Tuesday 31 December 2013



Have you got some dandelions in your garden and you are thinking of going to the store to buy some chemical poison to get rid of them so that it doesn't spoil your lovely lawn?
Why don't you eat them instead? You will find dandelions growing everywhere in spring and throughout the summer and early autumn. So if you are camping and you go for a walk in the fields, have a look and see if there are some dandelions around.

The leaves are edible and tasty with a slight bitter taste to them!!

I normally take a knife and cut it near the root. I leave the root in, so that I could get another crop. By leaving the root in, the plant remains alive. (Of course if you want to clear your lawn from them, pluck them by the root).
If they have flowered, throw the flowers away but if they have already seeded, take care so that  the hundreds of little seeds will not spread everywhere. You want leaves that are big enough and still tender. Note: the older the leaves are, the more bitter they are.

Boil them for 10 minutes and then change the water. Boil them for another 10-15 minutes, adding some salt in the water, and they are ready. You must change the water to get rid of the bitterness.

Dress them with olive oil and lemon and serve as a side dish. They are a great companion to fried or BBQ fish.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Simple Living. What is it?

According to Wikipedia:
Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want. Although asceticism generally promotes living simply and refraining from luxury and indulgence, not all proponents of simple living are ascetics. Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice.
Adherents may choose simple living for a variety of personal reasons, such as spirituality, health, increase in quality time for family and friends, work–life balance, personal taste, frugality, or reducing personal ecological footprint and stress. Simple living can also be a reaction to materialism and conspicuous consumption.
For the full article visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_living

Monday 25 November 2013

Simple living and Christian spirituality

For me, simplicity is one of the joys of the Christian faith.

"Look at the birds of the air" Jesus said, "they don't sow or reap and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?" "See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon (the richest king of Israel) in all his splendour was dressed like one of these."

How many people in world history built palaces and castles which in the end became their prisons. For all the comforts material possessions can afford they can never buy happiness. We struggle through life, spending our days on trying to get more and better things and all the while we neglect the simple things in life. Yet it is as if God is saying, "Look I've given you so much to make you happy and it's all free."  Take time to watch a sunset, a flower, a tree, a river, a beach, Spend time to have a conversation with someone you love.

St Francis of Assisi sat down to eat some dry bread with his friend Masseo next to a stream. A large rock served as a table. They had been walking through villages telling with words and actions of their love for Jesus. As they sat down, Francis seemed to be in rapture; "brother Masseo, we don't deserve such kindness". He said it again and again:  "brother Masseo, we don't deserve such kindness".  At long last Masseo turned and said to his friend: "We've got no table, no table cloth, no servants to serve us, no silver and only this dry bread for food". "Brother Masseo" said Francis, "all that we have was given to us by no human hand but by God".

The Bishop of Assisi once said to Francis, “I think your life is too hard, too rough. You don’t possess anything in this world.” And Francis replied, “If we had possessions, we would need weapons to defend them. They are frequently a source of quarrels and lawsuits. Possessions usually prove to be an obstacle in one’s search for God. That is why we do not desire temporal goods.”

Saturday 23 November 2013


(Aubergine or Egg-plant Salad)

Here is another one of those great meze to dip your bread.
2 large Bell Aubergines (Egg Plants)
3 cloves of garlic
3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
half a lemon
a pinch of salt

Ideal for when you have a BBQ. When you light the coals or your wood and you are waiting for the coals to get ready, then just place the aubergine's on the flame. When soft and can be squeezed with a spoon, take them off the fire and let them cool down. Cut them in half and with a spoon scoop out the inside of the aubergines. Crash the garlic and add it with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and serve.

You can try different variations by adding one of the following: Paprika, feta cheese, walnuts. 

Friday 22 November 2013

Fish Soup

Fish Soup
Here is another great soup for the winter

½ Kg of boneless fish
2 Carrots
1 Onion
2 Potatoes
5 medium size celery leaves with stems
½ cup of Rice
Olive oil
1 teaspoon of Salt

Boil the fish in half a pot of water with the salt for 2 or 3 minutes. Fish doesn't take long to cook, but please do make sure that it's cooked

Take the fish out and in the broth now place the potatoes and carrots (cut in small pieces) and a whole onion. Wash the rice and add it. Let them boil until the potatoes and rice is cooked.

Add the fish and let everything boil for another 2 or 3 minutes

After it's cooked add a bit of olive oil and black pepper for taste.

Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Tuna and Rice salad

Tuna and Rice Salad

1 cup of rice
1 tin of tuna
seasonal fresh vegetables for example: half  cucumber, 1 large tomato, half a lettuce, 1 red or green or orange pepper, 1 large carrot, one spring onion, half pointed cabbage, sweet corn etc.
fresh herbs either parsley, dill or coriander
olive oil
one lemon or lime
salt and pepper

Wash the rice in the pot and drain the water. Add just less than 2 cups of water. (if basmati is used 1 and a half cup of water is sufficient). Add a teaspoon of salt and place on high fire until it comes to boil. Then immediately lower the flame to the minimum and boil until water is fully absorbed. (Normally 10 minutes)

In the meantime prepare the vegetables. You can choose 3 or 4 from the list. Wash them and chop them or grate them (carrot). If you use frozen vegetables boil them briefly in water and drain.
  Put all vegetables in  a large bowl. Add the cooked rice and the tuna (drained if in water). Mix everything well, add the olive oil, some salt and the freshly squeezed lemon juice.

You can use pasta twists or penne instead of rice.
You can use mayonnaise instead of the olive oil and lemon.

Thursday 21 November 2013


Tzatziki is a refreshing Greek dip. It's extremely easy to make and it makes a wonderful starter or side dish.

½ Kg of Greek Yoghurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 cucumber (half if large)
5 table spoons of olive oil
a pinch of salt
1 table spoon of vinegar
Oregano or thyme (optional)

Grate the cucumber on a hand grater and if too watery squeeze and drain the water.
Grate the garlic and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and that's it. Καλή όρεξη.

Bean Soup - Fasolada

Bean Soup


This is the national food of Greece

One cup of white beans
2 carrots
1 onion
2 stems of celery
one heaped teaspoon of Salt
Two fresh tomatoes or a tin of peeled tomatoes
Olive oil

Boil the beans in a pot for about 5 minutes.
Drain the water
Add 4 cups of fresh water
Add all the ingredients except the olive oil.
Close the pressure-cooker and once in pressure cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add fresh olive oil and serve.

If no pressure cooker is available then, in order to save on your camper's gas, you must soak the beans from the night before. Then, on the day, just boil the beans and change the water as described above. After that, boil just the beans for 20 minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients as above. You may need to add more water because some will be evaporating.

Serve with fresh bread, feta cheese, olives, pickled vegetables etc.

Lentil Soup - Faki

Faki - Greek Lentil Soup

Now that it's getting cold, there's nothing like a good wholesome soup to warm you up in your campervan. 
One cup of green lentils
2 carrots
1 onion
3 spoons of garlic
2 bay leaves
one heaped teaspoon of Salt
Two fresh ripe tomatoes or a tin of peeled tomatoes
Olive oil

Boil the lentils in a pot for about 5 minutes.
Drain the water
Add 4 cups of fresh water
Add all the ingredients except the olive oil.
Close the pressure-cooker and once in pressure cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add fresh olive oil and serve.

If no pressure cooker is available, depending on the variety of lentils you may have to cook for about 30 minutes and you may have to add a little more water.

Serve with fresh bread, feta cheese, olives, pickled vegetables etc.

Friday 15 November 2013

Camping in Peloponnese

Camping in Peloponnese 

part 1: The west coast

Peloponnese, the most southern part of mainland Greece, is rich in beauty, rich in history and very friendly to people like you and me who like to roam freely.
A ferry across the Adriatic sea will take you from Italy to Patras. Ferries go from Venice, Ancona, Brindisi or Bari.

If you haven't been to Venice before, why don't you combine a visit to Venice with your journey to the Peloponnese.

Venice and Ancona are in the northern part of Italy while Bari and Brindisi are in the south. Cost- wise is pretty much the same since although ferries from Venice and Ancona are more expensive you do save on fuel and tolls as Bari and Brindisi are another 500 Km south of Ancona.
We normally book our ferry tickers from this website:  http://paleologos.gr/

 So let's say you catch the ferry to Patras. From Patras (which is the 3rd largest Greek city) you could drive south to see Olympia, where the first Olympic games were staged.
We parked our camper just outside the ancient site and had our lunch in the van. Later we drove to the village parked and slept.

On our way to Pylos as we drive down the west coast of Peloponnese but the reward of taking it easy is discovering amazing beaches like this one in Marathopoli.
Just park your van by the beach and stay as long as you like...

On to Pylos, a sleepy little town that had a significant role to play in the independence of modern  Greece.

From there to Methoni with its Venetian castle...

and peaceful beach

Then on to the most southern part of that west coast, we found the most peaceful, quite beach near the Vasilitsi village, where we put up camp for the night.

The night sky was just stunning...tried to take pictures but they just couldn't do it justice.

Camping in Peloponnese part two: Mani 

We are heading for Mani now but we can't pass Koroni without stopping. It's a beautiful little town with a very large Castle area...

...... and beautiful narrow streets.

Kalamata with its port and long beach is the largest town in that part of Peloponnese. It's a good place to stock up on supplies before we head for Mani.

Here we are now in Mani with its beautiful villages hanging on the cliff-tops....

Its stone-built houses...

....and churches...

and look at this one, it's more like boulder-built rather than stone-built. Look also how tiny it is!
It is one of the very few church buildings in the world that Anna has to bend in order to get through the door.

The frescoes on these old churches were gorgeous and they had this peculiar simplicity about them.

It was as if you didn't have to be a Michelangelo to paint a fresco. Any willing heart is accepted.

The towers of Mani stand as a testament of bygone days, reminding us that Mani was one of the only two small areas in Greece that never became subject to Ottoman rule.
The pride of this freedom is reflected in its people and their very straight-forward and friendly ways.

I imagine that Sea-Breeze was very proudly posing for this picture at this picturesque little port with its fishing boats. We stopped for lunch here and then a swim and a shower. Remember that this is mid-October but the weather is still holding up nicely.

Where did I have my shower? Just here.

Can you actually do that? That's what it's for...

A shower-head on a beach is often all you need to have a shower.
Let's say you've missed having a hot shower so what do you do then?
- You drive out in the bush, you take a large green tab, you boil a kettle over your gas burner and mix it with some cold water in the tab. Then you enjoy a hot shower or bath...
Is that simple or what?

And where do you stay for the night?
I was intrigued to find a large number of campervans
parked underneath the "no-camping" sign.
- Are you spending the night here? What about the sign?
- O don't worry. It's fine to sleep here. The local restaurants and shops are keen to have us.

A visit to Mani will not be complete without visiting the Diros caves. They are stunning and they will leave you breathless. We took a guided tour on a gondola-style boat with a guide taking you around the cave with its stunning stalactites. 

The Gerolimenas village, a must-visit little fishing village, is the very last community before you head for the END. At the end of Mani you stand at the most southern part of Continental Europe. You cannot drive your campervan any more south than this. Here it is... We made it.

It's about 1 Km to walk to the lighthouse of Cape Tenaron. Standing there you can tell that the rest of Europe is now in the north. Yes there are some of Europe's islands that are in the south but we are standing here at the most southern part of Continental Europe. Our little Sea Breeze made it.

And since we are here why not enjoy the freedom of swimming all alone in, dare I say it? -- Well, total freedom!

Camping in Peloponnese (part 3) : To Sparta

Having reached the most southern part of Mani,  it was time to say goodbye. We did so with heavy hearts as we were absolutely captivated by the wild beauty of Mani.

Mani is a part of Greece that remains unspoiled.

 Having reached the most southern part of Europe now there was only one way to go and that was to the north. We set course to Sparta.

On our journey north we spent our first night sleeping in our camper parked right on the jetty of Kotronas. We had a fantastic night sleeping, almost surrounded by water.
It was not long before another campervan pulled up near us. Birds of a feather flock together.

Is there anything more peaceful than this?
Can any organised camp provide you with this kind of  tranquility?

Can any money buy moments like this?

Next stop: Gytheio. A very picturesque town set on the hill overlooking the sea.

 From Gytheio to this!   Monemvasia.
One of the largest Byzantine cities built on that natural fortress.

The city is still alive today and it affords some stunning views.

The lowest part of the city is still buzzing with tourists strolling the streets, buying their souvenirs, visiting the museum or sitting at the taverna.

But if you are brave enough to make the climb to the top where there are just ruins and a lonely church at the top of the hill, you'll be rewarded.


Monemvasia is certainly worth the visit.

Came back to our van, and after a swim we decided to have dinner and watch the night throw its shawl on the Rock of Monemvasia.

Again we were not alone. Another van pulled right besides us and spent the night there with us.

After Monemvasia we headed for Elafonisi. Elafonisi means Deer Island.

It is only a very short ferry ride from the main land...

...and it is well worth it.

We didn't get around the island much, we just visited its little port town, but it was so pretty.

There were fish restaurants to your heart's content. 

There was another ferry that now we had in mind to take. We went from Elafonisos to Neapoli hoping to catch the ferry to Kithira.
When we got there we found that the ferry had left for Kithira that same morning and the next one was the same time next week!!
We just couldn't believe it... One ferry a week. We remembered an old Greek song that says:

"Ta Kithira pote den tha ta doume
to hasame to ploio tis gramis..."

"We will never see Kithira
we have missed the ferry..."

How sad and how true. So we said goodbye to Neapolis and this most southern part of the third leg of Peloponnese and we are now heading for Sparta.

We were there by the evening. We parked and slept in one of its quiet streets.

The city of Leonidas and his 300 hundred.

A city tucked up in the mountain region of Peloponnese.

 Another Byzantine city a stone's throw from Sparta is Mystras.
A city that speaks of glory days, of a civilization that has offered so much and yet is so much forgotten.
Of emperors and bishops, of monasteries and priests.

A stop at a natural spring to fill up with water and....

...back to Sparta city for the night.

Here is the Sparta town hall.

 We are now setting our minds to visit Nafplion. The first capital of independent Greece.

Camping in Peloponnese (part 4) : From Nafplion to Corinth

So here we are: Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece.
We arrived here late in the day, so we went for a stroll around the city.

It is a small city, abundant in neo-classical buildings and the whole place is teaming with history.

The churches have their story to tell...

...and look at this modern day message:

You are truly happy when you are happy with the happiness of others.

This is where we parked during our stay: right by the water front... and of course we were not the only ones.
The weather is turning cold now and we've come back early for a hot soup and an early night.

We had a wonderful view of this...

The Bourgi.  
A small island just off the coast.

Besides its neoclassical buildings Nafplion had an older history to offer. From anywhere in the city you couldn't miss the big Venetian castle on the top of the hill,

The Venetians who sailed the waters of the Aegean left a legacy of a number of castles scattered all over the Aegean.
The Nafplion castle was worth visiting both for its history, its architecture and....

... the views that it offers of the city.

Next place to visit: Epidavros an ancient city in the Saronic Gulf.

Perhaps the most well known of its landmarks is its amphitheatre.

Its symmetry, which delighted Pausanias, and its acoustics are unparalleled.
15,000 people can sit in the amphitheatre and they can clearly hear a whisper that takes place in the skini (stage).

 After a good walk about we got back in our van and headed for Spetses.

We passed by Porto Heli, one of those early holiday places for the well-to-do Greeks.

 We thought that we had come to the end of the mosquito season, but that night as we parked at the little port village from where we were going to take the ferry the next morning to Spetses, we were given to believe otherwise.
We had no mosquito repellents at all so after being viciously bitten during the night I had to get up, turn on the lights and kill the offender. However this process was repeated until dawn. Lesson learned: Always carry some mosquito repellent spray.

Next morning after our short ferry ride we are greeted by the Spetses' own flag.

Now, Spetses which fought its own battle for independence from Ottoman rule had in the 20th century become a holiday destination not just for the rich but for the aristocracy. Kings and presidents from all over the world holidayed there for years.

If you are a lover of wooden boats, you'll find hundreds in Spetses in all sizes and shapes both sail and motor.

Many of its houses have an air of aristocracy about them.

Back on the mainland and we drove past Hermioni.
Another one of those early holiday destinations for Greeks of the 20th century.
We didn't stay much because the place we really wanted to get to...

... was this: Metohi.

All there was in Metohi was a restaurant with a tiny little grocery store included and a jetty from where you could get...

... this little boat to take you to Hydra.

If there is one island off the Peloponnese coast that one must visit, this certainly is Hydra.

A short ferry ride, takes you to this island on which all wheels are banned.
No cars, no bikes, no trains not anything like this.
The only way to get around the island is either walking or riding on horses and donkeys.

If you dream of a holiday where the pollution of cars does not exist, then you must visit Hydra.

Cobbled stone alleys where only the sound of other humans can be heard

We just wandered about the town for hours.

A beautiful island!

And again it's time to say goodbye and head north.

We arrived in Galatas late in the day. We parked just here and had our lunch with the view of another island: Poros.

 You are about to fall asleep for the night and your eyes feast on this view. How good is this?

Next morning just a short ferry ride on ferry Anna
and we are in Poros.

For most Greeks, Poros is normally accessed by ferry from Pereaus. Driving there from Athens is a very long way around but any Athenian can do it on the ferry.
Poros and its tranquil waters make it a haven for hundreds of flotilla yachts that go about the Saronic.

Again it's goodbye to Poros in search now for some real ancient history.

 We are about to walk through the gates of  the ancient city of Mycenae. The Lion Gate stands at the entrance to the city whose civilization dominated the Greece of the 2nd millennium BC.

As you walk through the citadel you can't but wonder how on earth did they built those walls at a time when none of the modern lifting equipment existed.

The tomb of Agamemnon is another wonder of that ancient civilization.
Look at the size of it....

and look at its roof...
How on earth did they do that 4,000 years ago?

And something for Petros - my civil engineer son:
When the civil engineers of Mycenae built bridges they built them to last!
Still standing about 3,500 years later

 We have now come to our final destination in Peloponnese:
The ancient city of Corinth.
The Roman city which lies in ruins at the top of the hill above the modern city of Corinth is our final place to visit in our Peloponnese itinary.

As we walk through the ruins and...

....ancient roads we reflect on what has passed and on what is yet to come.

It's been an amazing trip, travelling around the Peloponnese in our Sea Breeze. Thank God.