Arriving at our destination in Greece after 16 hours of travel, we napped in the village and then set out for the town of Gytheio, where we searched for a parking spot and then by default, ended up eating at the closest restaurant. After all the
news about Greece's struggle and the situation with the economy, we were glad to see that the area seemed to be thriving with activity.
Our 'nap' had actually been quite eventful, since most of the neighbours dropped by as soon as
we arrived, and then a thunderstorm shook the rafters several times. It always takes a while to sweep out the house and let the air in, curtains billowing in the breeze. The shower was the most welcome thing!
The 16 hours
was made up of a 9 hour flight, which we made along with my husband's parents, and then a near 5 hour road trip from Athens to the village. His father is more aged than his mother so he needed support and additional care navigating through the airports.
Once on the flight, and again once seated safely in our rental van, he did not complain and we made it safely to his birthplace, the town of Petrina, in the Province of Lakonia, situated partway up a mountain, and roughly between Sparta and Gytheio.
I took a video of him disembarking the plane, thinking sadly to myself, this is the first time he has set foot on Greek soil in almost ten years....and may be his last, however, he seems to 'go placidly amidst the noise and haste' and is doing phenomenally,
given the time change...there is already talk of returning next year!
Gytheio is our favourite seaside town to visit, in Greece. There are many quaint and charming towns, but Gytheio seems to hold a place dear in our
hearts. Perhaps it is the way in which the homes are built almost on top of one another, reaching up the cliffside and arcing around the bay. It is easy to imagine the history that has come before. I often wonder at how many earthquakes
it must have endured, and then marvel that the buildings still stand. After ten years and 5 visits to Greece, this town has not lost its impact on us.
Most restaurants in the town have a barker or someone who stands in the
street to beckon you inside, with tales of their delicious cuisine and varied offering. This one was no exception, and we spoke to him easily in Greek and English. He also spoke French to the next patrons, who arrived via their sailboat, all the
way from Paris. We took a seat across the road from the restaurant itself, right on the edge of the harbour, where a row of fishing boats were moored. A fisherman was busy with his nets the entire time that we dined.
meal started with a couple of drinks, me choosing Ouzo and my husband asking for beer. We will save the wine sampling for when we visit Italy! It was lightly raining and we endured this for several minutes, waiting for the clouds to pass. When
they did, the sun was setting spectacularly behind the hills of Gytheio, and the towering Taygetos mountains were bathed in fire and deep purple shadow. We had a view of the entire town, the harbour, and from this particular spot on the pier, it was
the first time we had also taken note of the mountain range in behind. Usually we are around a corner where they cannot be viewed from, or closer to the bottom of the hillside in the town, so they can't be seen at all from below.
Feeling queasy after our travel, my mind was setting on eating something fairly heavy and I was looking for a Gyro with fries. When we found that the menu did not offer this, we almost left - my husband is always so accommodating to fulfil my heart's
desire, he would have agreed to go anywhere else. After chatting further with the maitre d', we decided to stay, and we are so glad we did!
It didn't take long to settle on our choices and we called the server over.
Craving the hearty and refreshing traditional Greek salad, we ordered Xoriatiki. There is no lettuce in this salad, but rather, it is almost all made of the freshest of tomatoes, with cucumber, olives, peppers, and onions, and a block of feta cheese
on top, drizzled with olive oil and a good amount of oregano. The thick, crusty bread that accompanies it is almost always a staple that is not extra to the meal - it is expected. This, we immediately drench in olive oil...and it's not uncommon,
neither is it considered rude, to use the bread to get the last oil and juice out of the bottom of the salad bowl.
I chose a starter dish that spoke to me of satisfaction and some exotic treat - Shrimp saganaki - because I love
both Shrimp and saganaki cheese. In Greece they do not serve saganaki with the flambe that we are used to in Canada. It is a salty cheese, and when paired with Shrimp in a tasty sauce, it is heaven. I forgot though, that they were
not going to bring me some tiny shrimp, that I'm used to getting in North America. These were eight giant shrimp, as big as prawns, and served complete with heads, eyes, tentacles, and all their little legs. My husband being braver than I, ate
most of the creature, whereas I opted to cut the heads off and eat only the 'tail'. I should have taken a photo and am kicking myself now that I did not do this. They had been freshly caught and were an absolute delight.
To satisfy my need for meat and potatoes, the maitre d' suggested grilled pork and we agreed. He brought 6 beautifully cooked ribs that were almost like ribs but still more like a pork chop. They were tender and yet crispy, perfectly done,
and the potatoes were thinly sliced and very lightly fried. The rest of the shrimp sauce went on top of the potatoes. We were very full, so we decided to bring the rest back to my mother in law. She was very grateful to have some cooked
food, as we hadn't fully stocked the fridge yet, for our stay.
The meal was wonderful, and very well priced. The restaurant was "Cafe Ouzeri To Limani".
For 29,50 Euros, we thought that what we had eaten
was tasty, satisfying, and fun. Being tired and somewhat cranky, we were grateful to have found this spot that was off the beaten path and did not have the traffic and passersby that most other restaurants had. Before we left, it had become dark,
and we also enjoyed seeing the lights twinkling in the harbour and on the buildings surrounding it.
We walked briefly afterward, to a bakery to grab some Bougatsa - even though we knew it was not fresh at this point, we still wanted
it for breakfast the next day. Bougatsa deserves a story all of its own.