Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Love Greece

Well one more on the vegie travellers exploits in Greece. This is a country that loves its vegies. However when you go to fancy restaurants and look at menu, you find nothing remotely vegetarian.
I loved Greece, especially the small towns. Its one more of the countries on my 'would love to visit again' list.
My experience of Greece started in our very first small town we visited. We where in Corfu and decide to take the ferry to Patras. However, after the overnight trip when the boat docked on the tip of the mainland, we had 'had enough' of the sea travel and decided to get off and travel by land! Once on land took a bus to Loannina. Here started our wonderful experience. The bus dropped us of on the highway, about a Km from the centre of town (it is only a tiny little place) After walking about 100 Mts (felt like 1 KM already) decided the pack was too heavy, and hence stopped and got rid of some of the extra clothes into the nearby bin! Met some building workers, who were extremely keen to talk to us 'this is not a Town used to strangers' They gave us huge hugs when we said we are from India 'Hindu's .... You are the first Hindu's we are meeting etc' Mind you I think that's what they said It was all Greek and Latin to me heheheh It was a lot of gesturing and a couple of words here and there by both us and the locals...
We finally found a hotel, and once were backpack free started wondering through the town looking for food. The place had a fair few options, all very informal looking but we had a problem. The menu was all in Greek, and on first glance (using the phrase book) did not seem to have any vegie options!
BUT then this vegie traveller does not give up easily, especially in a town where people are friendly and curious. So I turn on this show all your 32 lovely teeth smile, and say 'vegetariano...' followed by, 'No Meat' 'No Fish' etc This was the first place we went to. There is a lot of gesturing, shrugging of shoulder (by both sides) and a lot of smiles and grins... before the bloke just grabs my hand and pulls me in... I promptly grab hold of Hubbie' and drag him along as well.
Next stop is the kitchen, where the bloke talks to the chef... and the chef smiles. Then he shows me all these lovely pots of simmering food and vegies. I spot a pot of rice as well. Then he goes onto point to the stuff on shelves there (spices, vegies, grains, dhals, meat you name it...) and then to the respective pot... It finally dawns on me. He does not want me to cook, he is showing me the ingredients in each dish! I can do this, I point to the Rice, and couple of pots that has all vegie ingredients, then I point to two of us, rub my tummy to indicate am very hungry... and happily go back to a nice table up front.
The food was very cheap and excellent. We had a ball in rest of our stay in Greece. Almost in every town we had similar experience, and I stopped dragging Hubbie with me into the kitchen. The type of stuff we got was lovely, Vine leaves stuffed with aromatic rice, Capsicum and Tomatoes stuffed with lovely herbs/cheese etc. Some nice curry like things with many vegies like zucchini, beans etc.
Things changed once we got to Athens though. That's one place with a large attitude and hardly any Greek character left. Its just one big city with some great museums and lot of unfriendly people. But then you need a 'town' like that in every country I guess...
Until the next thing I remember, or next place I travel....