Saturday, September 26, 2015

Istanbul and Greece, 6/6/15 thru 7/5/15




Miguel took us to Dulles and the flight from there was okay. There was a trick to moving the seat back and adjusting the headrest with varying times of discovery. In Istanbul we got the apartment sponsored van to the Sufi Apartments. Quaint but clean and adequate- great location. We first ventured out and encountered rain after a little bit so back to the room and the rain gear. Teresa wanted to try a Rick Steve's suggested restaurant. It was quite a hike in the rain (past numerous appealing restaurants) only to find it had been hired out for a wedding.
We walked toward the Blue Mosque and settled on a small restaurant currently serving 18 young Germans and a Frenchman. I had chicken kebab, the other 3 had a shish kebob. We ordered one appetizer but got two --- because the meal was slow in coming. Shane and I had beer, Teresa a wine and Christine soda water. Everything was good, bill $40.


Trying to find our was back was an ordeal. No one got a good fix on our location before we left, no address; so we spent some time guessing which direction, aided by Christine's smart phone and Shane's recollection of where it was. On the way we stopped for $4 worth (quite a bit) of Turkish Delight and Baclava, quite enjoyable. We finally made it back after recognizing a few landmarks.

In the morning- first to Blue Mosque; then the nearby Hagia Sofia, two huge buildings (the older Roman one is actually larger) with plenty of decoration.



























We then visited some mausoleums.



We went next toward the Justinian cisterns with the columns borrowed from innumerable temples and other ancient buildings. The picture is of a Roman Medusa in an inverted column.








We passed the “Million” monument – which was the point from which every city in the Roman Empire was measured. For lunch Shane and I had roast dishes, the girls had something more exotic.

On to Topkapi Palace and harem of the Sultans of the Ottoman empire. That tour took a little over 3 hours.

















We stopped at a mini-market on the way back to the room.
To celebrate Kurdish gains in the Turkish election, we tried Kurdish food. I had mixed meat over rice and mashed potatoes. The girls had lamb casserole and Shane had a beef dish- we ordered an appetizer- got two- also a complimentary dessert- ice cream in a sesame sauce. Everything was excellent.

We overslept a bit in the morning and got to the Grand Bazaar around 10:30. It was raining and Shane stopped to buy an umbrella. The Bazaar was mobbed. We stopped for coffee, coke, cheesecake and chocolate cake, pretty good. We bought a few things; Turkish wash mitts and a Turkish bath towel for Christine.





We walked back a block to get on the tram to take us to the New District- then a funicular up to Tacsim Square. We stopped to eat kebabs before heading down Istekal St. which is the main pedestrian shopping street in Istanbul. Again, few purchases (ice cream and baklava.) Teresa and Shane went to the top of the Galata Tower for pictures of the city.














We made our way to Galata bridge which takes you across the Golden Horn. We walked on the lower level which had many restaurants.












We checked out the harbor area a bit before heading to the Spice Market, which was a mini Grand Bazaar with more spices, and also huge.


Walking back to our room took us through the Grand Bazaar again. With a better map and better fix on the location of our apartment, we made it back in good order. Everyone was tired of my comment that the streets around our apartment were “Byzantine”.

After a false start, we consulted our host for a dinner choice and he suggest the Cafe Mozaic near the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque area. Good choice. I had a mixed grilled meats- terrific . Teresa had baked lamb casserole, cinnamon, pine nuts and golden raisins; Christine had a chicken in artichoke and cream sauce; Shane had roast lamb with spice sauce. We had fried Goat cheese as an appetizer. All was delicious.
On the way back,Teresa found the elusive Magnum double chocolate ice cream bars. We all got one. we then walked west to the fountain between the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque for photography lessons from Shane. After we sauntered through the Hippodrome and by the Obelisk with no problem getting back to the room.





In the morning, after stopping for pastries, we got our tram to take us to the Galata bridge area. We bought our cruise tickets for our trip up the Bosporus on the European side and down on the Asian side.








After the cruise we headed to the Suleyman the Magnificent Mosque. I believe we all preferred it to the Blue Mosque; it was huge, clean and aesthetically pleasing. We headed back down to the Golden Horn. Teresa and I picked up food on the way. Shane and Christine held out for the fish sandwiches served off the boats.

 

 




We then took the tram again a little way to visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, which also included a tile museum and ancient Asian museum.






We decided to walk back; first picking up water and lemonade. We rested awhile in the shade between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. We then again patronized the Magnum --- this time Shane opted for the Tiramusu. Back to the room.

Shane picked the restaurant for dinner; Nostra Casa Restaurant- Italian. We ate on the rooftop. The owner was very proud that Russell Crowe had eaten there six times (we are guessing while filming "The Water Diviner"). The owner was friendly and asked if we would let him prepare some appetizers for us. Apparently 8 appetizers was mandatory as they kept coming. The cost turned out to be a total of $20 for all eight, delicious openers. We all ordered pasta. Christine won with the four cheeses rigatoni, although all were very good. Tiramasu and Strudel were shared for dessert.




In the morning our host had arranged a van for us to get to the airport. This was my most worrisome day- to make the tight connection in Athens to get the flight to Mykonos. I grew anxious as our flight was delayed. When we got to Athens we went to passport control, customs, checking our luggage, security and to our gate with five minutes to spare. We then sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes before the short flight.
A short cab ride to our apartment at Andromeda. Nice apartment but the Wi-fi was weak. Teresa and I took the loft- the kids took the two basement bedrooms. Living room, kitchen with a table and chairs, our bathroom and porch on the first floor. Shane's room was small with fan no ac unit. Main drawback was that their rooms smelled musty.
We walked around Mykonos town, taking some pictures before coming back to the room, making a market stop on the way. We decided to go by the pool and read (Teresa swam) before cleaning up for dinner.









After walking awhile and more photos, we settled on Niko's Tavern. We shared a Greek salad and an Octopus Salad. I had fried anchovies, Shane a had a seafood platter, Christine mussels and Teresa lamb shank with vegetables and potatoes.
 






We found gelato for dessert then sauntered back to the room. We were the first breakfast customers at 8:30. It consisted of croissants with various spreads, hard boiled eggs, a meat and cheese sandwich, toast and bread with Orange juice and coffee. We hustled to the dock to get on the first boat to Delos. We hired a guide and were four of the seven in the group. We got quite a bit of history.





















We picked up chicken gyros on the way back to the room. We changed and took the short walk to the bus stop and took the bus to Ornos beach where we had a splendid afternoon. Shane went swimming, the rest of us read and sunbathed. I did get a doughnut from a wandering merchant. We bused back and reconnoitered our intended dinner restaurant before heading back to the room. I picked up cash on the way too.

Shane and I had just pizza. Christine and Teresa shared a pizza and a salad. We had spent the day at one of the most unique islands in the world, a wonderful day at a Mykonos beach, and the highlight of Teresa and Christine's day was their salad.

After dinner we dropped off leftovers and a bottle of Loya lemonade soda at the room before heading out again. We got gelato, then walked around to the docks with the yachts. Christine bought jewelry, then we stole wifi from a gelato shop so I had to buy another cone before heading back to the room.

We slept in somewhat on Friday, went to breakfast and got on the 10:45 bus to Paradise Beach. We chose the Tropicana Club. A wonderful day at the beach. We brought our ice chest with water, Coke Zero, and Loya lemonade soda. We rented Chaises and umbrellas. Christine had a strawberry daiquiri and Mythos beer. Shane had two of the latter. The girls had ordered Greek salads for lunch, Shane and I had a great pork gyros- 18 Euros, delivered by our bikini clad waitress.

Shane, Christine and Teresa swam, too cold for me. We took the 4:00 bus back and bought pastry to eat at the pool.
For dinner we ate leftover pizza and cheese, salami and crackers. Before going out Teresa and Shane had studied the map and found a brilliant way to get to the docks the next morning. We walked the route which took us by unexplored areas. Christine bought olive oil lotion.





We looked for a place in Little Venice to observe the sunset. We were very fortunate to find a small table at Rhapsody. It had about 12 feet of frontage on a balcony over the water, and we got 6 feet of it when a group left as we were arriving. I had a banana berry and a banana daiquiri, Christine had a white wine and Pina Colada, Shane had a Madoni Colada and Sangria, Teresa had a white and red glass of wine. We stayed there an hour and a half or so, watching the sun set over the sea.





We then went shopping for awhile, stopped but didn't buy at the gelato shop with good wifi. I was able to call the office and Teresa spoke to her Mom over Skype. After more wandering we found a crepe place where Teresa had a Nutella and banana crepe which she shared with the kids. We sauntered more until we found the best gelato place in town. Stopped at the market and then went back to our room.

In the morning, after breakfast, we walked to the dock to catch the dolphin, Flying Cat 4, to Santorini. We had paid a little extra for business class but it was worth it. We all had taken Dramamine before we left, didn't need it.
We took a taxi to our apartment, quite luxurious and a great view of the caldera from the front door, and a hot tub.




 We decided to walk to Thera and shop, stopping for gyros on the way. It was a hot walk.



When we got back we asked our hostess, Nina, about renting a car. She had a man arrive with one at 6:30, the paper work took 5 minutes.
We drove to Oia for the sunset. Typical mob scene. We were running late so we didn't make it to the Tierney spot. Still a great view and some good pics.



We decided to eat in Oia and again got lucky as a prime table at the railing with a view of the water, opened up as we arrived.



I had grilled shrimp- good but a lot of work. Shane had chicken slouvaki which he enjoyed- Teresa had stuffed peppers which she claimed were good. Christine had Shrimp Saganaki which tasted good but may not have been. More shopping as we headed back to the car and to the room. I had a Magic (a Magnum wannabe) on the way to the room (not bad.)

We slept in a little the next morning. Christine had an upset stomach. Teresa and I went out looking for Pepto and supplies. Being Sunday, no pharmacies were open but Nina brought a home remedy of Nescafe and lemon juice, seemed to do the trick. We all ate pastries on our front porch overlooking the Caldera. We then drove to Thera for the Ancient Thera Museum. Plenty of artifacts from the island dating 3,000 B.C. To 1,700 B.C.



 
Next to Akrotiri, the archaeological dig from where the artifacts came. 
 

It was a short trip from Akrotiri to Red Beach, just to see it, deciding not to stay, no umbrellas or lounges.

We did stay at our next stop, Perissa Beach, situated next to the mountain with Ancient Thera on the summit. We ate our lunch there and then drove back to the apartment.



We cleaned up and drove to Oia for another sunset.



We left early enough to shop and find the Tierney spot, the church ruins. Quite a crowd. We met a tour group from Australia which let us join them. More sunset pictures.











We drove to Thera for dinner. We ate at Louis Restaurant. I had chicken a la crème, Teresa had a pork gyro, Shane had chicken with spinach and bacon, and Christine had spaghetti bolognese. We split a salad and tomato balls for appetizers. It was pretty good and during the last half of the meal we were serenaded by a group of young girls singing Journey, Oasis etc. in a neighboring bar. Because our waiter brought us Baklava after dinner, we did not try the gelato. The ride home was easy.

In the morning Shane and Teresa climbed the rock in front of our apartment. I headed to the bakery to pick up pastries. We ate breakfast on our front porch and then headed to Kamari Beach.









 Before going down the the beach we did some shopping; Christine found the elusive bathing suit, Teresa a bracelet.
We got free lounges and umbrellas with a promise of the purchase of lunch. When lunchtime came we all had salads and bread, pretty good. We met a couple from Kansas City on a cruise who had arrived that day and were sweating getting back to the port in time to get on the ship.
 
 On the drive back from beach, we stopped at Santorini Brewery to sample the various Donkey beers, purchase t-shirts and a few bottles.

Back at the apartment we had time to spend in our hot tub before cleaning up. Sunset was supposed to be picturesque at our place so we decided to stay at home for it- it did not disappoint. For dinner we went across the street to Avocado. I had a Greek Carbonara (smoked pork instead of bacon), Shane had Moussaka, Christine had Fallafel, and Teresa had Mediterranean Chicken with couscous. We had some country fried potatoes with cheese,herbs and smoked salt and cheese Dakos. All quite good.


 
  







Everything went like clockwork in the morning- taxi to the airport, flight into Athens, rental car on the road by 10:45.
First stop - the walkway over the Corinth Canal.


 Next to Ancient Corinth. The isthmus had been a trading center as an overland ship and cargo hauler which made it wealthy during its heyday.










On to Mycenae with the Lion's Gate and Beehive Tombs. Also had a nice little museum.



Carmen took us on rustic path to Naupflion but we found our place easy enough. Our rooms weren't new but comfortable and the AC and internet worked. The location of Omorfi Poli was quite good.

We spent quite a bit of time walking around the old Town before dinner. We met a family from Boston with Notre Dame ties. They were sailing a catamaran around the coastal islands.








 


We finally settled on a restaurant recommended by Rick Steves. I had grilled octopus, Teresa had meatballs, Christine had mousaka and Shane had a large bream. We were first served pita and 3 spreads, we also ordered grilled bread and big beans as appetizers. 3 of us had a local beer, Teresa had half a liter of white wine. Total bill was 48 euros. Much less expensive than the islands.

 
We walked more and tried gelato at the Rick Steves recommended spot. The chocolate was good but the rest unremarkable.
In the morning Teresa and I went shopping for Muesli, yogurt, pastry, and bread. After breakfast in our room, we drove to the Venetian fortress. It was very extensive, the weather hot, and Christine stated she had been misinformed about the size.










After driving back we went to the farmers market and picked up peaches and cherries. We bought salami, cheese and olive oil at a delicatessen.

We drove to the beach, bought 2 Mexican beers and a strawberry daiquiri in exchange for 2 umbrellas and 4 lounge chairs. Nice beach. Back to the room to clean up. We strolled and shopped some before dinner. We picked a place at random and it was pretty good. Shane had veal with onions, I had lemon chicken souvlaki, Teresa had stuffed grape leaves and Christine had swordfish. We then made it to the water front for sunset pictures. We found a better gelato place on the southeastern square. Back to the room.


In the morning I got some pastry but muesli and yogurt ruled our breakfast. On to Epidarus- not an on an interstate but good roads.
 First to the theater, Christine and Teresa went to the top. I stayed at center stage to act as emcee for our guest performers. We had a very good rendition of “Don't Cry for me Argentina” and then I introduced Joanna Fenkova of the Czech Republic to do a poetry recital. Both performances were well-received.
 We toured the small museum, walked around the archaeological site and then headed to Athens.







No problems at the airport turning in the car and we took a taxi to our hotel. There we found out that when we extended our stay in Athens by one day we only did so for one of our two rooms. The hotel was filled but the manager found an apartment of a friend for Shane and me with the owner picking us up. We decided to meet the girls at the ticket office of the Acropolis at 4:00. We grabbed sandwiches and frozen lemonade/strawberry drinks.
We toured the acropolis then went to the rock from which St. Paul preached.










 From there we went to the Plaka area for more shopping. We ate a Rick Steves recommended “mezzo” restaurant; Scholarhio Ouzeri Kouklis, where the four of us shared 10 dishes (plus bread, dessert and drink) all very good. This included 1.meatballs 2. cabbage salad 3. tatziki 4. sausages in tomato sauce 5. sausages set on fire in a pan 6. fried fish with garlic mashed potatoes 7. fried bait fish 8. fried cheese 9. stuffed tomatoes and peppers, 10. forgot that one.


 We then walked through Hadrian's Arch to the temple of Zeus Olympus.
 



 
In the morning we walked by the Acropolis first to the Ancient Agora, the Greek forum where the great philosophers hung out. They reconstructed a larger stoa which contained artifacts and statuary. A very large intact temple is also on that sight.






We toured what little was left of Hadrian's Library and then went to the Roman Forum. The Romans moved all the commercial activity from the Agora to this site. Unfortunately the building of the Eight Winds was completely covered, we couldn't visit or even photograph.


 We then looked for a place for lunch and found a Rick Steves recommended place on the “restaurant steps”. It was very good. I had fried cheese again with my meal. There was a tour group there from Ireland and one Irish guy talked with us throughout the meal.


We then headed to the Acropolis Museum; much improved since our last visit- limited photos though.




We spent some time shopping before heading to the temple of Zeus Olympus; we then went through the National Gardens before seeing the changing of the guard.





We walked through Syngmata Square before walking down the more upscale shopping district. We went back through the Plaka (I had gelato) before heading back to the room.
We decided to stay in our area for dinner and dined at Ambrosia. It was very good. We had fried cheese (saganaki), bread and spinach pie for appetizers. I had a gyro platter, Christine had skewered pork, Teresa had a Greek Salad, and Shane had skewered chicken stuffed with cheese and peppers. Two beers, half liter of wine, 40 Euros.

In the morning, Teresa and I went for pastry and coffee to bring back to the room. After breakfast we caught a taxi to the archaeological museum, much improved; better lay out, air conditioned, English explanations.





















We were going to take a taxi back to Syngmatata Square but the cabbie said he couldn't take us there because the streets were closed because of protests about no jobs. He offered to take us to another location for15 Euros. We took the metro and found no protesters or closed streets.

We walked back through the shops of the Plaka and I was determined to find a place we could get gyro sandwiches. We found the perfect place near the Acropolis Metro station with good gelato around the corner.
We started toward the National Gardens when I found some postcards to purchase. There was a zoo of sorts at the gardens and we made it a leisurely afternoon. More shopping on the way back to the room. For dinner I had Codfish with garlic sauce, Teresa had some kind of salad, Shane had mussels with rice and Christine had Cuttlefish with pasta. As appetizers, we had bread, tatziki, and feta cheese with olive oil and oregano.
We stopped at the market on the way back.



The taxi was prompt and the trip to the airport was uneventful. We said good-bye to the kids as they headed home and we took off for Thessaloniki.

Too early to check in, we left our luggage and walked along the waterfront, stopped for a pork gyro for me and falafel gyro for Teresa.
We then went to the White Tower and got lots of local history. We then toured the Byzantine Museum and got more.
We walked back to the room to check in.

After walking around awhile in our Ladidiki District, we ended up eating right next door of our hotel. Teresa had a Greek Salad, or rather less than half as it was gargantuan. I had Bougiourdi, a traditional dish with Feta and Kefalotyria cheese, tomato, peppers and spices. It replaced fried cheese as my new favorite dish. I also had some good grilled smoked mackerel and marinated french fries dusted with Keflotyria cheese.
Thessaloniki is giving Ljubljana a run for its money in the good looking women department.

We got a late start in the morning and went to the market where we found our first giant peach of the trip. Next we went to Greece's version of Hagia Sophia and then to the archaeological museum which was very good.













On the way I had a donut custom made for me. After the museum we went to the Rotunda. On the way I had another donut custom made for me. The Rotunda had been planned as a mausoleum for a Roman emperor but he died in another country and the new emperor made different plans for the building.

 
Next to the Roman Agora, then to St. Demetrius Church, the largest in Greece. St. Demetrius was a martyr, killed for giving a gladiator a blessing.

We climbed up through the Turkish district and had a hard time finding Osis David, (ended up being closed.) We found the Monei Monastery. The walk back to the room was long but downhill and straighter than the trip up.


 We were strolling for dinner by a Tapas place when a Greek girl eating with two Germans explained that there was a 1 euro tapas menu but the menu was only in Greek. She offered to help translate. We ordered 12 tapas/pintxos. We shared except I ate all the calamari, Teresa had the eggplant. In general the dishes were mediocre and most not hot, certainly not up to San Sebastian standards but then what can you expect for one euro?

The next morning we bused toward the airport to pick up our “downtown” car rental. Our first destination was Pellas, the birthplace of Alexander the Great and one time capital of Macedonia. The museum was very good, the excavation was rather spotty.








 Next to Edessa and its waterfall where we also had lunch of a salad with a Parmesan bowl and a less delicious Bougiourdi, only feta cheese I think.




Finally to Vergina where Phillip II was buried very well under a mound tomb and only recently rediscovered. Quite a treasure trove. They made the huge mound a museum, by tunneling into it to the spots where the tombs were. Another good museum but they did not allow photographs.

Back to Thessaloniki. Dinner at Ta Tria Gourounakia (The Three Pigs). It was highly reviewed on T. A. but was empty when we got there. It had great fresh bread, good olive oil. I had ravioli stuffed with seafood and a shrimp bisque sauce- delicious. Teresa raved about her mince meat pie and large salad. She had ½ liter of wine and I had a draft beer, 30 Euros. We finished at 10:35 and the seats were starting to fill up. We decided to walk around town and everyone was out and about. The bars and restaurants were crowded (a Tuesday night) as well as the squares and even the wharf. We forced down some gelato and gave up at 11:35, back to our room.

In the morning we strolled finding Coke Zero, frappe(chocolate, out of the coffee mix), nature bars and pastry.
Retrieving the car and getting out of Thessaloniki was rather easy. Finding Dion was not, as Carmen did not recognize the instruction and a detour confused things. The museum was small but plenty of English, the excavation site- rather scattered.










We then drove by Mount Olympus to Litohorou and checked in. I found HBN lemonade for the first time and we grazed for lunch.

 







We then drove to Mylos Beach. We obtained two lounges and an umbrella by buying a Coke Zero and water for 3 euros. We went back to the room at 6 pm.

For dinner we went to Gastrogourmand Olympia and had lamb slouvaki with french fries, pita and salad. Tasty but they could have trimmed the lamb better. A stroll through the area before heading back.
Breakfast was included in the room rate- a boiled egg, pound cake and a sandwich with good orange juice.
I bought some more HNB lemonade and some stamps, then mailed postcards before driving to Mount Olympus. You get to drive your car over halfway up the mountain; from there you are on foot. Because the hike was 4 hours up we decided to head back after about 45 minutes of climbing, Teresa erected a cairn at our highest spot. Beautiful day, Zeus was in a good mood!









 


We then drove to the Meteora Monasteries. We stopped in town for a map at the T.I., to get closing times, and to get an idea where our hotel was (Carmen was not co-operating again.) The man who helped us ended up being the son of the owner of our apartment. There were six monasteries and two would be closed the next day so were hurried off and were able to see three. We met 4 girls from Beijing at one and became quick friends (actually their adopted parents.)











They must have missed us as we saw them at the next monastery too. They are in some of our pictures.


















We found our apartment easy enough. It was a family operation. One son waited on us at the TI, a daughter checked us in and another son carried up our bags. The wife was on breakfast duty the next morning.
We walked down for dinner. I had saganaki, chicken and french fries; Teresa had a Greek salad, tatziki and bread; we got complimentary lemon cake. We strolled around the small town.



 
 In the morning we toured two nunneries and the monastery featured in Live and Let Die.


















 
We picked up picnic items at a LIDL and headed west. We stopped at Motsovo to have our picnic and look around; theoretically a preserved town but more like a tourist trap. We bought a ceramic bowl for bouyourdi.


We arrived in Ioannina around 4:00 p.m., ahead of schedule because we ended up on the major highway instead of a scenic road. We checked in and cleaned up but walked a long time before eating. Ioannina is odd in that the “Old Town” inside the city walls is very quiet and subdued. Outside the walls the city really hops at night, again with lots of young folks at bars and restaurants.



For dinner I had pork chops strogonoff (which was not your Russian uncle's strogonoff but very good) french fries and rice. Teresa had lamb and potatoes baked n a pastry shell. We split a balsamic salad and had bread, beer and wine- 26 euros. We walked up and down the happening streets before heading to the room.


In the morning we headed to the Pindos Mountain range and the various villages; first to Kipi then Dilofo (with the bridges) Kapesovo (with the steps) and the road to Vradeto and the walk to the Vikos Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world.
















During our tour we met a nice Czech family then spent a long time hiking with a couple from Israel. We went to Monodendri and walked to the monastery for more views. We had our picnic with salami, cheese, tomato and olive oil sandwiches chocolate and bananas.





A lengthy drive followed to Papigo and the natural swimming pools.





















We saw long lines at ATM's on the way back so I got in one to top off our cash.

We had a good dinner, gyros and a Greek salad. We were serenaded with Greek music from the next table. After walking the main drag a while we got some good gelato. The owner discussed the Greek economic situation with me. He and I both followed Paul Krugman. He had a degree in economics and was worried about Monday. He blamed the Greek situation on crony capitalism. He felt the politicians had stolen all the money and the public had to repay it.
The girl in the Information Office of the National park had a different take. She was worried because 80% of her salary was paid by the European Union. She felt income and wealth disparity were the culprits, stating the rich in Greece paid no taxes, they took their yachts to Mykonos while the rest struggled and paid taxes.
In the morning we drove to Dodona, a sacred place with probably the first oracle in Greece. Only the theater was well-preserved. One of the employees there said he hadn't been paid in two months. The mood in the country had changed from nervousness to anxiety.




We drove back, ate lunch in our room, relaxed a bit and then went walking. We took a boat ride to the island of Nisi (island of the lake). It was a tourist trap surrounded by water. Found some geese to feed our excess bread. Back to the mainland, we walked through the Kastro and cleaned up.

We then went to Mindtrap, a place where you try to escape a room by solving clues in one hour. It is for 2-6 people. Teresa and I didn't make it out; about 90-95% done. It was a lot of fun, and maybe if the kids had been with us we would have finished the escape. We then ate at Ispotes, the waitress was from the Czech Republic. I had a bacon cheddar burger with fries, Teresa had a salad with chicken, both pretty good. It was drizzling so we went back to the room at 9:00.

After breakfast we went to the port; purchased our ferry tickets for Corfu, got our car in line and everything went smoothly. We found our hotel easily, Bella Venezia, very nice. (Teresa's favorite.)





We walked through town, saw some sights then visited the Old Fort. For lunch we split a rusk Cretan salad and 3 skewers of pork souvlaki with pita and titziki. We later found it was a top T.A. spot. On our walk I found some HNB lemonade which we brought back to the room.


















 


We couldn't find the restaurant I was looking for but stopped at one that looked good. It was. I had a ham, bacon, and mushroom pizza, Teresa a traditional beef dish (lots of meat), we shared a Greek salad. We also shared a Magic double chocolate as we wandered back.

Breakfast was very good. I had an omelet and other good stuff; Teresa played with the orange juice squeezing machine. We then went to the Asian Art Museum- better than I expected.










 Then to the beach. We drove across the island to Glifada Beach on the west coast. It was a great beach. We got an umbrella and two lounges for twelve euros. We brought our cooler and ate lunch of leftover pizza, peaches and chocolate.



 We stayed until about 6:00 and decided to drive to the beaches of Mirtisitosa, Ermones, and Paleokastritsa- they were beautiful but our beach was the best. We got back to our room about 8:00.









We went to Anthros for dinner- hard to find but highly recommended. We were again lucky as two girls from Amsterdam were finishing as we arrived. They praised the food and recommended fish. Teresa had Sea Bass which she enjoyed. I had tuna with balsamic glaze and sesame seeds which was amazing. We ate the limoncello baklava we had earlier purchased before dinner, on a bench on the way back.
In the morning, after breakfast we walked to Mon Repo which was the palatial home of British Regents. It gave us a history of the British involvement in the Ionian Sea. Back to the room for the car and we headed to where we thought the Byzantine Museum was. We were wrong, but quite fortunately we parked on the museum steps. It was a church with more than the usual artwork in it.



On to Glifada Beach again. There had been quite a few people there the day before but this day there was a huge invasion of German college students who overwhelmed the beach and restaurants. The music also changed much to the distress of Teresa.


 On the way back we went to Kinoni for the overrated view.



 For dinner we walked to Fibrani, a small local tavern with a limited menu. We both had the pastisota after saganaki. I thought it was good; Teresa really enjoyed hers. Back to the room.
After another very good breakfast we headed to the port and made the 10:30 ferry back to the mainland.


 We had a long drive so along the way we stopped in a small town for gyros.

 We got into Natpaktos and first walked around. We were surprised at all the existing fortifications.

 We decided to go back to the room and change into swimsuits and go to the beach and read. We both swam in the Gulf of Corinth and read. This was the site of the Battle of Lepanto which was a decisive victory for Christendom over the Ottoman Empire which stunted its expansion.
We went back to the room and cleaned up and did some exploring before eating.







We had a great view of the moon rise for dinner. We shared a huge Cyprian salad, four bacon and cheese 'pies' that were really rolls as a starter and meatballs with french fries for her dinner. I had a chicken with cheese dish. Ice cream on our walk home.



In the morning, after a nice breakfast we drove up to the town's castle- very well-preserved/restored; you could climb all over the extensive walls; and it was free.













We then started driving along the north coast of the gulf. We stopped and toured the town of Galaxidi on the way.


We checked into our hotel in Delfi and first found a tavern for lunch. I had a gyro; Teresa had bean soup. We then headed first to the Delfi Archaeological site and then the Museum.




Apollo was the big deal here after he slew a monster. He had the largest temple where the oracles were spoken and the priests interpreted. The people and the cities gave thanks for the help of the gods with votive offerings and building treasuries, statues, columns and temples.

















We did some shopping on the way back, olive oil soap and small ceramic bowls. For dinner we went to Dion's Taverna, on the advice of the shop owner. I started with fried local cheese, Teresa with taziki. We both had lamb chops with fries. We got complimentary baklava for dessert. Everything was delicious.

The next morning, after a nice breakfast we headed to Athena's temple down from the main Delfi sites.




We then headed to the Monastery of St. Luke- the one who foretold the Greek reconquest of Crete- not the evangelist.










We hit a supermarket before Carman got us easily to the car rental dropoff. Just a five euro cab ride to the hotel. We walked left around the Acropolis looking for the Mariostraski flea market. We found one market where I bought a souvenir but had trouble finding the big market (we had gyros and I had a gelato while searching). Finally, after three different sets of directions from three different people we finally found it as it was closing down. We went back to the hotel after one final walk through the Plaka. Ambrosia again for dinner.



4 comments:

  1. Your photos are beautiful, such vibrant colours that really sell the cities and places you visited. It sounds like you had an amazing time as well #mondayescapes

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  2. You brought me back great memories of Istanbul! I would love to return some time. Amazing pictures, especially of Greece :D

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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  3. I'v always wanted to go to Istanbul and this exhaustive list of things to do will prove to be really helpful. I'll get in touch with you before planning my trip! Cheers to more such trips!!! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  4. Awesome pics. I'm planning a stay in Nafpoli and this is a big help.

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