Dinner Plans

June 28, 2012

Just a brief walk from the hotel is Monastiraki, a quaint area of shops and cafes, picturesque, adorable places to see. But I can’t help thinking as I walk the cobblestone streets of that hilarious scene in the movie “My Life in Ruins” where the American tourists are having information “not-so-well” translated to them from Nia Vardalos. The shopkeeper’s real words (shown in subtitles) are hilarious, and sadly sometimes true. So, “tourists” – think intelligently while shopping. Keep your purse closed tight, and your eyes open, as you would in any high traffic, shopping area.  This is Athens. It’s busy, it’s crowded, and it’s not the mall-back-home.  Enjoy the bread rings sprinkled with sesame seeds they are selling on the street, and throw a few Euros to the blind man playing his instrument. Take in the retail  life, Athens-style (especially the shoe stores!)

When it’s time to finally eat, there will be plenty of hosts/waiters to invite you over to the table of your choice at their cafes. You’ll know where one cafe ends and a new one begins by the change in tablecloth colors. Charming menus are written on chalkboard on the sidewalks for you to peruse.  Most of the menus are similar, and you can’t go wrong with ‘xoriatiki salata’ (tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and feta in olive oil) with a huge hunk of fresh bread.  Pork is marinated to perfection here, so let your senses direct you to a fine choice of entrée.  The best part of making Mosastiraki your dinner plans is the slow, enjoyable walk back to the hotel that helps justify the dessert you ordered.

Up next…..coffee – Greek Style!  (You’ll never visit a Starbucks the same way again!)

With the greatest breakfast ever in the world making us feel ready for what’s ahead, we really can’t do anything else in Athens before paying homage to the ancient ruins. No matter how many times you visit, seeing the Acropolis is not a choice, it’s a necessity. Hop on the metro, and get off at the first stop – that’s how close the Parthenon is to your doorstep at the Grande Britaine.  Go early or go late to avoid the heat, but GO! You will not want to miss some of the most ancient ruins in the world, the most breathtaking structures made by man. Yes, your heart will break at their decaying condition, but that’s not an excuse to ignore their magesty. Make it a priority to stop at the ancient museum. Worth the better part of your day to truly connect to where you are.

As you stroll the rocks and behold the anceint marble, listen closely to the whispering wind that carries voices of the past. They are calling out to your soul. A visit here will set the stage for a truly magical visit to Greece!

Ok, the jetlag is almost gone. We’re feeling better. Now it’s time for the GREATEST breakfast EVER in the universe…..a tiropita. Some call them, “cheese pies,” but make no mistake – this is one of those food items that just doesn’t taste the same back home. You HAVE to be in Greece to truly get a decent tiropita. They are large, flakey, hot, pastry filled with the most delicious combination of cheeses  you’ve ever tasted. Hilarious to me is that in some “fournos” or bakeries, they literally sell them in many variations, determined by which cheese. Usually feta, but sometimes others, this is the most incredible Greek food item and as I tell everyone who travels with me, I will eat one every day of the trip, despite the calories!  The coffee we’ll talk about later, but for now, cross the street in front of the Grande Britane and head over towards Public ( a great store!) and pick up a tiropita for your breakfast. You’ll never want anything else to eat for the rest of  your life! Yummmmmoooooo!

 

After landing in Athens, tired, irritated (of course, who wouldn’t be after hours on a flight with bad airplane food), there’s no sense in trying to get to the village same day.  That’s why we’re staying Athens for a few days. Time to see the sights and get over our jet lag.

I know it seems impossible, but with a Starwood membership, one of the best hotels in the world is easily affordable. Yes, the Grande Britaine. Seriously, so worth saving up your points. What normally costs well over $500/night, we booked for less than $100/night with our Starwood points.  The trip is off to a fabulous start at a place this nice!

Set in the middle of Syntagma Square, this gorgeous, luxury hotel is just a walk away from Plaka, a popular shopping/dining district.  But that’s not the hotel’s claim to fame…as you overlook the Acropolis from your balcony, you stand in the same place as Kings and Queens as this hotel has been around forever. Note: the rooftop pool is filled with saltwater. Make sure to tell your children before they dive in!

Most beautiful hotel in Greece

The Journey Begins

Here’s a look at our destination…..Vassara, Greece.  Listen closely off in the distance…little bells chime as flocks of sheep are herded together.  Children laugh in the townsquare, and an early evening breeze whistles through the tall Cyprus tress in the hills that cradle the village. In its best season, Summer, Vassara awakens out of the hills of Parnonas to welcome all visitors, both returning descendants, and newcomers alike. Grab your passport, because this ‘virtual trip’ will open your heart in ways you never imagined.  As Gene Kelly said in ‘Brigadoon:’ “It reaches into your heart and opens you wide.”

A Virtual Trip

June 18, 2012

So how about coming along for a ‘virtual’ trip to Greece this summer? Forget the high airfares and hassle, visit my blog each week to see some memorable photos and vacation logs from my most recent trip to the homeland. Aaah, smell the wood fire ovens kicking up for the evening’s supply of souvlaki? Come along….a great trip awaits….

Blog is back on track!

June 18, 2012

Seasons of Sun blog is back on track! Thanks once again to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and its continuing series of educational programs, my blog is alive once more. Stay tuned for more updates on author presentations, book signings and details on the next novel, a prequel to Seasons of Sun!
Take care everyone!