Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesdays: Europe {Firostefani}

Firostefani is a small village on the caldera of Santorini, just a 20 minute walk from the big town of Fira.  It is home to more luxurious villas and boutique hotels more than anything else, but the architecture and views make it worth visiting, even if you're not staying in town.

A few weeks ago I was on the hunt for sushi, and I was shocked to find out that there was a specialty sushi restaurant right here in Firostefani!  So, after 5 weeks of straight Greek food, we finally switched it up and splurged on a fancy sushi dinner at Ginger Sushi Lounge

We had edamame, octopus sashimi (whaaat?!), red snapper sashimi with pork flakes, a couple rolls including a very spicy spicy tuna roll, sizzling veal served on a hot volcanic rock, and a green tea pudding & biscuit layered dessert.  Amazing!  

True Colours

This is my first post linking up with Casey from True Colours blog; 
link your European posts here!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Every Expat's Worst Nightmare

Getting a phone call in the middle of the night is probably one of the biggest fears for someone living far away.  10 days ago our phone rang at 4 AM.  A's sister called and told us that their father had passed away.  At 62, he had a sudden heart attack.  No one expected it and I think the shock was the only thing that got us through our flight the following day back to the Dominican Republic.  

Having lunch for their 35 year anniversary this year
I know that I'll never forget that phone call, nor will I ever forget arriving at A's parents house at 1:30 in the morning and the way we all felt.  Even though I had only met my father in law a few years ago, I loved him as if he were my own father; he treated me like a daughter and I cannot count the lifetime's worth of memories we shared with him over the last 2 years. 

{A day trip to SamanĂ¡; where we swam and ate way too much fish}
Our trip was very difficult, but at the same time we found so many reasons to smile and to laugh, as we remembered stories and all the funny things he would do and say to us.  I am lucky to not have lost someone this close to me until now, at the age of 26, because death is so so sad, and its so easy to let the grief overcome you.  This is why we are trying our best to be grateful for the time we had with him here on earth.  I am so happy that he was able to see all of his children get married this year, and that we Skyped just the day before he passed away - we were laughing as he was joking with me about my pictures on Instagram. :) 

{Our wedding; April 2013}
We arrived back in Santorini last night and I hate being so far away again.  But what gets me through each day is knowing of the miraculous strength of A's mom and sisters back home and knowing that one day we will be united again.  Death really puts life into perspective, and so as tacky and cliche as it may sound, I will say it anyway: 

your time here is short, make your life one worth living. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Santorini Diet

I love food.  Probably too much!  I love exploring cultures through their food and my diet is constantly changing, depending on what country I'm in.  While I was living in the Dominican Republic, although we ate out a lot (we hate cooking!), my diet was very much plant based at home, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  The produce was so cheap!

{This is my grandmother every day!!}
Here, my diet is definitely more "hearty", as my grandmother cooks nearly all of our lunches, which is the biggest meal of the day.  I have gained a couple of pounds since moving here, but I figure at least they were gained eating well!  #excuses.  I thought it would be fun to share with you what is typically eaten in a Greek home...

Morning Things 

1. Greek yogurt with honey
2. Bougatsa - traditional sweet breakfast pastry filled with cream; usually sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon

Mains & Sides

{from left to right}
1. Spinach pie
2. Greek salad - usually eaten every day
3. Grilled squid
4. Dolmades - vegetarian stuffed grape leaves filled with rice
5. Fish, boiled potatoes, and horta {and french bread is always on the table}
6. A seafood salad served on crunchy bread and lamb served over risotto at Anogi restaurant
7. Garbanzo soup
8. Green beans {always slathered with lots of EVOO and accompanied with feta}
9. Stuffed tomatoes, (round) zucchinis, and green peppers, served with potatoes - stuffed with meat and rice
10. Lentil soup with feta crumbles

Local Santorini Foods

1. Tomato balls - a fried tomato & herb batter, usually served as an appetizer or side dish
2. Caper leaves - Santorini produces excellent capers often served in salads
3. Eggplants from our garden {which A waters every day!} and fava - similar to yellow peas which turn into a soup when boiled
4. The famous cherry tomatoes - the volcanic soil makes these tomatoes so sweet.  The island uses them to make its best selling tomato paste; you'll never need to add sugar when using it in pasta sauces!

Snacks & Late Night

1. Souvlaki - chicken or pork gyros topped with onion, tomato, french fries, tzatziki sauce, and wrapped in warm, soft pita bread
2. Watermelon - I've seen 30 pounders here!
3. Figs - my favorite fruit out of Santorini
4. A very creamy cold frappe - Greece's take on iced coffee

What do you think?  Is it similar to the diet where you live?
Could you eat Greek food everyday?!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Expat Diaries: Adjusting in Santorini

My brother & I with our grandparents
When I was little, my parents used to ship me off here {Santorini} for the summer, lucky parents.  But back then I was too young to really acknowledge and appreciate the differences between Santorini world and my real life US suburbia world (or I was old enough and just have a really bad memory).

Friends & I, Summer 2010
Since then, I've visited the island nearly every year, but this is the first time that I'm here for an extended period of time.  Now that we've been here for a little over a month I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of the things that we're getting used to.. 

*Its acceptable to take a siesta every flippin' day.

Unrelated photo - Santorini view!
*Baklava tastes even better in the motherland. 

*Water is gold and you should probably turn off the water mid shower while you're soaping up!

*No matter how much you eat, your yiayia will ask if you want more.. 

*Its normal for your waiter to place the bill on your table the same moment they bring your drinks or meal.
Greek "frappe", often served with a scoop of ice cream inside!
*Living without internet on your phone 24/7 can take some time getting used to, especially if you're addicted to instagram (me) or feedly (him)

*Eventually it won't be instinct to throw toilet paper into the toilet {here everything goes in the garbage can!}.  When we leave here this fall, I think I might accidentally keep doing it! #gross

Our island transportation: ATV!
*Movie theaters have intermissions - which is great for re-stocking on popcorn, but horrible for mid-movie suspense moments and late nights.  

*Excellent wine can be purchased in plastic 1.5 liter bottles for only $3.50 at the supermarket!

*In many places you have to watch where you step; especially if the area smells of donkeys..

Have you experienced any of these same things in your expat countries?
What have been some of your most unusual adjustments?!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Akrotiri Sunset

Last night after lots of gardening and linen laundry around the hotel, we decided to take R2D2 {our ATV} for a ride to Akrotiri at the very end of the island and maybe catch the sunset.  I had never ventured so far out on that end before, and even though Santorini is only 28 square miles {73 square kilometers}, we felt faaar from civilization!  

We passed many small beaches that I had never seen before, and all along the cliffside road a traditional taverna serving fresh seafood would suddenly appear overlooking the caldera; I love how there are so many places to take advantage of the Santorini sunset. 

When we finally made it to the faros [lighthouse] at the very tip of the island, we realized we made perfect timing.  We were the last ones to arrive of the 10 or so that were there to see it.  Of the 10, there were a few couples cuddling together on the rocks, and solo travelers equipped with hiking shoes and tripods.  And then there were us, the last minute arrivers in flip flops, with iPhones.. ;)

I much prefer the sunset in Oia {its world famous for a reason!}, but if you want to enjoy the sunset without people around, then the sunset in Akrotiri is for you.  The area is so quiet and secluded that even with other people there, you feel as if you're the only one.