Category: Memorable meals: Dining in Greece (page 1 of 6)

Where to eat and sleep well in Mavromati

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Messana Hotel in Ancient Messini

Street view of Messana Hotel in Mavromati. The boutique-style hotel has seven rooms, and serves a wonderful breakfast featuring dishes made with products grown locally and in the Messenia region.

 

Ithomi restaurant in Mavromati

Ithomi Restaurant in Mavromati has an inside dining room and a large open-air terrace, both offering views of the countryside and the archaeological site of Ancient Messini.

 

Good eats, good sleep: As I related in my previous posts Moments in Mavromati and Admiring the Arcadian Gate, Day 1 of our 2017 spring holiday got off to a great start with visits to historic sites in Ancient Messini and some scenic walkabouts in Mavromati village.

Our busy afternoon of sightseeing and exploring wound down with a fabulous dinner at Ithomi Restaurant, followed by a very restful night of sleep in our comfy, quiet room at Messana Hotel.  

Thanks to a delicious breakfast at the hotel, our Day 2 got off to an excellent start as well.

Please turn to page 2 to read and see more of the hotel and restaurant.

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Moments in Mavromati

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Mavromati village in Messenia

Houses in Mavromati, on the lower slopes of Mount Ithomi.

 

View from Mavromati village

The view from the main road in Mavromati

 

Verdant vistas: First stop on our spring holiday was Mavromati, a small mountain village that overlooks the historic archaeological site at Ancient Messini.

Although we spent less than 24 hours in the village and nearby area at the beginning of a road trip through the western Peloponnese, we were impressed with what we got to see and experience — as I described in my previous post, Admiring the Arcadian Gate.

Just as enjoyable and memorable were the beautiful views and landscape scenery at Mavromati.

 

 

From a variety of vantage points in the village as well as from our balcony at Messana Hotel, we loved looking at the verdant vistas that spread out below us. There was much to see: the sweeping views included tree-covered mountains and rolling hills, the historic ruins of Ancient Messini, and a valley extending all the way to the coastal city of Kalamata,  30 kilometers to the south. We could even glimpse the Messenian Sea.

 

Mavromati location on Google Maps

This Google map pinpoints the location of Mavromati and Ancient Messini in the western Peloponnese region of Greece

 

Please turn to page 2,  where I’ll show and tell you more about Mavromati.

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The 7 restaurants you simply must try on Mykonos

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Spilia restaurant and seaside bar Mykono

Lobster pasta and freshly-caught sea urchins are two of the signature dishes that writer Heather Warburton recommends ordering at Spilia. It was one of her seven favourite restaurants on a recent trip to Mykonos.

  

Guest post by Heather Warburton

There are many reasons to go to Mykonos—the color of the water alone, the music, and the stunning villas—but, undoubtedly, the food scene will convince you. If you intend to eat light and vegetarian, you’ll find no better place, and then again, if you’re more into feta cheese and baklava, you’ll be just fine, too.

I spent five days in Mykonos in early July, and these were my favorite restaurants:

♦ Scorpios

 

Scorpios Mykonos

 

Scorpios is one of the only places to succeed in being both a terrific restaurant, and a really fun party. On a charming stretch of Paraga Beach, Scorpios is a sprawling compound. There’s an indoor area that’s light and spacious, with comfortable couches and a well-designed bar. If you come early in the day (read: before noon), you might see people working on their laptops sipping a green juice. Outside there is one large bar, a deck, a beach with over 40 lounge “beds,” and finally, a restaurant.

Despite its massive size, Scorpios boasts impeccable, friendly service and an intimate vibe. Graze on tzatziki, hummus, and spicy pita chips while waiting for a table. They’ll be the best pita chips of your life. You’ll find a vegetable driven menu once seated, with Mykonian salads (tomatoes, capers, cucumbers and feta cheese), whole roasted fish with your choice of sauce, and so many others. (I loved the quinoa with raisins and the zucchini with fresh mint). Their cocktail list is particularly impressive and long, with innovative and not-overly-sweet takes on your spirit of choice.

Go for a late lunch or sunset dinner.

sunset party at Scorpios Mykonos

A sunset party scene on the Scorpios seafront

 

Please click on the link below to read about the other 6 restaurants that Heather recommends on Mykonos. 

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Good eats on Andros

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Agia Marina Taverna Andros

 Mastrozannes Restaurant at Agia Marina beach — where we enjoyed fabulous views with the two best dinners of our Andros visit

 

Memorable meals: We ate exceptionally well during our first-ever trip to Andros last spring, feasting on delicious Greek cuisine at every restaurant where we dined. At almost all of the establishments, either the settings and ambience, or the views, were as impressive and memorable as the meals. As a lucky bonus, we were treated to excellent food as well as particularly remarkable locations, views and atmosphere at two of the restaurants.

This was the case with our favourite place to eat on Andros —  Mastrozannes Restaurant near Batsi — where we ate dinner two nights in a row on the taverna’s spacious open-air terrace beside Agia Marina beach. On both evenings (one of which was my birthday dinner celebration), our wonderful meals of tantalizing home-cooked Greek cuisine were topped off with complimentary side servings of superb sea and sunset views, shown in the photos below.

view from Agia Marina Taverna Andros

view from Agia Marina Taverna Andros

Above are just two of the splendid scenery and sunset views we enjoyed from our table at Mastrozannes Restaurant

 

 

Another standout eating spot was Drosia mezedopoleio in the leafy mountain village of Menites near Andros Town. There, we lunched on a variety of savory selections, including a local Andros specialty, frutalia, in a truly sublime and unforgettable setting — a sun-dappled terrace encircled by tall trees, lush vegetation and the sound of streams coursing through the gully below.

I Parea in the heart of Andros Town proved to be a good choice for lunch and dinner, while  Archipelagos and O Nonas (both in Chora) and Stamatis taverna in Batsi also served up tasty dinners.

Drosia restaurant terrace in Menites

Shade trees and thick vegetation surround the outdoor dining terrace at Drosia mezedopoleio in Menites village, seen  here in a photo that appears on the restaurant’s Facebook page

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading and see more restaurant photos on page 2 of this post .

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Experience Greece’s glorious off-season sights & scenery with winter walks and drives

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Greece on foot walking tour photo 01

A light layer of snow on the ground didn’t deter participants in a Greece on Foot walking tour from enjoying the awe-inspiring mountain and valley scenery in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese on January 24 …

 

Greece on foot walking tour photo 02

… nor did cold temperatures just two days later, when walkers got to trek through vibrant green olive groves like this one under brilliant sunny skies. (Photos provided courtesy of Greece on Foot tours.)

 

Winter wonders: Take a winter vacation in Greece? Sure! Why not?

The seething  crowds of summer tourists have long since disappeared, as have the scorching temperatures and the startling high prices of peak season. There’s no waiting in long queues for seats on buses or in restaurants, and no jostling with mobs of organized excursion groups or gaggles of selfie-snapping sightseers at monuments and museums. Hiking paths are almost deserted, and roads aren’t clogged with tour coaches. The magnificent historic and natural scenery remains glorious despite the drastic change in seasons, the legendary Greek hospitality continues unabated, and the food is superb as always.

Of course, winter is the wrong time to visit if your primary holiday preferences are swimming and water sports, lounging on beaches, or all-night-long dancing and carousing at bars, clubs and beaches on Mykonos, Ios or any of the other legendary Greek “party islands.” 

But you’ll still find dynamic nightlife in Athens and Thessaloniki, cities which abound in world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and cultural activities all year round. And if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you can challenge your alpine mountaineering or snow kiting skills on Crete, or go snowboarding and downhill skiing at Kalavrita or one of several other major resorts on the Greek mainland.

Mountaineering in Crete

Two alpine mountaineers ascend the steep snow-covered peak of Mt Dikti on Crete, in this image shared on Facebook in late January by Festivalaki: Cretan festival of Arts & Culture. The organization’s Facebook post said mountaineering in Crete offers “a wonderful experience combining alpine terrain with breathless views of both the Libyan & Aegean sea.”

 

Vouliagmeni beach photo by John de Castelberg

A beach near the Vouliagmeni beach suburb of Athens is seen in this December 29 2015 photo by John de Castelberg.  Most tourists might find the sea too chilly for a winter dip, but the scenic beach- and café-lined coast of the Athenian Riviera is pleasant to visit throughout the off season.

 

 

Main tourist season is April to October

For people like me and my partner, who couldn’t bear either the blistering heat and sun or the heaving hordes of tourists in midsummer, winter could well be one of the best times to visit Greece. So why, then, have we travelled there only in spring or fall?

That’s a question we have been pondering a lot lately. We used to believe it was better to travel during the regular tourist season, which generally starts in late April and winds down by the end of October (particularly on the islands). In fact, most of our Greek holidays have been fairly early in the season, typically sometime between mid-May and early June. But we have gone twice in the autumn — we went island hopping in the Cyclades in late September 2007, and we explored Naxos and Athens during the first half of October 2013.

What we like about our spring trips in particular is the palpable local excitement and anticipation for the new travel season and approaching summer period, an atmosphere we find invigorating and refreshing after our long winter hibernation at home in Canada. Also, the weather is usually perfect for some of our favourite holiday activities — hiking and walking, and dining outdoors (especially near the sea). We weren’t keen to visit Greece during the off-season because we were worried we might not enjoy it as much with colder temperatures, inclement weather and few tourists around. 

Samos flamingo photo by Nikolaos Housas

Winter shouldn’t keep us away from Greece — it didn’t stop this pretty pink flamingo and a dozen of its feathered friends from visiting the Alyki wetland reserve on Samos island for several days at the end of January 2016.  Local photographer Nikolaos Housas captured this splendid image on January 27 and shared it on the Samos Island public group page on Facebook. 

 

Social media show the winter appeal of Greece

But recently we’ve really been warming up to the idea of a winter getaway to Greece.  What changed our minds? In two words: social media.

With their photos on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter (some of which I will share with you on page 2 of this post), friends, acquaintances and dozens of people we don’t even know have shown us that Greece can be just as delightful and charming in winter as it is during spring, summer or fall. In fact, they have demonstrated that it’s a terrific time to see the country’s wonderful sights and scenery either on foot or by driving around, and it can often even be comfortable to eat outdoors, or at least sit outside with a coffee to people watch and enjoy the scenery.  What’s more, colourful Carnival celebrations held each February and March in scores of villages and towns provide traditional festive fun and excitement we wouldn’t find in spring.

Haroula taverna at Marpissa on Paros

We thought we would miss eating outdoors if we took an off-season trip to Greece. But occasional mild weather means outdoor dining can be possible even in winter, as this photo posted by the Parosweb Facebook page attests. Taken on January 21 2016, the picture shows a table laden with delectable dishes of home-cooked Greek cuisine in the courtyard at Haroula’s Taverna in Marpissa village on Paros.

 

A place to escape our usual winter blahs

Of course there can be gloomy days with rain, cold temperatures, gale-force winds and even snowstorms, as I have reported in posts on December 31 2015, January 17 2016, and January 23 2016. But we get unpredictable and occasionally severe weather conditions at home, too. Yet we continue to drag ourselves through our  December and January doldrums, and the brutal February blahs, daydreaming about Greece and counting the days until we can go back.  Why not just battle the blahs by getting a winter fix of Greece instead?  With luck we might encounter pleasantly mild weather conditions, as you’ll see in many of the photos below. At worst, it will feel almost like winter back home — but at least we will be passing the time enjoying the off-season beauty in our favourite travel destination. We’re already looking into the possibility of doing exactly that next December or January.

Please click here or on the link below the following picture to turn to page 2 and see some of the photos that have convinced us we’re long overdue for an off-season trip to Greece. Fingers crossed that we’ll be posting our own winter pictures at this time next year. 

Athens winter night view photo by Wendy Gilops

Athens is a bustling year-round travel destination, as evidenced by the throngs of people strolling past historic monuments in the center of Athens, just below the illuminated Acropolis and Parthenon (upper right). Wendy Gilops captured this scene on December 27 2015. 

 

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