A stroll in the old city of Nafplio and Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, with Roasted Garlic and Tuna / Σπαγγέτι με Τόνο και Ψητό Σκόρδο και μιά βόλτα στην παλιά πόλη του Ναυπλίου


Μετάφραση της συνταγής πιο κάτω

Hello from Athens again,

Before coming to Athens, I’ve been trying to write a blog post for over a week unsuccessfully and I haven’t been visiting my friends’ blogs for quite a long time, as I hardly find any time any more.

Living in the countryside is so beautiful that one cannot stay at home for long.

Besides the weather is so good that we still go to the beach almost every day, after going for shopping and cooking.  By the time we finish eating and showering it’s almost afternoon, so we need to rest for a couple of hours to continue doing some other house chores, after sunset when it’s not so hot.

Some days we don’t feel like sitting at home for a long time so we usually go to Nafplio for a stroll in the city.

Nafplio, known by the locals as Anafpli, is one of the most picturesque and romantic places to visit.  Its streets are a palette of colours, especially when the bougainvilleas are in full bloom.

After walking around its narrow streets, we sit to rest and enjoy a cup of coffee at the sea front gazing at  Bourdji, the landmark of the city, or at Palamidi from Syntagma Square.

We are still new here and there are so many places we haven’t explored or visited yet.

I have written about Nafplio in previous posts and you can find the links below.  Nafplio is such a beautiful town, steeped with history so I am sure there will be more posts in the future as well.

Our last stroll was on a Saturday morning.

We parked our car in the parking of a beautiful park near Pronia and from there we walked across the farmers’ market, which is twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

In the park there is a small pond, a lovely cafteria, lots of places for the children to play, as well as the old train station.  The train is not operating any more and the old train station is now operating as the Municipal Music school. A train still sitting there is full of graffiti.

This time of the year, you can find amazing fresh vegetables and fruit but also other local products such as fresh eggs, live snails, wine, grape must (moustos), petimezi (concentrated grape syrup), nuts, honey from citrus trees but also thyme honey, from flora and coniferous trees, all kinds of olives, hand made pasta (chilopites) most of which are from the Argolic plain or from nearby Tripoli.

On the same road, on 25th March street, opposite the farmers’ market is the Fire brigade as well as two cinemas, one serving during wintertime and the other is an open air summer cinema, which is a lovely experience if you have never visited one.

Just where the farmers’ market ends there is a statue with no inscription.  I guess that it must be dedicated to the unknown soldier or if the woman represents Greece, it could be the soldier sacrificing himself for his country.  If anyone knows what it is please let me know as well.

A few minutes away, we reached the  Old Land Gate.  

From there you can see Palamidi castle and from there if you do not want to go by car, which is about 3 km from Pronia, you can climb up its 999 steps to reach the top, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Argolic bay, the Argolic plain, Acronafplia, the old town of Nafplio and of course a beautiful view of the castle of Argos in the background  as well as the Argolic plain and the nearby villages.

The view will compensate you even on a cloudy winter day.

In the park is the statue of Staikos Staikopoulos, a general who participated in the Greek Revolution for Independence and with only 350 men, sieged Palamidi for several months and finally conquered.  In the background, there is a beautiful cafeteria with small waterfalls, which is a lovely place to rest and enjoy a cold drink on a hot day.

From there, passing from narrow, beautiful streets, we reached the Catholic Church or Frankoklissia, as it is called in Greek (the church of the Franks).   The church is just next to Sarai Hotel, the fuchsia building below.

This building on the left used to be the First Courthouse of Greece, now operating as a hotel.

Day or night the view of Palamidi is breathtaking.

The Franks occupied Nafplio in the years 1212 to 1388.   In the nineteenth century it was converted into a mosque, by the Turks. In 1840, after the Independence,it was consecrated as a Catholic church again and it was dedicated to “Metamorfossi tou Sotiros” (Transfiguration of the Saviour).

This was a way to say thanks to all the philhellenes  (meaning “friends of Greece”), who had assisted King Otto during the freedom fights.

There is a crypt in the courtyard where the bones of the philhellenes are kept. Some of the Bavarian soldiers died after a devastating typhoid epidemic in Nafplion.  They were originally buried in the cemetery of Aghii Pantes, but later their bones were exhumed and now lie under the crypt of the church.  The place where they were originally buried is marked with a memorial showing a sleeping Lion on the rock. (You can read more here).  In the Church, right above the entrance the door is surrounded with inscriptions of the names of the philhellenes who either died or were killed.

The view from the Catholic Church is beautiful either viewing Palamidi or the old town and the Argolic Gulf.

From there we rested for a while at Syntagma Square and ended our stroll at the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation Museum.

Apart from the costumes, you can see everyday household objects, jewelry, looms, paintings, musical instruments, military costumes, medals, etc.

Both places merit a visit but even just walking in the narrow streets of Nafplion there is always something beautiful to see.

After our stroll it was noon and yet we still wanted to go to the beach because it was so hot.  We ended back home at 3 p.m. so what’s easier than a pasta dish?  By the time we showered lunch was ready.

We came to Athens a couple of days ago to visit our children and we also had some other business we had to attend to.  I’ve also been very busy cleaning the house and cooking for my children.  Waking early in the morning or late in the evening,  I finally managed to finish this post which cannot but end with a recipe.

This is a very easy and cheap recipe which uses roasted garlic and garlic infused olive oil.  Anyone who loves pasta will be amazed by the wonderful taste and flavour.

If you are like me with a sweet tooth and always wants a dessert after lunch, check out my  Chocolate Petimezi Amygdalota Cookies and lots of ways to make good use of your leftover egg whites.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, with Roasted Garlic and Tuna, recipe by Ivy

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  15 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams spaghetti
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp garlicky olive oil
  • 4 – 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 small canned tuna (70 grams)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (add parsley if you don’t like it)
  • 2 small green onions
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp pasta water

Directions:

  1. Boil pasta al dente for 6 – 7 minutes or according to instructions on packet.  Drain and keep some pasta water.
  2. In a non-stick frying pan heat the garlic olive oil, mash the roasted garlic and sauté it for 1 – 2 minutes.  Add the pasta, with pasta water and mix.
  3. Add the drained tuna, spring onions, salt and pepper and mix to combine.
  4. Serve with more fresh herbs on top as well as freshly grated black pepper.

Λυπάμαι που δεν μπορώ αυτή τη στιγμή να μεταφράσω την ανάρτηση, αλλά θέλει πάρα πολύ χρόνο.  Θα προσπαθήσω αργότερα να ενημερώσω την ανάρτηση και στα Ελληνικά.  Υπάρχει όμως ο μεταφραστής που προς το παρόν μπορείτε να χρησιμοποιήσετε.

Αυτή η συνταγή προϋποθέτει να έχετε ψητό σκόρδο, που προσθέτει υπέροχη γεύση και άρωμα στο φαγητό.  Είναι μία πάρα πολύ εύκολη συνταγή και στοιχίζει ελάχιστα.  Εάν σας αρέσουν τα ζυμαρικά η συνταγή αυτή θα σας καταπλήξει.

Εάν είστε γλυκατζού σαν κι εμένα και θέλετε ένα γλυκάκι μετά το φαγητό, δείτε μια υπέροχη συνταγή για Σοκολατένια Αμυγδαλωτά με Πετιμέζι και επικάλυψη Σοκολάτας και πολλούς τρόπους να χρησιμοποιήσετε τα ασπράδια που σας περισσεύουν από άλλες συνταγές.

Σπαγγέτι με Τόνο και Ψητό Σκόρδο, συνταγή της Ήβης

Χρόνος προετοιμασίας: 15 λεπτά

Χρόνος μαγειρέματος: 10 – 15 λεπτά

Μερίδες: 2

Υλικά:

200 γραμμάρια σπαγγέττι

Αλάτι

2 κουταλιές ελαιόλαδο σκορδάτο

4 – 5 σκελίδες ψητό σκόρδο
1 μικρή κονσέρβα τόνου σε λάδι (70 γρ), στραγγισμένο

2 κουταλιές ψιλοκομμένο κόλιανδρο ή μαϊντανό εάν δεν σας αρέσει

2 μικρά φρέσκα κρεμμυδάκια, ψιλοκομμένα

Αλάτι και φρεσκοτριμμένο μαύρο πιπέρι

3 κουταλιές νερό από τα βρασμένα ζυμαρικά

Εκτέλεση:

Βράζουμε τα μακαρόνια al dente για 6 – 7 λεπτά ή σύμφωνα με τις οδηγίες στο πακέτο.  Τα στραγγίζουμε και κρατάμε λίγο από το νερό που τα βράσαμε.

Σε ένα αντικολλητικό τηγάνι ζεσταίνουμε το σκορδάτο ελαιόλαδο μαζί με 4 – 5 σκελίδες ψητό σκόρδο και το σωτάρουμε, πιέζοντάς το να λιώσει.  Το σωτάρουμε για 1 – 2 λεπτά μέχρι να αρχίσει να ροδίζει.  Προσθέτουμε το σπαγγέττι και λίγο από το νερό και ανακατεύουμε.

Προσθέτουμε τον τόννο, τα κρεμμυδάκια, τον κόλιαντρο, αλάτι και πιπέρι και ανακατεύουμε καλά.

Σερβίρουμε με περισσότερο κόλιαντρο ή μαϊντανό ψιλοκομμένο από πάνω και φρεσκοτριμμένο μαύρο πιπέρι.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi / Κοπιάστε και Καλή Όρεξη,

Other relevant recipes:

How to roast Garlic

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Courgettes and Kafkalithres and Myronia Pesto / Σπαγγέτι με Σκορδόλαδο, Κολοκυθάκια και Πέστο με Μυρώνια 

A tour in Nafplion

Assini

Nafplion Museum

Psarokostena (a nickname of Greece, which started from Nafplion) and Fassolada sti Gastra

Tolo

Drepano, Vivari, Iria, Candia

If you live in Argolida or if you are visiting and would like to learn Greek Cuisine, please contact me at ivyliac AT gmail DOT com

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Our Odyssey after relocating


Greetings from Assini.

We finally moved to Assini on the 25th of August and although we are here three weeks today, we are still trying to fix some unexpected mishaps.

Σας χαιρετώ από την Ασίνη.

Επιτέλους μετακομίσαμε στην Ασίνη στις 25 Αυγούστου αλλά παρόλο που είμαστε εδώ τρεις βδομάδες σήμερα ακόμη δεν έχουμε τακτοποιηθεί γιατί μας συνέβησαν πολλές κακοτυχίες, που δυστυχώς δεν έχω το χρόνο να μεταφράσω πιο κάτω.  Οι Κινέζοι λένε ότι μια φωτογραφία αξίζει όσο χίλιες λέξεις, γιαυτό έχω βάλει πάρα πολλές φωτογραφίες και εσεί θα καταλάβετε ότι ακόμη υπάρχουν πολλά προβλήματα.

Παρόλο που δεν πιστεύω στο μάτι, φτου, φτου, γιατί φαίνεται ότι μας έφαγε το μάτι!!


Do you believe in the evil eye?  The Greeks believe a lot in it and although I am not one of those persons who believe in it, yet I am having second thoughts after everything that’s been going on.

On Tuesday before moving, we visited Assini in order to clean up the house.  Our contractor told us that he would arrange for it to be cleaned but still in order to put some of the boxes with fragile things we had brought along with us, in the closet, we at least cleaned the bedroom.

We confirmed again with him that we had arranged to move on Saturday and he told that there would be no problem.

After his instructions, we went to the electrical outlet he told us and chose sockets, plugs, lamps, exterior lights, door bell and anything necessary for the wiring and his electrician would pass and pick them up.

Old train station near telephone company

We then went  to the telephone company in Nafplio to apply for a telephone land line and we were told that as it is out of the village, it would cost us 500 Euros in order to put the poles.  That was a real disappointment as we could not afford to pay that amount, so there would be no way we would have a land line and internet for a long time.

The truck came on Friday morning, as agreed, and they told us that our furniture would be delivered the next day around noon, so we left on Saturday morning.

We arrived at the house before the truck and when we unlocked, we nearly had a heart attack:  The mess was removed but the house was not cleaned, there was no electricity and the only source of running water was the bathroom sink and the toilet.  The shower was not working and the sink had not yet been installed.   Mind you that the temperature those days was over 40 degrees C for weeks and of course without electricity we couldn’t have cold water to drink and couldn’t shower after sweating all day! 

There was so much dirt and dust in every corner of the house that I was cleaning for days and each day there was more dirt as the workers were either drilling, scrubbing or making holes where necessary.

At the end of the day, we had to go to the beach to swim in order to have a shower at the beach!  We then returned to the house to dress while there was still light and went out to eat.  We returned back only when it was time to sleep, although we had bought a camping light, so we did have some light until we slept and a thermos to have cold water.

The painters were painting the house next door and started ours a week after we arrived.  Since then, they have been scrubbing the exterior of the house for days and are now adding the second layer of paint.  Hopefully they will finish early next week unless it is raining all the week.

The electricians were working about 3 days to install all the plugs and lights.  After installing the exterior lights, when they finished and the painters started painting, we realized that they would get dirty, so we had to remove them again and will put them back when the painting is over.

The kitchen counter had to be cut in order to install the stove top and the sink but the person we ordered the kitchen cabinets from was not reachable on the phone. As August is the month everyone is on holiday in Greece, we assumed he was on vacation but until today he has disappeared.   He had miscalculated the cabinet above the stove top where the ventilator should be installed and it was at least 10 inches lower than it should be.  After innumerable calls to him, he finally answered one of our many calls and told us that he was in Northern Greece as his father-in-law, who was sick, died.

We recently found out that his business didn’t go well so he went bankrupt.  Don’t tell me to sue him because Greece is not the place for lawsuits, as we will need to pay a lot of money and the case will take years to finalize.

In the meantime, we found a carpenter who came to do his job.  Instead of cutting the cabinet, we decided to remove it and place it next to the kitchen window.

We returned the ventilator to buy a new one but they had to order it from Athens, so it took a week to arrive.  We had it installed a couple of days ago.

When the carpenter cut the counter to fix the sink, he said that it would not fit.  We had bought it from Athens and the period we were allowed to return it had expired.  After calling them, they were kind enough to accept the return, so my husband had to go back to Athens to return it while I had to be at the house waiting for someone to come and fix something.  Meanwhile, we bought a new one from Nafplion which was installed. After washing the dishes a couple of times, we noticed that the ground outside was wet and after checking it out, we realized that the sink was not connected to the sewage system.

The plummer had to dig a trench all way across the three sides of the house and install pipes which lead to the sewage system.

Yesterday the workers came to install the tiles around the ventilator.

A few days after we arrived, we were very happy when we got a phone call from the telephone company, who informed us that they would install the telephone poles, with no extra charge!!  Wow, that was great news for a change.  We were really happy as we did not expect to have a land line and internet so soon.  They started digging and putting the poles successfully, four in total, and when they were installing the last one outside our house, they hit a water pipe and water was pouring all across to our house.  They finally fixed it but this delayed the process of installing the line by about a week.

A glass brick window which was installed on the wall just above the stairs to the porch was filled with cement or a kind of plaster they use.  When we cleaned the dirt away, we realized that the flowers had disappeared.

The workers tried to clean it and scrubbed it and not only the design of flowers was removed but the glass was badly scratched as well.  That was also replaced.

I bet that by now you think our problems have ended here.  Well no!!  Yesterday, 14th September, 2012, our oven had to be removed!!

We had spotted from the very first day that it wouldn’t fit properly in the cupboard, leaving a gap of 5 mm below and the cupboard above couldn’t open properly.  The electrical appliances store from where we bought it claimed that it had nothing to do with the oven and blamed the kitchen furniture.  Eventually, after making many calls, they were convinced that the oven was defective.  Although they said since this morning that they would send the truck to pick it up in the morning, they eventually came at 7 p.m.  This is the usual attitude and almost all of them tell you that they will  definitely be there at a certain time and of course, they are never on time.   Now they have to check to see if the oven is in fact defective and fix it or if it cannot be fixed, we’ll have to buy a new one.  You can realize that it will take days to have an oven again one way or the other!

On the bright side, we have met some of our neighbours who seem very pleasant.  Most of them have by now left as they are using their houses only as a summer house.  I have also met some locals who are kind people and willing to help.

We met the “proedro tis koinotitas”, who is the person responsible for the community.  The land our house is built on used to belong to one person and he divided it into 16 plots.  Two private roads divide the plots.  The government does not oblige them to make roads, pavements, put electricity and water, before selling the plots, so this is something we have to do.  We asked him if we could have community light poles and lights installed on the roads and he promised that he will arrange to do this soon.  As regards the paving of the roads he said it would be difficult to get funds for this but he said he would do his best.  Otherwise we will all have to pay to do this and it will definitely cost a lot of money.

My next door neighbour “M”, is spoiling me with fresh eggs and produce like eggplants, okra and zucchini, from her garden on a regular basis.  To return the favour, I have given her Chocolate Cream Cookies, a Mixed Fruit Crumble (I haven’t posted the recipe yet but you can get an idea from similar recipes I have made) and a Savory Zucchini Cake, with some of the zucchinis she gave me.

The other day we went and picked some green bitter oranges to make “glyko tou koutaliou”, which is a fruit preserve I will be making soon.

Update:  18 September 2012

The oven was returned after being checked and there was no problem with it. The kitchen man finally returned our calls and appeared at our door step.  From what he said the Italian company he collaborated with went bankrupt.  The mistake now seems to be theirs and he removed the cabinet door which he will fix and bring back by the end of the week.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi / Κοπιάστε και Καλή Όρεξη!

Looking for Land


We often used to vaguely mention how great it would be if one day we could leave Athens and live in the countryside but this was far away in our future plans, as we were both young for retirement.

However, you never know what is in store for you and my husand “retired” or was rather forced to retire from the army when he was only 50 years old.   At that time I had already opened a bookstore, so he would help me there for some years.  Business was not going well but I had to keep it running for a few more years until I could apply for early retirement.

If I wanted full pension I would have to keep the business until I became at least 60 years old in order to retire.  Fortunately, for me there was a law at the time that if a woman at the age of 50 had at least been working for twenty years and had three children, the youngest being under 18 she could qualify for reduced pension.   Selling the bookstore was out of the question, although we tried but who would buy a business having no substantial profit and getting a job was also impossible at my age, as  the unemployment rate  in Greece is very high and even young people can’t get a job.  So I closed the shop just before Evangelia (Elia) turned 18 and I applied for early retirement.   Although it took almost 2 1/2 years to be approved but  I was lucky enough to benefit from this law as shortly after, this law was annulled.     That’s the time when I started blogging as a hobby.

Now that we were both “early pensioners” and free from obligations, I started telling my husband how great it would be if we could move to the countryside after Elia would turn 18. The idea matured in our heads and two years ago we started looking for a plot where we could build a small house where we could retire.

The seashore suburbs of Attica were out of the question for a few reasons. One was that the land was too expensive but also becauce the suburbs are now so crowded that it’s just like living in Athens and living in an apartment near the seaside was out of the question.  I wanted a house with a garden which would not be far away from the seaside but also not very far away from Athens.

We didn’t want to move too far away because our children would still be living in our house in Athens, so we decided to search within an area of two hours’ drive.

Our first choice would be the region around Nafplion.   When Elia was still in elementary school, her school organised an excursion there and it was love at first sight.  We started dreaming how great it would be if he manged to get transferred there but although we had applied many times, it was not in the cards, at least not in the near future.

During the past two years we have been traveling to Nafplion, every now and then meeting with real estate agents and we were so close to signing twice, when something went wrong just at the last minute.

The first house we really liked was one of a complex of three small houses.  Each one was 65 sq. metres and had two bedrooms, one bathroom and the rest of the house was an open spaced kitchen  with the living room.

However, it had a huge porch but most of all, each house had  1.500 sq metres land of its own, with an open view of  the Argolic citrus orchards in front of us.

This would be perfect to be used just as a summer house, as it was rather remote to live there year round.  We liked it for several reasons, the first being that it was within the limited budget we had set, it was only ten – fifteen minutes’ drive to Karathonas beach, it had a huge area to have a garden with lawn, it was partly furnished, all rooms had air-conditioning, it had a fireplace and it even had an inflatable, family sized swimming pool and part of the garden was cemented and arranged for the pool.

Before signing, we asked our lawyer to look into the legal formalities but to our disappointment, he advised us that although the property was big we were not allowed by law to build anything else or expand the present building, as it was outside the town limits.  Furthermore, the contractors were not in compliance with certain formalities of the law, so we had to reject it.

We continued searching and kept arranging appointments with real estate agents every now and then.    They showed us maisonettes which were small like pigeon holes, plots that were very far away from Nafplion, or in degraded areas where there were a lot of gypsies and thefts were a usual phaenomenon, others with existing small old houses which needed a lot of money to be renovated and other plots which we liked but were much above our budget.   The ones near the seaside or even with a distant view of the sea were very expensive.   Each time we left without finding anything, we were very disappointed.

In one of our visits, after over a year of searching, we finally found a second one we immediately liked.   It was a plot of land which was rather far away from Nafplion about 20 km but it had a fantastic view of the Argolic Gulf.    Nothing was built, except for a couple of houses in the far distance and the closest village was a couple of kilometres away.  The closest beach was Myloi, a seashore village about 15 km away but the beach was not so good as Karathonas but the view was fantastic and a little more effort getting to a decent beach was worth it.  The price, however, was high and after visiting a second time and bargaining we finally reached an agreement and we shook hands, which was almost like signing.  However, this was also too good to be true.  Just before signing we found out that the law changed and those plots were no longer in the town plans and were excluded from the building area.

Most of the weekends, we continued making trips around Athens, towards Evia,  Sounion, Corinth, Orea Eleni, Epidavros etc., but we did not like what we saw.

On one of our visits to Nafplion, after an exhausting day seeing many real estate agents, we were very disappointed for one more time and were thinking to give up.  Fortunately, the last one, who was the owner of the land and a contractor had an orange orchard in Assini which he decided to cut into building plots, I think they were about sixteen and he showed us the last two which were for sale.  Each plot wasn’t very big, it was only 350 square metres big, but at least we could build a 100 sq. metres house plus a semi-basement.

We liked it as it was only 2 km away from the beach and without any hesitation, we shook hands.

We returned back a couple of days later and signed the contracts early July 2010.