Our Greek Odyssey over Christmas in 2007 was one we shall not forget easily. For someone raised on a staple diet of Greek mythology in his childhood such as myself, our trips to Athens, Delphi and Olympia were deeply spiritual experiences that will forever stay with us. After all of the history and the mythology, a voyage to Santorini in the Greek Cyclades was a fitting finale to this awesome adventure.
Santorini, which has literally been sculpted on the slopes of a crater (called “caldera” in Greek), is a magnificent island city endowed with an ethereal beauty that must be experienced for one’s self. Viewing the remains of the volcano submerged within the Aegean Sea early in the morning, would move and evoke romance and introspection in the most hardened of people. Walking leisurely along the caldera (or driving) thru the gorgeous little villages with exotic names like Fira, Imerovigli, Firostephani, Kamari, Pyrgos and Oia serves to rejuvenate your mind, body, spirit and soul and is highly recommended for just about everyone and especially, folks who lead a stressful existence!
Given all the walking and the vigorous exercise, we felt intense pangs of hunger and the need to satiate it with the authentic, exotic version of the Greek cuisine served locally in Santorini. Since most of the establishments were closed for Christmas, the El Greco Taverna (happily for us), a stone’s throw away from our hotel, was exactly what we needed!
The El Greco Taverna is a modest, almost "hole-in-the wall" family run establishment that is unpretentious, yet endowed with a remarkable view of the Fira landscape and is adorned with some incredible photos of Santorini, shot by local photographers. The very friendly demeanor and service of the young and self-effacing Antonio, the head server, would invariably bring us back to El Greco for practically every meal, save breakfast until our departure on Christmas Day!
Besides the ubiquitous and extremely well prepared Souvlaki, Gyro (pork and chicken) and the Moussaka, its seafood (fresh catch delivered every morning) was its pride and our joy!:-) The seafood platter (below) presented a combination of Mahi Mahi, Octopus, Scallops and Prawns, served with large potato wedge fries and Greek pilaf, grilled with their secret concoction of spices and herbs, especially oregano and cooked in extra virgin olive oil extracted from the choicest varieties of olives (like Kalamata and Amfissa) from the mainland of Greece.
Equally well made were the gyro/souvlaki platters (see below) with pork and chicken souvlaki (kebabs), rice and Greek fries served with their local incarnation of Tzatziki and hot sauce.
Savoring the fresh fish and the meat with their home-made bread spiced with their locally brewed Balsamic Vinegar, as well as the locally made Santo Nectarii White (like a Chardonnay) and Red Wines (close to a Cabernet) was such incredible joy and pleasure.:-)
This adventure in Fira (also called Thira), Santorini, Greece, begins at: El Greco Taverna, (down the road from the Theoxenia Hotel), Fira Main Street, Santorini, Greece. Tel # 22222. Click here for the Google Map and Directions.