February 2013 archive

FOOD!

Pepper steak with blue cheese and green beans.

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We tried this in a Greek restaurant and it was so good that I had to make it at home. Simply wrap tomatoes, hot peppers, good quality feta, salt, pepper and oregano in tin foil and heat it in a hot oven for about 6 minutes.

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On the road.

Check out the canal.

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I hear that there are boat cruses you can take down this canal.

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30 minutes later it was cold, pouring rain and dark. Weird.

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Small car vs. Smart car.

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We turned the corner and saw this sunken ship and had to stop and take pictures.

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Full moon.

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Local Venus clams purchased on the side of the road.

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Sticking out his tongue.

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The Acropolis.

For the same price as a movie ticket you can explore the Acropolis from top to bottom. I’ve seen footage of people visiting the Parthenon many times yet I was still stunned as to how breathtaking the place really is.

Once you’ve hiked up the hill and pass through the gate  (the Propylaia as seen below)  you are hit with the immensity of Parthenon, Doric columns, each seven diameters high, tower over the hilltop as they have for thousands of years. 

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360 degree views of Athens, what a perfect day for it!

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First impressions don’t mean everything.

A year and a half ago Carla and I took a tram through Athens  to Pireas  Port where we caught our ferry to Santorini. Looking out the window all we could see has garbage, graffiti and people living in cardboard boxes. At the time we were happy about our decision to skip Athens, but now I’m thankful that I went back.

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Matt shows of his cabbage shredding skills.

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This is the Acropolis museum. Unfortunately the warm sunny weather begged us to stay outside, I guess the museum will just have to wait for our next Athenian trip.

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The Acropolis is perched on top of a hill  in the middle of the city center, around it are fancy cafes, million dollar apartments, parks and embassies.

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This guy had an interesting metal bowl-like instrument  called a Hang that he played by tapping it in various places. It almost sounded like a harp or a piano.

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Matt and I were lucky enough to see a changing of the guards ceremony. I took a video and will post it soon.

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This is my new favorite park for obvious reasons.

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A day in Athens.

We parked the house in a campsite outside of Athens. This was our view from the car.

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A 45 minute bus ride took us right into town, not far from this pretty park.

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Trendy retro art market, Athens.

We spent 8 hours walking around Athens in 20 degree sunny weather. We saw everything from The Acropolis and other ancient sites, posh cafes and stores, a grunge district with punk rockers, beautiful residential areas, pure poverty and of course a token Hipster market.

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On the roads towards Athens.

I’m a terrible (driving) navigator. By foot I can navigate a city like nobody’s business but in a car, I just can’t keep up with the GPS. Trying to avoid the costly Greek highway tolls I accidently took us down a 10 kilometer steep incline dirt road leading to a dead-end service road tacking on a whopping an extra 18 sketchy kilometers to our trip. Oups!

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Wind turbines.

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Once in a while he gets to cook.

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Bridge to Chalikis.

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Cats are welcome in/on our house.

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Now this was a treat!

I just love the concept of this Katerini restaurant and as you can see, it appeals to everyone else too. Tables clustered together accommodating the large influx of people (does anybody go to work here?  Where is the Greek crisis??), the dining room décor is simple, making you feel like you’re eating in the restaurant’s pantry with a clear view into the open kitchen, the menu is genius, 5 simple appetizers with a half liter of wine or Tsipouro  for 5 euros.   

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Chosen from the A La Carte menu, baked feta with spicy peppers and tomato. Warm, creamy and smooth, not tangy like the feta we know in Canada.

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Salad, parsley potatoes, tzatziki, rice cooked with mussels and baked beans.

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Round two: more feta, fried sardines, hot pepper cheese dip, lemon potatoes and chicken croquettes with mustard.

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After Thessaloniki.

We jumped in the van and made our way south, completely unaware of the Greek highway toll system. It turns out that between Thessaloniki and Athens the major highway has over 10 toll booths charging around 5 Euros a pop.  Luckily the secondary routes are in great condition with little to no cars plus they offer better views.

Our first stop was in a little town called Makrigialos. A lovely lady let us plug into her seaside restaurant outlet for 2 days free of charge. Winters are slow and most establishments closed making it hard for us to find groceries, no worries, the corner store shop owner included a few of his homemade sausages and the best kiwis I’ve ever had the chance to consume with our beer purchase. I’m telling you, Greeks are the most generous people on the planet. 

Back in the van, direction Athens, we’ve come across some really interesting scenery. Deserted seaside beach resort towns, lush green farming fields, rocky mountains with snowy caps and tons of brown signs, indicators of archeological sites ahead.

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Valentine’s day was spent in the bonny town of Katerini. To celebrate this great holiday and also treating ourselves to a fine shower (it’s been a month of washing out of a pot), Matt haggled a fantastic deal at a hip boutique hotel right in the city centre. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures of beautiful Katerini, it’s basically a maze of twisting streets, many pedestrian only, with tons of cafes, bars and cute shops.

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This is how to “hotel” properly; bring your computer and speakers for loud dance parties, stock up on various snacks, beer and 5 liter wine jugs, bring your own power bar for all your powering needs, don’t forget to bring a hot plate and dishes for late night dining, but most importantly, always have a lit Party Bird in plain view.

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Katerini would be a great city to raise a family. It’s small enough that everyone knows each other yet large enough to have all the shops and amenities you would ever need. Though Katerini is not a coastal town, a 15 minute drive East to Paralia will fulfill your beach craving. 

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We make friends everywhere we go. On Valentine’s day we ventured into this fantastic family run rotisserie restaurant, meters away from the hotel. The owner and his daughter waited on us as if we were special guests of royal descent. On top of our heaping plates of fragrant rice, lemon potatoes and juicy roasted chicken we were asked to sample a traditional onion and yogurt soup, a simple desert made with yogurt and quince jam and the house Tsipouro, a pomace Brandy that tastes like a well balanced mix of Ouzo and car diesel, OPA! 

As we left, our generous hosts gave us a goody bag including a chicken bottle opener and a great chicken mug. What a fantastic experience, I will never forget our friends.

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Not being able to read the Greek parking signs we unavoidably parked our rig in a loading zone in front of city hall.  When we found our ticket we asked the municipality police what we should do next. The officer was extremely friendly and told us to follow him to a great free parking lot close to the city centre.

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Walking around the city. We get really excited when we see a fellow camper.

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A few stops along the way.

Neos Panteleimon, a tiny village perched on a mountain with epic views of the sea. Oh yeah, they also have a crazy castle!

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Vale of Tempe. 

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Driving through the hills and all of a sudden you turn a corner and BOOM, there’s the sea and the huge city of Volos.

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We’re parked in Volos for the next few days, sadly the weather is damp and Vancouveresque plus we just noticed the treading on propane bottle we bought in Alexandria is striped and unusable (thankfully we have a spare). No matter, we’ll make the best of things and explore as much as we can. 

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