A Very Greek Day

The Peloponnesos is truly the heart of Greece. There is less tourism and what there is, is mainly for the Greeks themselves. Not to say we haven’t seen and heard people from everywhere, mostly Europe. Again, we’ve run across few Americans.

This area is beautiful. As we drove through yesterday, we only came upon one swath of burned area, a hillside with fried trees and blackened scorched earth. Since this area hadn’t been involved in the recent fires, this must have been from the fires that hit this area in June and July.

We walked around last night listening for our bouzoukia music…found it! We came upon a great little taverna with an older man playing the bouzouki and a younger guy playing guitar. Both were singing Greek songs, and some of the patrons were intermittently singing along. A woman was sitting in her little balcony across the way, listening all evening to the free music. People would walk by and join in on the words of whatever song was happening at the moment.

I had a great Greek meal: tsatziki (the cucumber and garlic dip), dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and grilled octopus. Gino can’t seem to leave the Italian food behind and had spaghetti with Greek cheese sprinkled on it and tomato salad. The waiters were fabulous and brought us free dessert — galaktobouriko, which is close to a custard. It was drizzled with a golden caramel sauce. YUM! Of course, wine.

Reluctantly, we got up to leave after the lingering dinner, not anxious to leave the music behind. No problem! The owner of the restaurant hurried out with two complimentary glasses of ice cold ouzo and water. Gino took one drink and exclaimed loudly, “Strong! WOO!” Even the musicians laughed. Gino calls it booz-o. We stayed considerably longer, sipping our ouzo and enjoying the traditional Greek Rembetika music. We walked back to our hotel, arriving just past midnight.

People are incredibly nice and so helpful (never mind that unpleasant Metro woman!). We have noticed how much everyone smokes! They smoke walking around, while they are ordering dinner, during dinner, after dinner. Sicily smokes a lot as well.

This morning we had breakfast outside in the plant-filled courtyard of our hotel. I swooned when I saw the mound of delicate Greek yogurt. I can’t stand yogurt at home — it is nothing like you get here. Even the “Greek yogurt” you can buy at Trader Joe’s does not come close. This stuff is like mellow clouds of yumminess drizzled with sweet golden Greek honey. Nirvana! I can’t wait until tomorrow morning. I will forego all else and just eat yogurt for breakfast.

The weather has been astounding. Every day is cloudless, warm, deep blue skies. We feel so lucky.

We hopped in our trusty little sea-colored Aggie and drove through the Peloponnesos countryside towards Mycenae, a very important archaeological site. It should have taken only 30 minutes to reach, but it was more like 45. Gino laughed that it took him 20 minutes to realize he was reading the map upside down. Guess it doesn’t make a difference to us since everything is in Greek!

But we found our way and explored up and down and around this area that was built in 1500 BC — yes, that old! We had forgotten to bring our little flashlight to explore some “dark areas” we had read about in the guidebook. We found the entrance to an old cistern, now dried up, but a few steps down you could not even see your hand in front of your face.

Genius Gino thought to turn on the video camera light, so we did have a light after all! A couple came up behind us and we invited them to join our light. Down we went into the depths, 100 stone steps, a curving vertical tunnel down with nothing but this little camera light. We came to the bottom and took pictures of each other to prove we made it. Then we started back up. We gasped at one point when the camera light went off, and we were in complete, utter darkness. But Gino got it turned on again and up we went, congratulating each other at the top.

On the drive back to Naplion, we pulled over to investigate an old Byzantine church — the most amazing architecture! The drive was very pleasant. The Greeks are crazy drivers, but somehow less frenetic than the Italians.

In fact, we are shifting down into the Greek pace — yes, I’m even walking slower. After lunch (eggplant salad: a puree of sorts, pastitsio: sort of like a lasagna, but with different spices), we walked to the beach and lazed away the afternoon lying in the sun, dipping into the truly aquamarine colored sea, and hunting for little rocks. Came home with a little bag of them. Oh dear, what will customs say. I have many rocks.

Now we’re waiting for the Greek Saturday night (“One More Saturday Night!” – a Grateful Dead song dear to our hearts) to blossom. Tomorrow is the election, but the energy here is very mellow. Rumors are, there will be much music tonight.

Yassas and Kalispera!
Melinda and Gino

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