I live in DC, which is a great place to live and visit. I try to make the most of it. However, I also love to leave my home and see what the world has to offer. Come and join me!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sept. 6 (cont.) The Gulf of Corinth and Greek Comtrex

On the way back to Galaxidi we stopped at a beach to dip our toes on the water (the Gulf of Corinth). The pebble beach hurt my feet and the water was...brisk to say the least. It was beautiful however.

Back at the hotel, I headed straight for the Farmakeio. Closed for siesta until 6 pm! Curses, foiled again! I had some sudafed of indeterminate provenance with me, but it was probably 6 years old (the last time I remember taking sudafed was to stay awake during the bar exam 6 years ago because I was having insomnia and actually fell asleep on the first day during the multiple choice section) and didn't seem to have any effect.

We catch the bakery right before it closes and buy what looks like almond cake and the proprietor tells us is a local specialty (1E). It is baked in a giant pan and cut in a beautiful, intricate, and perfectly precise pattern.

We wander the town. The churches are shut tight so we content ourselves with looking at the outsides, which are quite lovely.

We start to head down an alley to the sea road but there is an earthmover at the end scooping up water from the sea and pouring it onto the road. We chose a different street, where we saw this balcony with a ship's figurehead. We later checked out the spot where the water had been poured on the road but could not come up with an explanation. In Kosovo, the shopkeepers water the concrete a couple of times a day even though they are in a terrible drought and the water is turned off all the time. Perhaps they were watering the concrete.

We walk the waterfront and choose O Tosos for lunch based on its cheery yellow tablecloth. We order a Greek salad; it is served with feta on the side which is the only time we had it that way, and hortopita, spanakopita made with wild greens instead of spinach. We get watermelon at the home at the end, the only time we got dessert at lunch. I didn't write down how much it was, but it certainly couldn't have been more than 15E.

K was game for wandering, but I was on my last legs and dying for cold medicine, so we sat on a bench overlooking the water. The area was completely deforested for shipbuilding--there are denuded hills and mountains as far as the eye can see. There is allegedly a reforestation program going on, but the only place we saw trees was on the little hill across the harbor from us, and the olive groves at Amfissa. The rest of it looks like the mountain in the background of the photo. We ate the cake and it turned out to be the Farina cake! Poor K. I love Cream of Wheat, as I said. My guess on the recipe is that farina is prepared with boiling water and mixed with honey, then placed into a baking pan, probably a hot pan with melted butter in it, and baked until golden in a moderate oven. The edges are chewy-crisp and the middle is just chewy.

We went back to the hotel to rest. I didn't think I'd fallen asleep, but K told me that while I was asleep the church bells had gone crazy and the entire population of the town in the 50+ age category had come down the hill. The bells had rung while we were sitting on the bench, which must have been the call the church.

Promptly at 6 we headed back to the Farmakeio, where K pointed to the word for "cold" in her phrasebook. I was too miserable to try to say it. I got Comtrex--ingredients entirely in Greek so I have no idea what I was taking--and Advil for a total 2.55E! I paid 7E for cold medicine in Florence! If you're going to get sick, do it in Greece. Practical mission over we went to the funky little shops. There are some that have a mishmash of vintage and antiques, including a ton of ashtrays of course. They made me miss my grandmother, who smoked into funky glass ashtrays from the 50s. I bought some cool gold eyeshadow (4E) and K bought a hat for 7E. She'd been looking at hats in Thessaloniki and an equivalent hat was 35E there! Then we went back to the hotel to shower before dinner.

We went to dinner at Maritsa (MapitĪƒa), which was recommended by K's guidebook (Lonely Planet). It was chilly so we asked to sit inside. A couple came in with the Lonely Planet guide in hand, called "Grecia" which I later learned is the Spanish spelling. They sat inside as well but shortly thereafter they were asked to sit outside so the locals could watch the election debate that was taking place that night. It was chilly and windy and they looked cold all night. An older couple of locals came in and sat at the Spaniards' vacated table. The TV was then muted and the music turned on! I don't know if they have something against Spaniards or what, but it seemed a really crappy way to treat people, and there was room inside for them to have been reseated if the old people really had to have that table.

Maritsa has great funky decor, especially the chandeliers with their ornaments hanging down. I loved the painting of the ship (though I admit I thought it was a red couch at first), and my favorite piece was the dressmaker's dummy with the silverware belt.

We were handed an all-English menu. We ordered the roasted eggplant with tomatoes and feta (delicious), and the baked potato with "cottage cheese" (it turned out to be sour cream) for me and shrimp fettucine for K. She had ordered the shrimp orzo, but was told there was only fettucine. It was the exact same dish, just with different noodles. Odd. The baked potato was just the comfort food the doctor had ordered for me. I love potatoes and they are great when you're sick. I ate the whole thing, including most of the skin. I hope it's not uncouth to eat potato skin in Europe.

With wine and water, it was 32E, which I think was our most expensive meal of the trip; the shrimp spaghetti--three head on shrimp, one of which was not deveined--was 12E. There was no fruit or dessert at the home. When we asked for the bill the woman came and sat down at our table, asked us what we had, and tallied it up. We were tsked for leaving too much tip and she handed most of it back.

You can see all my photos of Galaxidi and all the photos from this trip to Greece if you'd like.

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