Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wonderful food in Spain

Spanish food is characterized by:
  • Succulent seafood in the North from the Atlantic and Cantabrian Sea, meats from the Basque and Galicica regions, beans and other vegetables from the Asturias region, Lamb and Pig from the Navarra and Aragon regions,
  • A Mediterranean Diet to the east with one of the best known Spanish specialties, Paella,
  • Rice, oranges, olives and spices introduced by the Arabs in the south,
  • Lots of wild game in Central Spain. In this city, gastronomy is culture, leisure and business.
  • Wonderful island specialties in the Canary Islands and Balearic's
Clearly, there is a vast range of culinary delights to sample. With these ingredients, you can find traditional dishes and new, innovative ones as well.

Specialties of Madrid - Tapas

Most of you will be in Madrid for part of your trip, so let's look at some of the specialties found there. Going out for tapas is one of the most enjoyable traditions of Madrid. Here are a few items you will find.

Cocido Madrileño 
madrid foodA wonderful stew consisting of chickpeas, vegetables and various cuts of pork, Cocido Madrileño is served in two portions, first the soup and then meat and vegetables.This dish began as a Jewish dish that provided a hearty meal during the Sabbath. However, religious persecution led to changes in the dish as Jews were persecuted and sought to proved their
Christian roots by incorporating pork and pork products into the dish.

Chocolate con Churros
madrid foodThis famous fried dough, served with the thickest hot chocolate you will ever see, can be found all over Spain, but nowhere does it better than Madrid. This is to die for!

Cochinillo Asado (Roast Suckling Pig)
madrid foodA regional specialty from Castilla that is hard to get done properly due to its long preparation time. This dish should be so tender that it can be cut with a plate. Look for a restaurant that is known for this dish and is constantly preparing it so that it always has fresh Cochinillo Asado on hand.

Bocadillo de Calamares
A Madrid classic sandwich is squid rings dipped in battered and fried  then served in a fresh, crusty roll. Make sure this is fresh. If the squid sits too long, it can get chewy. I recommend you pick a restaurant that does a booming business and clearly fixes its Calamare on site.


Callos a la Madrileña
madrid foodWell, the Spaniard have a use for everything and here is proof. This is a tripe stew. Although callos a la madrileña is the best known preparation, tripe is eaten all over the Iberian peninsula. Callos was established as a typical Madrid dish over 200 years ago. This typical Spanish dish is served in many bars and restaurants of Madrid and is normally accompanied by chorizo and blood sausage. Despite being a very simple recipe, it is still highly revered and many people and many restaurants claim to have the best recipe. It might be a good idea to ask the locals in Madrid where the best callos a la madrileña are served.


Gastronomy has always played an important part in the life of Madrid, as can be seen from the number of restaurants in the city that have been serving traditional local dishes and the region's wine for over 100 years. Don't leave the capital without having dined in one of them and enjoy the marvelous wine.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Brief History of Spain

You will love going to Madrid, people are so very friendly, the weather is perfect and so much to do. It’s always interesting to learn about the culture and history of a city or town. I find it fascinating.  When it comes the country of Spain, Madrid is a city you’ll want to know about.

Madrid became a significant political force during the Roman Empire. However, the modern city began during the 9th century and was influenced by Arabic and Moorish occupations. Finally, Christians reclaimed the city from the Moors in the 11th century and completely drove them out in the 15th century.
In 1561, Charles I of Spain moved his court from Barcelona to Madrid where he established the capital of Spain.
As the Spanish Empire grew, so the power, wealth and influence of Madrid grew with wealthy aristocrats controlling global activities.

The Spanish people revolted against the monarchy during the 19th century and formed the First Spanish Republic.  After a short return of the monarchy, the people again overthrew the nobility as Spain sank into the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939.  These battles occurred in and around Madrid, so you will find evidence in your travels.

The city expanded and grew rapidly during the 1960s.  This growth occurred under the Regime of Franco.  The middle class grew and migration increased.  When Franco died, Spain’s governing parties accepted King Juan Carlos I’s  rule and Madrid became the seat of a constitutional monarchy.

Madrid continues to prosper and through the 21st century.  It is one of
the strongest economic, cultural, and industrial hubs in Spain.



 Montserrat Shrine

Nestled in a rugged mountain not far from Barcelona, pilgrims have been drawn to venerate the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna since the 12th century. You have to go and see this, I was amazed with these rocky mountains.


Montserrat ShrineThere they celebrate the statue of the Black Virgin of Montserrat which was carved by St. Luke around 50 AD. During the occupation  of the Moors, it was later hidden in Santa Cova, where it was rediscovered in 880 AD.

According to the legend of the discovery, the statue was discovered by shepherds as they saw a bright light and heard heavenly music that eventually led them to the grotto and the statue.

The Monastery of Montserrat, located near the top of the 4,000-foot mountain, is home to about 80 monks. The monks welcome visitors and invite them to participate in their daily celebrations of Mass and recitations of the Liturgy of the Hours. The Basilica, next to the monastery, is home to the revered La Moreneta, or Black Virgin. To visit the statue, enter the church through a side door to the right.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How careful should you be going to Spain

While high crime rates are not common in Spain, it does have its fair share of crimes. Tourist should be wary of the following types of crimes:
  • Passport Theft
  • Theft from Cars
  • Muggings
  • Pickpockets

Passport Theft

In recent years, passport theft has been on the rise. Gangs seek out tourist to steal passports through pickpocket, motorcycle drive-by and other techniques, then sell on them on the black market. Notify your embassy immediately if you become a victim of passport crime. They can arrange an emergency replacement and notify the authorities.  In Spain you should not show your passport to anyone other than a policeman.

Theft from Cars

Stealing valuables from cars is a common crime in Spain. If you have rented a car to travel around Spain, be cautious at highway rest stations, thieve wait for owners to go inside and quickly break in, stealing radios, suitcases and anything of value. Also do not pull over is someone drives along side and tells you that you have a car problem such as a flat tire. Continue on until you can pull into a service station or well lighted, populated area. This could be a ploy for a car jacking.


Muggings are not common, but if you find yourself in a poorly lighted area, or one where you are alone with no pedestrians, you are a potential target for mugging. Be smart - stay in well lighted areas and around others.


Like all tourist cities, pickpockets are common around crowded tourist attractions. My advice is the same as my other blogs.
  • Carry only one credit card
  • Put your valuables in your front pocket
  • Avoid heavy crowds
  • Take advantage of storage tools such as those that fit under your clothing

Terrorism in Spain

Basque Separatist, fighting for independence have historically been the primary terrorist group in Spain. However, in January of 2011, they declared a permanent ceasefire. However, the Spanish government is wary of the ceasefire, citing past examples of broken agreements. A ceasefire in 2006 ended with a bombing at Madrid’s Barajas airport, which killed two people.

Many remember the devastating Al Qaeda attack on trains in Madrid in 2004 that killed 194 people. In 2008 police arrested 11 men who allegedly plotted to stage a series of suicide attacks throughout Barcelona. Spain continues to be a major target for Islamic terrorist as well as an important logistical hub for worldwide terrorism.

Check with your embassy to get an update on government warnings and recommendations and stay abreast with the news and local gossip.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Religion & Weather in Spain


Under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella all Spaniards were required to practice Roman Catholicism. There was no tolerance for other religions, such as Islam or Judaism. The punishment was exile (if you were lucky) or death. Today, over 95% percent of Spaniards are Roman Catholic, although Muslims and Jews may now freely practice their religions.

Roman Catholicism



Based on the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God through the Holy conception with the Virgin Mary, Roman Catholicism  was formed by the disciples of Christ. Catholics also pray to the Virgin Mary and to Saints anointed by the church.

Later, during Islamic rule, Spain was a multicultural mix of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Islamic tradition was to set aside sections of the cities for non-Muslims and to discourage intermingling. Although Christians and Jews lived under restrictions, the three groups managed to live together in relative peace.


In general, Spain enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with moderate temperatures and dry summers and winters. Plan for lots of sunshine. However, you should remember that Spain is a large geography and includes mountains as well as ocean and sea shores. So, be check the specific climate for your location and during the time you plan to visit.


For example, to the north you will find a mild climate with high rainfall, mild as an ex Winters and relatively cool Summers at 75F / 25C.

In the higher elevations of the Pyrenees you will find a colder climate with snow through Winter and into Spring. You'll also see lots of free roaming cattle on the mountain roads leading up to Andorra so if driving, take adequate precaution and make sure your vehicle is properly equipped for the weather.

As you pack for your trip, consider the time of the year and to where in Spain you will be traveling.

If you are going to the coastal areas, you shouldn't need warm clothes. If you are going to Madrid, pack for the time of year. You won't need to dress up to go out at night. The Spanish focus more on the food and the dancing. Check my products for gorgeous, inexpensive jewelry.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Capital, Currency & Language in Spain


Madrid is the capital and the largest city of Spain. It is located  in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. Madrid is the third most populous city in European Union, behind London and Berlin. It is located on the river Manzanares, between the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha.

Economically, politically and culturally, Madrid is one of the major cities of the world. Due to its economic output, standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial center of the Iberian Peninsula and it hosts the headquarters of most of the major Spanish companies, as well as the headquarters of three of the world's 100 largest companies. Unfortunately, in 2012 it is suffering from the economic meltdown in the EU and the overcommitment of its banks. This results in very high unemployment, especially among the youth. As the capital city of Spain and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political center of Spain.

While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Madrid is a busy place, but never too busy to entertain and dazzle its enthusiastic visitors from far and beyond. Museums, matadors, palaces and royal gardens set upon the banks of the Manzaneres River provide a glamorous backdrop for a very vibrant night life.


The Euro is the official currency of Spain and twelve other European countries including neighboring France and Portugal. As a result, if you are coming from a neighboring country, there is no need to exchange currency. If you need to exchange currency, I recommend a Bank. But the ideal way to travel is to us the ATM to get local currency and use plastic where you can, just make sure you contact your credit card company that you are going to be away.


Spanish is the major language in Spain and is spoken throughout the country.

However, you will find some regional versions that might surprise you. For example:
  1. Catalan is spoken in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and in parts of Valencia.
  2. Basque is spoken in the mountainous Basque Country. It is also spoken in parts of Navarre.
  3. Galician is spoken in Galicia. It hasn’t received the official authentication from Asturias and Leon.

Most of these regional languages such as Catalan, Galician, Castilian, are based on Latin but they have their own accent. It is fun to listen to the differences.

English and German are some of the frequently spoken languages in the tourist area away from Madrid on the  Mediterranean coast. Additionally you will find a large population of African Immigrants who speak the language of their country.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Introduction of Madrid, Spain

To understand Madrid, we have to have a little perspective on Spain. As the first global empire, Under Hapsburg, the Spanish Empire included territories in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands. Madrid is the capital of Spain. Along with all the things you think of in a Capital such as majestic buildings, grand museums, etc...  Madrid is known for it's thriving night life.

With 6 million people from over 170 different nationalities, Madrid is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city. If you follow international sports, you will understand that Soccer, Basketball, in fact all kinds of sports are a passion for the Spaniard.  As a result, you will find generous green areas and parks, and a large variety of sporting installations. Food is another passion and in Madrid, you will find a wide variety of Spanish and International cuisine. The midday meal, "la comida" as it is called in Spain is the largest meal of the day. It is definitely a large meal, usually with multiple courses. Traditionally, Spaniards have a 2-3 hour break from work or school in order to enjoy la comida and take a nap or siesta and the entire country closes up shop from about 2:00 pm to 4:30 or 5:00pm.


If you want to discover Spain's contribution to the arts, you must visit the Golden Triangle, formed by the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen Bornemisza museums. These museums are free at certain hours. The Retiro Park, just to the east, is a great place to relax between museums. There visitors will find a pond where row boats can be rented. The park hosts many cultural events, and its Crystal Palace has been transformed into an art gallery.

City Center

The center of the city is where most landmarks and hotels in Madrid are located. One of the city’s main arteries is the Gran Vía, a street filled with traditional bars, shops and theaters. A short walk away visitors will find the Cibeles and Neptuno statues, where the Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid teams celebrate their victories. Near them stands one of the city’s most photographed structures, the Palacio de las Comunicaciones.
The Palacio Real, Royal Palace, provides a historicial view of Spanish governance. There you can arrange tours, take self guided walks in the Gardens, and attend lectures in multiple languages. 
Serrano and Velazquez marks one of the most exclusive areas of Madrid. Here, you will find chic boutiques, relaxing coffee shops and posh restaurants. Madrid’s trendy area is Malasaña. There you can shop at designer boutiques during the day and savor the wide variety of cañas and tapas before dancing the night away at one of the many nearby clubs.

Getting around

Getting around is easy. Madrid has a modern transportation system with subways, buses, taxi and person drivers. 

So, pack your bags and head  for Spain.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

So true!

Just received this from the amazing Rhonda Byrne and wanted to share it with you.

"The law of attraction cannot change anything in your life that you hate, because hate prevents the change from coming. Since the law is giving us exactly what we are putting out, when you hate something the law must continue to give you more of what you hate. You will not be able to move away from it. Love is the only way.
If you focus completely on the things you love, then you are on your way to a beautiful life."
May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne
The Secret... bringing joy to billions

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where to stay in Athens, Greece

I have been looking for 5 stars Hotels in Athens for you but most of them are very contemporary. I actually only found 2 that I really loved, the reason is, if I have the money to stay in a 5 star Hotel, I want to be in a Hotel that will make me feel like I am in Greece, so these are the ones.

Hotel Grande Bretagne( 5 Stars)

 For nearly 140 years, the Hotel Grande Bretagne has been recognized as the "Royal Box" of Athens. Occupying the most prestigious block of the city's center, the Hotel Grande Bretagne stands across from Constitution Square, the House of Parliament and the National Gardens. Ideally located within short walking distance of exclusive shopping areas, restaurants, open-air cafes, museums and the business district, the hotel has hosted countless heads of state and international celebrities.
Newly restored with meticulous attention to detail, the 320 rooms and suites marry charming old-world elegance with state-of-the-art facilities. Each guest room also incorporates the latest modern enhancements such as flat screen plasma televisions and high speed internet access. All rooms have voice mail, minibars, safes, cable TV, deluxe bath amenities, bathrobes, and slippers. The 56 suites enjoy additional benefits including daily fresh fruit and flowers, gourmet chocolates, and personalized Butler Service. Gracious hospitality with nightly turn down service, shoe shine service, indulgent bathroom toiletries, pure cotton bathrobes and plush slippers. The hotel also offers valet laundry service, 24-hour room service, 24-hour concierge and babysitting. Found this Hotel quite beautiful!

Location:  Constitution Square · Athens 10564 ∙ Greece
Phone: +30 210 3330000

Hotel King George Palace (5 Stars)

This unique luxury boutique hotel, has been home to Kings, Princes, Presidents and Athenians alike since the early 1930's. Located on Constitution Square, within steps of the Greek Parliament, the hotel is near the historical city center blended with the financial, commercial and business districts. The hotel combines the grace of a historic landmark with ultra-modern amenities and personal attention that put guests' comfort above all else. Advanced technology ensures a completely controlled environment. 

With magnificent views of the Acropolis and the ocean, what else can we ask for?

Location: 3, Vas. Georgiou A’ St. Syntagma (Constitution ) Square, GR 10564, Athens ,Greece
Phone: +30 210 32 22 210

Hotel Zafonia (4 Stars)

Situated at the edge of Athens city centre, Zafolia Hotel is equally close to Athens's traditional business, shopping and historic centre and to the new post Athens Olympic Games, business and shopping corridor of Kifisias Avenue.

Zafolia hotel offers 191 rooms and accommodations. Besides their standard rooms which are larger and brighter than a typical city hotel room, they also offer:

  • 6 Executive Rooms on the top floors, that can meet the needs of the busy, fast moving business executive
  • 7 Suites in the top floors with their own terrace, separate bedroom and many luxury amenities that can please even the most demanding of a traveling connoisseur
  • 14 Family accommodations are designed and equipped to offer a home away from home for the visiting family.
  • Non Smoking Rooms

    All rooms are carefully designed for comfort and convenience. The warm and friendly decor is inspired by nature with soft tones of wood and leather. The roof is amazing - two meters high,  soundproof, with double glazed windows to let in the natural light while maintaining the tranquility of the hotel.

  • Location: 87-89 Alexandras Ave., 114 74 Athens

    Phone: + 30 210 6449 002


    Athens Atrium Hotel ( 4 Stars)

    Known for its comfort, personal service and classic elegance, Athens Atrium Hotel & Jacuzzi Suites is one of the most promising 4 star hotels in Athens. Athens Atrium Hotel & Jacuzzi Suites offers both affordable luxury and convenience from its quiet location only minutes away from the heart of Athens busy city center.
    The hotel is close to public transport, great shopping, art, music and the best sightseeing Athens has to offer.

    Athens Atrium Hotel & Jacuzzi Suites is located 3km from the centre of Athens, 2 km from Acropolis and Parthenon and 5 km from Athens Riviera.
    The spacious guest rooms and public areas areas offer moments of relaxation and entertainment and
    are noted for their comfort and distinctive luxury. The decor combines classical and modern elements and will certainly impress you.
    Location: 21 Okeanidon Street, Agios Sostis, Syngrou Avenue. 117 45 Athens - Greece

    Tel.: +30 210 9319300, 210 9319304 Fax: +30 210 9319305


    Hotel Acropolis Museum Boutique ( 3 Stars)

    A warm welcome, a friendly smile, a zest of life, characteristic of Mediterranean hospitality, are all found at the Hotel Acropolis Museum Boutique.

    This hotel combines the benefits of an exclusive hotel, with the facilities and hospitality of a first class property with shops, boutiques, restaurants, and side walk, open air coffee shops.
    The hotel reception provides concierge services and will be happy to assist with city maps and guides, tourist information and suggestions for exploring this historic area of Athens and further abroad.

    This very special hotel is housed in a classical building that recently has undergone a complete renovation (2007) and has 22 charming rooms divided over the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors. It is located just a few steps from the Acropolis and Plaka, and adjacent to the new Acropolis museum.

    The Acropolis Museum Hotel is at the foot of the Acropolis hill, just a few steps away from the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian Arch and other monuments of Greek Civilization.
    Yet within a ten minute walk you can reach the Constitution Square (Syntagma), the Greek Parliament, Athens Stock market and Athens exclusive shopping areas of Ermou and Kolonaki.

    Location: 48 Syngrou Avenue Plaka, Athens 11742, Greece

    Phone:  011 30 21 0924 9050

    Athenaeum Athens (3 Stars)

    One of the largest hotels in Athens, the Athenaeum InterContinental features spacious guestrooms, award winning dining venues and upscale leisure facilities including an authentic spa, outdoor pool and fitness centre. Boasting magnificent views of the Parthenon and Lycabettus Hill, the hotel is close to the Acropolis, Athens City Center as well as Piraeus Port and the beach. Within a short distance are the new Acropolis museum, the picturesque Plaka and the historic Constitution Square. Metro and tram stations are also nearby. 

    Location: Syngrou Avenue 89-93. Athens, 11745 Greece 

    Phone: +30-210-9206000




     Reasonable Accommodation:

    THE HOUSE- Private Courtyard
    This is a fully equipped one bedroom apartment, recently renovated in a lovely, independent 19th century two-story house – one of the few of its kind in the center of Athens.

    The 63 sq.meters / 680 sq.ft apartment is on the ground floor of the house and can accommodate 2-4 persons. It consists of one bedroom, a living room with a sofa-bed, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom.
    One of its most enchanting features is the small private courtyard –for your exclusive use– where you can enjoy your meals or relax after a long day of visits. Located on a delightful, shady pedestrian street, you will enjoy the incomparable peace and quiet, away from the noise of the bustling city. Although you are in the very heart of Athens you could swear you’re in a village!

    The house’s traditional architecture, with its thick stone walls, provides a natural shelter from extreme temperatures both in summer and winter – plus there is a state-of-the-art air-conditioning unit, 24/7 instant-on warm water and independent heating.


    • Very central location, heart of historic center of Athens
    • 19th century traditional house
    • Private courtyard
    • Pedestrian, quiet street
    • Recently renovated
    • Fully equipped
    • Beautiful, safe neighborhood, home to artists, actors, writers, architects
    • Ideal location to discover Athens on foot
    • Easy public transport access to most areas of Athens (metro,tram, trolley, bus)
    • Free WI-FI internet

    Many amenities will make your stay enjoyable:
    * Free Wi-Fi internet.
    * TV with dvd player and home cinema audio system.
    * A selection of DVD movies (all in English or original language w/optional subtitles).
    * A selection of books in English & French.
    * Washing machine.
    * Hair dryer.
    * Fresh linen and towels.
    * Free telephone (local calls only)

    This house costs about $60 per day, if you would like to rent it for a week, it is $422 dollars.

    Location: Fotiadou, Athens, Attica 11636, Greece
    Phone: no phone or email. You have to search for her on the web using "private courtyard athens greece"
    Your hosts is called Tina K., read nice things about her on the reviews.

    So that is it for Greece, hope you enjoyed it the information I gave you and was helpful. 

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Places to go in Greece

    Athens is one of the oldest and most famous cities in the world, thanks for its fabulous historical and cultural legacy, a plenty of natural resources and friendly people. Many interesting tourist attractions can be found in Athens. Athens is rich in various buildings, monuments, and ancient art. One of the most famous is the Acropolis is to be one proof of the classical Greek art. Here are the 9 best tourist attractions in Athens and I will give you a couple of Islands to visit, the ones I went and recommend.

    Acropolis and the Parthenon Temple

    The word Acropolis means fortress in ancient Greek or it could also mean building heights that are in place, like on top of the hill or the highest city. Acropolis in Athens is best known as the Acropolis in the world. This cultural and historical place is located right in the center of the city, where a flat and massive rock creates a perfect foundation for a couple of buildings and monuments. Some of the most famous is the Partheon, the Erechtheum, the Propylaea and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus stone theatre. Area of ​​3 hectares is located at an altitude of 150 meters on the hill. Located a few kilometers from the center of Athens, Greece. The main attraction of the Acropolis is the Parthenon temple exactly in the middle of this hill.

    Parthenon is a temple of the Greek Goddess Athena who is regarded as the guardian deity of the people of Athens. Built over a period of twenty-five years in the fifth century BC, it included decorative statues and was regarded as the highest artistic value of its time. Parthenon is used as a symbol of the former ancient Greek democracy, and is the world's largest historical monument.

    National Archeological Museum

    National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the best museums in the world. It has the most complete collection of ancient Greek heritage found anywhere. The statues and sculpturesare truly amazing, all the figures of Greek Mythology can be seen there, as well as the real heroes of Greece. This museum is located in the Exarhia area in central Athens between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street and Tositsas Street while its entrance is on the Patission Street adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic.

    The Ancient Agora

    In Greek, agora is a central spot, typically a meeting place. The Ancient Agora is within walking distance from the Acropolis and once included housing. Later the housing was torn down and it became the administrative center of  Athens and  included temples to Zeus, Apollo and others. The site of the Ancient Agora is in a very green space and has a beautiful view of the Acropolis. You will also see the Temple of Hephaestus, the best preserved ancient Greek temple.

    Mount Lycabettus

    One of the best ways to spend a morning or late afternoon in Athens is to trek up Mount Lycabettus, the city's highest vantage point. It is capped with a tiny, white washed church, a restaurant and a cafe. From there you can see the whole of Athens. Take good walking shoes, the steep path up zig-zags through pinewoods and sub-tropical vegetation. Expect it to be hot and humid if you are going in the summer.


    With its neoclassical mansions and houses with red tiled roofs Plaka attracts all the visitors of Athens.  Its small winding roads with their steps, balconies with bougainvilleas, geraniums and jasmines is a sight to behold. Plaka is called many times in the Greek literature as the neighbourhood of the Gods.

    Academy of Athens

    The Academy of Athens is an iconic cultural landmark, situated in the center of Athens. The building itself  is a very impressive sight to witness, thanks to its incredible architectural style. The columns and the statues in front the facades transform the building of the Academy of Athens into one of the most remarkable and distinctive sights in the capital of Greece. The Academy is built in a Neoclassical architectural with marble as a main material. Two huge statues of Plato and Socrates, respectively, are situated at the foot of the main staircase that leads to the entrance. There are also two higher columns with statues of Athena and Apollo at their tops, to create the most picturesque scene for taking a picture. Overall, the Academy of Athens is definitely a place to include in your travel list.

    The National Garden

    The National Garden is a very appealing place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Picturesquely situated right next to the building of the Greek Parliament in the city center, the National Garden tempts the visitor with its beauty. You will find a network of walking paths, which are great for sightseeing as well as jogging among the tall trees. During your relaxing trip in the park, you will also find ruins, mosaics and many other antiquities. Moreover, arguably the most scenic area is a small pond with a charming bridge, where the only sounds are from  the birds and the water. There are also many other interesting things to do and see in the National Garden, but, don`t forget your camera, because this place can recharge your energy as well.

    Panathenaic Stadium

    The Panathenaic Stadium is located right in the city center, along the southeastern side of the National Gardens. The stadium was first built years before Christ, then rebuilt after an excavation and restoration during the end of the 19th century to offer its current inspiring outlook. In 1896 the stadium hosted the first Olympic Games, while in the recent years it was used mainly for celebrations and music events. However, the Panathenaic Stadium is arguably the largest and the most impressive tourist landmark in the city center. The stadium is most famous for its white marble construction, where numerous steps of marble create a seating for over 45,000 visitors. The stadium also has a long track, which uniquely allows you to imagine the sport atmosphere of that time.

    Temple of  Olympian Zeus

    Also in the center of Athens is located another popular attraction - the remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is believed to have been built in 6th century BC; but, the final construction was accomplished after many decades. Today you can take advantage of a splendid view of several columns, which rise majestically over a green square. The major section includes columns, which are ornamented at their tops with precise details. In general, the whole area of the Temple of Olympian Zeus is a mystic place to visit, while the view to the horizon is incredible, especially at sunset.

    Now to the Greek Isles. 


    If you’re going to visit only one Greek island in your life then let it be Santorini. Breathtaking volcanic views and one of the best sunsets in the world. Place it at the top of any Greek islands list. Its beaches are very peculiar (and do not appeal to everyone) due to the black and red volcanic sand. Couples should opt for tranquil and romantic Oia, where luxury rooms with a Caldera (the volcanic crater) view can cost a fortune, whereas those young at heart should choose Fira, the lively capital of the island built on top of the Caldera cliff with equally fantastic views. The eastern side of the island is generally cheaper and has little of the magic Santorini feel.


    The largest Greek island, Crete has a distinct local culture and will satisfy whatever it is you’re looking for. Busy touristy resorts, wonderful old towns like Chania and Rethymno, amazing deserted beaches even in August (especially on the south coast), unspoiled mountain villages with people utouched by the tourism ‘gold fever’, and the best food by far among all Greek islands. It is a trecker’s paradise, with top attraction the challenging Samaria Gorge and one of the highest mountains in the country Idi (locally known as Psiloritis). It is imposible to ‘do’ Crete in one visit so try to concentrate either on the East (based around Agios Nikolaos) or West (based at Chania or Rethymno). A car is neccesary in any case.


    A cross between Capri and Ibiza, you will find Mykonos boasts of the best beaches in the country, the craziest nightlife and the most ridiculous prices you’ll pay in Greece. Celebrities, and "wannabes" flood the island every summer.

    Mykonos is famed as a cosmopolitan destination and widely recognised as one of the great travel meccas. It is one of the most visited islands in the Aegean. This means that any visitors should be prepared for loud dance clubs, English breakfasts and over-priced merchandise. Mykonos, along with Santorini, is more expensive than other Greek islands.

    Mykonos tends to be extremely crowded with visitors in July and August. The best time to visit Mykonos is mid-May through June (early season, accommodation is much cheaper and it's not that hot), or September through mid-October.

    Hope you have a wonderful trip to Greece like I did.



    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Food in Greece

    One of the reasons for coming to Greece, if not for travel and relaxation, is the food. The Greeks have a rich culinary history with a wonderful mix of fresh vegetables, roasted meats, cultured yogurt, and sweet baked treats. Influenced by the freshness of the Mediterranean, Greek dishes appeal to all tastes.
    Starting from a base of healthy country cooking, Greek Cuisine has expanded over the centuries until today, Greece is synonymous for a diverse range of family meals, holiday foods, and elaborate presentation dishes. Ancient Greek foods were cooked over open wood fires and in wood burning ovens - roasting, baking, boiling, stewing, etc. Greek food migrate from simple to complex.

    Salads & Dips

    The one thing that everybody has eaten and never gets tired of is a Greek Salad or "Horiatiki". Made with large chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and olives, often topped with feta cheese. By the way it does not always come with feta so you may have to ask for it.

    Greek food also has a variety of dips which they use with bread or even as a side to the meal to go with meats and potatoes. " Melitzanosalata" has the word salad in the name, but is more like a dip made with aubergines (eggplant) – goes great on bread.

    The favorite which everybody knows about is the wonderfully refreshing "Tzadziki", made from strained yogurt, grated cucumbers and garlic. This is then whipped up into a puree and is not just a dip for your pita but goes great on "Souvlaki" and meats. "Taramosalata" is another common dip you will find on the menu, with more of an acquired taste, but once you are hooked it’s hard to stop. This creamy dip is made from red caviar.


    Every menu will have an abundance of starters " Meze", such as the small mouth sized filo pastries filled with feta cheese, called "Tiropita". Sometimes you will find "Spanakopita", a pie made with a feta cheese and spinach filling and coated with a filo pastry. If you don’t like the idea of pastry for an appetizer then try the fried cheese or "Saganaki", it forms a nice golden crust. Just squeeze a little lemon and it tastes sooooo good, but don’t over load on this high calorie appetizer.

    Dolmadakia (comes from the Turkish word ‘dolma’ which means stuffed) are tasty rolls made of rice, vegetables, and minced meat rolled up in a grape leaf. With a garlic/yogurt sauce, they really hit the spot. For something with a Greek twist, try "Loukaniko" – a smoked pork sausage with orange peel and anise for flavoring.

    In the fish category, you will love "Marides Tiganites", usually young herring, tossed in a salty flour mixture, deep fried, and drizzled with lemon. The perfect finger food to tie you over till supper.

    And we have not gotten to the main courses!!!!!
    For lunch, try one of the many street eateries and fill up on Gyros (pronounced ear-rohs).
    Meat is cooked on a spit and strips of warm meat are then shaved off and wrapped in a pita with tomatoes, onions, then topped off with a garlic sauce and spices.You can also get the ingredients without the pita bread. Just ask for "Merida"

    Late evening in Greece

    Now we’re talking like about after 10 p.m. As the taverns start to fill up, before the dancing starts, you will want to enjoy some of the traditional Greek oven foods. I recommend "Brizoles", Greek pork chops or beef steaks done on the grill and served with potatoes or fries. A different version is the grilled lamb chops prepared with oregano and lemon. They call this one "Paidakia". Because lamb has little meat and more bones, they can be compared to ribs, and they are delicious!

    One of the most famous Greek dishes is "Moussaka". Ground beef (pork or lamb) is layered with aubergines (eggplant) and topped with a béchamel sauce, then baked in the oven.


    Their desserts are more middle-eastern influenced, heavily using sugar, and syrups rather than butter and creams. They make use of seasonal produce such as fresh fruit, walnuts and pistachios.

    Many well known Greek sweets use filo pastry, creating multi layers of wafer thin pastry. These sweets are then soaked in a sweet honey syrup. The syrup will give these cakes a wonderful flavor and texture as well as helping to preserve them for longer.

    Kataifi, along with Baklava is one of the most popular and delicious Greek Desserts, made with a special type of pastry called "Kataifi".   Like angel hair pasta and when rolled up resembles shredded wheat.

    "Baklava" is a pastry rich in nuts and sweetened with honey. The pastry was once exalted to the status of becoming a food for the rich and the aristocrats and is now a sumptuous treat that is greatly enjoyed with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Baklava originated in the 8th century somewhere in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region.

    I hope I made your mouth water with all this food from Greece.