Greece – home to a remarkable ancient civilization, a majestic acropolis in the capital, beautiful islands, and incredible food. This past week has been quite the journey. We scaled the cliffs of Santorini, roamed through the monasteries of Meteora, and explored the ruins of the acropolis. I also finally understand the real color tone of a “Blue Sky” (see images below).
The highlight of the trip? Watching the stacked white buildings of Santorini. It’s quite remarkable when you consider that they are actually producing their own wines and produce, despite the fact that the climate of the island is mostly hot and arid. Something to be said about the ability of volcanic soil to create enough little pockets of grapes for them to have a thriving wine industry.
The second highlight of the trip? Taking a 5-hour train ride each way from Athens on the same day to visit the monasteries of Meteora. Fun fact – Game of Thrones apparently created one of the set pieces out of Meteora. The life of ascetic monks can be quite the cliffhanger (no pun intended). Some of them used to get up to the monasteries via nets that would be pulled up by a pulley!
Besides the rich tapestry of history, landscape and architecture, Greece is also home to an incredibly array of flavors – from delicious appetizers such as fried cheese and honey, to a vast array of seafood, lamb and pork dishes, moussaka, and of course, the all ubiquitous gyros. Beautiful use of spices and herbs – shoutout to the cinnamon in the moussaka and the oregano in many of the dishes.
One of the more interesting facts about the gyros that I learnt was that it became especially popular during the Greek debt crisis, because of its affordability and nutrition value. It was something that I didn’t quite realize until I was actually there, and realize that for €3, you can get a wrap that will fill you right up.
All in all, a fairly good trip I’d say. Of course, over the next few weeks I have made it my personal mission to try and replicate the Lamb Kleftiko (meatballs), and the Moussaka. Always wanted to dabble my hands in a little bit of Greek cuisine – we’ll see if that turns out well!