Thursday, July 1, 2010

Greece - purchases

I find I buy less than I used to, when traveling. There's still that nagging little voice that makes me feel like I have to find souvenirs for everyone I might see in the next 3 months (family, friends, coworkers). I'm getting really good at ignoring that voice. If someone requests a particular item, or if I happen to see something perfect for a particular person, I'll buy it. If not, I don't buy anything.

I considered indulging in shoes or jewelry for myself this time around, but ultimately ran out of time and energy. Instead, I picked up a few odds and ends that I truly love.

Behold the haul...

greek bounty
{greek bounty}

A bag of gigantes, from the grocery store. They're so hard to find at home and when I do find them, they're terribly overpriced. And no, just buying the largest lima beans you can find does not work. They don't taste the same, somehow. 1 euro.

Two bottles of liquor. One of them is pomegranate, purchased for summer cocktails. The other is clear and unidentifiable.* I was in a little store in Nafplio, waiting for my order of loukamades to finish frying when I saw the bottle on the shelf and asked the owner what it was. He and his daughter conferred, but couldn't figure out how to explain it. Instead, they poured out some shots - the fastest way to promote universal understanding, truly. It is stronger than ouzo** and it doesn't have the aniseed flavor. 20 euros total (for two smallish bottles + 1 order of loukamades + free shots + free samples of every gelato flavor in the store)

brass bowl
{brass bowl}

Antique brass peacock bowl, found at the Monastiraki Sunday flea market (always fabulous). 4 euros

tin figures
{tin figures}

Little pieces of hammered tin, also from the flea market, original use uncertain but we'll be hanging them on our Christmas tree. 10 euros total.

*I got curious while writing this and did some research. I think it might be tsipouro, a strong (45%) alcohol produced from the remnants of the wine making process. I'll have to examine the bottle more closely.

**I love ouzo but I don't bother purchasing it in Greece. It's fairly readily available at large liquor stores and I have never been able to distinguish between the various brands anyway, so I'm happy with whatever I find.


  1. I guess you are right with tsipouro. Every other older Greek I know produces it in his backyard or cellar or kitchen. My granddad loves it so much and we always bring home some bottles for him (we carry it in little water plastic bottles but fill it in ones out of glas when back in Germany).
    And by the way: I looooove Aegina! I wish I can go back there one day.

    Liked your Greece stories a lot, Sina

  2. your formula's perfect: ungettable local tasties + a few unexpected and evocative souvenirs. i still overshop, but i'm getting better. perhaps the little tin figures are the eastern orthodox version of milagros?

  3. I tend to buy just for me! Yikes. I always get an ornament from whatever country i visit.

  4. perfect, perfect souvenirs! well done ;-)

  5. perfect, perfect souvenirs... well done!

  6. love the tin and the brass...i'm apt to be drawn to old metal or glass whenever i'm looking. love that they shared the shots with you.

  7. Hammered. Tin.

    A perfect collection, says me.

  8. i love hearing about the things that people bring home from vacation. yours seem perfect: a little food, a little alcohol and a couple beautiful trinkets for your home.

  9. Love these! At first I thought the tin pieces might be signs for washrooms. They're just charming! This is a great collection of loot!

  10. I was in Chania & Almyrida on Crete last September & every restaurant served a complimentary shot of raki after each meal. Though wikipedia says it's anise flavored in Turkey, it is not in the Balkans. The raki I had while in Crete was definitely not anise flavored. That could be what you bought. :)

  11. the tin pieces are actually altar ornaments that people would buy in greek orthodox churches to place on the altar in the hopes that god will heal whatever ails them. like, if your foot hurts, you buy the foot. they will make gorgeous xmas ornaments!!!

  12. @ Lauren - they reminded us of milagros too, and it sounds like they're the greek equivalent! Interesting.

    @ Courtney - thanks! That makes sense. I guess the whole body ones are if you just need general prayers, maybe. We couldn't find anything except full figures, hands and feet, so it was a fairly edited selection.

  13. I don't cook with lima beans often so I never knew size didn't mean better flavor. I also love anything pomegranate, so that looks like something great to add in summer cocktails.

  14. Oh, how well I know the "I have to get souvenirs for everyone in the world" feeling. (Often, it's taking gifts from here to Brasil for relatives.)

    I love what you brought home! That peacock bowl is beautiful.

    You buying the gigantes to bring home is like me buying Havaianas in Brasil. Even though they're available all over the place in the States now, I refuse to pay $18+ for a pair.

  15. I love the little hammered tin pieces. They are so cute!

  16. Those items are lovely...I'm envious! xoxo

  17. Fabulous! I just love those tin figures. I think your idea of hanging them on the christmas tree is genius. Thanks for sharing your trip!

  18. You've made Greece look so wonerful, I certainly hope I get there one day.

  19. Hi there! My name is Eleni and I live in Greece. I just read your post and it was so nice!
    So, these silver little things that you will use as Christmas ornaments, where used aup until a few years ago by people who were very faithful, but had a health problem. If for example, someone had broken his leg, he would take to church a little silver picture like the one you purchased, and the picture would have a leg curved in it.
    Hope I was helpfull! Sorry for grammar or expression mistakes!


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