From frozen coffees to sundowners at the Temple of Poseidon and a fishy spa treatment, Maps Maponyane learns the Greek art of kefi!
When in Athens, you stand at the turning point not only of so much history but of food too. This week on Top Billing, a South African in Greece, Vicky Giougli shows Maps the art of enjoying fish, the birthplace of iced coffee and as a bonus – a hidden lake with secret healing properties.
For its lofty reputation as the cradle of Western civilization, one of the most important gifts Athens has given the world is the value it places on quality of life.
South African born Vicky Giougli generates content and does translation for a major travel company. What made her choose this as her hometown is that in Athens, every day is like a working holiday.
The Greek word kefi refers to a joy at life and central to it is how the locals celebrate everything that comes from the sea. As for preparation, too much focus on refinement is frowned upon. Tavernas like Sardelaki favour home cooking at affordable prices for tourists and locals alike. George Kirimizoglou does these classics especially well.
Most restaurants offer their house platter of mezedes as an appetizer or meal on their own. A first taste of any of these shows what a fine understanding of garlic, oregano, dill, basil or thyme the Greeks possess. It’s a national talent.
After lunch, the hours from two to five are a quiet time and Vicky knows the ideal place to spend it. Vouliagmeni Lake was once a cave until hot water coursing through it collapsed the roof. It created an open-air thermal spa which Eleni Kourlimpini has the pleasure of managing. Rich in potassium, lithium and minerals the water here ideal for joint and muscle aches and a dip comes with Nature’s most expert exfoliants.
While the water here is warm, the coffee is ice-cold. A refreshing change from the expected order of things.
The frappe is sixty years old. Which on the Athenian time-scale is like being born yesterday. Ancient temples are dotted all around the Attican peninsula and driving to the Southern most point, you find one dedicated to the god of the sea. Built two and a half thousand years ago.
The Temple of Poseidon has long been the last sight Athenian sailors had of their homeland when setting sail, and the first that welcomed them back home. Maps wasn’t ready to leave just yet.
Until you can get to the glorious Country itself, dinner at your local Greek restaurant is delicious enough. But given half a chance to visit Greece, grab it, and you’ll dine out on the experience the rest of your days.