Methoni — The Overlooked Upper Road (Πάνω Δρόμος)

Methoni, the town where I grew up, has grown into a primo vacay destination. So much so, that I’ve overlooked some pics I took of places because, frankly, there were just too many to choose from.

Take the above, for example. Zoom on in and you’ll see a cute menu catered for tourists. It’s mostly a local winter or low- and off-season staple. Then again, off-season is the time to go. Even pre-season of May-June is great. My favourite time is post-season of mid-September to early November, where you can enjoy all the amenities at bargain prices and temperate weather (as opposedto the 52-degree Celsius feel of Juky and August. The water will have few swimmers and you’ll be sure to eat without a reservation. Even though most restaurants are closed in the winter, pre- and post-season finds almost all of them open. And you’ll be treated like a king.

Although he deserves a separate article, and will get one soon, Andreas runs a great place. The owner of an organic olive orchard, Andreas Diles has the liveliest place away from the beach. In the evening, the main Methoni street, made of mostly cobblestone, is closed to traffic. Mind you, there are only two streets long enough to traverse the whole town. This is the “upper” street where the “market” is. In relaxing wooden chairs and old-school tables, Andreas and his wife, introduced as a chef from Poland, offer sumptuous nouveau-Greek cuisine. Or is it fusion. You have the old favourites your Greek grandm used to make but with an Eastern European twist. I never knew how many different versions and name ratatouille really had. When asked if this was ratatouille, Andreas says “I can’t say if is, since our version is a lot better”. It’s this proud spirit and Andreas’s constant interaction with the tourists taht makes this an unbelievable dining experience.

With its colourful non-matching chairs, “το καφέ της Φιλιως” or Filio’s Cafe, is a hit with the locals. A traditional coffee shop in the morning (above), quiet WiFi and contemplation spot in the afternoon (although the owner will try to outdo herself to make sure you’re continuously comfortable), and bar at night, there’s always something going on here. This is a surprising hotspot to meet people.

There you go. And not a beach in sight. It’s about a 10-minute leisurely walk away.

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A Hot Young Old-School Greek Communist

I was deciding where to sit in the Gazi neighbourhood in Athens. As you can see on the paper, it was Sunday, September 3rd, 2017. It would be my last day in Athens for yet another summer.

The image above was taken at a posh cafe just a few minutes after I’d bought it. I had come out of the amazing Athens metro system (boasting the title of best metro in Europe) and was walking my way up the stairs whena stunning young university student came up to me and asked me if I had been to the Greek Communist Youth conference.

“Sorry, I never heard about it. I’ve been out of the loop for so long,” I confessed.

She smiled and looked at me. She knew I was saying the truth yet was accepting the fact that I’d griwn out of it.

“You can help by buying a paper,” she asked, smiling, knowing she’d guilted me into it.

“I’ve got two hours to kill,” I told her. Do you need to stay here, or can I buy you coffee, a drink, or dinner?”

She smiled.

“Do I look like day game?”

“It’s actually after six. But it’s still day. But I haven’t heard that term in Greece. ”

She laughed, exposing her neck s she lensd backwards.

“Well, the word doesn’t have a Greek equivalent. We just call it kamaki,” she said.

“Παναγιώτη, πάω για καφέ,” she told a fellow university student. He nodded.

“Good. Bet you never thought I’d say yes to your offer. And i’m damn hungry,” she said.

We walked to my regular place. I was greeted personally by my waiter, and given my favourite seat. He barely looked at the girl. She didn’t quite fit the type of customer they be serving.

“Yes, Costa,” I said, “for two people. ”

The girl above is the hostess of the restaurant. She is supposed to be the eye candy that entices the people to take a seat.

We ordered and started chatting.

“I’ve learned to believe that the old-school Marxism you believe in can no longer win elections. The current government is the closest thing we’ll get. And they’re stuck,” I said.

“The Communists wouldn’t be stuck. Drachma overnight. Just like the finance minister admitted to having planned,” she answered.

“I totally agree with the ideal outcome. I totally want that to happen,” I said.

“So do you feel like a king here? Am I what you would want to be with? A starving university student who’s too shy to sell herself?”

“You seem to know more about it than that do. I was simply turned on by you. You know, you brought back the beauty of my youth,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can no longer play you.”

“Play me?”

“We choose a victim every day or so. It’s so silly. Part of our communist rebellion against the oligarchs. Or against the people we think are trying to use our poverty to their advantage,” she said. “I fitbthe profile. Poor university student. And you fit the profile. An average tourist who comes to a country to take advantage of young ladies.”

“I’ve never thought of that. It would be easy to do though.”

“Unfortunately, you’re right.”

We started talking about the state of things and throwing out solutions. Before long, it was time to meet some relatives for dessert at Plaka.

Without a thought, we went tehre together. I introduced her as a friend. She was very sociable nd we all had a great night of earing, drinking, dancing, and talking.

She kissed me ever-so-softly as I went into the taxi waiting for me in front of my hotel to take me to the airport. I smiled. It had been so long since my university years. She waved at me and turned and started walking the other way. It had been a very interesting 18 hours.