Archives for the month of: July, 2011

Santorini is comprised of the islands of Santorini, Thirassia, Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni,  and Aspronisi. This area is what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion in 3000 BC that destroyed the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island. The eruption formed the caldera of Santorini with cliffs 300 meters high on 3 sides of the island. The red lava creates a beautiful contrast to the white-washed churches, hotels, and houses that seem to be just barely hanging on the cliffs. We stayed in Fira, the capital of Santorini and traveled around to Nea Kamei, Thirassia, and parts of Santorini. It was absolutely gorgeous.

The only access from some of ports to the towns above is either by walking up the switchbacks or riding donkeys.

We took a tour of the caldera (first traveling tour of my life) where we walked around the volcano, swam in some hot springs, walked around Thirassia, and then disembarked at the port of Oia.

We stopped to walk around Thirassia for a couple of hours, and as it was 1pm and over 100 degrees outside, most people decided to stay at the port instead of trecking up the 300 M cliff. When we got to the top we stopped at a restaurant to buy some water. The guy wanted to charge us 2 euros, which I thought was ridiculous, so we decided to look for something cheaper. As we were walking away the guy told us to come back when we wanted something to drink. And after an hour of walking around and seeing a total of two people and no markets, that is exactly what we did. And at that point I would have paid 5 euros. We had a good time walking around Thirassia though, and it was an especially nice break from the crowds and general busyness in Santorini.

Oia is a beautiful city at the north tip of Santorini famous for its picturesque sunsets. The sunset was just ok while we were there, but it really was a great city with winding alleys and an endless number of steps following the curvature of the lava. I really enjoyed taking pictures in Santorini, especially in Oia.

Kamari is located at the southeast corner of the island and is know for its black sand beaches (more like pebbles though).

Naxos is the largest Greek island in the Cyclades and is known for its beautiful beaches and turquoise blue water. The island is mountainous with high agricultural and live stock production. We stayed in Agios Prokopios, which is just south of the port in a great little hotel.

We rented scooters to get a better feel for the island and to visit some of the beaches more south that are said to be some of the best in the world. We first rode inland through some small villages until we arrived at the Temple of Demeter in Sangri. This temple is believed to date back to the 6th century BC and was built in honor of the goddess Demeter. From there we went southwest back out to the coast where we visited Agiassos beach, definitely a favorite. Then we made our way back up the coast stopping at beaches along the way.

We really enjoyed Naxos. The food was mouth-watering. The people were genuine. And the beaches were a dream. I am already trying to figure out how and when we can get back there.

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Demeter 6th century BC

We started out our trip in Athens, Greece where we mainly toured the archeological sites around the acropolis. We really enjoyed the day and a half we spent there and had read that more than that would be too much. I would have liked to spend at least another day there though. The yogurts and pastries were delicious. The archeological sites were interesting and captivating. And the graffiti and shopping was  abundant. We could have done without the large stray dogs following us around insistently, but all in all we really enjoyed Athens.

Fresko is a great little yogurt bar right at the base of the acropolis. The yogurt was so tasty, especially with the option of adding marmalades, fresh fruit, honeys, and nuts to it.

The Greek pastries were to die for. The one on the top is filled with a feta (made from goat cheese) and the one below is called mpougatsa which is a filled with a sweet vanilla cream-like pudding.

The Acropolis

The word acropolis means upper city. Most of the sacred buildings were build on the acropolis which was used as a place of refuge during invasions. The most notable structures on the acropolis are the Propylaea, Parthenon, temple to Nike Athena, and the Erechtheum. Most of the buildings were built in the 5th century BC and have been rebuilt and restructured several times. It is amazing though how well-preserved the acropolis is, especially considering how exposed it is to the elements.

The Parthenon
The Parthenon was a temple constructed by Pericles from 447 to 432 BC. From a temple it became a church, then a mosque, and then a storage facility for Turkish gunpowder. It was blown up in the 17th century when a cannon ball ignited the gunpowder being stored there. It is said that the Parthenon is the most perfect structure in all the history of the world and continues to be the most imitated building in the world.

The Erechtheum
The Erechtheum was built between 421 and 406 BC on the most sacred site of the acropolis where legend says Poseidon and Athena competed to be the patron of the city. The story goes that Poseidon thrust his trident into the rock and a spring burst forth while Athena touched the ground with a spear and an olive tree grew. Athena won and the city was named after her. The six draped female figures is a collection known as the “Porch of the Maidens”. They are all copies of the originals that are mostly located in a museum.

The Propylaea 432 BC

Temple of Athena Nike 410 BC

Theater of Dionysos
The Theater of Dionysus is one of the earliest preserved open-air theaters in Athens used for festivals held in honor of the god Dionysus. It is located on the south slope of the acropolis.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The temple of Olympian Zeus was envisioned to be the greatest temple in the ancient world when construction began in the 6th century BC, but it was not until Roman Emperor Hadrian’s reign in the 2nd century AD that the temple was completed. At this time it was the largest temple in Greece, but was invaded and pillaged in the 3rd century. The columns and other building materials have since been used for other public and private structures in the area.

Ancient Agora of Athens

The Agora of Athens was a gathering place of the Athenians for commerce, public meetings, and assemblies. Public service buildings like the courts, the mint, theaters, and schools were located there. The most popular structure still standing in the agora is the Temple of Hephaistos.

Temple of Hephaistos
Construction started on the Temple of Hephaistos in 449 BC, but before its completion Pericles redirected the funds and labor to start work on the Parthenon.  The temple was not actually completed until three decades later. This temple is the best preserved ancient Greek temple standing today.

Left: The Odyssey 2nd Century AD
Right: Head of a Triton 150 AD

Head of Nike 2nd Century AD. Copied from Paionios’ work from the 5th Century BC

(Love the attitude)

Antonius Pius 138-161 AD

Philopappou Hill

A monument built in memory of Gaius Ioulius Antiochus Philopappou at the summit of Pholopappou Hill in 115 AD

Socrates’ prison

I have already posted about compot, but I thought I would post again as this time around we’re making it with different ingredients.

Strawberry Compot is so delicious, definitely one of my favorites. The strawberries can be substituted with sour cherries or a combination of sour cherries, bing cherries and raspberries.

Ingredients
10 kg strawberries
1 cup of sugar for each 5 L jar
water

Wash and clean your fruit. Fill up the jars a quarter of the way with your fruit. Place your jars in a big metal pot. Add the sugar (you can make it as sweet as you want) and then fill the jars up with water leaving a 1/2 inch space from the top. Place the tops on the jars. Add water into the pot until it hits 3/4 of the way up the jars. Light a fire under the pot and wait for the water to boil. At some point (sooner than later) you will need to put rocks on top of you lids. When the water boils, take the jars from the water (carefully), secure the lids, and let them cool.

Noroc.

Curt and I just got back from a fabulous vacation to Greece and Turkey with these two awesome ladies, Curt’s cousin and his sister. They even came to Moldova to hang out with us in the village for a day. It was SO much fun seeing them. Thank you x 1,000,00010 for coming out!

More to come on this trip… I am currently sorting through my 3,000 pictures.