13 November 2010

Places I have been - No. 8

I've always wanted to visit Greece.  Even before that Shirley Valentine movie was made.  I've always had lots of Greek friends and their tales of home fascinate me.  I also love their food... particulary that delicious spinach and feta pie they make. 

So, picture just how excited I was when my Greece based chickadees offered to book me a ticket to visit!  What an absolutely unexpected and ever so welcome treat it was.  Quick as a flash, Arabella had organised my flights and I was making plans on how to get to Gatwick airport from Wimbledon before the early morning rush hour.

One cab drive to Gatwick and a (somewhat delayed) EasyJet flight to Athens later and I was being hugged by my Greek chickies and handed a (strong) Frappe. It was so very good to see them both again and as a special bonus, I got to meet Bookie Bird, her chicco and her gorgeous little chickadee later that night too.

Our drive from Athens to Lavrio was incredibly interesting.  I hadn't ever fully understood just how dry that area is.  My chickies had told me about the numerous unfinished and abandoned buildings that abound in Greece, but it was quite something to see them for myself.  There is something incredibly sad about an abandoned building.  They whisper to me of lost dreams and I can't  help but wonder what happened that saw their owners walk away from their creations.

We had delicious assorted baklava for afternoon tea back at the flat and then went down to the marina for a quick look at the yacht.  It's especially impressive in real life!

I'll have to ask Arabella for the name of the taverna where we had dinner that night!  It was really good and we got to eat the most amazing calamari and squid.  The Greek salad was wonderful, as were the other dishes, but that calamari and squid were so well done that it will be a hard act for any place to follow.

Lavrio is a thriving little port.  There's lots of redevelopment and building going on and the people in the shops and market seemed incredibly friendly despite the language barrier.  My chickadees stay in a modern, light and bright apartment near the marina and it was good to see them so comfortably settled and 'at home' there. 

We took a trip into Athens from the port of Piraeus (we drove down to Piraeus so I could see the countryside) and it was quite humbling to see the remains of such ancient civilization still standing proudly (if somewhat the worse for wear at times... very little can withstand earthquakes and wars and get away with it completely).  It quite puts you back into your place!

It was hot and very humid that day and my throat was seriously sore so I probably wasn't the best tourist in town, but I did so enjoy the experience.   Athens is such a place of contrasts.  The old sits squarely and quite comfortably amongst the new.

We stopped for lunch in a lovely cobbled, and very shady, courtyard type area just up from here.  It was cool and restful and lunch was served by a smiling and very friendly local. 

 The main restaurant was across a small cobbled road... I love this idea, reminded me of another lunch in Paris a while ago...

The next day we went for a drive to the top of the mountains above Lavrio.  It was interesting to see where the mining takes place and there were quite a few really nice villages up there.  I wonder if they are actually 'mining' villages... somewhere the mine bosses and staff get to live.  Some gorgeous churchs too.  Perhaps Arabella will share her photos of them with us?  I didn't manage to get any.

The view over Lavrio

They call it a sink hole but I couldn't help wondering if it was actually caused by open mining

These beautiful 'Cyclamen' type flowers are everywhere... no leaves, just the flowers.

See what I mean about dry?  

The next day was a work day for my family so I went with Arabella to the market in the morning and was suitably impressed by the variety of fabulously fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood available.  They also have a 'general' section where you can buy everything from toilet paper to Spanish dresses.

Grocery shopping in the village was very rewarding too and we went back to the boat with everything Arabella needed.  Beautiful fresh bread too!

My four days with them (well, 3 1/2 actually) went far too quickly and I've promised my man and I will go back to visit them sometime next year.  I know he'd like to share their lives with them too.  My EasyJet flight back to Gatwick when smoothly and I arrived a little ahead of time; bought my Express train ticket without any fuss; walked down the station stairs onto the departing train; got off at Clapham Junction; walked across the platform and onto the train to Wimbledon.  Twenty minutes later I was in a cab on my way back to our UK chickies home.  Have quite decided that (if possible) all future travel to the UK should arrive/depart via Gatwick. 

So... if I didn't say it properly before... 'Thank you both so very, very much for my very special time in Greece with you!'  It's something I will never forget.

A very spoilt

April Blackbird


Anonymous said...

How delicious does that food look!! Sounds like it was a magical few days ...

ChickieChirps said...

What a lovely travel writer you are! So enjoyed reading about the region I live in, as i'm yet to visit a lot of the lovely little spots you went to with your tour guides!
It was such a pleasure meeting you, what a wonderful surprise when I heard you were coming.
It was the Taverna Isabella we had dinner at that night, with such delicious seafood - oh, how I do love some of the food here....
So pleased you're back home safely from your adventures.

Bookie Bird

ChickieChirps said...

It was wonderful having you to visit! We will definitely hold you to your word and expect a visit again with both of you next year!