Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Layover. Kamena Vourla.


When I was planning this trip, I realized it was a long drive from Meteora to Athens. I didn't know how much time we would be spending at Meteora so I decided to not push things and break up the journey back to Athens. I looked at the map and literally tried to find a place that was between Meteora and Athens. I explored a few options but in the end, settled on Kamena Vourla, a small seaside town on the North Euboean Gulf. I figured after all the driving we had done, it would be nice to have one last opportunity to relax by the sea before heading to the big city.


We wrapped up our visit to the last of the Meteora monasteries, St. Nicholas, around 1pm. We hit the road, this time with Ms. Garmin at the navigational helm. For some reason, our hotel wasn't showing up on Google maps. Lesson learned. You can't rely on just one navigational system to get around!

It was pretty uneventful drive.  Bro and I chatted non stop and lunch was munching on food that we had brought along.  

We arrived into Kamena Vourla in the late afternoon.  Teeny town.  The road our hotel was on ran alongside the water.  On one side of the street were hotels, restaurants and shops.  On the other side were seating areas belonging to the hotels/restaurants.  The place was really quiet; barely a soul on the streets.

Downtown Kamena Vourla.

Even with Ms. Garmin pinpointing the location of our hotel, we initially had a bit of trouble finding it.  Well, the hotel, Okeania, was there but the sign was in Greek which we couldn't read.  The letters were kind of close to English so I had Bro pull over.  I headed inside.  Not a person in sight.  Hello?  Hello?  No one.  Hello?  Hello?  I walked around what looked to be the reception room/bar/cafe/restaurant in search of someone to check us in.  After a few minutes, a young girl appeared.  She barely spoke any English.  Luckily, I had printed our voucher out in both English and Greek.  I showed her the Greek page and she nodded.  Whew!  Bro joined us and of course, asked where we could park.  From what I could make out, parking on the front street was fine but we could also park out back so Bro took that option.  I followed her up to our room while Bro parked the car.  I then met him out back and got our luggage.  I was wondering what the heck was taking him so long.  Of course, as I found out later, he was *inspecting* the trees for fruits.  Still in search of figs for the picking.

Our room was the usual hotel room layout, quite modern in terms of furniture and decorations.  We had all the amenities we needed which these days, is mainly wifi and enough electrical outlets to charge up all our devices :-)

Okeania's restaurant seats were on the other side of the road.  Nice view of the water.

I had again, booked a room with a sea view which in the case of Okeania meant overlooking the front of the hotel and the street.  Luckily, the place is so quiet, there should not be any issue with getting a good night's rest.

We quickly settled into our room and then headed out to explore the place.  We didn't get far.  As we were walking out the door, I noticed a sign for the hotel's restaurant, advertising its offerings.  One word stood out.  Galatobureko.  One of my Facebook friends, who is of Greek heritage, mentioned we should try it and so why not?

Galatobureko.  That's the dish in the middle of the sign.  My Greek is really good when it comes to food :-)

So, the same young girl who checked us in, took our order.  We headed to the seaside tables to wait.  Didn't take long for our dessert to arrive.  I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when we got presented with this.  Custard sandwiched between top and bottom crusts of phyllo.  The syrup is suppose to be made from honey but I think it's common for simple sugar syrup to be used.  That's what we got.  It was  a warm dessert.  Quite nice flavor but much too sugary sweet for our liking.  If I made this at home, I would cut way, way, way back on the sugar!


There was not a whole lot to do in this sleepy little town.  Our hopes of spending time on the beach were dashed. :-( No soft sand here; it was pebbles.  The water was cold.


The only *landmark* of any sort that we saw was the church.  There was a funeral ceremony taking place so we didn't venture inside.


We happened upon a couple of stores, selling the sugar preserved fruits that Greeks so love. I went is search of the preserved young walnuts - hoping to find some to compare to the glyko karidaki I had made at home.  No luck.  Oh well. 

We ventured inside the supermarket.  It was our first market visit since arriving in Greece and it was interesting to see what local folks eat.....like octopus.  Here, it was frozen.  Lots of bottles of honey on the shelves.  Tubs and tubs of yogurt.  Buckets of olives.  I can't wait to stock up the fridge when we get to Athens!  We'll be staying in an apartment so we'll have a few home cooked meals.  My favorite part of the supermarket was the freezer section filled with different types of phyllo. Quintessential Greek cooking ingredient. I only know one type of phyllo;  I was trying to figure out all the different offerings were and how they're used in cooking.

Phyllo, filo whatever you call it, there were lots of different ones to pick from.

I loved the mini popsicles and ice cream sandwiches.  Buy in bulk!





Dinner was simple.  We found a fast food type place selling gyros for 2 Euros.  They were good sized gyros!  We had a choice between pork and chicken so we got two pork and one chicken.  Bro devoured one of each and I relished the pork one.




I had my sandwich with all the fillings!  I love the french fries tucked inside.  This was a very tasty sandwich!

We bought our gyros for *take away* as they call to go here.  We took our sandwiches across the street and found a bench with a view of the water. 

No fancy dining options for us :-)

It was a lovely evening, too nice to be holed up inside so we stayed on our bench long after we had finished eating. It was a nice time to do a bit of people watching and chat.


By nightfall, there were more cars parked on the streets; a few more folks had come in to town but overall Kamena Vourla as still a quiet little place. Shops were closing. I read somewhere that Athenians come to vacation here but it's a weeknight here and summer is over so most likely, we were just watching locals enjoy their town.


We watched the sun set and then walked to the edge of the main street before calling it a night.


After the past few days of driving and seeing ruins and monasteries, Kamena Vourla was a welcomed break!  Tomorrow, we head to the big city and will be immersed in the hustle and bustle of Athens.  I'll miss the peace and quiet of this small town.

Goodnight from Kamena Vourla!