It happens every time. I get sucked in with the exact same sentence. I mean, I am not a hiker. I think I am, but I’m not. It is just not very fun when it comes down to it, but somehow it always happens where I get roped into it, thinking this time it will be easier or something. I mean, yeah, it’s pretty and all, but can’t I just drive or in our case scoot? Anyway, the woman at the information office told us about this awesome restaurant up on the hill that you can walk to. Sure, you can drive there, but the hike is pretty easy, I mean small children do it. It’s for families. There. That’s it, I should know better. The thing is that in other cultures, “small children” really translates to triathletes or something. I don’t know.
Today, after a great ride into the hills and back, Mike and I set off on the leisurely hike designed for young families. We went up, past the church on the hill, up past the roads and olive trees and more roads and more stones, past the point where I stopped out of breath, and past the point where I sat down to wonder if it was worth it and past the point where I started whining, and past the point where I thought it would be very appropriate to start crying. Past the barking dog and the hissing geese and finally to the destination, the restaurant “on the hill past the castle” (the castle is in the town that we are staying in by the way, which makes this description very deceiving). When we got there, they asked if we had reservations, which of course we didn’t, which was ok except that we had to sit on the veranda. Now for two extremely hot and tired people, this sounded like a dream, until the heat wore off and we were sitting on the veranda with no heat for 2 hours.
The thing is, even with all of these factors, the meal we had today was probably in my top five meals of all time. The whole thing, food, experience, atmosphere, price, all of it, top five! In fact, all the hard parts made the final outcome even better. As I had resigned myself to the fact that I was miserable and that we were in all likelihood hiking to a cafeteria at a lookout by the side of the road, I opened myself up to be surprised. And, by the time we got to the top, we had loosened up to the idea that it wasn’t going to be as economical as the woman had said, but since we had just hiked 45 minutes on loose rocks and makeshift stairs, we weren’t going to argue over the price at all. When we sat down, they didn’t even bring us a menu, just asked if we wanted white or red wine and what kind of water we wanted. Mike tried to be practical and asked for a carafe of water, but when a bottle came, we just sat back and let it come. We never once ordered any of it, they just kept bringing more and more things out. Mike told me after the second dish that he thought we were done after the appetizers (an array of pizza, stuffed cabbage rolls, fish pecoras, pancakes, peppers-well, just look at the photos). Nope! Two different pastas, meat, desert, coffee and limoncelo later we were done. Full and happy and finally with a heater. It was natural, local, inspiring and delicious. A perfect meal and even when we realized that we weren’t going to be able to hitch hike back down to town, the walk didn’t even seem that bad. I think we were a little drunk and full of good food and it had rained hard while we were eating, so the valley had been cleared of the haze that had been around since we got there and it was easier on the way down. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and yes, I would recommend it to young families. You gotta get those kids appreciating hard hikes for good food. It will come in handy later in life.