The Wedding Watchers
In 2016, my family and I travelled to Greece. We had not been to Greece for a few years and so we were all very excited about staying at our favourite hotel in Athens, Fresh Hotel; visiting our favourite restaurants, Diporto in Athens, Restaurant Meteora in Kalambaka, Gardenia in Kastraki and O Platanos in Mykani; and enjoying our favourite past time, walking and exploring the Meteora. Our trip that year also included a twelve-day tour of the Peloponnese, taking in the glory of Ancient Olympia, the landscapes and beaches of Kalamata and surrounds, the ruins and ramparts of Mystras, magical Monemvasia, Neapoli and the awesome Kastania Caves and Nafplio with its Venetian vibe and its thriving artisan community. The Peloponnese was truly beautiful, with its villages perched on the sides of mountains, surrounded by endless olive groves and accented with cypress trees. It reminded me of Tuscany, but with complimentary views out to the endless, azure sea. Our eyes could not tire of the natural harmony of green and blue hues that surrounded us.
We enjoyed all of our Peloponnese travel destinations immensely, but one destination that truly stirred the heartstrings was Monemvasia. Although we arrived somewhat travel-weary to Monemvasia, our spirits were instantly elevated when we entered the fortressed walls of this magical town. Ersi from, ‘To Spiti Sto Kastro’ greeted us at the entrance with a porter and guided us to our accommodation. Our walk took us along the well-worn cobble-stone pathways, lined by bars, restaurants and funky little ‘souvenir’ shops in charming stone buildings in rose, tan and sandy hues. In the centre of town was the platia – town square – with a beautiful, whitewashed church bordering to the south. Our accommodation was just a short walk beyond this church.
After a refreshing rest at our charming accommodation, we all headed out for a leisurely stroll and dinner. As we approached the town square, we could see a number of stylishly dressed people gathering and greeting a handsome young man who was holding a floral bouquet.
Immediately, I called out to Eugene, Kim (our friend) and the children, ‘There’s going to be a wedding. Let’s find a spot to sit and watch.’ In Greece, it’s customary for the groom and the invited guests to wait outside the church for the bride to arrive. It seems such a lovely tradition. The groom is kept company by family and friends, likely distracting him and relieving him of any nerves he may be feeling. The atmosphere is warm and buoyant. The love and affections of the couple’s family and friends, that have gathered to witness the couples nuptials, enhances this festive energy.
It’s always fun and even enlightening to people-watch when on holiday, imagining the meaning and the madness in their day-to-day lives, but people-watching shifts to a whole other level when wedding-watching! We parked ourselves on a balcony at Kanoni restaurant, directly overlooking the platia and enjoyed the ensuing spectacle.
The beautiful bride, resplendent in her glorious lace gown that looked both contemporary and traditional at the same time, arrived soon after, accompanied by her immediate family and serenaded by two fiddlers. The bride shared a sweet kiss with her groom and he presented her with a simple bouquet. Arm-in-arm, they entered the byzantine church of the platia and were then followed by the animated guests.
After a short while, the bride and groom emerged from the church glowing in their newly wedded aura, and were then dutifully showered with rice by the guests. The newlyweds took photographs with family and friends as the sunlight began to fade and soon enough, they strolled happily towards the evening celebrations and into their new life as a married couple.
As we enjoyed this joyous spectacle from the raised balcony of Kanoni restaurant, we ordered a number of dishes from the menu including baked feta wrapped in fillo, drizzled with honey and finished with sesame seeds and oregano. It was a delicious start to a very lovely meal. The warm feta oozed from its crispy, golden fillo pastry wrapping. The salt of the feta was balanced by the sweetness of the aromatic honey and all the flavours were enhanced by the generous seasoning of oregano and toasted sesame seeds. We savoured this gastronomic delight enthusiastically!
I asked our waiter if he would share the recipe with us and he generously obliged. It is a simple starter, requiring very little preparation, but you will be greatly rewarded by the sensation of flavours and textures that you will savour!