Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cycladic and Culinary Delights

We overslept woefully this morning, felled by the previous day of heat and hiking. We roused ourselves mid-morning and walked up the road to Cafe Mylos in Firostefani, the village where we're staying. We were not disappointed. The cafe blends traditional Greek architecture with a very hip, very contemporary look (and blasts great house music to boot). They have a nice internet cafe; overall, Cafe Mylos exudes an inviting vibe.

The food was excellent: fresh and handsomely prepared. Indeed, I have been pleasantly surprised so far. After years of hearing Rod recount horror stories of greasy moussaka, I expected the worst. Rod (albeit somewhat grudgingly) admits that what we have experienced so far bears little resemblance to his memories from twenty-five years ago. Food is very good and, by European standards, reasonable. Yesterday we lunched at Nikolas Cafe in Thira, and again had absolutely fresh, tasty food: Rod ordered stuffed cabbage, and I had stuffed zucchini with a light lemon sauce. We shared a killer appetizer of beets, which included the sauteed greens. Santorini wine has also been a revelation. I had been warned off Greek wine, but the local white is absolutely delicious and light, perfect for this climate. At lunch yesterday we paid all of 2 euros for a small carafe, which seemed crazy cheap; all told, our substantial, very good lunch totaled 21 euros for the two of us, certainly a bargain by any standards.

Tonight we're dining across the street at Ginger Sushi Cafe, which is reputed to be fantastic. Web sites say it's the best sushi outside of Japan and California. Tomorrow we will probably succumb and try Naoussa or Mama's cafe, both Santorini institutions. In short, good food is to be had easily and relatively inexpensively.

After brunch we ambled down the cobblestone path that follows the cliffs overlooking the caldera, around a 20-minute hike. Once in town, we headed for the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, another unexpected delight. I've decided that Rod and I are incorrigible geeks. Inevitably we find ourselves in places like this museum, enchanted beyond expression only to realize that we're two of perhaps ten people in the entire place. Everyone else is buying curios or drinking in bars. The museum has an impressive collection of pottery and objects from the 17th - 20th centuries (BCE, mind you). I especially loved seeing the implements and wall paintings from the recent excavations in Akrotira. Alas, the site itself is still closed, but the collection gives a good sense of the advanced civilization--certainly rivaling Minos--that flourished before the great volcanic eruption of around 1450 BCE.

Tomorrow we might take a cruise to the volcanic center of the caldera, where one can swim, if so inclined, in sulfuric waters. On Tuesday we will attempt the trip to the ruins of ancient Thira. We finally discovered (through one of dozens of travel agencies dotting the island) a fairly straightforward route. Mini-vans make the trip several times in the morning, but they only depart from Kamari and--this being Greece--one cannot depend on the published schedule. The agent, though, offered to call the company on our behalf, so I am hoping we won't stand for hours in the sun waiting in vain for our transportation.

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