing through the house on K's name day and the party went on till the last guest staggered home or the police arrived.  

We still have a small gathering for family and close friends on K's name day and kill the fatted goat but only because he is a very traditonal person and follows the old greek customs to the letter

Just to make a small diversion
While I was looking at to avoid using the word 'tradition' for the umpteenth time I came across the 'word of the day
-       horripilation      -  
 WTF   I learnt a new word today
it means
a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold or fear
Very descriptive

And now on to the flags

28th October
Greek National Day
On this day in 1940  Greek Prime Minister gave a resounding NO to Mussolini's demand that Greece allow the Italian army to occupy the country.  The Italians immediately  invaded over the Albanian border but were driven back by a fierce resistance 

Today there will be parades, speeches, wreath laying all over the country and anywhere in the world where Greeks have settled.  
Heroic films are shown on most tv channels, school children on Friday had a half day to recite poems, sing songs commemorating the heroes and we put up our flag outside the house

Flying the flag at our house

The cenotaph is ready, decked out with  blue and white greek flags

You'll see the flag everywhere there is a patriotic greek

At the table next to us in the cafe
This is the naval flag of greece, a white cross on a blue background

Friday 25 October 2019

Beginning At The End

It's like the last supper, though usually closer to breakfast-time than supper-time.

There's always just enough time for one last souvlaki and an alpha before the Flying Dolphin arrives to take away our visitors our out-of-towners/guests/members of our extended family.

We said goodbye to my brother and sis in law a month ago and next it was time to farewell our neices and nephew.

Their last request was for souvlaki.  Souvlaki made from pork, not lamb!  These are not turkish kebabs we emphasised for our new nephew with Serbian roots.  Authentic Greek souvlaki is pork.

I learned a lot about the Balkans thanks to Wolf  and especially about Serbia.  Serbia like Greece is Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox in this case of course, and Serbia like Greece suffered under hundreds of years of Ottoman oppression.  

So we eat pork souvlaki or maybe chicken souvlaki but never lamb kebabs.

Greek Uncle, kiwi neice, souvlaki in hand

If you don't want a big stuffed pita bread you can have your souvlaki on a plate.  Pita bread cut into quarters, a pile of chips, tzatziki, raw onions, tomatoes and lashings of sliced pork gyro.

You just get stuck in and don't worry about dribbling tzatziki or greasy gyro

The best

The spag bol's not too bad either

Greek salad anyone?  Well, they ordered it but there wasn't too much room left after beer and stuffed pita bread!

Greek Alpha beer, the breakfast beer 
Real men drink Heineken

Our first visitors of the year tucking into souvlaki and alpha before their Flying Dolphin appointment.  They managed quite well even though they were probably still digesting the Easter lamb they had tucked into not long ago

When my brother Paul left the island we had to take him overland because of bad weather and were going to stop at the 'best little souvlaki shop' on the Peloponese, a tiny little 'hole in the wall' just before the Corinth Canal.  It's about half way between Poros and the airport, perfect stop for a last meal but it was closed damn it.

This little shop, hidden behind a mass of greenery on the side of the main road just before the motorway, or just as you come off it, going the other way, does a roaring trade.  Truckies, taxi drivers, local families, a priest or two, even a few tourist RVs, we've seen them all stop for a quick fill up.  The shop has 5 or 6 tables outside or you take a bag of  pita and gyro with you 'to go'.

We stop there now and again, on our way back from appointments in the city of Corinth.  It's the best souvlaki I've ever tasted and it's cheap.  A couple of  huge, filling pita stuffed with Pork gyro and tzatziki, onions, tomatoes and chips and 2 beers cost less than 10 euros!

So we said goodbye again, but this is not the last you'll be hearing of them. More posts to come

Tuesday 22 October 2019


We saw the first olives of this season being picked on our way out of town last week.  The olives on the island though are not quite ready.  Everyone, ie our neighbours, are waiting till the end of the month or even mid November so the crop has a chance to plump up a bit, hopefully producing more oil.  We had some very heavy rain last month which will improve the quality of the oil and the amount each olive produces

 The first olives for eating were dropped  on our table in the cafe 2 weeks ago, just a handful.  K was very pleased

These are the first black olives, and came from a plot of olives which are watered all year long and are early producers.  They are given a bash with a hammer or the back of the hand, mixed with  coarse salt and are eaten the next day.  They're a delicacy, first of the season.  

Olives usually need to be soaked in water for days on end to get rid of the bitterness but these early olives are edible immediately.  Even I tried them and liked them.

They don't last long, a week at the most

This years crop has a worm problem and many of the olives have already fallen.  The worm burrows inside and eats just below the stalk so the olive falls from the tree.  In some areas the problem has almost ruined the harvest.  Here many olives have fallen but the trees still have plenty of fruit to be picked

Next door Vaso and her daughter are mending the nets which will be spread out under the trees.  They were already cleaned at the end of last season but rocks and thistles tear holes in the material.  These have to be patched so the olives don't fall through. 

It's one helluva difficult task for these woman. Vaso is in her eighties and her daughter is a retired school teacher.  They sit there on the ground in the yard for a week with these huge nets spread around them sewing up the holes.   

The neighbourhood is preparing.  Soon there will be nets everywhere, even across our roads as branches are raked for their olives.  I hope the weather stays dry and warm for a few more weeks.  It's a hard dirty job and icy winds and wet trees make it worse.  

That golden oil at the end of it is always worth the trouble.  Family members travel back to their villages to collect olives from their land, lawyers, doctors and office workers, they all want that extra virgin olive oil which to them is the best in the world.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Departure Time

All good things must come to an end they say
This time it was the good weather and my brother's visit

Gale force winds stopped boats from leaving harbour all over the country.  Next day I got a call from the hydrofoil office, no boats out or in till the afternoon, and our visitors had to be at the airport by 1 oclock.  This is the second time they've  been cut off on their departure day.  Last visit it was at least January and mid winter.  This time of the year the winds are usually much calmer.  Uusally.  there is no 'usual' now.
 The perils of living on an island.

Souvenir stands are sand bagged down so they don't end up in the harbour

Poros is only just an island and lucky for us the car ferry to the mainland was still working.  So suitcases and travellers were bundled into the car, the car onto the ferry, and we drove them the 3 hours to the airport.  The car ferry takes only 10 minutes to carry us across to the mainland and the harbour is rarely choppy enough to stop it running.  We aren't often completely isolated.

There's a big shopping park near the airport, IKEA being one of the big stores in the complex.  We thought we would go in for coffee after we had dropped them off, not for shopping.  Quick cheap food, refills of coffee.  Half of Athens and their small children had the same idea.  I couldn't believe how crowded, and noisy, it was.  We should have realised when we saw the car park and just turned and run.  We did go inside though and queued for a coffee and a snack and then shot out as fast as we could.  The driver needed a rest.

Before the dash for the airport we had the credit card fiasco.  I went up to the ATM to get some cash and my card got sucked in to the machine.  My brother was clever enough not to try his card but dear K couldn't believe that it was the machine's fault and marched in with card in hand

and his got sucked in too

A Muttley snigger!!!

He made angry phone calls all over the place but even his persuasive shouting couldn't get his card back till the next morning.
When we went in early next day 3 others had already retrieved their cards and there was a pile of about a dozen others, mostly greek cards, but a couple of foreign ones too.  You'd think that once the machine stopped working and someone made a complaint, to the the telephone displayed on the machine for this purpose, that some sort of notice would have come up on the screen.

A few years ago this happened to a neice of ours, just an hour before she was due to leave the island on the hydrofoil.  Back then K made a phone call to a teller we know and she came down  straight away and retrieved the card .  It's a bit more complicated now we have joined the world of ibanking and plastic cash and we have the EU and the IMF breathing over our shoulder watching every move.

Brother is long gone back to the southern hemisphere and we have a new round of visitors from downunder.  The weather is absolutely brilliant, almost 28o most days, a second summer.  Perfect for swimming and dinners outside under the full moon.  

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Up on the Roof Top

We only have cinema in the summer and the big screen is on a roof top under the stars.

The first showing is around 9 and the second just after 11pm, depending on the length of the film.  The movies are the latest ones out this year for the adults and for the younger generation there are kids movies, usually on  a Friday and Saturday evening.  And the tickets are only about 6 euros, or was it 8, very cheap anyway.

I haven't been up there in years.  My daughter reckons the last film I saw with her was 'George of the Jungle' with a cute Brendan Fraser, then in his youth.  That was way back in 1997.  I remember seeing 'Coyote Ugly' .  That came out in 2000 and that was a long time again.  If it hadn't been for our visitors it probably would have been another 20 years before I made it up to the roof top for some al fresco entertainment.

The only film that fitted in with everyone's schedule was 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' directed by the quirky Tarantino.
I loved it but others described the film as a waste of three hours.  It's a take-off of all those hollywood movies of the 70's with the music to go with it.  

Who remembers 'I fought the law' by the Bobby Fuller Four?  Hippies, loads of unnecessary violence that's simply over-the-top Hollywood hype, fags in every mouth, a hilarious Bruce Lee send-off and the Manson family, with a twist.  Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt just add to the scenery.
You have to be from a certain generation (baby boomers?) to appreciate it all and I sure did.

Thanks Paul and Karen for the idea and Danae for making sure I made it to the top.

The large outdoor screen
I saw our local priest, whose home is behind the building, hanging out the washing on his balcony before the last film....... almost 20 years ago

Comfortable director style chairs with tables here and there to rest your beer and coke and a delectable smell of buttered popcorn

I was entertained and left happy

Saturday 5 October 2019

Family Gathering

A family visit means a family get together, and food.

It's always a dilemna.  What to cook, how to cook it.  Not so much how to satisfy all the guests but how to present greek food at its best.  The guests are always satisfied one way or another.  Just looking at the table full of food is enough for many. 

We had already discussed rabbit (stewed in wine) and okra on our Poros/Perth viber group before they arrived so those were the first on the list.  

K had  2 big fish in the freezer especially for this occasion.  It was too windy to  light the outside BBQ or the wood oven, dangerous in the drought, so he cooked them quite plainly in the oven with lemon juice, olive oil and some vegetables.

The octopus was grilled on the gas grill. I didn't have enough energy to make a family cheese pie so that came frozen from the supermarket.

The mutton chops were put back into the fridge until teenage grandson declared he was starving. I really didn't think he would eat gamey mutton chops but they were quickly grilled and he gobbled them down.  Teenage boys are bottomless pits.
 And what did the rest of  the kids eat?   A huge pot of seafood spaghetti. Full of mussels and shrimps. Pita bread and tzatziki filled any empty spaces.

 What did sis in law eat who like me doesn't particularly care for rabbit or okra?  I don't remember having a greek salad on the table but there was plenty of selection.   A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

I took some photos but generally it was after we had already half eaten the food on the plate and for once I took none of us assembled around the table.  I was far too busy still catching up on all the family news and enjoying yet another pink gin and tonic.

Octopus grilled

Okra in a tomato sauce

Baked fish

Cheese pie

A bowl of marinated fried fish in front of the boys
The boys ate mutton chops and tzatziki

Doing his duty and  with a glass of Heineken

After this feast some little elves collected all the plates and emptied the table.  I think I would have just left it all out there till the next morning, if we didn't have wild cats.  It was a very enjoyable evening for me.  More talk than work.  I think my contribution was to bake the frozen cheese pie and pour the gin and tonics.  Someone else even brought out the ice.  Unfortunately the little elves didn't take away tupperware bowls of leftovers so somehow I had to cram those into our fridge.  I'm an expert at cramming leftovers.  There they usually stay till the neighbourhood cats get an early Christmas/Easter and 15th August bowl of goodies.  

A couple of days later most of the leftovers were eaten by some of K's drinking buddies but the cats did get their share.

First night
dining right beside the sea

Drinks on the terrace
Pink gin and octopus, but not together
We were introduced to pink gin by the visitors
The bottle emptied quickly.  I can recommend it!
The men drank heineken and ouzo, thank goodness


Although we do eat and drink far too much when family gathers, whether greek or from the Antipodes, it is a social gathering.

We just hang out, tell tall tales, laugh, gossip and enjoy everyone's company like any family anywhere in the world.  Our parties  are possibly more rustic than most.  The tablecloths are paper, the wine is from a plastic water bottle and the dog vaccums the crumbs from under the table.  The setting may be different from yours, the sun may shine a little stronger here but the celebrations are the same. 

Wednesday 2 October 2019

A Breath of Foreign Air

Visits from my family always light up my life.  They bring a breathe of fresh air, another way of looking at this place and these people I live with.  We can laugh together at the oddities, puzzle over the differences in cultures and I enjoy the everyday customs with them.  Coffee at the green chairs with cheese pies and sesame rolls.  No, actually we didn't share any sesame rolls this time.  So much food to try, so little time.

Some very traditional people always keep up the high standard of hospitality by which the greeks are known.  K is proud of his culture, his country and will always outdo himself showing our honoured guests the best of our small island, our fresh, healthy cuisine, our enjoyment of life and make sure they are treated everywhere with respect and 'philoxenia', the unspoken law of generosity and courtesy.   He will go out of his way to make sure they are never hungry or thirsty and always comfortable in our home or wherever they may stay.

We are comfortable with our visitors as well.  Most of them have been before and know the score.  A back yard full of rubbish and a tiny bathroom in need of a bit of TLC doesn't put them off.  It's all part of that parcel.  Their duty free booze served on the balcony under the greek skies with views of the olive groves make up for any shortcomings.

My brother Paul and my sis in law Karen have been to visit us in Greece many, many times.  On their first visit we were both (sis in laws) pregnant with our first child. Those children are now 28 going on *0.  Sorry Im not allowed to say their exact age but those children now have their own children. 
 They have flown up from a land down-under (Australia) for weddings, baptisms, in mid summer and, bravely, in mid winter.  They have stayed in all our funny little houses and actually seem to enjoy every experience.  

Experience being the word.  Something always happens to make their stay remarkable.  This time it was
- the unexpected and lengthy power cut 
- their being moved out from their long booked hotel for one night in a next door pension
- almost having their credit card eaten up by a bank machine.  Mine was eaten up and then K's was too much to his extreme annoyance and all the yelling in the world couldn't get it back till the next morning
- and finally gale force winds which stopped all shipping on the day  they had to travel to Athens  to fly out

All part of the Poros adventure for these veterans

Food and drink are most important and the slogan around here is 'faï, faï'.  Eat, eat!!  On our first evening we dined beside the sea at the taverna we take everyone to.  They've been there before.

There was octopus and grilled fish, kalamari. meatballs, greek salad and a load of other dishes I cannot even remember.  Far too much as usual.  

Next morning
Coffee and cheese and spinach pies at the Green Chairs

We don't have to site-see with these two.  They've seen ancient Epidavros Theatre and trooped over the 2,500 year old stone bridge, walked over the Corinth Canal and eaten lamb chops at our favourite country taverna

Mid September and still warm enough to swim and sunbathe

We had a few showers one morning but a few hours later they were at the beach again

End of Part 1