On Saturday we caught the noon hydrofoil to Spetses, the lovely island where we'd be spending the next week.
Our digs on Spetses were the bomb. This was more like it. For the next seven days we'd be installed in a beautifully appointed three bedroom house with extraordinary views of the Palio Limani (Old Port).
We enjoyed a very chill Sunday, went to the tiny Greek church of Saint Nicholas, then the cyber cafe to check e-mail. Marti & I had a greasy tourist lunch (the first & last on this trip), crashed & hung out at the house reading in the evening. I finished the Robert Mitchum bio, a terrific read. The day before we'd had the island grocery store deliver bottled water & some munchie items so we could hang at home Sunday night. We ate olives, cheese & ham with ouzo rocks while the boat people & Eurotrash disco'd late into the night in the bars across the Palio Limani.
On Monday we had strawberries & thick Greek yogurt for brekkie. I burned one down on one of our terraces, then took a bit of sun on another while listening to The Riley Martin Show (downloaded from Sirius last week to my 'Pod). "O-Qua Tangin Wann," baby! Riley is completely fucking wack, he was abducted by aliens in the 1950s, so his descriptions are totally Fifties style: classic flying saucers, bulb-headed creatures. He's on Howard Stern's satellite channel & is really hilarious. Marti & I headed into town, stopping enroute at Kapeloyiannis, the first kafenion (coffee shop) for frappes (ice coffees with milk & sugar) overlooking the harbor. We shopped a bit & I adopted an appropriately Eurotrash summer look: Emporio Armani tee & AlpineStars cap.
Marti & I had a much better lunch than the day before, this time at a place called O Roussos -- stuffed tomatoes & fresh fish Spetses-style -- at the same price point as the greaseball restaurant we'd gone to on Sunday: ouzos, bottled water, 2 first courses, 2 mains for a total of 25 euros in a nice setting by the water. A smiling Albert Finney lookalike (Greek version) served us & complemented Marti on her Greek (she nails those five syllable tongue twisters with the greatest of ease).
We chilled back at the house & went out for late dinner at a dockside resto nearby called Mourayo. This proved to be the most refined cuisine we'd had here in terms of preparation & presentation: horta (boiled greens with olive oil & lemon), roasted red peppers with feta, seafood spaghetti & swordfish steak . . . yum! On the five-minute stroll back to the house we peeked into a boat-building shop; vessel construction is still a major activity in this little port.
Tuesday morning Marti & I slept late (the sound of the guys working in the dry dock boatyard across the road didn't even waken us).
Beverley the cleaning woman came at 11 am to tidy up the house & do our laundry. My bride & I stopped again at Kapeloyiannis for frappes, then continued into the Dapia (the main port & commercial center of town, a 20-min walk along the water). Our first destination was the cyber cafe. I had decided to post contemporaneous reports to my website using cellphone pics & Internet photos that I edited online, plus quick descriptions from the notes I was keeping.
We returned to the Palio Limani for lunch at Exedra, an outdoor taverna. Actually, everywhere we dined was outdoors, it was in the high 70s & sunny all the time here. Every day I looked out at the morning sun & in my greyest Parisian voice sarcastically asked Marti, "How can these people live like this!"
On Wednesday we were slugs. We enjoyed a long hang at the house. In the morning I shot 30-sec movies of the harbor off the balcony.
I turned on the satellite TV & caught some hot morning porn action featuring an Asian chick & a guy who was wearing weird cool alien sunglasses & boots for a costume. I video'd some of this as rescans off the monitor (for further research). We watched more All My Children, reran the Greek salad lefties with added tomatoes & ham for lunch, hung out some more. This was definitely the chill-out segment of our second honeymoon. Marti read in her book, The Magus, which is set on the island in the 1950s. I burned down fatties & surfed the satellite in between trips to the various balconies & terrasses to check on the harbor action. It's great, commercial & pleasure boats in & out all day.
Next morning I whipped up the mother of all Greek omelets with three kinds of cheese (feta, graviera & manouri) plus two varieties of olives (Volos & Kalamata) We walked into town again after first chatting for a few minutes with the old fella who works at the boatyard across the road from our digs. He asked me where I learned to speak Greek & I gave him my standard reply: "from my yiayia" (my grandmother). This always elicits a big smile of approval from the natives. The guy already knew we lived in France & he praised the ports he'd visited there: Dieppe, Rouen, La Rochelle. He said they all had excellent boatyards. He told Marti & me that the boatbuilders in the Palio Limani have to chill during the high season because the noise offends the tourists. Personally, we're loving the fact that our part of the island has this busy boat construction scene. As city folk, the noise makes us feel right at home! On the way into town we saw a little fat kid being buried alive on the beach. Nice.
That afternoon Marti & I had a late lunch in town, did a bit of grocery shopping & checked our e-mail at the 1800 Cafe. After we got back to the house Marti ventured out again on a solitary late afternoon walk. She checked out the lighthouse & the view from down the road. We stayed in that evening & I tried my hand at seafood spaghetti.
Friday we got off to a slow start (it's so easy to pick up the laid back vibe of this little island paradise), but then Marti & I packed a lot into the rest of our last full day here. We had lunch in the Dapia overlooking the main port, wandered around the little backstreets of town & encountered an African grey parrot who says "Kalimera" (Good Day) in Greek (!) Then we headed for the water.
Captain Vassilis had hipped us to a rare annual performance scheduled for the ancient amphitheater that evening, groups of schoolgirls wearing authentic costumes doing traditional dances. So, after our ouzo break by the harbor, we got a cab to take us up the mountain to the theater (overlooking the former British-style private school from The Magus) & wait until after the dancing to take us back home to the old port -- all for a whopping 15 euros!
That evening we returned to Tarsanas for one last dinner on Spetses: lightly fried calamari, a lettuce & spinach salad with manouri cheese, a big grilled sea bream with a cold boiled veggie platter. Excellent. The wine was Thalasitis, from the island of Santorini. My beautiful bride & I wound up at a bar called Remezzo, where "Peter, Paul & Taki" were singing & playing Greek pop tunes on bouzouki, acoustic guitar & electric bass. Nice. We had Metaxas for nightcaps. We'd be leaving the island the next day. But we'd be back.
And our 25th Wedding Anniversay celebration was now just a few days away.
We'd be here for the next four days, culminating with our 25th anniversary dinner Tuesday night. Marti & I had visited Nafplion a couple of times before, so it was fun to leisurely explore the attractive little harbor town without a tourism agenda.
On Saturday night we had dinner at Arapakos, our favorite seafood restaurant on the quay. In 2006 Greece was the host for the annual Eurovision Song Contest & that evening was the finale, so there were big screens in all the bars & restaurants, even outdoors. For the most part, Eurovision contestants all perform syrupy pop or inane dance tunes, but this year Lordi, a monster metal band from Finland, was the winner!
While I was at the cyber cafe on Sunday, Marti caught up on her picture-taking & shopping.
We returned to Arapakos for late lunch (Greek salad, tyropita & shrimp spaghetti). I checked out the women's fashion while Marti was attacked by a giant balloon. Marti & I window shopped afterward, then walked back to the hotel for a siesta
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a taxi rank & engaged a guy named Panayotis to drive us to Mycenae on Monday & to Athens on Wednesday. We ventured out again in the late evening for midnight supper at Noufara in Syntagma Square. Marti ordered dolmades (stuffed cabbage); I got stifado (beef stew). We strolled down to the harborside afterward for coffees at Pantheon.
There's a rider in Marti's contract that stipulates a requisite visit to this historic hilltop every time we come Greece. The only time we skipped it was in November 2004, when we spent our entire five-day visit in Athens. It's really a breathtaking setting & although we've been there before, now we got to visit the fine new museum on the site.
We went to lunch back in Nafplion at Taverna Fanaria in the old quarter: seasonal salad, roasted red peppers, stuffed tomato & pepper, briam (mixed baked vegetables). Deelish. My bride & I returned to the hotel for a bit of R&R. Next up was the 7:30 screening of The DaVinci Code -- after a nap, of course!
Tuesday was our 25th wedding anniversary! After breakfast in the front garden of the Nafsimedon, Marti & I went shopping & walking in downtown Nafplion. I bought a Gant shirt, my bride found a new belt & gifts for friends.
That was still a while off. First, we were bound for Athens in the morning.
On Thursday we hired Loucis the Taxi Driver to take us to Delphi. Enroute we stopped at a lovely old monastery called Ossios Loukas.This was Loucis' namesake, Saint Luke.
Our often-postponed trip to Delphi, site of the Oracle of Apollo, had been long in the planning. We weren't disappointed!!
After we saw the Delphi ruins Loucis drove us into town, where we enjoyed lunch with a fabulous view at the Epicuros Taverna. I had excellent rabbit & shallot stifado (stew); Marti ordered pork with celery, a favorite. Baklava "cigars" for dessert. Vistas like the ones from Epicuros make you feel like the whole world & entire millennia lie before you.
Alex took us to Telly's, a late-night dive on the border of the hip Psirri 'hood, where we dove into plates piled high with grilled pork chops. Just what we needed! After dinner Alex introduced us to the owner, Telly himself. Sweet guy. Telly wanted to give us more pork chops. Just what we didn't need!
In the evening we went down to Plaka, strolled by lots of inviting tavernas, but opted to go to Eden, a Greek vegetarian restaurant, of all things. We used to like this place, but the cooking has become a lot less imaginative & much more heavy-handed here than it was ten years ago. Gimme my meat, already! We headed back to the hotel, stopping for nightcaps at a favorite cafe of ours across from Saint Irini church.
The Botero pieces were a delight to see. They reminded us of his marvelous 1992 installation along the Champs-Elysées. Later that afternoon Marti found another one in the lobby of a bank. The bank must have been a sponsor of the exhibition.
On Saturday evening Marti & I took a cab to the Pangrati district of town, had dinner at an outdoor Italian resto, then went to our favorite live music venue in Athens, the Cafe Alavastro. The club is very laid back & the world music programming is always interesting.
On Monday morning my bride & I went last-minute shopping (a tube to carry home posters, CDs by Lizeta Kalimeri). We downed one last lunch at Kioupi in Kolonaki. We wedged in a bit more shopping (a 1950s-style polka dot top for Marti), then basked in a final chill-out over ice cream frappes at Peros. On our walk back to the hotel I spied an awesome bakery, but we had reached maximum packing load. Next time. There was a taxi drivers strike that day, but Alex was kind enough to pick us up & our considerable luggage & take us to the airport in the big blue family van.