Monday, 26 May 2014

Athens - Mostly Food

Before I say another word,  can anyone suggest a browser for Apple devices that supports Blogger? Safari doesn't, so I can't blog when on the move, and I'm away a LOT this year. So I am really sorry it's taken me so long to write about Athens, and that I haven't been commenting much on blogs. Well, hopefully that will change!  

I really loved revisiting Athens after several years away.  The picture above shows a stunning sculpture of a boy jockey on a horse from the transformed Athens Archaeological Museum.  I can't get over that that it was created when we in Britain were scratching things on walls of our mud huts, or whatever we did in the years BC (see below). 

I knew there were many new things in Athens since my last visit, over 10 years ago.  The cleverly-planned, world-class Acropolis museum, extensions to the fascinating Benaki, new venues, parks, restaurants and hotels. But I'd also seen some negative stuff because of the economic situation, and been warned by Greeks to be a little more careful about personal security than before, even though the city is still very safe by most standards.

So I took the advice and was careful, but despite more empty shops, to me Athens seemed much the same as usual, better in many parts, the only worse thing I noticed was more graffiti than before.  I felt safe, welcome and happy there.  In fact, people seemed to go out of their way to be generous, hospitable and friendly; but then, I tend to expect that in Greece.

For instance, in the city's central market, I saw these strawberries, very cheap. I bought half a kilo, and the stall owner tipped in an extra handful, and knocked off the extra cents due to him when he weighed them.  And they were the most wonderful strawberries, very fresh and just as good as they looked.  I was impressed. He knew we were just tourists, probably wouldn't be back, but still treated us well.

So as a little thank you to that proud and generous Greek stallholder, I'll tell you a bit more about the food in Athens.  Of course it's a great city to walk around the back streets of, and en route to the central market we saw all kinds of interesting things, including a shop selling honey and bee products, with honeycomb stained glass

 and we met this nice lady who feeds the tortoises who live in the grounds of the Petraki monastery.

We climbed the many steps up Mount Lycabettus,

and saw the silver icon of St. George in the little church at the top

and the views on the way down.

And finally arrived at the market. It's still a typical old European city wholesale market, lots of fun to walk through, looking at lots of good quality stuff, while the owners call their wares.

  A lot of meat, mostly lamb....

Fish of all kinds, very fresh

preserved fruits and nuts

 - all kinds from sesame roast almonds to silvered wedding nuts, dried nectarines, peaches, kiwi-fruits

I bought crystallised kumquats and hibiscus flowers

Red easter eggs (since it was Easter)

Great piles of whole spices...

All types of unusual olives

and, in the familiar,scruffy area around the market, there are now shops selling wonderful cakes, which there certainly never used to be.

I remember when it was impossible to get decent international food in Athens, even though Greeks seem to use very good quality ingredients.   That's not the case now.  The hotel where I stayed, (Airotel Stratos Vassilikis) had remarkably good food for what was otherwise just a pleasant, middle priced hotel.    This was all I managed to photograph at breakfast, but they had lots of unfamiliar things, sweet and savoury, and different each day.  The evening meal we had was also way above average, and not expensive. I reckon they have a chef who loves his job. Although the hotel was some way from the centre, I'd stay there again for the care they took over the food.

Oh, and I was pleased to learn that a whole lot of travel articles I wrote years ago are coming online. Nice to know they have not been forgotten. I will investigate and will link to them as soon as I can, in case anyone's interested. (Well, I am! ) I'd added a couple to the sidebar already, but it will be much quicker to link.


  1. Lovely photos, Athens was always a favorite city of ours too, though we haven't been there in years.

  2. Hello Jenny,

    We have very much enjoyed this 'taste' of Greece, a country that we very much wish to visit.

    The markets look to be particularly colourful and interesting for us here in Hungary where Pork is the meat most represented to see that it is Lamb in Greece. Whatever, it is so pleasing to note that you have been treated warmly by the Greek people and that you did not find it so much changed from all those years ago. So sad about the graffiti however.

  3. Try Firefox for your Mac, that's what my husband uses.

  4. The picture of "the view on the way down" is so beautiful - it looks almost like a painting!
    I've never eaten hibiscus flowers but imagine their taste being similar to hibiscus tea, which I drank quite a lot of when I was a little girl.
    What is your mobile app? An iPad? If yes, I think you'd be happier using a blogging app (such as blogsy) than blogging through your browser.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Athens vicariously through your descriptions, and all the photos are wonderful. The sculpture of the boy jockey on the horse is truly spectacular. And the food - -with all the olives, dried fruit, spices, and cakes I would be in heaven. I've never seen crystallised kumquats or hibiscus flowers before, but they look tempting!

  6. It seems the best thing about Athens is the amazing range of food! You'd be lucky to find many of those delicacies in Belfast, especially the huge range of olives and all the crystallised fruit.

    I love the honeycomb stained glass. That's really beautiful.

  7. I agree with Mac n' Janet - I know that my son has Safari on his Mac, as I do too, but he also has Firefox.
    Our experience of Greece was similar to yours, friendliness, extremely courteous staff in our hotel, and wonderful food.
    I think we must have been in Greece at about the same time as you.

  8. Now I long to visit myself! Nicely shared.


  9. This is such a beautiful, colourful, rich post. Loved it. You could open another blog on wordpress or livepress and use that one when you are on the move. Thanks for the photos.

  10. On my laptop I use Safari and Firefox to blog but Chrome and Opera which I also use will work with Blogger too (Chrome being Google as is Blogger). For your iPad there is a Blogger app which allows you to author posts as well as read other blogs.

  11. oh, very nice..i would love to visit...
    strawberries...yum...when we lived in florida the strawberry festival was nearly in our back yard....
    i love going to much to see...and so many people...

  12. That looks like a particularly good lemon meringue pie. And Mrs. C. is addicted to olives and would go nuts here.

  13. I've been to Greece and can't say that all was cheap. Maybe things changed. The food looks very delicious, especially lemon tart!

  14. I'm glad that people are bearing up despite the horrors inflicted on the by the Troika.

  15. I have friends who are Greekophiles and married there. You have decided me with you recent posts. I shall go there (DV NP) if not this year then next year. Definitely. Thank you.

  16. I use Firefox, though I haven't tried it traveling.
    What marvelous food photographs! Crystallized hibiscus flowers, I'd like to taste those.
    And I love, love, love that high view from between the apartments, looking down.

  17. I'm starving now!
    Another wonderful tour that makes me want to fly off tonight. However the climbing those hills makes me stay here. Love the jockey! If that was classical Greece we were in Celtic huts! Making coins and pottery, swords and shields.
    I look forward to your stuff being online also.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Oh My Goodness Yes please... The food looks so good but I could never hike up the hill !
    Not sure my walker and legs would hold up.
    Love the header photo.

    cheers, parsnip

  20. Right, let's have another go at posting a sensible comment. I have just deleted the shambles above.... Here we go...
    Thanks so much for the comments and the useful suggestions about blogging when on the move. I have an iPhone but have been promised an iPad for my birthday - it's waiting for me to choose which size I want. I'm considering the larger size though I won't be able to take it cycling (the extra weight matters when I am hauling it up hills) but the main thing is I'll be able to do SOMETHING now.
    Adullamite... Of course you are right that we were a bit more civilised than I suggested in the days of Classical Greece, but funnily enough it was only this time, when I really examined the stuff that is (much better than previously) displayed in the Archaeological museum, that I realised how utterly amazing they really were at their height, compared to the rest of the world at the tie.
    The hbiscus flowers are delicious. They are quite sweet, being crystallised but have a lovely and quite unique flavour of their own. I have been creating nice little gifts for people by melting cooking chocolate of various flavours onto greaseproof paper, sticking the flowers, nuts, kumquats etc. on the chocolate then shoving them into the freezer till set. They keep well in plastic boxes in the fridge, though don't usually last very long ! And they somehow give the impression of being quite luxurious, even though they are so quick to make

    The jockey and horse sculpture was so impressive (just slightly larger than life size) that I hung around it for ages admiring it from all angles.

    Nick, I don't know about Belfast but I have never seen some of those crystallised fruits in London either not even in the toppest top shops. I can guarantee they're miles cheaper in Athens. I wanted to post pictures of the various sorts of almonds but they came out too blurred to use.

    GB, a trip to Greece is worthwhile in any way, or at least that's what I always find.

    Lance and Jane, I believe that lamb is the preferred meat throughout the Middle East, and Greece is sort of on the edge of that. I prefer it to pork myself, although so much depends on the quality and how it is cooked - with anything really.

    And actually those hotel breakfasts were so super I still think about them...!

  21. As you know, I never go anywhere so I can't help you with your Mac issues--LOL! But I do so love being taken along to such exotic places, dear Jenny! This was an adventure for me. :)

  22. That fruit looked luscious!

    My most vivid memory of Athens was of a shopkeeper who grabbed me as my friends left his shop, and didn't want to let me go. He said he wanted to marry me, and would i stay so we could marry. He wanted a way to go to the States, i guess, and figured the fastest way was to marry someone from there!

  23. What a wonderful opening picture! I enjoyed this visit to the Athen not usually mentioned in travel articles - especially the mouthwatering food pictures. I’ve never been, but one day - who knows?

  24. Hi Jenny, again a great post and I'm getting to know Greece through you. The smells of the spices in the markets must be so gorgeous. Love the breakfast shots too - oh yes, I can see how you found your hotel good value. Quality of the meals make such a difference to a stay. I love how that market seller gave you extra strawberries ... aren't they beauties too! Such a kind thing to do too, as you say you were clearly tourists - but obviously he saw your happiness at being in his country :D)

  25. Thank you for some wonderful scenes from Athens, Jenny, a place we have never seen (but now I want to go!). The ancient sculpture of a boy on a horse is amazing, isn't it? What gifted sculptors the ancient Greeks were. As for the market foods, they are so attractively displayed, and all look so delicious. I would love to try the kumquots, and the olives. Yum. Love the silver St George too. Many lovely things, thank you for sharing!

  26. Another wonderful trip from right here at my computer. Thanks for detailing it all so well. Of course I was smitten with the market, how I'd love a walk through there.


  27. This brought back such wonderful memories of when I was there many years ago. Ahh- I want to go back!

  28. Wow -- Every photo in her has me salivating! I've been to some pretty nice markets -- but NONE, not ONE has been like this. Those strawberries look so sweet -- I'm eagerly awaiting my first sweet berry of the year! And everything so delicious. Also love that stained glass honeycomb and the views and, well, everything!

  29. Athens is actually one of the places that are on my Bucket list, I have wanted to visit Greece ever since I studied Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Your pictures are gorgeous and the food looks delicous!
    Tammy x

  30. I checked back and note that you merely said Apple devices, not Apple Mac. Are you using ipad or iphone? I have both and all I had to do was open my email accounts in settings. I can email, post to or read blogs, in fact anything I like. It's brilliant. Using my phone/ipad is like being on the computer.

    Loved all the food pictures - quite made my mouth water. Going back now to have another look since I was dying to input my bit about blogging.

  31. I am surprised you managed to move after leaving restaurants and markets.

    What do you mean Safari doesn’t support Blogger? I use nothing else on IMac, IPad and IPhone.

  32. Hi Jenny,

    Your words and photos always blend together in an ambience that makes me feel I'm actually savouring the sites, the sounds and the food. Athens, a place I would like to go.

    Delighted that a number of your travel articles are coming online, Jenny.

    Thank you for this.


  33. Your first food photo, with all the strawberries, made my mouth water! I had to laugh at Brian Miller's comment above about the strawberry festival - he must have lived near me, since it is in the town next to mine. Small you know. :-)

  34. Hmm. My comment disappeared. I was trying to say I thought the crystalized fruits and flowers looked good and I really like the honeycomb stained glass.

    And also I use Chrome on my Mac and it works with blogger.

  35. Stunning photos, Jenny! Even though I've just had my lunch...I'm hungry again! ;) Those strawberries look so, so tempting! I love, love strawberries.

    A wonderful post...thanks. :)

  36. One of my daughters spent a year in Athens - will give her this link, as one of the things she still talks about is the food!

    Do let us know how you get on with Firefox, or whatever you decide - I've got a MacbookAir, but am thinking about an iPadAir - like you, weight is an issue, but I need something that works while I'm away, and have never had a problem with my MacbookAir. But some people have a problem commenting on blogger from iPhones.

    Technology - grrrrrrrr

  37. You are definitely doing your calling. You have an eye for pulling out something that I would overlook and a way of telling it that makes me want to pack a bag. Thank you for sharing your stunning adventure.

  38. I didn't check through the previous comments to see if someone else already suggested it, but if no one has, have you tried installing the Google Chrome browser on your laptop? It might work since I do not think Apple and Google are at war at the moment. Oh, and I think there is a Mac version for the Firefox browser. IE11 doesn't get along with Blogger any better than earlier versions did--not even on a PC! By the way, what do they call Greek food in Greece?

    1. Well here in Scotland we call Scottish food Scottish food so presumably in Greece they call Greek food ελληνικά τρόφιμα.

  39. This has certainly whetted my appetite for a visit to Greece - still on my to-do list...

  40. Wow, thanks for sharing your views with us. I would definitely feel a sense of accomplishment after conquering those stairs!

  41. I dropped by to say hello! I have been absent from blogging for a while, and I did miss your posts. It’s good to be back. Why am I suddenly hungry?

  42. My comment has also disappeared. I think I said something about the best thing in Athens being the great variety of food available - especially the huge range of olives and the crystallised fruit. And I love the honeycomb stained glass.

  43. Greece is such a tasty place! and filled with gorgeous scenery and fascinating history.
    What a wonderful post Jenny.
    I'm still catching up on your previous ones.
    Rose :)

  44. Really wonderful to read such a positive experience of Athens. And the foodstuffs all look very tempting. Good thing you did all that walking!

  45. OMG, those strawberries look soooooooo good! How nice of the guy to add a few extra in there and not charge you.

    I'm so envious of all your travels. Thankfully, you share you're experiences and pictures, so I feel like I'm living vicariously through you.

  46. Thank you for the comments, yes, Lynne, I was glad to be able to write positively about Athens - it is a city I used to visit quite often but I was afraid it would have changed. Actually ,most of the changes are for the better. I'm glad you liked the honeycomb glass, Nick and Secret Agent Woman, I wanted to show that photo as I had not seen anything like it before. I'm quite keen on the idea of trying to make some stained glass like that for my home, can't be that hard to cut out identical honeycomb shapes, right?
    Hello JJ! I have been away so much (and will be) that I try not to notice absences these days :)
    Slamdunk, I did in fact feel a sense of accomplishment, the stairs are even longer than they look in the photo!
    Thank you for the suggestions to everyone who suggested putting another browser on the phone, I tried this at the beginning with Chrome but there was a problem with that - however it sounds as if there should not be so I will give it another try, as I am familiar with it. If it still doesn't like it, then I will try Firefox. I'm really lazy about investigating all that my phone can do. When I go to Japan etc. I will take an iPad but the cycling trip certainly won't involve lugging one of those around in my panniers ....
    Jerry, yes I agree with Graham. They call it "Greek food" or sometimes just plain ol "food" :)
    Pixel Peeper, I have not forgotten those band members we saw in London!!
    More comments on another post so I don't run out of words in this one.

  47. More answers...
    Rita, I so appreciate comments from you, I know your difficulties finding time to visit blogs, and it's great that you do. I try to take a little inspiration from you and visit too.
    klahanie, I will let you know when I have sorted out the links with the articles.It'll take time at the desk. Like Rita (above) I'm finding this hard right now. but if she can do it I can :)
    That is strange what you say about Safari, Friko. It even comes up with a little notice saying it doesn't support Blogger, but I can work that out myself cause I can't use Blogger with it! Maybe I have an old version or something....?
    Tammy and Patricia, The nice thing about visiting modern Greece is that Socrates, Aristotle & Co are still very much part of the consciousness. I realised this time more than ever before how utterly amazing the Ancient Greeks really were.
    OMG Jackie I think that must have been rather scary, to be grabbed by a shopkeeper. Admittedly I have usually visited Greece as a married woman with my husband so have never got offers like that! :)
    Adullamite, you must be right that we weren't quite at the stage of daubing paintings with mud on the walls of our caves, but I do think they were centuries ahead of us. I sometimes wonder what they thought of the Romans with their central heating etc. I think there are some anglo saxon poets who wrote about the amazing ruins of a past civilisation. Sounds a bit like one of those dystopian post apocalyptic things that are so popular now!

  48. What a super post Jenny! Greece wasn't too high up on my to-visit list before (simply because I wanted to visit other destinations more) but it is now!

    Jenny, I do blog on the move. I use the iPhone note function to draft my posts and then I copy over to the Blogger app, add photos and voila, I post. The Blogger app is notorious for timing out so I would recommend drafting first on something like Notes. I do go into the Blogger app first and set my standard photo width.

    If you're happy with drafting posts in pure HTML, you can also use an app called Textwell for advanced formatting. Again, you'll draft in Textwell and copy to Blogger.

  49. It just occurred to me you probably meant Apple Mac not iPhone or iPad. If so, I'd recommend composing offline in something like:
    - Zoundry Raven
    - MarsEdit 3
    - BlogJet

    I always compose my posts on Windows Live Writer and can absolutely recommend using an offline PC or Mac based programme before posting online. It is far more stable.


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