Smilin’

DSC_3877What brings a smile to your face? A trip to Greece, maybe?  The 1st place I wanted to visit when we moved to Naples, Italy was to visit Greece. It’s a hop, skip and a jump from Italy but when life throws you curve balls and plans are postponed or thrown out the window, you have plenty of room to still keep dreaming of a place that might make you smile.DSC_3830
Dreams give you hope and generally bring a smile to my face. My dream of going to Greece became a reality last week. Now, I mentioned before a bit after our Baltic Sea adventure, that I couldn’t believe we were planning a back to back travel trip, six weeks a part. I was a bit tired from the means in which you travel. You know packing, unpacking, overcoming language barriers, airports-layovers-planes-trains-boats and automobiles. They can make the whole travel thing tiring. The whole getting to and fro from a destination can bring on some cryin’.  Knowing that I am coming home to write about it brings on a bit of sighing but it’s my mental laundry and I must keep drying it out of me.DSC_4525
This whole adventure overseas is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and Greece had me laughing and smiling again about traveling. Also knowing that it will be a few months before we do another heavy trip had me enjoying every moment in the Cyclade islands. From viewing ancient sites to how Greek coffee is served, this trip into Greek mythology is no myth.DSC_6195
My husband’s boss is Greek and he told us the best time to visit Greece is in June or September. Since we aren’t going to be in Europe in September of next year and June will be wrapping up school for our son, time will be crunching along and we will be leaving this continent. So Greece became part of our hybrid spirits. If you ever have a chance to visit the Cyclade islands, I tell you-jump for it, run for it, grab it in the palm of your hands and smile. I did, once we arrived in Greece and it was the fastest week of my life. Speaking of smilin’, I start off this journey with a huge smile from the foodie side of me. Greece is not only the birthplace of the Olympics or Democracy it has its own flavor of food.
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Food that even had our son, licking his lips because it is so fresh and so good! My little fella, loved the calamari. We did not tell him it was squid. We pumped up how good it was and our little one started,
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and finished most of it before off to play on the beach.DSC_4053
Mom and Dad had a few bites after we sold him on the idea of how tasty it was. Before we made our way to the island of Paros and the island of Santorini, we spent two nights in Athens, Greece. We had such a fabulous experience at this restaurant called Smile that we had to return the next night for seconds.DSC_3829
Now the owner of Smile Restaurant is Connie. She and her family run this establishment. She has all her kids working there. Sadly, a lot of businesses that are not family owned and operated are going out of business due to the economic crisis in Greece. This is one establishment that didn’t seem to be hurting for business.DSC_3834
On the 2nd night when we returned, she was so happy to see us, especially Mayer. Mayer got the full tour with Connie’s daughter Zoey.DSC_3902
He went behind the line and saw where the meat from his Gyro comes from.DSC_3824
Connie was so kind and treated us at the end of the meal to Loukoumades, a Greek doughnut accompanied with an after dinner digestive drink, called Masticha.DSC_3841
Before we left, filled to the brim, we signed some rocks and left our smiles behind. Like many before us have done.
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I said we left filled to the brim, but apparently our son still had room for ice cream. So, on our walk back to the hotel we stopped at a famous pastry place called, ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΙΔΗΣ, also known as Konstantinidis Bakery.DSC_3926
They had endless amounts of fresh baked pastries. The night before we passed by, you couldn’t get in, but the 2nd night I was able to take some photos as we waited for Mayer’s ice cream. It was the 1st place we have been entertained by a pianist as we fed our eyes with the Grecian goodies.DSC_3908
DSC_3924Greek salads, topped with a chunk of feta cheese along with the fattest capers you’ve ever seen was a part of almost every meal we ate. The Parian capers were such a treat. Also to see that the Greek’s, don’t crumble their feta cheese in the salad but leave a nice slice on top.DSC_4494
We dipped Dolmas, grape leaves stuffed with rice or meat, in Tzatziki which is made from Greek yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, dill, olive oil and salt and pepper. It is a staple in Greece and each restaurant we visited seemed to taste different. There is a Tzatziki spice pack you can also mix in with the yogurt and we purchased some for the, “It’s Greek to Me” contest coming soon.  Unfortunately, the snap below only contained Greek yogurt for dipping.DSC_4493
Now the seafood in Greece is super-duper fresh, caught from the sea and hung to dry in various places.DSC_5121
Not only is it fresh the prices are unbelievable! In fact, my husband and I were thinking that many restaurants and vending machines should up their prices a bit. If you’re travelling on a budget, the prices are extremely reasonable. From the water in the vending machine, that cost 35 euro cents to the pregnant peppers loaded with cheese and tomatoes.DSC_4496
Dining out in Greece is affordable for those who travel on a dime and don’t want to be hung dry.DSC_4526
From roasted nuts on the side of the road,DSC_3506
to Spanakopita, a spinach filled pie, accompanied with a Greek beer called Mythos, your belly along with your taste buds will be smiling right along with your face.DSC_3483
Now, we’ve learned while travelling in Italy, Portugal and Greece that the house wine is generally very good. It is inexpensive and we suggest you try it while visiting these countries. It is budget friendly and pairs well with a gorgeous view as you sit on the sea enjoying a late lunch.DSC_4462
In Greece, you can sit on the water and watch your children do cannonballs and then swim up to you, dry off and dine when the food is delivered. Who needs crayons or electronics? Burn out more energy then refuel!DSC_4480
As I work my cheek muscles, smiling today, I reminisce about a few things. While living in Italy, a man would drive around the streets during artichoke season, blaring carciofo, from a loud speaker in his Piaggo. In Paros and Santorini we found that they drive this blue truck around advertising their fresh poultry for the day. We found them pulled over on the side of the road, luring customers in with the same advertising technique the Italians use. They wait along the side of the road for the locals to pick up their fresh meat.DSC_5142
Yes, that is a peacock on the end of the truck. In Greek Mythology, Hera the goddess of women and marriage considered the peacock sacred. I didn’t see peacock on the menu anywhere, so I assume the Greek’s purchase them for various reasons. Peacocks just don’t bring a smile to the face but they are known for a variety of skills. One, they are known to kill venomous snakes. I will end this blogging day with a tune in my head written by Joe Goodwin, Larry Shay, Mark Fisher and made famous by Louis Armstrong. It reminds me of what makes our world go round. We may not always be smilin’ every minute of every day but when we are smilin’ it can bring a smile to others who may need one too. So I remind myself, that while food is fuel for the body smilin’ and laughin’ is fuel for the soul, it certainly prevents the blues!DSC_5645
Oh, when you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
Yes, when you’re laughin’, oh, when you’re laughin’
Yeah, the sun comes shinin’ through But when you’re cryin,’ you bring on the rain
So stop your sighin’ baby and be happy again
Yes and keep on smilin,’ keep on smilin’
And the whole world smiles with you

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