Wandering in the Festive Athens Streets

All out festive, with lights, wonderful exhibitions and museums, and of course terrific shopping and restaurants, downtown Athens is simply enticing…



Leaving Kea and our garden, Costas and I spent a few days last week pretending to be tourists in the festive city. We had lovely drinks at the much talked-about, charming Heteroklito bar,  and were amazed to see streets at the busy Psiri area so  heavily decorated… At the always vibrant Central Market I visited Periklis Petridis’ incredible olive store ( 17 Aristogitonos str. –no website) where I tasted and bought incredible freshly cured, delicious olives from all over Greece. His slightly spicy olives from Volos were a revelation!

I arrived in the city a few days before Costas to see my best friend Maxine from New York. She visited her doughter, the talented Zoe Mylonas, and my old friend Alexandros, her ex-husband, whom we admired at The Long Day’s Journey Into Night . With Maxine we had a lovely Japanese dinner at Gaku, Syntagma and I especially loved their crunchy Seaweed Salad.  All around downtown Athens the most talked-about restaurants are Asian, or Asian-inspired, and certainly the most interesting and famous is Nolan, where we had a fabulous lunch the minute Costas set foot in Athens.  The adjascent Sweet Nolan was a temptation I could hardly resist, although I am not a particularely avid dessert eater… 


But once more, as always,  we enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere at ERGON Market, the Thessaloniki implant that a few years back took Athens by storm. There is no chance one can get a table without a reservation either for lunch or dinner these days, but I managed to sneak in and have lunch at the bar a few times. Costas and I loved our long leisurely lunch at Ergon with our friend Seth Rosenbaum who just flew in from Nicosia, Cyprus, for a few hours just to meet as!


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We started our cultural stroll of the city by visiting the incredible ΑΦΗ exhibit at the Benaki Pireos, and were amazed by the work of the talented old friends, whose work I always admired, photographed, and first wrote about in Tachidromos magazine in the early 80ies. 


I was particularely moved to see in the catalogue’s opening the old photo I had taken then. 


The very talented Marios Voutsinas, another very old friend, amazed me once more with his new studio and exhibition space at Psiri. His new collection of jewellery is mostly created using various antique pieces his late father, the famous theater director Andreas Voutsinas, had collected over the years. These tiny spoons are one fabulous example. 


We loved the work of Photis Kontoglou at the Goulandris museum, which included various other well-known artists he has influenced.  


At the main Benaki building, in Kolonaki, Yannis Moralis in Private is a small, fascinating exhibit. It includes among some beautiful paintings of his family, his whole studio, as well as childhood sketches, and the designs he had done for various buildings, the theater, and fabrics. 











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Kea Spring in all its Glory

Spring arrived in a hurry this year. Just as Kea was unusually cold for weeks in March, it suddenly turned very warm for a few days; then cooled again, to a British-like pleasant spring weather. 

But not everybody enjoys these glorious days, especially the Greeks that celebrated May 1st on the island and expected to go to the beach (!) But the plants and flowers thrive now, before the sizzling sun dries everything…


Our pink Cistus parviflorus is in full bloom, and the Lomelosia cretica (above) is following along.


As our neighbor’s goats observe, Costas whacks the dried greens very carefully, among the fragrant thyme and savory bushes, and the vivid yellow blossoming phlomis.

Flowering plants are not many in our property, we only spotted four wild orchids under the olive trees this year. They seem as if they are speeding up their pace to catch up, blooming as fast as they can among the already yellowing greens.  




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Spring’s Cold Beginning

Although we passed the spring equinox, it still feels like we are in the heart of winter.  Northern winds bring a humid cold to the Aegean, and it is expected to last into the end of March.  

But even in this wintry weather certain plants thrive, triumphantly marking the beginning of spring.  


Most of the flowers this time of year are yellow, and only our favas break the rule with their delicate whitish blossoms. (more…)


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They are not impressive or particularly beautiful the almond trees that fill the slopes of Kèa, as well as most islands of the Cyclades. But when in bloom, around this time of the year, they are such a joy to look at! Their sweet aroma fills our bedroom as one of the old trees—we have more than 30 in the property—is right outside our window.


They come in various shades of pink, and some are pure white. I guess the people who planted the trees, many years ago, chose different kinds; some produce small round fruit, others larger, elongated and very hard, difficult to crack. In the old days almonds from the islands were considered particularly delicious and fetched high prices. Now, with plenty of cheaper imports, people don’t even bother to harvest and crack them…



In a few weeks, when the green almonds reach the size of a small bean, or the nail of my small finger, as my neighbor says, I will collect a few to pickle. It is important to select green almonds that are crunchy but tender –before their shell hardens, and while the nut inside looks like a translucent jelly.



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Winter Cold and Spectacular Moon!

January is cold, often very windy and it may even snow for a day or two. But we also enjoy some occasional sunny days, to do the needed garden work.

We also experience THE most spectacular moon this January, not just in the evening, but also early in the morning… 


We may even get some snow on Kea this coming weekend!  

People are often surprised to hear that we occasionally get snow on the island, but we do; not much, and mainly high, on the mountains. It only lasts for a couple of days at the most.  But we do experience snow once a year, usually in January or February, as you can see in the pictures from previous years.  



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