EVENT REPORT – 6th Jaguar XK & E-type meeting, Evia Island – Greece
Euboea or Evia Island was believed to have originally formed part of the mainland, and to have been separated from it by an earthquake. This is fairly probable, because it lies in the neighborhood of a fault line and Thucydides writes that the northern part of the island had been shaken at different periods.
The city of Chalkis or Chalkida is built on the narrowest sea passage which separates the island of Evia from the mainland of Greece. The passage between the two seas is called Euripus . Evia and the mainland since 410BC are connected by a 40 meter moving bridge.
Strong tides occur in this channel and also the rare tidal phenomenon of the sea water flowing for 6 hours to the north and for 6 hours to the south with 10 min pause. The speed of water can reach 9 miles/hour so it is easily seen as a tumultuous river. This happens for 23-24 days per month while in the remaining 5-6 days the direction of the flow and the speed of the water are irregular. The tidal phenomenon which is still under investigation provoked admiration and interest of humans from ancient times, not only from an astronomical and geophysical perspective but also a philosophical one.
Except for this mystery, Evia is a genuine, green and quiet island that attracts alternative eco-tourism rather than pilgrimages of Orthodox form all over the world at the miraculous Monastery of Agios Ioannis Rossos.
There are different landscapes you can explore in the same day: from the “Alpine” pine trees of the forest to the beaches of the two seas: the Eubean and the Aegean. From the healing waters in Edipsos to the biological farms and wineries, from the archeological sites to the vibrant nightlife and excellent tavernas.
We chose to visit this blessed island starting from its most panoramic point: the Karampapa fortress built in 1684 during the Ottoman occupation and its museum on top of the hill of Chalkis. Designed by the Venetian Gerolimo Galopo, the architecture looks more European than Turkish.
The sculpture collection includes plain architectural elements, reliefs from the decoration of churches and buildings, inscriptions, coats of arms, typical Ottoman hats and funeral reliefs of exceptional artistic and historical importance. The collection is divided chronologically into the following periods: Paleo-Christian, Mid-Byzantine, Frankish, and Ottoman and the inscriptions demonstrate the existence also of a Jewish community.
Our group was formed by 22 very enthusiastic drivers and charming ladies on board of 3 XK and 8 e Type:
- 1953 – XK120 OTS – Red
- 1955 – XK140 FHC – Black
- 1956 – XK140 OTS – Red
- 1961 – E Type OTS S1 Flat Floor – Opalescent Silver Grey
- 1962 – E Type FHC S1 3.8 – Carmen Red
- 1962 – E Type FHC S1 3.8 – Opalescent Silver Blue
- 1966 – E Type 2+2 S1 – Red
- 1969 – E Type OTS S2 – Primerose Yellow
- 1973 – E Type OTS S3 – British Racing Green
- 1974 – E Type OTS S3 – Old English White
- 1974 – E Type OTS S3 – Red
After the interesting visit at the historical site it was time to relax at the panoramic Xenia Café that overlooks the canal between the two seas and the whole city of Chalkida.
Despite was October 15th; the temperature was very warm so we sat under the shade of the pine trees to drink our iced coffees.
Ready for our next discovery, we started our engines and point our bonnets to the direction of Mount Dirfis where a wild mushrooms farm was waiting for us.
The Dirfis Farm http://www.manitariadirfis.gr/en was created in 2003 by two young agronomists Lefteris Lachouvaris and Thanassis Mastrogiannis. After only 13 years they made Greece autonomous in consumption of “Hellenic only” fresh mushrooms. Any hotel, restaurant and family in Greece now eat only local fresh mushrooms.
This success story is now so famous that people from other countries come to Evia to meet them and learn how they can start the same business!
They do not produce only fresh wild mushrooms in their growing tunnels : Pleurotus, Yellow Pleurotus with vitamin C, Black Trumpets, Porcini, Chanterelles, and Shiitake but also the substrates blocks that is their natural ”cradle” and a lot of other gourmet creations such as pasta or rice with mushrooms or truffle, aromatic sauces or hors d’oeuvre with mushrooms, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with truffle, any sort of sundried mushrooms and even chocolate with ganoderma, the medicinal superfood mushroom with antioxidant therapeutical effects.
They really love this project as their own child. A normal family can go there, buy a substrate prepared with the variety they prefer, learn how to grow and when pick up the mushrooms having then 3 months of continuous production in their own cellar!
We are really considering keeping a little space near our spare part storage in the garage to grow our fresh mushrooms for the Risotto!
As theory is not as exciting as practice, we drove our cars from the plantation to the gourmet showroom where the chef Ilias Antoniadis was waiting us with his mouth watering creations containing all the mushrooms and truffle varieties.
All the mushroom dishes we tasted: the soup, the spaghetti, the fresh marinated salad and the ganoderma chocolate lead us to the boutique natural shop to achieve all those delicacies for a long winter.
After this rich entrée offered by the Dirfis farm, we started again our engines to reach the mountain village of Steni, very famous for the best meat tavernas of the area.
Tavern Kissos at the corner of the central square of Steni village is specialized in homemade cheese and vegetable pies but the main dish is the Kokoretsi and Kontosouvli, two typical meat creations of different types of meat on a giant skewer.
We did not expect to eat again but the company was so cheerful and the fresh table under the trees made us decide to postpone our diet plans to the following Monday.
When you meet your friends after a long summer, there is a lot to talk about….vacations on different islands, new gearbox , sails or yacht tours, new electrical fan for high temperatures in Crete, fish recipes, dynamo v/s alternator, at least three weddings and the Greek dilemma: “to remove or not to remove” the radiator thermostat in August? “That is the question!”
We left Steni to reach Eretria, a beautiful location the other side of Evia on the Aegean Sea.
Our cars moved on the winding roads colored by the apricot rays of the sunset.
Our last destination of the day was the Negroponte Resort, a five star hotel that, despite was fully booked, bravely kept until 6 pm the best parking places in front of the entrance for our aristocratic cats! http://negroponteresort.gr/
For the second consecutive year the famous British aerobatic team, the RAF Red Arrows, visited Greece and the Negroponte Resort for their rehearsals before the air show season. Eleven Red Arrows aircraft left their Lincolnshire base bound to the Greek Military base of Tanagra. Evia in fact is a perfect location with excellent weather conditions to fly three times a day, five days a week to attain the necessary approval from senior Royal Air Force officers before they return and display in front of the public – known as Public Display Authority (PDA).
This was not a normal Saturday to us: after swimming we organized also a surprise party for our dear British friend Yvonne (just to remain in Jaguar mother-land). We asked the chef to prepare a special cake for her with our Clubs names on dark chocolate and we were all very happy.
Going out after dinner to give a goodnight kiss to our cars, we had another romantic surprise: a wonderful full moon was lightening them and they looked even more beautiful.
Second day, Sunday October 16th.
In the morning the weather and water temperature (of the sea…not of the radiator) were perfect to swim and after that we enjoyed a relaxed and abundant breakfast in the open air veranda of Negroponte.
Full of energy and curiosity, we reached the Archeological Museum of Eretria that displays very interesting pieces of the area from Bronze Age to Roman time. We parked our “moving museum” to start our visit and let other people passing enjoy the view of our “historical treasures”.
Inside this museum there is a noticeable exhibition of pottery, sculptures and carvings coming from the Archaic, the Classical and the Hellenistic era plus bronze objects and jewellery made of gold and silver. Among these elegant decorated objects we found a “double tank” model of toy car dated 900 B.C…(probably an archaic Jaguar XJ Prototype ) indeed really very modern at that age! Maybe they did not have as many service areas as we have nowadays!
Having admired so many wine clay cups for the Dionysian cult we were even more inspired to visit the Avantis Estate winery.
The name Avantis comes from the ancient name of Evia inhabitants. Avantis was the first prehistoric Greek tribe that settles in Euboea between 2100 – 1900 B.C in Chalkis and Eretria. According to a myth they were named after nymph Ava. They were warriors and had participated in the Trojan War under the command of their leader Helephinor. In his epic poem ‘Iliad’ Homer refers to Avantes as follows :
“Brave Avantes inhabitants of Euboea coming from Chalkis, Eretria as well as grape producing Istiea and Kirinthos by the sea and even high up from Dion, Karistos and Stira, all were commanded by Helephinor, fearless in battle, strong leader of theirs. Fast, long haired warriors carrying long spears, always willing to attack and beat the enemy. Forty black ships were at sea, awaiting them.”
Today Avantis Estate is a boutique winery awarded with lots of medals in international competitions. It is run by Apostolos Mountrichas that cares about quality, production of ancient as well as modern varieties of local grapes such as Mavrokoundoura and Malagousia but also Gewurtztraminer and Syrah. His lovely wife Lenga Grigoriadou expanded also the beneficial effects of grape stem cells, polyphenols, resveratrol and stoning oils to enrich a new patented series of grape spa cosmetics serum, cream and scrub. Together they share the same passion and vision: create great wine and beauty from the rich “terroir” of Evia. http://www.avantiswines.gr/en
While the “warriors” were parking their “horse power” XKs and E Types, the ladies had the chance to visit the fairy tale kitchen of the Avantis Estate and test the superfood-cosmetics on their skin. Indeed with open hoods under the Greek sun, even in October we need a very protective super cream.
We were very pleased to taste 12 bottles of excellent white, rose’, red and dessert sweet wines with handmade grissini and spicy local goat cheese. Every wine was so different and particular with delicate or intense bouquets to match any kind of Greek and International meal.
When our host said that anyone can be trained to recognize the different aromas in the wines for example apricot, wet wood, cinnamon, grass or rose, someone said that it could be easy for us because we are well trained to recognize and distinguish immediately the smell of the brakes from the clutch or the smell of the oil from the fuel or even worst the smell of burnt cable from the rubber of the tires. Of course our noses would prefer not to smell them at all!
Luckily we are well trained to every kind of “surprise” and the ways we found to recover from them usually become the stories that we exchange laughing during our dinners.
Despite the space in our cars was not huge, we packed the best Collection Syrah Grand Cru, the Agios Chronos and other selected bottles to enrich our cellars.
Back to our mushrooms and wine filled cars, we greeted our generous hosts to continue our cultural-gourmet tour in direction of the new suspended bridge and reach the fishermen’s village of Avlida in the mainland.
The well known Michalis Fish tavern is lying in front of the small harbor where the “suppliers” of the chef are used to mooring their boats full of living treasures of the sea.
The fresh catch of the day was waiting for us : from sea urchins to lobsters passing through delicious tasting of shrimps, crabs, groupers, calamari, fish roe salad, Greek paella, octopus, etc until the drivers’ belly would have reached their steering wheels!
Full of delicious food and happy memories, we embraced each other with the promise of organizing new adventures on board of our beautiful “cats”.
In fact the next opportunity to drive them again will be on December 4th at our Christmas Meeting in the marvelous seaside location of the Yacht Club in Piraeus.
Goodbye from Aza and Alexandre Holis