April 13, 2007

Greece, day 7: Really expensive drinks

Somehow, it is already our last day on Santorini (and our last day of the ridiculous villa). We stopped first at the Archeological Museum of Ancient Thira, which had an interesting collection of cookware discovered during the excavation, like this bronze cooking pan and a pretty cool-looking small oven designed to be placed over an open flame.

These are petrified leaves from an olive tree, surprisingly well-preserved.

While we spent some of our last moments wandering through town, we came across a bakery selling a treat we'd been dying to try: katiafi: The shreds of filo soaked in syrup are browned and crispy on top, while noodle-like on the lower half. The interior is filled with sweetened ground walnuts and pistachios for a decadent, texturally contrasting bite of sweet goodness. We also tried elies, a traditional almond-based treat. Fans of marzipan, this one's for you.

Walking through the town, we also came across a tiny street market where some fishermen were selling fresh mackeral, bringing back memories of our splendid lunch at Malena.

But our real culinary target today was Lucky's, purportedly home of the best gyros. Lucky turned out to be the actual name of the owner, who was there cutting off slabs of well-caramelized meat from the biggest gyros meat stack we'd seen. Lucky's gyros were pretty good, but I didn't think they matched the unctuous goodness of our gyros in Mykonos. The real reason to stop by Lucky's is to chat it up a bit with Lucky, an animated and gregarious fellow interested in talking about world travels with his customers.

Loaded up with a significant amount of calories, we decided to walk down the path to the docks. On the way up, we stopped by one of the several cafes set up right along the edge of the caldera with magnificent views and a refreshing-looking "drink special" made with cactus fruit. Having walked back up the fairly steep path, we were pretty thirsty, and ended up doing some damage. Here's how our table looked at the end of our 45 minutes.

It was only just after we ordered our second round that we realized these drinks cost more than most top-shelf cocktails in New York. The treats we consumed from these empty glasses cost about $100. Whew, that's a pricey view! Mental note: check prices before ordering... Just one more gyros and it was time to go... (my stomach's capacity for gyros has been steadily increasing).

The rest of our day involved a quick flight back to Athens for the final leg of our trip. Since we arrived at our hotel pretty late, we decided to go for a simple dinner in Plaka. Since it's so touristy, Plaka is known for having a lot of really disappointing restaurants, some of which will scam you by attracting you with live music, then charging you extra on your bill for the music. To avoid this, we headed to Platanos Taverna, open since 1932 and, known for its spitiko fageto, or simple home cooking. Great prices and a down-home tavern ambiance, we fueled ourselves with a hearty portions of stewed beef and lamb, a well-executed moussaka, and a pasta dish that photographed way better than it actually tasted.

Well fed but exhausted, we walked the surprisingly navigable and charmingly quaint streets of Plaka back to the hotel to recharge for our final days.

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