Hi and Happy Easter! I’m finally home from my vacation in Greece!
Antonio and I left Madrid on Thursday with a more-or-less Spanish board game for Maria’s two kids and two bottles of Spanish red wine for Maria. We met Maria in the rain at the center metro stop in Athens after she finished teaching her last class at the University (she’s a professor and Doctor in Nutrition and Crop Sciences). The first night we spent eating a home-made lasagna-type meal, drinking wine, and playing the game we brought with Myrto and Alex who are 11 and 13. Maria’s father came over to meet Antonio because he used to work a lot in South America and wanted to practice his Spanish with Antonio – it was a pretty entertaining exchange. 🙂
On our first day, we went with Maria to Aegina Island with a class of French students she needed to accompany from the university (I had been to this island with Maria my last time in Athens). We rode the ferry for an hour and got to the island where we got a bus-tour, saw the ancient ruins of a Greek Temple at the far end of the island, visited a few museums, went to one of the famous Pistachio farms and got a tour of the farm and their organic processes of producing their Pistachios, and finally an amazing Greek lunch (complete with begging cat-friend). Aegina Island has an amazing amount of cats everywhere! Antonio is a cat guy, needless to say – he was going crazy. We had another hour to explore the port a little on our own, take photos, get a little lost, find a small church, and buy some Pistachio products (my only regret is not buying the Pistachio liquor.. amazing). By the time we rode the ferry back home we were exhausted. Maria ordered us all Souvlaki from the neighborhood restaurant and we ate at the table while Maria’s father played for us the traditional Greek guitar, the Bouzouki, and Maria and Myrto sang: VIDEO
Our second day, we walked basically all over Athens after going to the Acropolis Museum. Apparently Athens built the brand new Acropolis Museum to house all of the artifacts and to prove to England that they had somewhere to house the ones that they have in England so they could get the artifacts back to where they belong… still in England. -__- Regardless, it’s a great museum, we learned about everything from ancient Athens and it’s politics and structure to how the ancient Athenians used different waxes to color the marble statues of the Parthenon. Maria showed us all of the cool neighborhoods in the city – Plaka, and Monastiraki, and the Parliament building. For dinner we went to the restaurant I fell in love with my last time in Athens and had the most amazing Greek meal with a sort of mushroom and truffle rice, fried feta cheese in honey, honey pork, a really delicious salad with feta and prunes, and of course red wine. I think Greek food is my favorite type of food. After dinner, Myrto, Maria, Antonio, and I went bowling because we had seen the bowling alley on our way into the city that morning. We had a lot of fun, despite Antonio winning. Hahah.
Our third day, Antonio and I went up to the Acropolis ourselves and explored and hiked around and then met Maria afterwards at the base to grab dinner. We drove to a restaurant of a friend a bit outside of the city and ate meatballs and Greek salad and met a few of her coworkers and drank a lot of house wine that was offered to us for free (happy Jocelyn).
Finally on Monday, Maria took us to the port before work and Antonio and I headed to Santorini Island (an 8 hour ferry ride). The boats are amazing – they have 8 stories! We mostly slept and watched a movie on the iPad because the ride was a bit rocky and I wasn’t feeling super hot. We got to Santorini – what chaos! when the ferry comes there are a ton of people waiting at the port to offer you car rental, hotel, etc. and they’re all like sharks waiting for you to get off the ship! And it’s only the beginning of the high season – apparently Santorini in the summer is a tourist sea. Anyway, we found the ticket office and bought our return tickets for Wednesday in advance and then were the last two people on the last shuttle up to our hotel. Our hotel was sort of a condo with a view of the sea, and a 15 minute walk to the city of Oia, on the northern part of the island. We rented our place through Airbnb.com so the guy who owns the condos offered to drive us up to the town the first time so we could see how to get there and be able to get there before the sunset which is the best from the top of Oia. So we went to the market, bought some groceries, then headed to the a high spot to watch the sunset and take photos. After the sun went down we found a great place for dinner and I had rice-stuffed peppers and Greek salad and more wine 🙂 Also Santorini has more dogs than cats – and I was going crazy over all the pups.
Our second full day in Santorini we got up and walked the road north to the beach with black sand. It was a bit chilly because it had been raining before we got there and the winds were still pretty strong but a light jacket and we were fine. So we walked the beach, I got some black sand in my water bottle, we took photos, and then had planned on walking back south to the Oia winery to do a wine tasting but on our way, we decided not to because it was 60 euro a person and we would rather learn that much about a Spanish wine so we decided to take a rain check on the wine tasting and headed straight for the town of Oia to have some lunch and explore some more than we were able to the night before. We met a very cute donkey on our way, and got lost in the hill-side homes of the Volcanic island. Finally we made it to the city, had another great lunch with calamari and Moussaka and we were able to spend more money on a bottle of the famous Assyrtiko white wine from the region that has a bit of a salty aftertaste and was delicious! We explored the town some more, I did some shopping (of course) and we headed back to the hotel with a take away box of Baklava. 🙂
The next morning we woke up, booked a shuttle ride with the condo owner, but the power was out so we tried to make a decent breakfast out of our remaining groceries, and found a place in the yard to lay in the sun for a couple hours until the shuttle got there. Another 8 hour ferry ride (this time rougher) and we made it back to Athens around midnight and Maria was at the port to pick us up. We got home and went to bed. The next morning Maria had gone to work and the kids to school and had left a hand-made spinach pie on the stove for us to eat for breakfast. 😀 we packed up our things, Maria came back to the house on her lunch break, picked us up, and took us to the metro in the middle of the city so we could catch it to the airport. She bought Antonio and I some gifts (including grape-based alcohol she had made herself in her home on Ios island). We thanked Maria for everything (Greek hospitality is the most impressive, I swear) and headed to the airport (this time without tears from Maria or I – I am going to try and get back to Greece in July).
We slept most of our flight home, and it felt so nice to be back in Madrid. We took the metro to the Garden House and went to the chino for something to make for dinner. The next day we spent cleaning the house (Spring Cleaning!) and because my allergies with the cat have been pretty bad lately. So we dusted and swept and mopped and hung up the hammock in the garden. It’s officially summer in Madrid! I showed Antonio the films “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Samsara” and together we watched “Magic Girl” which we both really liked.
Anyway, now I’m home. And the kids don’t have school tomorrow because it’s a public holiday after Easter but I think I still have school. Back to work for me.