Larisa

Greece, June 2010

Larisa doesn’t feature much in tourist guides but the area the Hotel Divani is located in is a very pleasant part of town with lots of bars and restaurants nearby and a marble lined amphitheatre right next door. Internet is available in the rooms but you have to pay €5 for 24 hours usage. There is the odd mosquito around so bring your spray.

The parallel street to the hotel (left out the door, first right) has a lot of bars and one really good restaurant:

Magirio tis Yiayias aka Grandmas Cookhouse (Intermediate A-), 9 Apollonos St, Tel. 24105 33351. GEM ALERT!

I ate here three times because the food was so good. The menu says that a lot of the ingredients come from their own farm. They have an extensive and amusing menu with lots of bizarrely named dishes such as ‘Turkish Woman’s Bottom’ (veal) and ‘Cock’ (a large sausage). Instead of trying to work out what I wanted I found it best to ask for the chef’s recommendations. Good starters were the grilled peppers (green, long and very spicy) and grilled Cyprian jhaloumi cheese (both A). Two good mains I had were the oven baked meatballs in a tomato and onion sauce with vegetable rice and chips, and chicken in a tomato and mushroom sauce with chips, both delicious if slightly over salted (A-). For lunch they have huge salads for around €7. I particularly liked their Shepherds salad, with lettuce, croutons, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and a topping of feta-like cheese in its whey. The house white is really good too (B+). You usually get a complimentary caramel pudding with crystallised oranges which was nice but a bit too sweet for me, rather like eating very chunky marmalade (B). Nice rustic ambience (painted wooden spoons and antiques) with friendly waiting staff. Its cheap too, my evening meals cost around €27 euro all in, and the portions are huge. Lunch wasn’t so peaceful due to a bloke playing an inflated animal skin (a pig perhaps?), which sounded rather like bagpipes, to a long table of clapping and singing celebrants. Interesting but I won’t be rushing out to buy the CD.

If you turn right out of the hotel, right again then left after the amphitheatre you will be get to Filellinon, a pedestrian street with lots of bars and restaurants, The Red Button halfway up on the right seems to be the most popular bar, playing rock classics in a nice woody atmosphere. A good Cuba Libre cost €8 here. If you turn left off the street you will come to the fort which has cafes in the daytime and the adjacent car park/square seems to be where all the grungy kids hang out in the evenings. This area is probably the best place for a run as it’s all pedestrianised.

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