Monday, January 31, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. The Milia Experience..

Have you ever thought about going up into the mountains just to get away from it all? There are places that will fill the bill and Milia is one of those places. May I suggest you check out their web site, of course after you read what I have to say about it.

Becca & Abby on top of the World
It's our last night on Crete, and we leave our glorious Villa's with good thoughts. We have one more time the flavor of local yogurt, fresh thyme honey, and fresh orange juice. We pack for our final destination on Crete, Milia, but before we get there we stop in Kampos for a light lunch with Amelia. Prior to lunch however, we climb to the top of local peak to take in the views, and what a beautiful day we have.

Amelia and Becca.
Amelia was quite the lady, and not a word of English did she know. Our stay there was for about 1 1/2 hours, she would bring fresh bread, tomatoes, cheese, olives, cucumbers, some meat(which she said was pork, but I'm thinking it was goat) and of course Raki. Again this Raki was produced right out her back door, it's the left overs from the wine making, distilled. Becca through what Greek she knew and good sign language communicated very well. Upon departure, we bought our 2 jugs of Raki and some sea salt from her. She gets the sea salt locally and all you need is just a pinch to flavor your food.

Narrow roads & switch backs.
Left Door Becca & Jesper's room,
Right Door Abby & John's room.
Off to Milia now, narrow roads, switch backs takes us to the eventual gravel road taking us "up" to Milia. Upon arrival the first thing you think is where's Milia? From the parking lot, it's about 1/8 of mile walk to the settlement. So we all grab a bag and start our hike. There are 13 units for lodging in Milia, and the central lodge which is used for meals, meetings, and buying product that they produce locally. Preserves, wine, soaps, olives, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, etc. This soap is made out of olive oil, and it comes in various scents.

Getting away from it all is exactly what you're getting in Milia. The rooms have limited lights, and a fire place for heat. They do have modern bathrooms and running water.

Supper that night was excellant! A variety of horderves were offered, I had sausage, Jesper had lentil soap, Becca had a cabbage salad and Abby had a Greek salad. For supper Jesper went with the vegetarian dish and the rest of us had the goat prepared with garlic and fennel. Now, before you get squemish about the goat, we will all swear that it was very good! I would order it again! Of course, we had wine and beer and of course Raki.

Milia from across the valley.
Mornings breakfast came with our rooms. Tea, coffee, fresh yogurt & juice, honey, russian tea biscuit, other pastries, fresh orange marmalade.

The photo on the left is Milia from across the valley. The main lodge is on the left with the guest rooms on the right.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Olive Oil Tuesday.

Olive Orchards doting the
Tuesday at home is Taco Tuesday, for us on Crete it was Olive Oil Tuesday. Olive oil is probably the biggest industry on Crete. Driving around the Island you'll see Olive orchards doting the hill sides. It's really an amazing sight. So, Becca & Jesper through the villa's owner set up a day of following the olive from the tree to becoming oil.

Abby harvesting the Olives.
We started this day walking from the villa's up into an Orchard meeting a local farmer. He and one Albanian laborer was harvesting his olives. The season for olive harvesting runs from mid-November through February.

The actual process starts with the farmer putting nets on the ground so that they may gather the olives once they're knocked off of the tree. The picture on the left shows Abby actually using the equipment to knock the olives from the tree.
Olives in the netting, the
local farmer separates the
leaves from the olives.

Abby bagging the Olives.

On the right, the local farmer rolls the olives to the middle of the nets, then rakes the broken twigs and leaves out of the pile. Then they load the burlap bags, just like Abby is doing on the left. They fill the bags up, probably having close to 50 to 70 lbs. Then they load them onto transportation and it's off to the mill.

Bags full of Olives.
The mills they told us are running 24/7 to process the oil. Like the wheat farmers here, they to will get docked for various things, like to much acid in the oil. The laborers at the mill are usually Albanian's, they come over to work the Olive season and can make enough money in the season for their families to live 12 months.
Processing Mill.
Oil extracting tanks.

Fresh Olive Oil.
The beginning olives get washed on the machine to the right, then continue onto the machine on the lower left, which extracts the oil out of the olives. This machine churns the pulp for around 30 minutes before it is sent through 2 more high speed separators and that is when it becomes oil.

This was really an enjoyable adventure we had this Tuesday.

Pressed olives in the extractor. 
Swimming in the Med!
Afterwards it was off to more great Greek food, lamb chops, and I had sardines. The sardines were pan fried in oil and was very good. Side dishes included Greek salad, always good, a white wine, and of course Raki. After supper we drove over to the beach and some of them just had to get in the cold sea. I had to stay out to take the photo!

The sunset was also the most beautiful one on our trip. We took this photo at the ruins of Falasarna, which is believed to be the site of an ancient city built on the sea, but then a earth quake occurred and the city was raised up and away from the sea.

Sunset at Falasarna.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Monday & Tuesday

Waves on the beach.
Crashing Seas!
The plans for the next two days depended on what the weather was going to do. We awoke to a overcast, windy Monday, so the plan was to head South to Paleohora. Prior to our rode trip we ate our usual breakfast, fresh juice, fresh yogurt, thyme honey, and fresh eggs. Oh yes, Abby had her fresh mint tea. After breakfast, some loose ends were worked on by Becca and Jesper, Abby and I took our usual walk down to the beach and took some photos of the wave action.

After our walk Becca and Jesper were ready to take off. Now the roads on Crete are interesting to say the least. If you don't like roads without center lines, with the occasional goat or sheep in your lane, with lots of switch backs, and drop offs without guardrails, well then you won't like the roads on Crete. Luckily, we were not in Crete during the tourism season, so the traffic was light.

Usual streets through the small villages.
Villages on Crete.
As we proceeded through the hills and valley's of Crete small villages like the one pictured here spot the hill sides. Many times these villages would have more than one cafe to stop in and eat. The buildings appear to have addition after addition added on them. At times it almost seemed like they would put on an addition on and abandon the old rooms. The architecture was extremely interesting to say the least.

Additions upon additions....

Abby and Becca on the beach.
Upon arrival in Paleohora we went directly to the beach. Wow, what a nice beach and with the wind out of the North, the waters were smooth, but still very chilly.


After the ride to Paleohora, we were all hungary so we walked to the business district to look for a place to eat. Pictured to the right was just what we were looking for and they had Gyro's. Now what is better than eating a Greek Gyro in Crete? Abby had the Gyro, I had a Gyro like sandwich but mine had sausage, which I found out later was veil and beef, very tasty it was. Of course, there was beer to be drank and after the meal the usual Raki. Only one employee in the shop and we requested that he have a shot of the Raki and he obliged. Our trip home brought us spectacular slights and great expectations of going to the Olive orchards tomorrow.
Rainbows over Crete.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days, Lunch in Afrata

Rabbit Stew
Cafe Kali Kardia
Sunday was a road trip to Afrata, Jesper and Becca befriended a family that ran a restaurant, and the only English speaking family member was the 15 year old son. The location is on the East coast of a peninsula of Kolpos Hania Bay. One thing about the small communities on Crete, it is not unusual to find 3 to 4 restaurants. The reason is that family's patronize these family spots. Today we had rabbit stew(taste just like chicken) and lamb chops. Momma made the stew in the kitchen, Papa made the chops in the wood stove outside on the deck. Uncle was passing the break around, but first toasting it at the fire place in the corner. Also Uncle was making sure we had the traditional drink with our meals, wine.
Toasting Homemade Wine.
Dry Docks.

As you might imagine, Crete being were it is, has a lot of boats, and me being partial to sail boats had to take a picture of these in dry dock. Doesn't that old big one on the right look like a good fixer upper? I think I could move right in.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Day 3.

Egg and Produce Lady
Horderves at the Villa
Sea Side of Sfinari Villa
This writing is actually the conclusion of Day 2 and the beginning of Day 3. Unfinished business, this is what our Villa looked like from the sea side of the proporty. This was a 3 bedroom Villa, 2 bedrooms on the main floor and the master suite on the 2nd level, winding steps made of concrete, lighted every other step took us upstairs, no handrails at all, I think their codes are different than ours. Also a light plate of horderves were set out for us by our guides, all of this food is produced locally, except for the beer. There is a language barrier, however Becca does a fairly good job in communication, with bits and pieces of the Greek language and also the international sign language. Lastly, our neighbor down the street, I'll call her the Egg & Produce Lady, provided us daily some of our breakfast needs. Eggs broke open and exposed a very rich yellow, fresh oranges & lemons were easily transformed into juice. These items were purchased in the morning from this lady. She told us she was alone, and had kin. Another main staple every morning was fresh Greek yogurt, which if ate by itself would be very sour. Our sweetener, local thyme honey! This honey, is a very rich, dark honey. It really took the sour out of the yogurt. If you'd like to try some, stop over sometime, we did bring some back with us. One last thing, the Villa had fresh herbs planted around it, mint, rosemary, thyme, and other. Abby enjoyed mint tea with her breakfast.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days. Day 2 continued.

Once the luggage got carried in and placed into our bedroom, horderves were served along with homemade wine made by the owner of the villa, this was a reddish/brown in color wine and it was very good! After this we walked to the village, only about 1/2 mile to one of the local restaurants and along with what is pictured here we also had some lamb chops. The food was very good and those of us who wanted wine got it, those who wanted beer got that. Now for the fun part of Greek tradition, Raki! Raki is a post meal drink, that I would compare to our moonshine. The way I understand it, they use what is left over from the wine making process and then distill this into the Raki. When offered this it is a insult to refuse. So there was about 10 other patrons in there that night, and the bottle that they served us was big enough to share with the other patrons,  so, we took it around and toasted all of them. They were real receptive and appreciated our effort to observe their tradition. We got real good at this tradition as the week went forward. Upon completion of the nights festival, we made our way to our villa for a well needed rest.........
Tradition Greek Salad
Saturday Night's Restaurant

Saturday Night Fish

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Europe in 10 1/2 Days.

January 14, 2011

The next series of post will do with our recent trip to Europe via a trip we scheduled with,  which is a tour company run by our daughter Becca and Jesper her special friend. I know that there will be bias on my part but I will try to keep that at a minimum.

It was nice to start our trip right from the Watertown, SD airport, it's less than 2 miles from our home. The flight took off slightly after 6 am, which would be a start of a long day(actually we didn't get off the plane in Crete until the next day).  The flight went from Watertown to Minneapolis to JFK to Athens to Crete. Our landing time was around 2 pm local time, so that makes it a total of 32 hours since the departure. Not an easy trip.  The photo below is Abby in JFK.

Becca and Jesper were at the airport with the rental, we loaded it up and headed to the rental villa on the west end of Crete, in Sfinari. This took us about 1 hour to get there. The villa was just beautiful, and was ocean view.

More to follow in the following days.

Greece with snow capped mountains.
Jesper, Abby, Becca & John

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Starch Diabetes?

Glycemic-Load? "The Low-Starch Diabetes Solution" by Rob Thompson, MD. This is a must read for Type II Diabetics. I bought this book last Thursday as I was looking for a solution for my diabetes. Now, I've known all along that just plain losing weight would help. As I age, that becomes harder.

This last summer I was in an intense battle with highs and lows. I just couldn't figure out why. I'm active. I try to eat correct, or at least I thought I was. It just wasn't working. My glucose was like a yo-yo. My doctors, kept increasing my medications. At moments, that seemed to address my problem worse. One time I increased my insulin and my glucose went up for about 3 days straight. It was depressing. What should I do?

Back to the weight loss thing. What can I do to beat this? Well I decided to lower and maybe eliminate the whites in my diet, ie starches. Now before Dr. Thompson's book, I personally did not link this to starch. About 4 weeks ago my glucose was doing pretty good. Then came Taco John's lunch. 1 flour tortilla and up goes the glucose. This is starting to click some for me, but I need more information.

Next I stop at Barnes and Nobles, the selection process starts, man there's a lot of books to look at. What am I looking for? Back to the term Glycemic. I'm looking for information on Low Glycemic values in food. Finally, I pull this book by Dr. Thompson off of the shelve, leaf through it, notice some charts on low glycemic values. I'll get this one I thought and man am I glad I did.

Finally a book by a medical professional that I can understand! We're addicted to starch! Page 94 the Doctor states, "Starch provides no known benefit to humans other than supplying calories. In the amounts typical of the diets of modern humans, starch causes or aggravates several serious and frustrating medical conditions, and reducing starch prevents, improves, or cures those conditions."

Four days into eliminating starch and my glucose is doing lots better, with a average of 112.  More to follow after I complete my read.................