Santorini is both tremendously scenic and very touristy, but it still has its share of quaintly named local businesses, such as the "Nemesis Holiday Apartments" and (my favourite) the "Amnesia Cafe." The island centres on a crater which was left when a volcano blew up, and many houses and hotels are built on the inside of the crater walls, with astounding views. I stayed in a lovely hotel called "Chromata" which was built into the rock with views out to sea..
You could sit on the terrace next to the infinity pool (above) and gaze over a huge expanse of blue to the island of
When we went over in the boat to explore Nea Kameni, it was incredibly bright and hot. The land was smouldering with yellow sulphur and the sea was remarkable greens and blues. I wouldn't have been surprised if a dragon had slithered round the corner. Nea Kameni, on the other side of the crater.
I still have a bottle of my favourite wine from that Santorini trip. It is called "Kallisti" and I should have drunk it long ago as you see from the state of the label. Perhaps we'll have it at Christmas....
You might remember I went to another South Aegean island, Rhodes, earlier this year. Rhodes is well served with Swedish and Scandi coffee houses, of all things (great cakes in this one, the "Agora")
but my favourite culinary "find" there was George and Maria's Falafel House, at 16 Mandilara Street. George is half Egyptian, and the falafels are made from his Egyptian dad's recipe. Although it's a simple and low priced place, the food is a great mixture of Greek and Arabic, and everyone is as friendly as can be.
Here is George bringing us tea bags from his store room so we could choose what flavour of tea to have. His wife Maria did most of the cooking, he looked after the guests and large numbers of friends and family who were constantly dropping in From the outside, the restaurant doesn't look special, but his daughter had painted the place up with charming wall paintings of local scenes and fairytales.
George+ played old school rebetiko music in the background because he liked it, and some of the customers enjoyed a sing-along. And here is a photo of a truly delicious vegetarian meal we had at George & Maria's for a very low price. Lovely ingredients, beautifully cooked.
As for the wine .... we had retsina, which only ever tastes right in Greece and is the best thing I know for creating that "Amnesia Cafe" feeling. What with the fumes of retsina and the rebetika, we really felt as if we had stepped back into the 1980s and into some remote village taverna.
Here's some rebetiko, in case you don't know what it sounds like. The singer is the wonderful Glykeria. I always think this type of music sounds best played at maximum volume, as it would be in a old fashioned taverna, so hit that volume knob...
And I like this little film of what looks like a fun rebetiko event.