Tuesday, 7 August 2012

All in the Interests of Research-1

Of course, I consider it my duty to continually seek out that new place to visit, cozy bar or traditional taverna in order to help regular visitors to Rhodes to garner new ideas for ways to enhance their visit, or indeed to tempt Rhodo-virgins to book their tickets for that first ever visit to this wonderfully diverse and beguiling island. It's all a self-sacrificing mission to benefit my trusty readers you understand, Yeh? Right.

With the above in mind this past weekend we decided that it was time that we took a mini-sabbatical, so that we could make a "volta" (outing) or three - in your interests - of course! So, we've been out for a few meals, a few drinks, a few visits to places of interest and now I feel that I need to share some info and, of course, photographs, from these "research" expeditions with my friends out there in blog-land.

It's rather a lot for one post, so I'll be writing a few on the subject of this past few days, of which this is - of course - the first. (...my mind's instantly cast back to Monty Python's "Scott of the Sahara" sketch, in which the "reporter" asks the Director which scene they're shooting first, whereupon the Director shouts to someone off-camera: "Which scene are we shooting first, Jock?" After a brief delay during which Jock apparently has shouted his reply, the Director turns to the reporter and replies, "Scene one.")

I should say at the outset that any bar or taverna which is reported on in any of my posts is not and never has been part of a "contra deal" as it were. You know, "Tell you what Yianni, you tell your readers about us and we'll see you alright for drinks, food, and whatever for some considerable while yet." No folks, I often don't even tell the proprietors about the blog and, if I do, I often wait until we've paid the bill and are ready to leave. That way I'm not in danger of being "nobbled" and can provide you with my exact impressions of both the establishment and its owner, manager and staff. If I speak positively of any establishment it's definitely because I feel that the reader would enjoy their visit as much as I did. 

So, to the first place which I really want to tell you about. The Tramonto Bar. I'd seen this cafe bar a couple of times and on each occasion "wowed" at the location as I'd passed by, usually in a coach as we were on our way to collect some guests from way down in Stegna Bay on some excursion or other. I knew that it hadn't been open for long and so, after a trek up to Tzambika Monastery (First few photos below) I decided to take my lovely wife to this bar for a toasted sandwich and a drink at midday on Sunday. But first...

TZAMBIKA MOANSTERY
The reason you ought to go up here is quite simple, it's extremely high and affords breathtaking views along the East coast of the island. We've been living here for seven years and up until this past few days had still not made the climb. You drive up a lane which begins when you turn on to it from the main road between Arhangelos and Kolymbia, where you see the sign advertising the taverna with the panoramic view. The road looks pretty civilised for the first couple of hundred yards, as it was recently widened and re-surfaced. Pretty soon, though, it becomes a bumpy concrete affair, but it's nevertheless not too difficult to negotiate. Eventually it empties out into a sloping car park, where the taverna is to your left and the stone path and steps up to the top are a little further above you, at the extreme end of the tree-sprinkled parking area. The steps are not small, like a stairway, often they are several meters apart. Follow them onward and upward, as they twist and turn and occasionally hairpin up through the pines, which afford you helpful shade as it can be blisteringly hot on an August day. Every ten steps they are rather helpfully marked with the number you've covered, so you don't need to count them to be sure that, by the time you reach the tiny monastery at the top, you've climbed the grand total of 300 of 'em.

Occasionally during the climb you're afforded a glimpse of the view as it unfolds and becomes more expansive with every meter you ascend. Is it worth the effort? You decide...

Not a bad view of Tzambika Beach from up here, eh?

...or Kolymbia for that matter!


That next bay along is Stegna

This new wall which has been constructed will look nice once they've painted it white



THE TRAMONTO BAR
After we'd gasped and gaped for a while, we repaired to the car and began the descent down to the main road. I hadn't told Yvonne-Maria that I'd seen the new Tramonto Bar, so I was rather hoping that she'd approve and be as gobsmacked as I was at its location, which, although it isn't as high as Tzambika Monastery, is nevertheless impressive enough as it affords a view over the entire bay of Stegna. To reach the bar by the easiest route, take the Stegna lane from the main Rodo-Lindos Road on the hill just above the Arhangelos Health Centre. Follow that lane as it winds left and right a little through olive groves and, once it begins to descend in earnest you'll come across the bar on your left hand side...


We parked on the other side of the road and walked in. I watched carefully for my wife's reaction, in the hope that it would be one of approval and I was rewarded by a "Wow!! How did you know that this was here?" I told her I'd passed it once or twice on my excursions and we soon chose a table and sat down to take in the superb vista below, which includes the entire Bay of Stegna. The proprietor approached and we instantly took a liking to him. He's a smiley man who is ready to befriend his clientele [believe me, incredible as it may sound, some aren't!] and, since the place was fairly quiet, we decided to engage him in conversation to find out a little more about how he came to open the Tramonto. His name's Stefanos and here he is with his wife Anthoula...


It seems that they've sunk their entire destiny into the place and, apart from the stone perimeter wall, have done most of the construction work themselves, a fact which impressed us hugely. Stefanos rather proudly invited us to inspect the toilets, so we did and were further impressed by their style and fittings. They still have some finishing touches to do, but frankly, a nicer bar in a more spectacular location would be hard to imagine.

We talked for a while and he told us that he'd only opened it in 2010 and prior to that it had been a barren patch of hillside with just a couple of trees on it, one of which we were sat under and he told us that he'd planted this one with his father when he was a lad. He's a native of Arhangelos and both parents are now in poor health. His dad's had a by-pass operation (as had mine so I could well ID with his experience) and his mum is poorly too. Their pensions had of course been recently reduced as part of the nation's austerity measures and so they now depend largely on their son, his wife and their business for survival.

There wasn't, though, a hint of self-pity in his manner as he talked with us and we ordered a "portokalatha [orange-ade]" for me and a frappé for my better half. To go with those we asked for toasted cheese, tomato and onion sandwiches, which arrived (accompanied by some oregano-flavoured crisps) soon after the drinks and were devoured summarily. We were, after all, famished after the trek up to Tzambika! I like the Tramonto so much that I decided to take a short video of the place, the filming of which was only truncated by the arrival of our toasties...

video

We were intrigued by the name - "Tramonto" and so asked Stefano how he'd made the decision to name the bar so. He replied that he and Anthoula had discussed all the usual names for a bar in this kind of location, but kept coming back to something like "Panorama" or "Panoramic" and felt that this would have been too obvious and unimaginative. So they eventually plunked for the Italian for "sunset". We expressed our approval at their choice. There could hardly be a better place from which to enjoy a sunset, something which we fully intend to do from here before long. 

By the time we'd become ready to leave we'd decided (as inferred above) that it would be the perfect place to come back to for an evening drink with friends, so that we could sip, talk and admire the fabulous view of Stegna's twinkling lights far below as the day slipped into darkness. The bill for our snack and drinks was surprisingly low, a fact which further strengthened our resolve to make a return visit in the near future!!

More discoveries made during our fact-finding sabbatical to follow imminently!

12 comments:

  1. What a fabulous looking position. We will definitely be paying it a visit or two when we are next 'in town'. I had noticed that the road to the monastery had been tarmacced (spelling?) last year or maybe the one before. I was quite disappointed as I liked the rather scary uneven concrete, thought it added character, and was foolish enough to think that the new surface went all the way to the end. Silly really, that wouldn't have been very Greek at all! Eagerly awaiting the next report on a possible new eatery.
    Vicki

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  2. A very evocative post John. The video is the icing on the cake and highlights the mood perfectly. I seem to remember years ago if you had been "conceived" up on that mountain you were given a certain name. Many years ago in Lindos, one shady looking character who shall we say liked a drink but actually was a decent guy once you got to know him was known by this name but I can't for the life of me think what it was. Late in the evening you could hear his mothers voice from somewhere high up in the village calling him away from the bar for his tea. Probably something obvious like Sambiko I think. Nice personal touch with the bar owners too, I really hope they get the support they deserve. I have always had great admiration for people who go out on a limb like that. Fantastic pictures as ever just to finish off. I have spent the morning moving wood under cover ready for winter so your blog was a real tonic, well done and thanks!

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    1. Andy, spot on with all but the conception bit!! The name is Tsambikos for a boy and Tsambika for a girl.

      Dave.

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  3. Cheers Dave, it was a long time ago, before mobile phones and computers if you can believe that! His mum, who was not page 3 material it must be said, but reputed to be a fabulous cook, must have been calling out Tsambikos then.

    "Tsambikooooos............"

    Whatever, he always moved very quickly, however much he had drunk. It bought back some very happy memories, what is it about Lindos?

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  4. And I don't think the conception was supposed to take place up the mountain! One was supposed to climb up to the monastery for 'blessing' if one was wishing to conceive! Oh maybe you were right Andy...................
    Vicki

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    1. Vicki, for info, our son has the name Tsambikos on his birth certificate and it is the name routinely used when visiting Rhodes. Long story short; definitely not conceived at the top but soon after visiting the top for the first time and lighting a candle on recommendation from friends (Stavros and Soula mentioned in John's earlier blog) - lots of dificulties in 6 or 7 years trying prior to this including miscarriages, ectopic, loss of one tube, fertility treatment, etc. all to no avail.

      We're not particularly religious and normally laugh off such "myths" but who knows - out of respect and in keeping with the tradition we chose to include the name which Josh (now 7) is very proud of.

      Andy, some people tend to say Tsambikos ('s' pronounced) whereas others say Tsambiko ('s' silent) - not sure why - maybe John can elaborate?

      Dave.

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    2. Yea Dave, it's all to do with the "cases". Greek words (nouns especially) have "cases", for example, if Tsambikos is the subject of the verb, then you use the "s" at the end. For a really simple explanation of this, check out the link on the "News & Stuff" page, which I'm about to put there now, under the heading "A case of confusion?"

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  5. Checked out the link, John, and after an initial near panic attack when I saw the Greek alphabet, it all makes sense (ish).
    Vicki

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  6. Apologies John, I feel like I have hijacked your post, not my intention, it just bought old memories flooding back.

    A great story in itself Dave and I hope you do not think I was being disrespectful as that was not my intention.

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    1. No sweat Andy, you can use my blog to have a chat with Dave any time!! Must catch up with the Prunings too, been remiss of late. (If anyone else reading this doesn't understand that last comment, check out my LINKS page, under "Other Blogs", last entry there.)

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    2. John, thanks for the "cases" explanation and extended use of your blog!!

      Andy, absolutely no disrespect picked up - I found the comments amusing and just wanted to give a bit more linkage from the name back to John's original post. I believe the names are peculiar to Rhodes - I once read a description that said if you walk down any busy street in Rhodes Town and shout Tsambikos or Tsambika, a dozen people will turn around. Not sure it is quite that common but there are certainly plenty around.

      Cheers,

      Dave.

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  7. And it would be nice to think they were all conceived after a trip up to the monastery.
    How wonderful that you became parents after such a long wait,Dave.I have no doubt that it played a part, even tho' I am not religious in any way. It's no surprise that you feel such an affinity to the island, and your son can truly call it a home from home!
    Vicki

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