February 3, 2011

Travelogue to Greece, Part II: Meteora and Santorini

After some sightseeing in Athens, my family and I traveled to Meteora. During the road trip, we made a pit stop where I enjoyed my first slice of Baklava.

The baklava had layers upon layers of crispy phyllo dough, bits of nuts, all drenched in syrupy Greek honey. It's definitely a dessert that you need to sit down with a cup of coffee, espresso, or tea--and to be shared--because it is so sweet.

While in Meteora (which in Greek means "in the heavens above"), we visited many monasteries that were literraly "suspended in the air," or set atop of hill tops and rock formations. We hiked up to a few monasteries, but others like the one in the picture below are not really by the public.

For lunch, we visited the simply named Cafe Meteora, which is family-owed and operated.

The place was so charming and had a lot of character--they even had a torch from the 2004 Olympics in Athens!

Every diner was invited to walk through their kitchen and see huge pots of stews, rice, and potatoes. We got a few different dishes, including lamb meatball stew served with rice. It was delicious and hearty.

The better dish though was this stewed lamb. The lamb was so tender and had a wonderful depth of flavors from the time it spent on the stove.

After a wonderful visit to Meteora, we went back to Athens for a night before we flew out to Santorini. We decided to keep things relatively low key and went to Athens' Old Town, Plaka, where there are many shops and tavernas. Because there are many tavernas, we didn't really quite know where to go, so we just chose a random taverna in one of the alley ways in Plaka. The ambiance was really nice, candle-lit tables, and an acoustic guitar band serenading the diners.

We started with this grilled Halloumi cheese. I'm not sure if this was just not the best Halloumi since I've never had it before, but I was not a big fan of the dish.

My sister Pinnerton really wanted to try the Dolmadakia, which are grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables. Pinnerton thought it was good, but I was really put off by the briny and sour taste, so I really did not enjoy this dish.

And the meal went down hill from there ... We ordered this sad looking plate of stewed lamb, and shared even sadder looking plates of chicken Souvlaki and stew that I don't even want to post.

Finally, we made it to Santorini! After a short flight from Athens, we are ready for lunch. My mom had read somewhere that a little gyro restaurant by the tourist information booth is supposed to be good.

The gyro pita sandwich was a bit disappointing. The meat was not as good of a quality as the gyro we had in Athens.

The Souvlaki suffered the same fall of low quality meat, which made the dish not as enjoyable as it could have been. But who cares about the food, when you're in Santorini--I mean, look at the view!

Santorini is even more beautiful in person--the blue ocean's contrast with the white structures is so breathtaking. If I thought Athens was hot, Santorini is ten times as hot! We were practically drenched in sweat just walking around.

After wandering around the island, we needed to cool down. So, we stepped into this little cafe and sipped on some deliciously strong iced coffee. I don't even drink coffee, but it was so good!

Here's another gorgeous view of this Greek island. 

After we watched a beautiful Santorini sunset, we enjoyed our last dinner in Greece at a rooftop restaurant. I ordered yet another lamb meatball stew--I can't help it, I love lamb and stews! It was not the best meal of the trip, but we were so exhausted by that point that we just wanted to sit somewhere and take in as much of Santorini as we could. 

I would definitely want to go back to Santorini and the other Greek islands, but am not sure if I would return to Athens. Overall, Greece was a fantastic experience! 



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