travel stories: May 2008 Archives

We ate all the pies

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For most British tourists, Greece is essentially a succession of islands and beaches.  For us, it was mostly a succession of pies.  We'd had börek in Turkey, heard talk of burek in Bulgaria; but it was in Greece that the bourek really came into its own.

Smsausagecheesepies0001.jpg For one thing, we generally avoided the islands (making an exception for Crete), and spent most of our time on the mainland, where most of the food (and wine) is - and discovering quite a different Greece from the one we'd seen before.  But for another, we quickly found that Greeks don't really go for big breakfasts.  After our twenty-three-jam feasts in Turkey, this left us with big breakfast-shaped holes, for which there was only one solution: pies.

OK, and cheese.  And spinach.  And quite a lot of weeds.  But if you try hard enough, you can get all those into pies too.  And we did ...

Turkey II: Syria (nearly) to Greece

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Smmountainpass0001.JPGAfter our epic journey to Erzurum, we had a very long day's drive ahead of us to get to Mardin and the south-east.  Partly because it's quite a long way; partly because we took quite a roundabout route.  But also because as well as getting stopped by the police as usual, we started getting stopped by the army.  This is PKK country: villages have military watchtowers, and roads have frequent checkpoints.  (Perhaps a bit like Northern Ireland in the 1970s, but with more kebabs.) There's a fair amount of traffic, though, so you'd have thought they'd have seen someone like Anna driving a Land Rover before, but apparently not: once the first soldier saw who was at the wheel, he immediately called the rest of the squad over for a laugh.

But it was definitely worth the drive.  Not only was the south-east probably the highlight of the trip (although it's a close call), we went on from that to see the centre and the coast in ways that most tourists don't get to do - mostly because of the people we met.

So read on for stories of underground ovens, underwater cities, pizzas as long as Anna is tall, and ice cream you eat with a knife and fork.

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