Saturday, June 2, 2018

Not a Gyro in sight -- Greece, week II

We are entering our 2nd week in Greece.

Today we are leaving the seaside town of Parga, which was perfectly quiet and quaint, just like you want a little seaside town to be.

We’ve walked about 70 some miles on our trip so far – although we always have the conversation about how vertical should count as double! – and by day’s end we will be half-way through our Mainland / Peloponnese drive of 1,000 miles.

We’ve found this to be a country of no washcloths & no top sheets; and the only thing allowed to be flushed is “as nature provided”.  Meaning, no toilet paper is allowed to be flushed.   Internet service has been extremely spotty – and when we find it available, it’s about 1/10th of the speed we have at home.  Pictures are impossible to upload in these circumstances, so even if I have a blog story ready to roll out, it’s sans photos.

Today we are driving to the town of Katakovo, on the Western seaboard of the Ionian sea, for the express purpose of visiting Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of our modern-day Olympic Games.

I must pause here for an observation;  As we were planning our trip, I’ve been surprised at the repeated comments from others when they learned of our destination.  100% of the time, the 1st response was, "Oh, Santorini!"  "Oh, we loved Santorini!"  "Oh, I've always wanted to go to Santorini!"  "Oh, please find a way to take me along to Santorini with you!"  Somehow the two have become intertwined and inseparable in people's minds.  Greece = Santorini to most people.  And I have to tell you, we've tagged on a couple of days on the island, but it's not the real "destination" of our Greek travel.

What I want to say (but I refrain) is this:  You DO realize that Santorini is NOT where the Olympic Games were birthed, right?  NOT where the Temple of Athena’s remains of the Acropolis are to be seen:  You realize it's NOT where the Oracles of Delphi dispensed their ancient wisdom; It's NOT where you’ll find Ancient Corinth (you may have heard of it – Corinthians I & II; or Thessaloniki (another couple of chapters called Thessalonians I & II).   

While the islands are what many come to Greece for, it’s not the real story of Greece, nor are they the birthplace of the Greek civilization.

So we are enjoying our traverse of Central / Western Greece very much -- because it IS all those things.

The little port town of Parga is only open for tourism about 4-6 months of the year (we found this on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, also).  So they work for 6 months of the year without a day off, and then have 6 months off, our hotel receptionist tells us. 

We enjoy a late afternoon snack at the ocean-side bar with a local beer.  Local microbreweries seem to be common, as do local wineries & olive oil production.  

We wonder about how the ski boat driver might have gotten to shore after anchoring to the buoy – but soon we see the driver paddling out on his stand-up board to climb aboard.  It seems efficient to us.

Nearer to sunset we see a yatch come in to anchor.  It would appear that it’s someone’s birthday – someone’s 70th birthday, to be precise.  They pull around their dinghy to tender the group into town for dinner, but alas.  They run into difficulties right away.  Evidently the dinghy is having motor problems.  The hatch goes up, they tinker & dink with it, but in the end – it’s oars.  But first, based on the gross weight of the participants (it’s a little bit gross) the dinghy is going to need more air to stay afloat.   So they pump, then they load, then they row.  The whole show has been quite entertaining.  Meanwhile Mr. C has figured out that the Cu 51 ft.from Corfu.  Amazing what Mr. Google will tell you!
But now that the show is over and we’ve schlepped our bags to our beautiful seaside room, we are hungry, and we go in search of dinner.

We are surprised, again, to discover that there is no fresh seafood served at the local seaside restaurants.  We'll have to pursue this further, it seems very odd to us who eat fresh Hawaiian fish nearly every day that we are on-island.  Instead, we have the most amazing Prosciutto-orange salad, using the owner's orange infused olive oil (I'm making this salad when I go back home!); 

Flank steak smothered in fresh mushroom sauce for him;

Roasted pork with roasted veggies for me.  All delish!  

I might also mention that we have not yet seen Gyros on the menu, not one single time, not in any type of restaurant in any city or town or burg.  Nada.  It’s one of those things that we’ve Americanized as being Greek, when in reality it’s not traditional Greek food at all.  Same as tepinyaki style cooking - which we think of as being Japanese – when it’s not commonplace at all in their daily lives in Japan.

But then, this is why we come.  This is why we travel.  What we hear, what we read, what we watch, what we think we know -- might not be the real deal at all, once we're here.

Tomorrow is another day on the road.  We are off to Ancient Olympia, then on to the castle of Montemvasia, from there to the coastal town of Nafplio to conclude week 2 in Greece.  After that, a little island-hopping will fill out the agenda for week 3.   

Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

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