Finding Lunch in Piraeus: It’s all Greek to Me

As I mentioned in my blog post about Athens yesterday, the views from the Acropolis over the hills of the city are stunning, and leave you speculating how the ancient people looked up at the Parthenon and other structures atop this hill, and viewed them in wonder. Athens certainly doesn’t have the breathtaking blue-and-white vistas that Santorini is famous for, but I loved the white and pastel rooftops spreading out across the landscape and wrapping around the hills.

At port in Piraues

Piraeus, on the other hand, is a port city.  The city has an ancient history, dating back to classical Greek times, when it was the main port for Athens. Even now, it is one of the busiest ports in the world, and is important for commercial shipping. Since Piraeus was not our destination, and we did not have an overnight stay here, we did not get to see any of the archaeological or architectural sites (again, a big downside of cruise travel). It is known for tavernas and nightlife, as well. (The Wiki page linked has a nice overview of its history and importance.)

After our short trip to the Parthenon, and not wishing to be caught too far from the ship in the midst of a transportation strike, four of us decided to find a local place to have a late lunch, and started walking uphill from the dock. Our criteria was pretty simple: a local restaurant and not pizza. The area immediately around the docks is a working-class neighborhood, and the street we chose was lined with hardware stores and the like.

Noël braving the traffic at the restaurant

We found this little place. From the reactions of the staff, we realized they don’t get a lot of tourists. No one spoke English, but fortunately the menu had English translations, of a type (Greeklish?) Most of the food we encountered on our trip centered around pita, chicken, and tomatoes, and this was no different. A shwarma by any other name…

After ordering, I noticed that the back page of the menu had additional explanations:

Seriously? I prefer my kokoretsi with FRESH intestines, thank you very much!

Noël and Chris each ordered a dish that should have been translated “enough to feed all those striking Greek taxi cab drivers for the next month or so.”

This was for one person.

The owner couldn’t have been nicer. In addition to our order of meze (we had feta cheese in olive oil), he brought us appetizers to sample, such as  gigandes plaki. We were also treated to a dessert, a yellow cake soaked in honey. Afterwards, we enjoyed a refreshing glass of ouzo.  This simple meal, eaten among locals while people-watching, was a memorable part of our day. (Thank you, Chris!) Sometimes, the simple things bring the memories. Traveling is not about the things you acquire, it’s about the experiences.

It was pretty hot outside, so this licorice-y cold drink was refreshing to this tired girl! Photo by Noël Dilks

Categories: Food, Friends, Skeptic, Travel

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