Greece! Not to rub it in or anything…

I feel like someone has been keeping a secret from me my whole life. It’s as if everyone who’d been to Greece wanted to keep it for themselves and never fully reveal the depth of wonder found there. All of you are so selfish! J/k, of course. But truth be told, I should have known. I mean, it’s GREECE. I just hadn’t been paying attention, I guess..

So you can imagine my surprise when we arrived in Greece to find ourselves driving on the most spectacular mountain roads, to reach the most quant fishing towns, to swim in the most turquoise crystal clear water, from which our delicious fresh fish was being caught. Jesus! What is this place? Why are the people so warm and lovely? How can it be that all this incredible scenery and delightful food was only a two hour plane ride away and I was completely in the dark about it!?

*FYI this is basically just an endless post of photos. I wanted to share the beauty with ya’ll!

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Going to Greece is a great way to have both a relaxing vacation AND an adventurous one – at the same time. We spent some days reading on the beach and swimming in the sea. Other days we were traversing the tippy tops of mountains on the side of cliffs (my fear of heights never far from mind), to reach castles, or churches or villages that were stuck in the clouds or teetering on the edge of mountainsides. We hiked to what ancient Greeks believed was the southernmost tip of the world and therefore the start of the Underworld, (what!? so awesome). All the while imagining that we were in Game of Thrones and we needed to get back to King’s Landing.  Duh.

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IMG_20140414_122417IMG_1352It was great because we didn’t have a clue what to expect and we really had not planned anything. In fact, I booked us a place to sleep for only the very first night  – everything beyond that we decided as we went. But what luck we have! Upon landing in Greece we drove right out of Athens and into Peloponnesus, the western part of the mainland, which is rich in beauty and feels like it is treasured by those who live there.

Due to it being the off season, we encountered sleepy fishing villages hugging the shore, beautiful mountain backdrops, gorgeous views and a warmth and feeling of welcomeness from everyone we met. I won’t bore you/ rub all the incredible details in your face.  Just know that we stayed at a place run by a man named George, who welcomed us with homemade wine, olive oil, and fresh brown eggs.  Enough said. If you go there, stay with him, you will not regret it one bit.  We wish we had stayed in Mani longer, but the trip must go on!IMG_20140411_131039

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THIS pastry. This delicious feta filled pastry, smattered with sesame seeds, and perfect in every way is why I gained several kilos on this trip.  This is the very first one we tasted.  As you can see I took one bite and had to stop and take a photo. From that moment on I was on a mission to find one equally as good. We tasted these bourekas in nearly every town, at at multiple bakeries, and many of them were quite tasty, but none compared to the simplicity and perfectly balanced version we had here.  
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Next we headed further south to see these insane caves. Where we took a small row boat to traverse the many kilometers of stalactites that have been dripping for millions of years.  Our friends that we made along the way told us to stop and eat at a wonderful place in the tiny town of Limeni.  This was seconded by a friend from Athens who I was in email contact with.  So, of course we obliged.

This little spot is where they clean and gut all the fresh fish once it has been ordered. They fill the buckets with sea water, clean the fish, and then chuck everything else back into the sea where it it immediately gobbled up by all the small fish that hang out there.

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IMG_1447IMG_20140412_141550I can still taste the fresh crunchy shrimp if I close my eyes.

The rest of our trip was a combination of beauty and adventure.  We saw this castle.  WTF!?Which ancient Greeks believed had to have been built by the Cyclops, because only a group of giants could handle stones of such magnitude.
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Of course, no trip of ours is complete without an intense amount of eating. The varied cuisine was wonderful, and each place we visited had its own special touch. From the simplest greek salad swimming in olive oil, dinners of fish grilled to perfection by the same person who caught it that morning, grilled octopus, squid, sardines, plates full of wild greens smothered in olive oil and lemon, slow cooked lamb, silky smooth potatoes, moussaka so creamy and elevated I never would have recognized the dish if I hadn’t been told, souvlaki with yoghurt and tons of raw garlic, FRIED CHEESE, cheese pies, spinach pies, Loukoumades; greek style donuts drizzled with orange honey, WTF!

We learned pretty quickly that the food in Greece is awesome, especially if you ask around to the locals about where they eat and follow their suggestions.  We found ourselves in some pretty spectacular places using the advice of others.

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What a difference a little traveling does for the soul. Getting away and gaining a bit of perspective is something to be grateful for. I absorbed some good vibes from this trip, including some food for thought. Next post, maybe a Greek inspired dish or two?  Who knows. 
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