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Fall 1997 (3)
Arahova, Galaxidi and Chrisso
Liossion bus terminal is about a half hour taxi ride from
Syntagma Square, if the traffic allows you to escape the
center in reasonable time. The bus station is a dump as
is the adjoining cafe. The fare to Delphi was 2700 dr.
and we left on time at 13:00.
The bus was in good shape
and the driver was careful. It was a warm hazy day and
the drive through cotton fields, olive groves and winding
up the mountains of Parnassos was very pleasant. As we
passed through the town of Arahova, we made a note to
return and explore the quaint mountain town so close to
In the Spring of 1988, we
met a lady from Delphi on our flight from London to
Athens. At the Athens airport, while helping her with her
luggage, we met her husband who had come to meet her.
Assa and Kostas have been our good friends since that day.
During our driving trip
that year, the gas stations went on strike and we found
ourselves in Olympia, Peloponnese with a very low tank. A
call to Assa and Kostas produced magic. My lips are
sealed, but suffice it to say that they saved us from
what would have been a disastrous trip. We usually visit
them every two or three years, and happily here we were.
Assa was waiting at the bus station to greet us.
stands on the foothills of Mount Parnassos, above the
Phaidriades Valley. From our balcony at the Hotel Hermes,
we gazed down over the thick olive groves of the village
of Chrisso, and all the way down to the sparkling Itea
Bay. Each time we have done this, we've gasped with
pleasure at this spectacular view.
The reason so many
visitors from around the world come to Delphi is to see
the ancient archaeological site and the museum which is a
must as part of any visit to the country. There are
frequent bus tours of all types from Athens, if you are
not driving, or you can go it alone as we did.
But the most important
reason to visit Delphi, is to stop in at the Greka Gift
Shop and say hello to Assa and Kostas! Just kidding - but
don't be surprised if you find yourself unable to leave
without buying something from their wonderful collection
of exclusively designed jewelry and their vast array of
Our friends made
arrangements for us to stay at the Hotel Hermes. The
owner, Antonio Droseros, makes you feel right at home.
The small spotless lobby and its furnishings and the t.v.
bar and lounge invite you to relax, have an ouzo, and
indulge in some small talk. The breakfast room and patio
are at the rear overlooking the valley. The rooms are
bare-bones basic and the housekeeping is excellent. All
in all, a good value three-star, particularly when
sitting on the balcony and breathing in the clean, crisp
mountain air and enjoying the fabulous scenery below.
We had coffee with our
friends at their shop and window shopped the town before
resting a bit before heading out for dinner at a
fashionable 22:00, when they closed their store. There is
not a soul, place, taverna or hotel in this part of the
country that Assa and Kostas do not know. They grew up in
evening we headed to Arahova and the Taverna Kaplanis.
Kostas consulted with the staff and the feast began. When
you steadily consume the delicious local red wine, it is
easy to relax and slowly do justice to the unending flow
of courses; eggplant salad, spinach pie, stuffed grape
leaves, a special treat of fromila which is a barbecued
cheese from only this area, horiatiki, grilled chicken
and lamb chops. We finished off with an amazing fresh
fruit plate, sliced crunchy apples with honey, plump
grapes bursting with flavor and sweet and juicy melon.
What makes this simple
cuisine so special is the wonderful olive oil, the
knowledgeable use of herbs and spices, and the freshness
of the ingredients. This is the only country (Italy is
second best) from which I can return and find my
cholesterol as low as it ever gets. Olive oil is good
After a breakfast of juice,
coffee and honey cake, we headed out with Assa for a
memorable day. Our destination was Galaxidi. As we
twisted and turned down the mountain, we came to the
elegant village of Chrisso, surrounded by olive groves
which provide a rewarding livelihood to the townspeople.
The groves, the lovely homes and the gardens combine to
make an excellent environment for living.
Galaxidi, a peninsula in the Bay of Itea,
once knew great prosperity from shipping and shipbuilding.
Today it is a popular holiday spot both summer and winter.
Tourists sail into the picturesque port in the summer and
Grecians come in the winter when it is still mild and the
tourists have gone. Whenever you come, it is a beauty. It's
like being on an island, but easier to access. Handy to
both Athens and Delphi, it should be included when
touring the area.
Across from the port is a
lovely pine forest and around the port are tavernas and
hotels. There are always boats tied up in the clear,
inviting waters. The museum of Galaxidi has a splendid
collection of artifacts from the area. Particularly
interesting are the paintings of ships that sailed from
here, models and equipment of and from the ships.
Assa and Kostas' good friend Manolo owns the Hotel Galaxa,
which oozes his bright, cheerful, gregarious personality.
It's housed in a transformed, lovely traditional Greek
home and designed in white and blue inside and out. It's
open year round and is quite unique. The rooms are
spacious with wonderful sea views. The rooms have private
bathrooms and air conditioning, the beds are thick, firm
foam mattresses on cement platforms.
Across from the main
entrance is a large garden/cafe/snack bar overlooking the
bay and this is where we met the affable Manolo. With the
sun glistening on the bay below, the air clear and a
comfortable temperature, we snacked on the best olives,
feta, tomatoes and bread we've ever had the good fortune
to encounter. The olives, of course, come from the local
groves - greenish, reddish, brownish - plump, juicy and
just full of flavor. Add a little ouzo and all's right
with the world.
As we walked and drove
around, we enjoyed and appreciated the relaxed feeling
that this vacation paradise exudes. Assa took us to
Taverna Sofia Kourti on the pine tree side of the port
for lunch. (What we ate at the Hotel Galaxa was just an
appetizer!) It is wonderful what the salt air does for
the appetite. This is a very unpretentious taverna with
the major seating outdoors, overlooking the port. Tender,
sweet fried calamari, octopus, and koutsomoura (small
fish) after a little fried cheese and salad. Horta and
salad went nicely with the seafood.
On the way back we stopped
at Itea, another important summer resort and commercial
harbor. There is a wide boulevard along the man-made
waterfront lined with cafes and shops. This is a newer,
more commercially-developed town that lacks the old-world
charm of Galaxidi.
Back at the hotel late
afternoon to enjoy some basketball on television - Athens
vs. Bologna - catch up on my notes and catch some sleep
until our late dinner date.
at night has a special aroma from what they call the
Night Flower. It just permeates the air. It brought an
added dimension to the outdoor barbecue, Taverna Brauzos.
The family Brouzos has been here for years tending the
large outdoor grill specializing in lamb, both baby and
mother (provatina), wonderfully tender and tasty. The
garlic bread earned it's name and along with the tzatziki
(yogurt, cuke, garlic and dill) was long with us. Lightly
fried zucchini and eggplant and fried potatoes were
served with the lamb. One more time Kostas kept pouring
the wine. All I could think of was climbing the winding,
narrow dark road back to Delphi.
The next day was to be a
"food is not important" day. Assa was driving
to Arahova to attend a funeral and we caught a ride with
her to explore the town on our own. Built on the side of
the mountain, the sturdy stone homes and narrow
cobblestone lanes seem to be carved out of the mountain.
We climbed to the church on high and worked our way down.
Both winter and summer seasons are busy here as the town
is the home base for skiers, hikers and mountain climbers.
As it was between seasons, we had the streets to
ourselves. We've been really lucky with the weather and
this day was no exception. There were lovely clear views
in all directions.
Assa was driving into
Athens for the week-end so we sadly said good-bye to
Kostas and away we went. Her home in Athens is a bit out
of the city center and we didn't want her to get caught
in the traffic by taking us to the Electra Palace. We had
her drop us off at the station in Kifissia. We kissed
good-bye and took the metro to Monastiraki and walked ten
minutes to our hotel.
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