Friday, August 24, 2012

Yanni's Bamboo Restaurant: Maybe Milopota Beach's Friendliest Place

2012 08 24
Somewhere off the Greek Mainland about 20 miles from Athens

How Could You Not Go Into This Restaurant
Probably?  What, "My Pizza is pretty good but maybe someone has better"?
Truth in Advertising cracks me up
Meredith had settled into a nice spot off Mylopota Beach on Mylopotos Bay.  Greece's nightmare Meltemi were blowing hard out of the north and we were waiting for a die down so we could resume our trek North to Athens.

Canadians will understand when I explain being pinned down due to wind as being the same as being snowed in in a big storm.  Cabin fever is a serious risk.  Luckily we found Tico Mira.  Then we found Yanni and Vangelis and Demetrias and a table full of the most fun people we have met in the entire Mediterranean.

Walking the beachfront our first night we came upon the sign above in front of a subdued cafe, Yanni's Bamboo Restaurant.  The "Probably" on the sign got us.  We had to go in and meet these people.  

You may wonder, as did we, why a Greek restaurant would give itself a South east Asian name (Bamboo not being a particularly Greek phenomenon) and advertise Pizza as its signature dish.  There is no explanation other than the marvellous eclectic mix of personalities that co exist at Yanni's Bamboo.  In we went.  The restaurant itself is pretty calm: a nice open dining area with a trellis overhead covered with bamboo curtains to provide protection from sun.  (there being no need for protection from rain in Greece's uber dry summers)

It being a slow night, we had an opportunity to talk a bit with the waitress.  

Tico Mira, our Bulgarian Waitress
She began with the usual polite small talk.  Were we having a good time?  Where were we from?  The usual mundanities.   We presented our boat card and pointed out our sailboat, anchored a few hundred metres off the restaurant patio.   She was interested but we ascribed this to politeness.  Boy were we wrong.

Our pizza came, and it was, as advertised, pretty tasty.  As we were tucking into our second slice a great bear of a  man dressed in white came to the table.  Introducing himself as Yanni he explained he was the owner and chef of the "Bamboo Restaurant".  "Was it true", he asked, "that you sailed that little boat  all the way from Canada to my restaurant?".  

Instantly we were friends.  It was two hours before we headed contentedly back to our boat after a great visit with Yanni, Tico Mira, Yanni's sons Vangelis and Demetrias, and a couple of people at a table of regulars in the restaurant whose names they never offered but who treated us like family.   

That night we learned Tico Mira, our waitress, was from Bulgaria.  Every year she left her husband and two teenage sons back home to come and work in Greece for the summer.  She would earn more than a year's salary in Bulgaria by doing so.  Over the summer she lived in a tiny caravan Yanni provided her in the back of the restaurant.  

Tico Mira, Demetrias and Yanni (in the background)
For the rest of the week we ate or drank at Yanni's often.  One night the kitchen opened late.  Yanni came running in, stopped at our table to chat for a second.  He was soaking wet.  He had been fishing for the night's menu.  With a laugh he told us "Tonight the fish is fresh!".

Yanni's son, Vangelis, a common name here, was enjoying his last summer of freedom.  He explained that in September he entered Greece's military for his mandatory service.  We discussed at length the challenges to Greece's border security and in particular the continuing troubles between his country and Turkey. 

Demetrias, younger brother of Vangelis, was learning his brother's job at the family restaurant.  When Vangelis left for the military it was expected that Demetrias would assume his duties.  Demetrias proudly accepted the challenge.

The Pizza was Probably the Best on Ios
The Squid was Unbeatable - and Fresh!!
There was a table of regulars at Yanni's and they too adopted the weird people from Canada.  Suggestions on what to do and see on Ios and where to buy the freshest fruit and vegetables and what beaches we must visit came in an unending flow every night we were there.  "Don't go to Homer's Tomb" they urged.  It is a pile of bricks and a sign that says Homer is buried there.  "Who knows who is buried there?" they laughed.  For us it is Homer.  But only for us.

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