Choosing which islands to visit in Greece was somewhat of a challenge. I had been to Greece once before when I was 19 years old, backpacking around Europe with my friend. I can’t say we saw much of Greece however. We stayed on the island of Corfu at the notorious Pink Palace. My experience with Greece at that time involved countless fuzzy navels, shots of ouzo and a brief indiscretion with the Australian doorman. I left with a moaning liver and didn’t even make it to the beach. This time would be different. Gone are the days I can drink all night and rise to another day gleefully anticipating another night of debauchery. In that vein, there were a few islands I could cross off my list to even consider. I had narrowed it down to three islands. Hydra (see previous post), Santorini (to experience the sunset in all its romantic drama) and the oh so underrated Sifnos. I chose Sifnos because it is known for its cuisine and ceramics – two of my favorite passions.
I arrived early in the morning at Sifnos’ main port-the quiet village of Kamares. I would be staying here for the duration of my time on Sifnos. The village hugs a stretch of yellow clean sand and unruffled shallow water.
Its main strip hosts a variety of cafes and tavernas offering traditional Sifnos cuisine. I am staying at Sifnos House. A mere 900 feet from the port. I upgraded my old albatross of a suitcase which made the uphill roll even more painless. I was promptly greeted by the host and a tray of fresh lemonade and local sweets. My apartment in this delightful boutique hotel was more than I anticipated. Stunning views overlooking the bay with a terrace to enjoy morning coffee and reflections.
I quickly settled in and made my way to the lounge at the beach, and ordered my favorite tipple of Europe-the aperol spritz.
I found my way to a seaside cafe to order some fried chickpea balls and greek salad.
In efforts to experience a truly authentic Sifnos meal I was to try Mastelo- lamb slowly braised with dill, oil, and wine.
It was succulent and flavorful and left me curious about how the food in Greece differs from each region to the next. This would all become clearer with my upcoming cooking class on Narlis Farm.
I chose to rent a car here on the island. Although fairly small, it would not be time efficient to rely on the bus system given I only had five days on this island.
And with that, my second day on Sifnos had me buzzing about this lovely hidden gem of an island in a rather worn-out Toyota tercel. I throw on the radio and “Greased Lightnin’ blares despite the poor reception.
Well, this car is automatic, it’s systematic, it’s hydromatic
Why it’s Greased Lightning!
We’ll get some overhead lifters and four barrel quads, oh yeah
With my car windows rolled down and my hair tousled I sing louder than the radio.
(Keep talking, woah, keep talking)
The irony isn’t lost on me. The roads were narrow and dry but each sharp turn offered glimpses of the stunning coastline. I first went to the picturesque port of Faros that was still in its slumber when I arrived.
I then followed the recommendation of my host to experience the views on a cliff near Platis Gialos.
The views were spectacular but what really caught my attention was the small cove below whose shades of blue and emerald green waters sparkled with enticement. I was determined to make my way down despite the unconvincing reliability of my clunker of a car. Yet the curvy precarious dirt road down was no match for this intrepid traveller. Once parked, I stripped down faster than it took for the pangs of the tercel to settle and ran full speed into the water that seduced me from the moment I laid eyes on it. The pictures don’t do it justice.
I have swam in many bodies of water throughout my travels. Each experience differs from one to the other. Nothing will ever compare to my waters back home because it is my home. The commanding presence of the wild pacific ocean that leaves my eyes stinging; my feet tickled by the kelp below and my skin sticky. But this… this swim today was my moment. That moment I experience in any new land when I dive into its water like a new relationship, excited and wanting more. It was slightly warm yet still refreshing. Calm, crystal clear and majestic. I floated on my back. It was so peaceful out there. Just me and the whooshing sound of my arms gliding from the top of my head to my sides. I could have stayed there all day. But the tercel was cool now and ready for the next attraction. Off to Platis Gialos.
Platis Gialos was, without question, stunning.
What was, in ancient times, a harbour for the transport of gold and silver has now become a trendy seaside resort village and probably the most cosmopolitan area of the island I had seen yet. My main reason for visiting was to try the Omega 3- rated the best restaurant on the island. I didn’t have a reservation which clearly I was expected to have even for lunch. Who knew this rustic beach shack would be in such hot demand. Apparently this is a fave of Tom Hanks. The view was breathtaking; the service was attentive but a tad on the haughty side; and the food… well… I get why it made it to the top of the list. I began with marinated octopus with black olive caramel and capers.
This was followed by free range fish with pearls of hot salsa and pesto.
Then finally the Brazilian cheese breads with manouri cheese, black garlic and fig marmalade.
Each creative dish was constructed so beautifully in small ceramic sharing plates. The meal was the final climax to a glorious day. Actually no… I take that back. I actually left satiated and impressed but went back to my special beach for one last dip in that magnificent emerald green water. That indeed was the climax. Followed by a very long, satisfied, full belly sigh. Back to the dusty hot tercel and on route home to Sifnos house. It would be an early night to rest up for tomorrow where I will finally wrap an apron around this enthusiastic food loving waist and learn to cook authentic Greek food!!