Adventures of Hoogrrl!

A person who appears to be ambling aimlessly, but is secretly in search of adventure.

Browsing Posts published in September, 2006

Steki

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Turns out our favorite little no-name restaurant in Atsipopoulo HAS a name! It’s called Steki and here’s a write-up about it that Michael found on the web: http://www.interkriti.net/tavern/rethimno/steki/index.html.

Rakadiko is the typical Cretan cafe-bar where raki and local snacks are served. At “STEKI” the beautiful place of Manolis and Eleni Papadogiannakis you will enjoy the most delicious Cretan snacks with your “tsikoudia” (raki), beer, wine or retsina. It is located 2km from Rethymno, in the beautiful village of Atsipolpoulo.
Atsipopoulo- Rethymno – Crete
OPEN ALL YEAR AROUND
TEL.: +3 0831 32350
CONTACT US FOR AUTHENTIC TRADITIONAL MEALS

Crete

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Welcome to Ellotia! Our little house on the hill in Atsipopoulo, Crete, near Rethymno.

Sitting on the steps of the theater at Knossos. To our left, Europe’s oldest road leads toward to the city of Heraklio. Knossos was a little disappointing because when Sir Arthur Evans excavated it in the early 20th century, he reconstructed many sections in the way he imagined it might look, but many doubt the accuracy.


This is a taverna with no name in our little town of Atsipopoulo (which Michael liked to call People Poop Alot–very mature). Manolis the owner is sitting down with us to tell us about his visit to America 20 years ago. When we asked for a menu, he just showed us what his wife Eleni had cooked and invited us to sit down on the porch. Then plates of food started appearing at our table. Best meal we ate in Crete so we returned a second night. Lamb balls, tomatoes over hard bread and covered with feta, french fries, fresh anchovies, lamb stew, sausage, and green vegetables cooked in olive oil. Delicious!


Backgammon death match! Greeks eat dinner late, like 10 or 11 at night. And before they go to dinner, they have a nescafe frappe, sometimes with a snack, and they play backgammon. So that became our nightly ritual, as well. We often played at our favorite evening spot, Figaro. A canopy of bright pink bougainvilla covered the outdoor seating area and young Cretans filled the joint, making us feel a little bit like locals.


Ping Pong death match at Casa Ellotia.

Prevelli Beach, also known as Palm Beach. The narrow, gravelly, bumpy, rutted, winding road leading to this gorgeous beach sat on a high cliff that edged a deep ravine. Two cars could not have passed each other safely so I wasn’t sure what I would do if anyone came the other way. Pieces of the road had fallen down the ravine, leaving behind a semi-circular death trap. Looking to my left frightened me so I just kept staring at the road ahead. “Straddle the bumps!” Dave ordered. Right. Once we got to the beach, it was filled with sunbathers who’d arrived by boats that pulled right up to the beach. They’d let down an anchor and the wimpy daytrippers splashed onto shore in their floppy hats and baggy shorts.

Pompeii

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On our final day in Italy, we visited Pompeii. I could have spent another day wandering around this extraordinary archaelogical site.


Temple of Jupiter. Breathtaking.


During the excavation that took place in the 1800s by Giuseppe Fiorelli, plaster casts were made of the cavities left in the ashes that covered the decomposing bodies of Pompeiians who did not escape the volcanic blast of 79 A.D. A little creepy.

Pompeiians typically ate their midday meal at thermopolia (fast food restaurants) such as this one. Hot food and drinks were served from jars sunk into the counter and then eaten sitting down in a back room. Eighty-nine such establishments were found in Pompeii.

Along the main commercial street called Via dell’Abbondanza, Pompeiians shopped and dined. You could hear the gossip and friendly chatter as Pompeiians greeted each other on their daily errands. The sidewalks were built higher than usual to create a sluice through which water carried waste down the stone streets deeply rutted by carriage wheels. Large stepping stones level with the sidewalk were placed in the middle of the street and used as crosswalks. Special wheels were made for the chariots of Pompeii to accomodate the crosswalks. Colorful frescoes decorated storefronts and political graffiti spotted the walls along the way.



Along the Via dell’Abbondanza, Venus in the Shell was found in a house that was damaged by a bomb that fell on Pompeii in 1943. This fresco is a good example of how Pompeiians decorated even modest homes with beautiful artwork. I think it was just a fancy precursor to wallpaper.

This view of the House of the Faun is one of the iconic images of Pompeii. Although it was the largest dwelling in the city, we don’t know the identity of its owner.


We spent a week in Positano, Italy in a beautiful villa called Il Giardino. Built into the rocky (“la rocca sporgente!”) Amalfi hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, this postcard perfect town provided the perfect setting for a relaxing vacation with good friends and good food. This is a picture of Eric and Kali from our bedroom balcony on our first morning when we awoke to brilliant sunshine and the revitalizing salt air. Our villa boasted well over an acre of terraced gardens and leisure space and the house itself was enormous. Each of us three couples had our own spacious bedroom and bathroom and there was still much room to spare.

This view is from our rose garden looking back at the villa and the town of Positano. A slow 15 minute walk took us to the village center where gelatto, capuccino, and prosecco awaited us.

On the first level of the house, each room opened onto a terrace partially covered with a small canopy tent. Under the tent was a dining table where we ate langorous breakfasts each morning consisting of cured meats (prosciutto or salami), cheeses (usually assiago), bread, nutella, jam, fruit, juices, and tea. On two evenings, Mirella Guadagno, a member of the family who owned our villa, cooked dinner for us. The night we arrived, she cooked a type of penne with eggplant and mozzarella, herbed chicken, and potatoes. Another night, she prepared thick pasta with clam sauce, white fish in an herbed butter sauce, potatoes, and salad. We supplied the prosecco.

Our first day trip was to Ravello, a beautiful town a little further along the coast and higher on the hill. Though it was a Monday and near the end of the summer season, several wedding parties were being celebrated and the annual music festival was still underway. The highlight was a walk around the gardens of Villa Cimbrone. The Moorish style villa was old and romantic and Greta Garbo once spent time there embroiled in a passionate love affair. I enjoyed the grape arbors that shaded us as we meandered around the grounds. I especially enjoyed the relaxing afternoon prosecco break at a cafe on the main square. Seemed like most tourists had left for the season and, except for a few local young people, we had the town to ourselves.

The next day, we took a speed boat to Capri. It was a rough two hour ride to the island and we were all sore and wind-burned by the time we got there. Before landing at the Marina Grande, we encircled the island and enjoyed Capri’s natural beauty. Although the town of Capri was typically cute and offered excellent shopping (I indulged in a pair of Prada sandals!), it was impossible to embrace la dolce vita with all the tourists swarming about. We were happy to leave Capri, even if it meant another two hour bone rattling boat ride.

We also visited an ancient Greek settlement called Paestum, which was founded in the 7th century B.C. Seeing these well-preserved Greek temples was a good prelude to the Crete portion of our trip.

We didn’t spend much time in Napoli, but I enjoyed what I saw. I was expecting the worst based on reports from other visitors and from our northern Italian friends, but in my short time there, I found a charming city, though its glory days had long-passed. Although grand buildings such as the Palazzo Reale were worn and tired, their faded beauty impressed me anyway.