There could never be a better time to visit Greece, according to travel blogger Natalie Roos. Here’s why.
In October 2014 I set off to Athens with a single item of business on my itinerary: Eat. And that’s exactly what I did.
Over the course of five days I ate my way through the city, pausing only briefly for a few hours to visit the National Archaeological Museum or climb the Acropolis before getting back to the business of savoring every mouthful of this delicious city.
On my first night in the city, he took me to a small restaurant called Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani (which I have still never been able to say out loud), which serves the most incredible Turkish-Greek fusion food. It was clear by the fascination on the faces of the owner and waiters that they do not often receive tourists.
Andreas ordered plate after plate of warm vine leaves stuffed with rice, pan-fried eggs with potato, sausage and spices and potatoes fried with chilly and dill. We washed it down with a couple of bottles of what was to become my favorite local beer, Fix. I still think of it as one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
I reached out to Andreas to ask him a few questions about the current situation in Greece. “From my point of view, the worst is the feeling of uncertainty in society – a bit of fear and a bad mood. But still, the funny thing is that you will still see so many people outside drinking, flirting and talking, Greeks are happy people!”, he says.
When I asked whether he thought now would be a good time to visit Greece, he replied:
“Of course! I think visiting Athens and getting to know this unique city and her people is one of the best way to help Athens, one of the most interesting countries in Europe. Greece is Europe.
Don’t forget traveling is one of the best ways to invest your money in yourself! Now is a really good time because we have huge discount period. That’s a travel tip for our friends in South Africa.”
Make sure to walk the city. There is so much amazing street art to see and getting lost is half the fun.
The food was amazing! Besides that they provided top notched service.
It’s been a while since I last blogged ! I have been planning to do a write up on my trips but countless things have happened since then and prevented me from doing so. It has always been my wish to continue writing partly because i have a really bad memory so I need a way to record the things that I did and the thoughts i have after those experiences. Feelings and emotions fade over time , years later when we look back and reminisce the feelings and thoughts are not as strong as before. Only reading back the thoughts that cross your mind at the exact moment when you pen it down can momentarily take you back. 2015-2016 has been really a crazy and busy period, full of ups & down and twist to every single thing. But I am thankful for the experiences I had and most importantly the support I have from my family and close friends.
It has always been my dream to travel the world , exploring the cobbled stones of every ancient city, experiencing the exotic culture and festivals and also not to mention the mouth watering food which comes along with it ! Last year in May, I got to travel the places I have always wanted to visit , the places I have always dreamed of. It was literally my best summer vacation ever! I got to visit Europe and USA !
I have been waiting for the trip to begin ever since I started planning it with my brother and his friends. Finally the day arrived.
We flew over deserts and seas..
AND FINALLY WE ARRIVED !!!
The first stop : Athens !!!
Our friends reached before we did as I had exams much later. I flew off as soon as my papers were over! We reached there in the late afternoon so we did not want to waste any time traveling and lugging our luggage to our accommodation. We grabbed a cab and hit the roads to our accommodation to join the rest of the party. I can still remember how glorious the weather was; it was sunny yet the air was cold and crisp! After a quick change of clothes and footwear ,we hit the roads to explore and take in the sights and sounds of Athens. Our friends brought us to this dessert store called Lukumades to have something light before exploring more! The store basically sells Lukumades which is balls of fried dough with a sauce drizzled over it (Usually it is drizzled with honey). It was really good ! We ordered Lukumades with Bueno sauce
Only much later did I realize its a place to hit when you are in Athens . Thank goodness for our friends ! We roamed around the streets before heading to the parliament house to catch the changing of guards ceremony. Walking along the streets of Athens / Nice Sunset / Parliament House Athens.
The ceremony starts at 7pm local time. So if you are in the vicinity do check it out! It is a slightly different experience from the ones back in Singapore (Where we are from). I guess partially might be due to their unique uniforms and also their marching.
Changing of guards. Mad respect for them! Imagine raising your legs close to 90 degrees throughout the ceremony! It is really tiring!
After the ceremony we finally headed for dinner! So basically in Europe our best friend was TripAdvisor. We always checked out which are the highly raved restaurant/cafe in our area so we can check them out .Our first meal in Athens was at Karamanlidika. They were rated one of the top few on TripAdvisor and we pretty close in proximity to the restaurant. As far as I can recall, we walked from the Parliment House to Karamanlidika.
Their handcrafted cheese
This is the first real interaction we had with Greeks and I must say they are generally very gracious people. We had a delightful short chat with the owner. The restaurant gave us free starters and desserts. The food was amazing! Besides that they provided top notched service. Nothing to complain! I cannot exactly remember what I had but i know it was good!
Karamanlidika deli-restaurant sells handcrafted sausages too!
Look at all the fresh meat
The only thing i could remember was the dessert because it was unique! Greece is all about Greek Yogurt! So no surprises they served up Yogurt. But it was the toppings which made me go GAGA! Its caramelized carrots drizzled with honey! Usually I am not a fan of carrots because of their distinctive smell which I do not adore. This certainly did not have that ! I loved it! I remember I loved it so much that i said I wanted to recreate it back in Singapore. Sadly that did not happen. Also, did i mention that all Greek yogurt in Greece taste so fresh and good? I did not like Greek Yogurt one bit when i was in Singapore and eating them out from plastic tubs. They tasted like they were loaded with tons of preservatives and smelled funky too.I ate it despite all those because I wanted to be healthy and was on a diet ! I thought back to myself back then that diet food must taste horrible.No wonder its tough to be on a diet. But NO!!! Real and authentic fresh Greek yogurt actually taste really good! Do not be deceived!
Dessert: Yogurt with caramelized carrot strips drizzled with honey
Had enough Souvlakis? It’s funny that I’m writing this, seeing that I have an FB Page called “Best Souvlaki”.Being typical food-loving Malaysians, me and my buddy Airinie decided to sacrifice our tummies in the name of research to bring you our suggestions of alternative eats, while in Athens.There is a trend of exotic little eateries cropping up around the city, that we will probably need 2-3 more outings to cover, so lets get started.
Fresh & Authentic DIY
If you plan on staying for more than a night or two in #Athens (very wise!) If you, like me love to stay in apartments or studios with a kitchenette, then you have just opened yourself up to a whole new world! (ok a tad over excited there) Eating in can be a treat and quite good for your wallet too. Visit the wet-market, supermarkets, delis and stock up on local products. Try the cold cuts, #spices, #wines, #cheeses.
For under 10e you could feed a family of 4 a hearty breakfast of assorted cold cuts, cheese and bread, #Seafood dinner out, would cost you an arm and a leg usually, but not if you cook it yourself (which is what i do). Fresh fish, prawns, octopus …. there are many simple #Greek #recipes you could whip up easily in a tiny kitchen. All you need is some Greek olive oil, oregano, garlic, and optional Greek wine and tomato for a saucy pasta accompaniment.
Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani – Take-way and eat-in Deli (same family as Arapian Deli across the road). Evripidou 52. Been waiting to dine there in like forever… let’s go Airinie?!
Top photo: Karamanlidika (Arapian) Deli, since 1922, on Evripidou 41. Try the Beef or Camel #Pastourma. Great friendly and helpful service.
Cooks, Misc., Travels, Writes. By Airinie Azhar-Konstantinidou
I spent an afternoon recently with Alison from Viv@ellada in downtown Athens, wandering about and trying different food. Alison will have a post about ‘cheap places to eat’ in Athens that I will link up here soon. (Update: Here it is! ‘Had Enough Of Souvlakis?“) I have decided to compile here some of the places that we went to, for food and for food shopping. The theme here is Eastern Flavours, …, a recent find for me, that I absolutely LOVE;
Also, a shop (a very famous one, too) that sells the speciality cured/dried meat Pastourmas – called Arapian. There is a connected restaurant Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani that I would try some time in the near future.
Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani (41, Evripidou str, Arapian)
This was an interesting experience for me. We were wandering about with no purpose around the market, and stumbled upon this lovely gem of a place. The guy behind the counter, Andreas, was very nice and kind to us. We tried the cured / dried meats on offer and we bought a variety of meats. The speciality of this shop is of course, Pastourmas. It’s cured beef covered with spices – fenugreek, cumin, allspice and paprika.
There is also Karamanlidika restaurant, close by, that serves the famous pastourma and other dishes and specialities of Greece. I would love to eat there one of these days.
Sunday morning breakfast – fried eggs with pastourmas. It was incredibly tasty. How could I have not encountered this heavenly (albeit strong-smelling) morsel before this moment? I have been here in Greece for quite a number of years, and have heard of pastourmas (and eaten it too, I suppose, yet not knowing what exactly is it that I am eating!), but I have to say this trip to the store really opened my eyes, and I thoroughly recommend you to check out Arapian, and ask for Andreas! He was extremely helpful, and we had a wonderful time tasting all the wonderful meats on selection.
How to make Fried Eggs with Pastourmas
In a frying pan, gently heat 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Break 2 fresh eggs into hot pan, careful to not break the yolk.
Once the whites of the eggs has started to cook, place a few slices of pastourmas into the pan – on the eggs and by the side to slightly crisp up the meat.
No need to add salt or pepper, the pastourmas will flavour the eggs.
If you don’t like your egg yolk runny, flip over the eggs and pastourmas to cook the yolk.
Serve immediately with some chunky bread.
Other than pastourmas, I also bought some slices of beef pastrami, that I made into a simple pastrami sandwich – slices of pastrami with sliced gherkin pickles, with hot spicy English mustard on slices of chunky bread.
We stopped by a few other places, too, but I will keep that for another post! Don’t forget to check out my friend Alison’s page, too! Also, to clarify, ‘makan’ means eat in Malay, and ‘Makan-makan’ roughly translates to “eats” in the plural form. So, Athens Eats! Welcome to the new series, and if you have any recommendations, please drop me a line!
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