Falling in love with Zante and Greece
My love affair with Greece and its food started three years ago when I went on a tour of Europe with two of my closest friends. Admittedly it was a bit of a whirlwind trip with not more than two days spent in any one place, but being able to experience so many different countries and cultures within a short space of time was a real treat. After being on the road for 14 days and after a rather disappointing stay in Rome, where my wallet and camera were stolen, I found myself becoming rather disillusioned and was ready to throw in the towel and head back home, but then a few days later we arrived in Greece and it all changed.
Starting off in Athens is where our journey into this fascinating land began. We spent the day visiting museums and archaeological sites, and the evening drinking in the culture of the romantic seaside town of Nauplio. When it came to dining we were spoilt for choice. A generous buffet of traditional Greek fair including melitzanosalata, taramasalata and my new favourite loukoumades – which are basically fritters served with local honey.
The following day we headed off to Zakynthos, otherwise known as Zante, where I fell madly in love with its cuisine. In a nutshell, dining in Zante is an adventure and is nothing short of exceptional. If you enjoy organic, home grown ingredients then then you’ll feel like you’re in paradise. Everything is fresh and restaurants take great pride in the meals which they serve. Meal after meal proved to be a feast for the senses and I would find myself excitedly anticipating the next meal. I was so taken aback with this magical island that I even found myself Googling flights to Zante, already planning a return trip later that year!
Before heading home we stopped at the Isle of Cephalonia, the biggest of all the islands in the Ionian Seas. We stopped at the capital (Argostoli) which was more modern than we expected, but still had a Grecian charm. We started at the Folklore and History Museum that showcased weapons, clothing and objects from everyday life over the centuries. Valianos Square has some exquisite cafés, where we spent the rest of the afternoon, mulling around the stalls and enjoying some desserts before our journey took us back home.
When I did return, not six months later as I had hoped to, but in fact 18 months later I had a far better idea of where I wanted to dine and could easily pick and choose. I also found myself becoming more adventurous so I tried dishes that I would never have thought of ordering in the past. I met new people, befriended street vendors, explored all the nooks and crannies of the island I could find, and even took a few drawing classes.
I realised that traveling was about stepping out of your comfort zone and not only experiencing new places, cultures and food, but also about discovering sides of yourself that you never knew about before.