Thursday, December 27, 2007

One more year coming to an end...

This year has been one of the hardest yet. Still, it has had its great times, its difficult times, its amusing times. As time passes, and I grow older, I find myself focusing on things I should have done, or maybe things I should have done better. I must admit that I have made mistakes, mistakes that I always try to learn from, but this is the time of year when you know, you just tend to go back into the past, trying to understand a little more of life. Anyway, this Christmas has been one of those funny Christmas times. As my finances have been my main worry, I made a decision to work over the holidays, as much as I can. My greatest love, music, became a job ... not new... and so I took to the floors of various dinner parties, and local bars, giving it my best, singing my heart out, although I am fairly new at this, and learning songs, especially in Greek, is very hard. However, I gave up family and home these holidays, to earn that extra buck ... and I must admit it has been quite wonderful.

You see, the spirit of Christmas is really a let down here, especially when you live in a village. Yes, people decorate, and get together, but it's just not quite the same as I was used to as a child. I remember not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to bring my presents. I remember the soft Christmas music playing along each street and in each shop. I remember the hustle and bustle of buying presents and stocking up for the holidays. Here, it's different... not bad... just different. One of the biggest differences is that we give presents on New Years Day. Our Santa is not Saint Nicholas but Saint Basil (Agios Vasilis).

Anyway, this is the time of year I also like to think of how lucky I really am. My family is well, healthy and as happy as they can be. My friends are near me, ready to lend an ear when I really need someone to talk to. All I really need to do is make my Christmas wishes... so here goes...

Health and happiness to all people.
Live every moment of your lives... and feel yourselves living those moments.
Don't waste time regretting, hating and not understanding.
Spend time with those who touch your hearts and souls and complete you.
Help those who need your help, even when they refuse it.
Learn to love and be loved... there is no greater feeling.
Never forget to hope ... you will be surprised.
And lastly ... be the light in somebody's life ... you never know how much a small word or action may mean to somebody else.

May the New Year bring you everything you wish for ...

Here's a small song I wrote for Christmas...

It's that time ...

It's that time once more
For wishing on a star
The time we're waiting for
To travel near and far

It's that time we yearn
When sadness disappears
And suddenly we learn
To live without our fears

And as the snow falls and the music plays
A voice inside me calls and the tune fades
I go back in time, another Christmas day
With you inside my heart, it seems so far away

Time stops...I hear your heart breaks
I wonder where you are, whose love awaits
And though I'm not alone, my love will always be
My present every year, to you beneath the tree

It's that time of year
Memories and dreams combine
And love is all we here
As the church bells chime

It's that time again
My spirit seeks your face
And I can't explain
How I lost your embrace

And as the snow falls and the music plays
A voice inside me calls and the tune fades
I go back in time, another Christmas day
With you inside my heart, it seems so far away

Time stops...I hear your heart breaks
I wonder where you are, whose love awaits
And though I'm not alone, my love will always be
My present every year, to you beneath the tree

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Keep the noise down!!!!

It has been such along time since I have written, but there is a very good reason for this. Firstly, time has become a precious commodity, since I have been involved in fighting for the right to keep our community, Perdika, an environmentally safe place. Let me get you all up to date on the issue of the gas pipeline and compression station which we were made aware of in September. Since September, the people of our village, more than 200o residents, were informed of the construction of a compression station on the beaches of our village. The transit gas pipeline would be passing through our village and into our seas, transporting gas from Turkey to Italy. No attempt was made by the authorities to stop the plans, and so a group of local people decided to take the future into their hands. Our progress up to now is listed below:

1. Letters to all the authorities and government ministries about our concerns.
2. Meetings with the local authorities about the effects of such industry in this tourist region.
3. Meetings with scientists and environmentalists about the effects of the compression station.
4. Interview with local and national media about this venture.
5. Petitions with over 1000 signatures (and this is only the beginning)

These actions led to the Greek Gas Company DEPA, to a decision. They decided to look for a new route for the pipeline. The nearby town of Igoumenitsa proposed that the pipeline and compression station would be best situated on the outskirts of the town, where an industrial site was planned to be built anyway. The results though are still unknown. DEPA asked the locals in our community to keep the noise down, to not talk about the effects of the pipeline and compression station. The local authorities asked us to keep the noise down, to not fight for our rights, as it was a case of give and take. Our Mayor even had the audacity to claim that we had to let the company plan their route because, as he said, if we didn't then our village would not be given any funding for other plans that have been made.

KEEP THE NOISE DOWN!!!! This is the answer of the authorities and government officials. This is the answer of people who have been voted into their positions by us!!! This is the answer of the Greek State.

Our answer is no. We have rights which cannot be trampled upon by anybody. The only reason we can think of for keeping the noise down, is so that the company can do its job without bothersome locals, without fear of being stopped. If this is a venture of national and international significance, our voices must be heard. We are nationals. We are Europeans. We may live in a village, by choice, but we are not about to let our dreams, our hopes, our future, our livelihoods be thrown away just because it is convenient, less costly and less of a bother to pass through this area.

This is our home. These are our clean beaches. THIS IS OUR LIFE.

Thank you for listening.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

See the stars ...

For those of you in and around Athens this winter, I have compiled a list of where to see some of your favorite stars:

Asteria has Antipas on board for the season, along with Ina Lazopoulou, Angela Dimitriou.

Two of my favorite ladies, Galani and Arvanitaki, will be singing at the Rex.

Another season opens with Marinella and Remos at the Arena. (Definitely a must)

Michael Hatsigiannis will be accompanied by Glykeria at Vox, and at Romeo you can see Dionysis Makris with Kelly Kelekidou.

Anodos opens with Kiamos and Irene Merkouri, and two of the scenes biggest names Terzi and Zina will be performing together at Iera Odos.

At Posidonio you will be able to see Vertis, along with Eleana Papioannou and Grigoris Petrakis.

Andrea Stamos and Giorgios Giannias continue for another season at Frangelico, and Notis Sfakianakis has two lovely ladies, Chrispa and Gianna Terzi, by his side at Enastron.

Despina Vandi and Vasilis Karras have come together for their show at Diogenis.

Neraida (Theo) hosts Gonidis, Pieridi,

Zazopoulo and Elena Grekou are live at Notes.

Ploutarchos has some great acts with him at the Kentro Athinon including Apostolia Zoe, Tamta and Gianni Vardi.

Gogo Mastrokosta will be singing at Skyladiko VIP with other artists including Papailias, Stefanidou, Bati, Kapodistria and Vasilaras.

Aggeliki Iliadi and Christos Kiprianides are singing at Muses.

Myr a Mar (aka Bambis) has opened with Philipa Nikolaou, stathi angelopoulo, Stella Konitopoulou and Evdokia.

Petro Imvrio, Sabrina and Spiro Spirako are playing at Empati North.

At Taboo you can see Dimitri Kokkota, Ioanna Koutalidou, Kosta Mikeli, Vasiliki Maniatakou.

The place to be may be the Place this season, with Christo Sarlani, Sissy Loi, Angela Vagia, Lefteri Karvela, Gianni Parlapano, Giorgio Lexi, Mika Darmani and Evi Lira.

Stelio Dionysio and Stella Georgiadou are performing at Scorpio.

Giorgo Mazonaki and Niko Makropoulo will be on at Fever.

At Akti Piraios you can see Christos Menidiatis and Amarillida.

Lefteri Pantazi and Giorgo Margariti have a full programme at the Opera or Luna Dark

Nikos Oikonomopoulos will be playing at Fix.

Paralia Live will be getting on down to Eleni Karousaki, Gianni Kostoglou, Kosta Apergi and Olga Panteli.

Stavro tou Notou has Melina Aslanidou, Manos Pirovolakis and Giorgios Karadimos, with guest stars coming in on Thursdays.

Giorgios Dalaras will also be performing a series of concerts at the Pallas, along with Despoina Olympiou.

(I hope all the info is correct, but please let me know if I have made any mistakes)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Music and Me...

A passion. My first memories of Greek Music were the songs my father had collected over the years. A habit he had, one which I would acquire, was to whistle or hum tunes while he was working. Sometimes the hum would lead to the whispering of the words, and would normally end up in a full recital of the song. Wherever he was in the house, we could always find him, if we followed the tune.

Sundays were never my favourite days as a child, as they were the days when I helped with the chores. Since it was also my parent's day off, I was the one who got up early to clean the shop, so they wouldn't have too much to do when they awoke. This being the case, I would take the cassette recorder with me, and put in the greek tapes, letting the music ring through my ears, and reach my soul. It seemed that the words had more meaning, more passion than they did in English. I would listen to anything, and when I reached the age of making choices, I would buy anything sung by Glykeria, Marinella, Alexiou. Kazanzidi was always a favourite, as his voice would harmoniously inspire nostalgia in all of us, as he sang about being an immigrant, about poverty and, as I would later understand, the effects of an unbalanced system.

Sundays were also the days when the family was home, so on Sunday nights we would always play music and learn Greek dances with my parents. I still have photos of my brother and I dancing hasaposerviko around the coffee table, with my parents looking on.

I wanted to be a singer. It seemed that I had inherited my father's thirst for music and his voice, but my dreams were not the same as his, so when my music teacher at school suggested I take lessons in music and song, the idea was just thrown out of the window.

It was only until three years ago, when I sang at a friend's wedding, that I suddenly realized that I could still do what I loved. The band offered me a job, and since then I have been singing. I know my voice is not perfect, but I try. Obviously I didn't tell my father until a long time after I had started working. The sad thing is that his reaction was the same as when I was at school. The difference was that I didn't care. Now I work here and there. I also sing a lot of the songs I would listen to when I was younger. My list of favorite Greek singers has expanded as I now try to sing songs by Arvanitaki, Galani, Kana and many others. I love ballads, zeimbekika, laika, rembetika but I find it hard to sing the more traditional "dimotika", I suppose because I just never listened to them when I was younger. It's hard, as I work full time anyway, but a passion is a passion ....

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Potential is a word that I have loved since I was a child. I would use it in compositions, school debates and possibly anywhere, as long as it was in accordance with what was being said. Sadly, potential is a word Greeks seem to have no use for. From an early age, a child has potential for something, be it singing, running, talking, swimming, playing sports or drawing. If we focus on that ability, we are nurturing the true abilities of that child so that one day this can be used in a positive, creative manner maybe in their jobs or even merely as part of their lives.

Parents have the ability to see this, and teachers should certainly have the knowledge to recognize this, so that every child can be given that push which will allow them to blossom, even in this incoherent world. If we lived in a perfect world this would be the case. If we lived in a proper society, then this would possibly be a fact of life. However, the opposite is true. It has become a way of life that a child's potential will never be seen, never be exploited unless they are truly fortunate or have the advantage of knowing someone, who knows someone.

This is carried through into adulthood, where again, potential is never seen, never spotted. It is an idea, a theory to most people. Instead, there is an air of 'tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you what you are worth,' or even worse, 'give us a backhander, and you'll be the lord of the castle.' God forbid you ever want to fight for what is right. No, then you suddenly become an extremist, a rebel, a "threat to society."

Gone are the wise philosophers. Gone are the people who gave meaning to words like potential. It seems that as soon as Greeks discovered the world, they forgot themselves. The Ancient teachers could spot potential a mile away. Many heroes from history and mythology alike were recognized for their ability. I don't suppose they had to give backhanders in return for a place in the world's history.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm cynical. Whatever I am, I miss "potential", and the sad thing is that I let it go, I let it walk right out of my life, just because it didn't fit in with the country!!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I awoke this morning, my things-to-do list screaming at me from my bedside table, and as I tried to work out the most necessary to-dos of the day I suddenly stopped. A thought struck me and I literally remained half-dressed in the middle of the kitchen, just thinking. I had stopped dreaming. Yes, it had actually happened. Now, I don't mean the dreams we have at night, where our subconscious clicks into overdrive, but dreams, real dreams...lifelong ambitions, inner desires, mountains to climb. I had stopped dreaming and I had only just realized.

My thoughts turned to the reasoning of it. Had my life just turned into what seemed like a journey from one bill to the other? Had the meaning of life come and gone without me seeing it? I desperately tried to work out what had gone wrong and when. I looked back on my life, to find a solution. When was the last time I had thought "Now that's a place I have to visit" or "That's where I'll be in 5 years" or even "That's an idea for a weekend meal." Nothing. My mind was blank. In a matter of moments I discovered that I couldn't remember the last time my mind wandered to what I would like it to be. The feeling in the pit of my stomach was one of disgust as I turned over the facts in my head. I had become a walking ATM...digesting the bills and churning out the money. Nothing more...nothing less.

I remember a time when I wanted to travel, to own a travel consultancy, to spend the day talking to people, seeing new faces. I remember when I started writing a book, nurturing every word, embracing every idea. I even remember drawing sketches of what my house would be like (when I built it). Now, the drive into town is a tedious journey, talking to people seems pointless and my book, well I'll finish it one day. The sketch of the house still looks upon me whenever I open my files in search of something.

Dreaming was once a part of life, and this morning I regretted, for the first time in my life, having lost something. I had lost the only part of me that made the days so much nicer. I had lost my dreams. How do I get them back? I have no idea, and no time to find a solution. So, as my day began, I knew that it would be worse than I could have imagined. Never stop dreaming!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The smell of Autumn

As winter approaches, the temperatures here in Greece are still quite high for this time of year. Over the last few years, seasons have changed, and we have seen it go from winter to summer, summer to winter within just a few days. However, the last few days have shown us that summer is over. At night it rains, with thunder and lightning doing their best to disturb our sleep, and in the morning we witness a sweet sunny, autumn morning with only the wet roads as evidence that the night was anything more than peaceful. Nature fools us again...

As you walk through the village streets, the morning air is filled with the smell of bread, wafting from the bakery. The sound of various tools can be heard in the distance, as most villagers prepare their olive groves so that they can start to gather this years harvest. As I walk past the houses, the sound of water running, and women scrubbing can be heard, as housewives prepare their homes. You see, here in Greece, our homes also adapt to the changing season. Carpets and rugs are laid down, sheets and curtains change colour to match the season. Thin summer clothing and linen is put away- to the top of wadrobes or to the back of storerooms. Warm quilts and clothing is brought back out to be aired and cleaned once more. Here in Greece, we change and adapt according to the seasons.

As I go for my morning walks - I have taken up pace walking to help clear my mind and keep my body fit- I notice the changing colors, the changing day, the changing world. The cars have lessened as have the tourists. The small yachts which filled the waters have disappeared once more. The buses have stopped running. There is a peace which is hard to find anywhere in the world...

This is the smell of Autumn...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Greeks around the world can connect with each other in these two very interesting, very unique sights which are both named after two of my favorite daily drinks.

Both sights add a different perspective to Greek life and Greece, and both are a great way to connect with other Greeks around the world.

A portal into the lives of many Greeks, who share their interests, photos, ideas with the rest of us.

A sight with daily information on matters in Greece, and about Greeks around the world, giving us a constant glance at what is going in our own country.

If you don't know these sites visit them, and join these communities....a home away from home...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Advice needed!!!

Ok, so today I'm taking a small break from the problems in my village, and looking into my own problems. That's where I need your help. If there were an ad which would cover this area it would probably say

" Self employed thirty-something mother of two needs ideas ."

Having scoured the Internet looking for opportunities for a second source of income, I am so not capable of finding a solution. So I thought that, maybe, you could pause for a moment, and try to help me out. Yes, today I need, emotional...anything to help me get unstuck.

Let me give you some insight. If I were a TV serial I would probably be something between Lost, Desperate Housewives and Weeds. Why these three you ask. Well, Lost because, although I am not a disaster victim stuck on a mysterious island, my life matches the confusing, disturbing scenario that I am used to watching. Desperate Housewives because well, the glove fits ... a close knit society with all its pros and cons, women trying to keep the family unit together...(only we don't have such exciting daily events). Weeds, because as situations go, illegality may be the only answer. It's a case of survival.

Anyway. Life sucks at the moment. If there were a bottom this girl's barrel, then yes, I've touched upon it. Now the funny side is...that there is a funny side!!! I mean, I can laugh. Each conversation I have with any of the bank employees seems to be filled with hysterical quotes, such as "if you pay of all the loan today, you won't be blacklisted" to which I unassumingly reply "if I could pay it off, I wouldn't be talking to you now, would I!!". I have an endless list of these employees great quotes, which, one day, when I have less to worry about, I may take the time to make a post of, but not now. What I need now is your help...

Ideas, guys, ideas. I'm hard-working, but I'm just not getting there. Private teaching is great, if you get paid correctly, but my problem is just that. Imagine, yesterday October 8th, I got paid for a student who had lessons in July!! IOU has become a way of life, intead of an exception to the rule, and my good-nature has been played to death. So I need ideas. I need to find my destiny, which I am sure is not waiting for me to just fall upon it.

In this TV serial there are two scenarios:

1. Perfection... Having money in the bank, investing in my future and the future of my children, not owing anything, not being owed, taking weekend trips, finishing that book, feeling a sense of achievement.

2. Reality...Working 24/7, owing to all and sundry, not being able to give enough time or energy to my kids, fighting mental blocks trying to finish that book, feeling a sense of letting me and those I love down.

I need to scratch scenario 2, and I need your help and ideas... Whatever you can think of... (as long as its legal) . Now as for scenario 1, well ... that's where I need to be heading.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Perdika - Greece - Natural Gas Pipeline

Let me just say sorry for not having written for the past two weeks. They have been weeks of mixed feelings, as all of my free time has been spent looking into the facts surrounding the development and operation of natural gas compression stations around the world. A few adjectives I would use to express my current emotional state are exhausted, enlightened, betrayed, insecure, distraught, and these are only the feelings I am feeling at the moment; imagine what every day has been like since we were informed of what was apparently going to become our future home.

I will not go into the ins and outs of what I have read, what I have heard, or what I have seen. Let me just tell you a little about what we are faced with. Some of you may know this area, some may not. In 1993, having finished university, I was approached by a multi national company, who wanted to take me on having done my work experience with them. After many attempts to contact me by mail, two of my colleagues and two of the partners in the branch I worked for, came (for what I thought was a visit) to Greece. On the last day of their vacation they approached me with a contract to join the company, which I turned down. Flattered as I was, I felt deep inside that I was meant to be here, in my father's village, giving what I could back to my father's birthplace. It was a feeling...I gave up a career for a feeling...a feeling of waking up to a view of the Ionian sea...a feeling of fitting in...a feeling of bringing up my children in a place which was made up of freshness, the air, the water, nature...a feeling. I had the choice, I made the decision.

Today, even though the problems are more than I could have expected on that sleepy autumn day in 1993, I still have that feeling. Yes, there have been days when I have thought this is too hard, when the bills pile up, when I don't get paid, when I think "you should move, the kids deserve more", when I feel like I'm fighting more than living, but I still have that feeling.

That's the feeling I don't want to lose. No one wants their home turned into an industrial development site. Not when they have chosen to make a place their home. Everyone has a choice...I made mine...and that was to stay here...where the air I breathe is fresh, the sea is 5 minutes from my home and my children can live a childhood surrounded by nature and all it has to offer.

My parents have moved back here. Many of the Greeks who live and work in other countries have invested their savings here. The whole village has invested its future to make this a village where tourists can come and find peace of mind, clean beaches and a traditional Greek way of life.

So we say NO. No to industrial development in tourist regions. No to National Companies making decisions without thinking of anyone else. No to any type of pollution so near homes. No to the most economic solutions. There are other areas, far from homes, far from natural habitats, far from tourism, far from farms, far from anybody's back yard. The village of Perdika says NO.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I know that many of my posts have been about the area I live in. I love it, that's why I write about it. Our village is now faced with a dilemma. It has been decided that a natural gas pipeline will pass through our village in order to transport gas to Italy.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a great increase in tourism development in the area, in keeping with the natural beauty, and this has led to an increase in visitors to our area.
This has been a slow development, but each and every resident in the area, are now part of this industry. Hundreds of families depend on the summer tourist season, as this is sometimes their only form of income. Now we are told that one of our most beautiful areas is going to be turned into a construction site for the next few years, in order to build a pipeline, from which nobody in this region, or in any part of Greece, will benefit. Not only that, but once it has been built, we will then have a compressor station in the centre of all the main seaside resorts.
Our problems are now the risk of a seaside resort being destroyed, not by a natural disaster, but by a man made disaster, that may easily be avoided. Hundreds of families are now looking upon a future living next to an industrialisation zone, and the fear of losing their hotels, rented rooms, restaurants, and small businesses now lies alongside the fear of pollution, destruction of fauna and flora, among other ecological problems.

I am not an expert. I do not know the consequences of such a venture. All I know is that a feeling in my gut tells me this is not right. Something tells me that the results will not be positive. What I need is expert help. Our village needs to know what we are up against. The photo I have on today's post is of the beach which has been chosen for the compression station. Please, send me any information you can so that we can be well informed about this and if possible, stop it.
A review of yesterday's meeting in Greek at

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Greece - One Nation, Many Homes

Where do you come from? A frequent question when meeting new people. I can remember back in school, when people would get really confused with my surname, often not being able to pronounce it, let alone spell it. So a natural part of growing up would be answering the question - where do you come from? Naturally, I would answer with pride, Greece.

To me Greece was a dream. A land full of history, culture, mythology. It was my father's home, and his pride became our pride, until the day I made it my home, too. Living in an area which welcomes tourists from all parts of the world each year, I now find myself answering other, equally common questions. What made you decide to live here? How did you adjust? These questions actually sometimes make me wonder myself. I mean I came here at the age of 24. the feeling of being a foreigner in your own country is certainly true to those of us who have been brought up "sto exoteriko" (abroad). This also made me think about others in the same situation. People like me whose parents left the country to make their dreams come true, to make a new start, to follow their dreams. This led me to look into the amount of Greeks who live abroad.

About 7 million Greeks live in other countries. Greece has a population of 11 million. That means that there is a whole other Greece out there!! A Greece made up of all kinds of people, businessmen, scientists, doctors, teachers, plumbers, electricians, students, children. Another country almost equal in number to the homeland has decided to not return here. The disappointment I feel is tragic. I look at my own family. It took my father 32 years to come home. My mother only sees her home on holidays.

But just imagine!!! Imagine a Greece of almost 20 million people. Imagine a Greece made up of businessmen, scientists, doctors, teachers etc, doing what they do best here. Imagine deserted villages coming alive again. Imagine families reunited again. Imagine all those people returning, bringing with them their experiences, their ideas, their education. Now that's a Greece I dream of. Don't get me wrong. The Greece I live in has its problems, but it is still my home and the place I always wanted to be part of. Today, though, I am just dreaming about the Greece that should be. We are a nation whose roots are deeply embedded in the ancient world. We are a nation whose language and ideas where once perceived to be above all others. We are a nation who, I believe, answers with pride the question "Where are you from?"

I think of my friends. The speech therapist who left one of the biggest universities in Britain to come home, but sadly returned because there were no jobs when she got here. The teacher who lives in Germany and gets twice the salary she would here. The mother, who wants her children to be educated in Belgium because it's "better". The surgeon, who wanted to work near his home, but there were no hospitals. The chef, who gets paid what he wants. The student, who was head hunted in her first year as an international student by a multinational company. These are only some of my friends. I won't even mention my family. Most of my cousins left at the same time as I decided to come.

Imagine all those people coming home.

So today, I dedicate this post to you all. Greeks, Ellines, all around the world. We miss you, and a lot of the time we need you, but more than that we understand you. Be well and proud of where you are from.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Education in Greece

Lot's of people ask me why I have a language school in Greece. Let me just tell you a few things about the Greek Education System, and the way things work here.

The public school system is in an undesirable state at the moment. Some key problems are that when the school year starts in September, most schools are lacking teachers and books, so the actual school year really begins towards the middle of October. There is no such thing as coordination, as teachers are not employed be the school but be the Department of Education, who distribute their teachers all around Greece. This accounts for many of the problems in the Education system, as there is a lot of searching for ways to get out of being sent to a place far from home. The actual social effects of the system are more disastrous than anything else. Many families are split up for most of the year, as parents who are teachers traipse around the country, usually with one or more of their children. The implications are immense. The family unit slowly shatters, the family budget comes under unbearable strain as there are usually two households to maintain, and teacher's children are never in one school long enough to integrate into a community. Another major implication of the system as it stands, are the continuous change of teachers. I must admit that in this area, teachers in secondary education may change up to three times in one year.

Another aspect that must be looked at is also the permanency of teaching positions, and the amount of re-education the actual teachers have. There is no fear of losing your job, as it is considered permanent from day one, so basically who cares if students learn or not. This is a problem with all state jobs around Greece.

Another factor to take into consideration is that most people want to become educated to then find a state job!! Another amazing fact about Greece, again due to the permanency of positions and the fact that a lot of jobs and positions are filled in questionable ways!!

So in answer to the question why I have a language school, and why there are so many language schools an private evening schools is quite simple. People, and above all, children, need a sense of continuity and comfort in their lives. Unlike what the government, and any government, seems to believe, children like organisation. They want to learn. They have a right to reach high standards, and have goals in order to become strong adults like us...better than us. The stability they feel in environments such as ours is much more than the stability they feel in their schools at the moment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Greeks around the world

So, let's get personal. Having had a difficult day up to now, and it's only 11 am, I have to get my thoughts into perspective and try to make a new beginning. New beginnings are always difficult, but today I feel like I have to. I won't go into the bad points of the day, suffice to say that a sleepless night due to one of my kids illnesses, and two phone calls from the bank calling in their dues were only the two of the five things that made this a bad day. When I got to my computer I actually wanted to write about last weeks elections, maybe give you some insight into politics in Greece, but even that didn't make me feel better. Anyway, I thought, politics are the same wherever you live. It's a question of too few being in control of so many. So, on opening my e-mails, my mind wandered to what I was going to write about. An e-mail caught my eye, and as I read it my day was suddenly better. It was as if someone had started to take away the burden.

I don't know if you know about the Greeks and the evil eye. From a young age, whenever I was feeling under the weather or had a headache, my grandmother would say "ehis mati...tha se xematiaso"or in Greek"έχεις μάτι...θα σε ξεματιάσω". This meant that someone had seen me, and cast his or her evil eye on me and grandma, having been taught some words, had the power to send the evil eye away. If you have gone through this process, it actually does work. You actually do feel better. Please don't ask me if there is any truth in this. I have no idea, but when grandma said those magic words, boy did I feel better.

Anyway, back to the e-mail. It seems that my post is being read!!! Yes, although I did not believe it myself, I received an e-mail from a wonderful lady in Chicago (Thank you so much for you kind words). It is not the first e-mail I have received, but at that moment I had a great feeling of happiness, surprise, pride and satisfaction. It also gave me an idea. I would love to know more about all of you. I would love to hear your stories. Which parts of Greece and Cyprus are you from? What do you do in the country you are currently living in? Do you need any information from Greece, that maybe I could find out for you? Are you from other countries living in Greece? What would you like to see on this post...Anything...

The "let's get personal" part of this is my story. You see I was born a giver. I'm not sure if it is due to my star sign, Pisces, my upbringing, or just my nature. I just love the look on people's faces when something I have said or done fulfills them. Unfortunately, and this can be verified by the banks and my pocket, this will never make me rich, but I still enjoy giving. I am still lost on my life path, not knowing where I am actually going annoys me. I have a job in which people, and this happens a lot in Greece, continually owe me money (sometimes I think that they will start paying me in kind as they did back in the good old years). I have a degree that I worked so hard for, but is not even respected here. I have loved and lost. I have two children who have to be brought up properly, with a mother who was raised so differently. I have debts (who doesn't...??). I have to find a second job soon. The one thing that I do have is optimism. I believe that solutions and opportunities are out there. We just need to open our eyes and look for them, and unfortunately, here in Greece, it helps if you have binoculars!!!! But this post is not about me... it is about you.

Please send me your stories. Let me know about you and your lives. Maybe I can help you with something. Maybe you can help me on my life's journey. Again I would like to thank the lady (the reason I am not mentioning names is that I do not know if she would want me to) who gave me a smile on a very difficult Wednesday morning.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Greece - Missing Persons

As the TV year begins here in Greece, I thought this would be a good time to tell you about one show which is high on my list of "must watch". The show is called "Light at the end of the tunnel" or in Greek "Φως στο Τούνελ". The host is Mrs Angeliki Nikolouli, and every week Mrs Nikolouli and her team take on a new assignment, looking for people who have mysteriously disappeared.

The show has high ratings, and as calls come in from all over the country and all over the world, we can see all sorts of stories unfolding, as seemingly innocent situations turn into, in many cases, crime investigations.

Mrs Nikolouli's attempts at uncovering these disappearances have aided many people, and although some of the results are not what we would expect, uncovering the truth is something that she has mastered.

Apart from recent disappearance, the show also covers stories going as far back as the early to mid 1900's when many Greek children were given up for adoption and taken to other countries. We have seen many families reunited and many people from countries such as America and Australia, discovering their Greek Roots.

I would personally like to congratulate Mrs Nikolouli's attempts, and also her bravery in tackling very difficult situations, and in some cases becoming a part of investigations that were never apparent until her team became interested in them.

Take a look at the site, which is also in English. Maybe you could help a family find someone they have lost at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The flames still burn

It has been five days since the fires started burning the southern region of Greece. Today, there are fewer flames, less smoke, but the skies are still not the clear blue colour that we are all accustomed to, and for those villagers who lost their homes, their livelihoods, the skies will never be the same.

Today, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered and those whose lives have changed within a matter of days, hours, minutes. The scenes we have seen on TV have caused shock and dismay, not only in Greece, but all over the world, but as the fire dies out, the finger of blame is pointed in many directions.

Having lived in Greece for 12 years I have observed the changes which it has gone through over these eventful years. One thing that seems to have remained the same over the years, though, is the inability to think ahead.

Prevention is better than cure! This phrase has been embedded in my mind since my early childhood. It is, in fact, one of life's unwritten rules. Why, then, in a country renowned for its lush green forests and nature reserves, a country with so much heritage and archeology, do the local authorituies, governments and individuals not seem able to look at a situation from all angles. Is it so ridiculous to think of preservation, survival in cases of emergency.

Many theories are being thrown around tables today. Theories of terrorism, conspiracy, land development companies seeking to build, farmers clearing areas for their animals, or just plain arson. Maybe the finger of blame though should be pointed at us. We are responsible for our past, present and future. We elect those who govern us, locally and nationally. We have to react to decisions made in all aspects of our lives. It may take a tragedy to make us look deeper at our lives, but this does not bring those who have died back. It does not make suffering easier. It does not lessen the pain.

Prevention. A few simple steps could have made the firefighters jobs easier. Did we know about these steps? Could the fires have been controlled by taking preventitive measures? Another fact is that many people refused to leave their homes, even after being told to evacuate areas. Camera crews in the area have shown us scenes in which we see villagers fight the flames although evacuation has been announced. Prevention, a word we should learn by heart.

Once again, say a prayer for those who have lost their lives, for those who have suffered, for the land that has been destroyed, but this is not the time to blame. Lessons must be learnt.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Forest Fires All Over Greece

The last three days have put pressure on the population of Greece, as forest fires spread over most of the southern regions. People have been left without homes, and for a region which is mostly agricultural, many have seen their farms and land go up in flames in a matter of minutes.

The Greek Media has been at the forefront of the fires, broadcasting real time images with journalists travelling to many of the most dangerous areas, reporting on the state of the fire at each place. Although the images we have seen over the last 72 hours will probably remain embedded in our memories, this is one of the few times that I feel I must take my cap off to the Greek Media. It is one time where I haven't been able to find the strength to judge the channels and their handling of the subject. On the contrary, watching the reports coming in and understanding the difficulty of the Greek Fire Department as fires spring up within minutes of eachother, I feel that this time, more than any other, the TV is actually aiding a situation which is out of control.

Telephone helplines have been set up so that people can phone in, a helping hand in a very trying hour of need. No, this is not a time to judge. It is a time for action. Villagers battle alone to save their homes, their lives. As windspeed increases, and the fires spread quickly, this real time reporting must help the authorities, who need all the help they can get in this true to life Greek Tragedy.

Some of Greece's most beautiful regions are being tested to their limits at this time. The people of Greece are in mourning for their country, for their heritage, for their livelihoods, and most people fear that the consequences will be even more tragic.

Who is responsible? A question on everyone's lips.

As a Greek Citizen I thank all the countries who reacted so promptly to our mayday. As an onlooker, I feel helpless as I watch lives being destroyed. As a human being, I feel disgusted that somebody could have done all this on purpose.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Is it just me ????

Sorry I haven't written in a while, but problems arise, and have to be dealt with.

Something I heard a few days ago has been at the back of my mind, and I feel like sharing it with you. Living in a tourist region can be very hectic, especially during the summer season. People come and go, friends and relatives visit, although I rarely have time to see them. Here in Greece this week is probably the busiest week in all of Greece's tourist resorts, and everywhere seems to be fully booked. Now what I heard may not seem unusual, but I will tell you about it anyway.

Due to the time of year, and the demand for rooms, some people have thought it wise to move out of their homes, renting them to passers-by, who have been searching high and low for places to stay. It seems that anywhere you go, you can find people willing to give up their own homes in order for the weary travellers to have a place to stay. Seems fine. A good deed. Some may even be astounded that there are actually people who care enough to do this. That is what I thought, until I found out the prices they were charging!!!

You see I am a positive person. I always try to look on the bright side, but this really did take my breath away. Newly married couples with month old babies are moving out and tourists are moving in.

A sign of the times you may say. The European Monetary System seems to have affected our lives in ways that we would never have imagined a decade ago. The situation is drastic and as every country has its fair share of problems, although the weaker links, including countries like Greece are now going through a very difficult stage in the globalisation process. With no industrial foundations, no incentives, no real investments outside the areas of the two main cities, Athens and Salonika, foreseeable improvements in quality of life are not on the horizon. So what do we do? What future do our children have?

Greece seems to be turning into a country with two main classes, which I have classified in my own way- the "haves" and the "have nots". Those who have money and those who don't. Those who have connections and those who don't. Those who have education and those who don't. Those who bribe and those who don't. Those who pull strings and those who don't. The list is endless, but the worrying factor is that there is no middle ground. Banks, loan sharks, money launderers prosper, while people run from job to job, trying to make ends meet and live a comfortable life.

The bottom line is that the Euro did much more than unite European countries with one currency. It changed everything, even personalities. The Greek State, as most states, did not prepare their people for drastic consequences - consequences which are now coming to light, as bank lending reaches its peak, and poverty begins to rear its ugly head. I am no expert, but all I see are full pockets , that are being lined with even more, and empty pockets, that now have holes in them.

Is it just me letting myself become pessimistic or are there others out there who feel let down?This is our Europe. This is our Greece. This is our home. A home we are willing to sell to the highest bidder. What will be on the market next??

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Ionian coastline - Perdika - A place to visit

Now, I'd like to tell you more about the coastline in this area, as I feel it is really worth visiting. Firstly, the largest and most frequented beach in there is Karavostasi. It's about a kilometre long with clear blue waters hidden between lush green mountains. On the one mountain there is a large hotel and on the other you can find one of the oldest archeologicla sites in the area, the ancient town of Elina. Karavostasi is an open bay with deep waters, so it is ideal for those of you who love swimming. Hotels and rented rooms can be found at a close distance to the beach, so you are able to stay nearby. All the hotels offer excellent service, and most are family run, so there is always a warm atmosphere. Restaurants and bars can also be found, and a bus service can take you to and from most places within the Perdika limits.

Arilla beach is ideal for families with younger children. The shallow waters make it a safe place to sit and let the kids play. Fine sand covers the beach and there are also rooms and restaurants along this beach. A small harbor is also ideal for those of you who may be sailing around the Ionian Sea.

Agia Paraskevi is another of the most popular beaches in the area, and is next to two other smaller beaches, Kamini and Agali. Here you can also find rooms, hotels and restaurants.

As well as these, there are five more beaches along the coastline, all accesible, and all just as beautiful as the main beaches. Some are ideal for those who like peace and tranquility. All are clear, clean and ideal for those warm summer days.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Camping in Greece...

...Sofas, no not the furniture in our living rooms, but a beautiful beach on the Ionian coastline. At the moment the only way to get to the beach is through the only campsite in the area, Sofas Camping. A family run business, Sofas camping has been welcoming campers from all over the world over the last fifteen years.

During my childhood in the UK, my idea of camping was based on what I saw on TV, and I must admit that a few "Carry on..." movies, for those of you that remember them, may not be the greatest advertisement for a campsite. Therefore, when I visited, I was astounded at what it actually involved. The first impression is that of awe, as you descend the road into the camp, the beautiful plants and flowers which line the roads and discreetly hide the buildings, give you the first feeling of tranquility. You reach the taverna, furnished with traditional chairs and tables, reminding some other time, maybe even a clip from the Zorbas movie. A few steps away is the bar, again not noticeable, but there for those who would like to enjoy their morning coffee looking out onto the sea, or for others who search for perfect sunsets on warm summer days, it provides the perfect atmosphere.

The beach stretches out directly in front of the campsite, a mixture of small pebbles and coars sand paves the way to the clean, clear blue sea, and there you find yourself lucky to have found one of those know...where narure seems to have done man's work...a small earthly paradise...

You don't even have to leave to find somethign to eat. The owners ensure that you can find essentials like bread and dairy products, and there is always a great selection of traditional greek meals for lunch or dinner. Once a week, they even have a Greek Night, with live music, and a chance to partake in a syrtaki or two...

The service is exceptional, and the atmosphere warm and friendly....try it out...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do's and Don'ts in Greece (Part 1)

I thought about starting a few pointers for those of you who may not know much about Greece, but would like to learn more....Here are a few do's and don'ts....please ask anything else you would like to know.....

1. Be flexible and use your imagination when reading menus and signs, and don't be surprised if your favourite "lamb chops" have suddenly turned into "lamp chops"

2. Drive carefully, because Greeks don't.

3. Be patient when waiting at banks, or any other public service.. the earlier you go, the better

4. Check that you understand anything that you sign.

5. Visit archaeological sites...they truly are worth it.

6. Try local culinary specialities, but only if you understand what the ingredients are.

7. Say please and thank you...maybe if said enough times it will be adapted into the Greek vocabulary.

8. Pretend you are at least half Greek, married to a Greek, have Greek roots or act famous...seems to help in tricky situations for some reason....

9. Drink ouzo in small's not a light drink!!!!!

10. Mention Manchester or Liverpool in some conversation...great ice-breaker....


1. Mention anything about so don't want to get started on that subject.

2. Believe everything you hear....gossip is a favourite pastime...

3. Eat anywhere without checking out the prices...

4. Sleep anywhere without checking out the rooms....

5. Drink cocktails unless you are sure what's in them, (that's unless you don't mind never remembering the striptease you supposedly did the night before)

6. Presume that everyone around you does not understand would be surprised!!!

7. Get into taxis without asking how much they should roughly charge....

8. Presume that every place is signposted, so make sure you fill up on petrol when exploring by car...

9. Be surprised if people kiss and hug you when they meet's the Mediterranean "thing"

10. Miss out on having's too short

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

School is out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Schools are now closed for the summer here in Greece. As the temperature rises, it becomes more and more difficult to keep kids focused on studying and not on when they will start heading for the beaches. Due to the rising temperatures over the summer period, in Greece, the school year is divided into three semesters. The first begins around the 15th September and ends a couple of days before Christmas. The second begins around the 7th January and ends on the Friday before Easter week begins. The third starts a week after Easter and ends around the 15th June. During each semester there are no real breaks, apart from National (Bank) holidays.

Unlike the British school system, which has half term breaks in the middle of each term, lessons do not stop from the start of term until the end. There are positive and negative aspects to this form of schooling. The kids love their long Summer holiday (12 weeks!!!!) and parents do not have to worry about who will look after the children over mid term breaks, but the length of terms and the 3 month lack of contact with their schoolbooks, does tend to provoke a sense of laziness in all schoolchildren.

So, what to do over the summer break. Well, those of us lucky enough to live near the sea, will surely be taking the kids to the seaside, after work in the afternoon, but three months of soaking up the sun is not really the way it is as work beckons for us adults every day. Naturally, if you are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby, then there are fewer problems on the "who will look after the kids" front. Those who don't, now have to search rapidly for summer camps, summer schools and anything else with summer in the title, so that the school holidays do not drastically change the daily routine. Another major obstacle is how to not allow your child to become a couch potato, watching endless cartoons and repeats of winter shows which should never be repeated so early in the day, as they were originally broadcast after nine!!!

If I take my family as an example, the summer holidays must be one of the most stressful times of the year for most working parents. So, would it not be wise for the government to take another look at the school year, and maybe plan around family commitments, children's educational welfare and not only the weather!!!

At this time of year, I am always on the lookout for inspiring ways to keep my children busy over the holidays, and much to my dismay, although I consider myself creative, I am running out of ideas, as 12 weeks is a long time to keep projects going. Another problem is that all routine is thrown out of the window, as the long hot summer days call for different sleeping hours, untimely playing hours, and less time spent at home. Now, living in a village and working full time, it is even more difficult to keep things under control, as the sense of safety leads to more freedom, and so more hours spent wandering around the squares and parks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Devious Diva .....

Today, I spent most of my day reading the articles on Devious Diva's blog...This is not my country. As a Greek, brought up in a "foreign country" I, as well as my family, have been at the mercy of many a racist attack, which thankfully, did not end up in any tragic way. Devious Diva's blog impressed me to the extent that I felt that I had to dedicate at least one post to the worthy causes that she has taken upon herself to bring to the forefront and make known. It is so easy to live within our own circles, and lead our lives ignoring what is going on around us. Admittedly, the Roma issue is of great importance, and as I have been reading about it over the past few weeks, it has surprised me that this issue has not yet been given the much needed publicity that it should. Now, my job does not allow me to have that much free time to watch TV or read the papers, but I do have time to read up on things over the Net. I have, though, been able to watch programmes which are supposed to raise the public's awareness of what is going on in and around their country, and racism is one subject I have yet to see being discussed. Obviously there are people who feel that they have the right to be racist. They feel that letting down the borders to their country has meant that their life has rigidly been changed. This may well be the case, but these same people hire immigrants to do the jobs they won't do. They offer jobs, food, and less than acceptable housing to people that they consider "unworthy". I live in an area which does not have half the problems that the major towns and cities have, but racism still exists, and is very much a part of our lives. I too have found myself walking past beggars, sometimes stopping to give money, other times just ignoring them. When I analyse myself, I tend to fall into many different dilemmas. The first is always whether or not I should be giving money to beggars. Maybe by trying to help , I am just aiding an industry which has come into existence over the past years. An industry which plays with people's lives, their humanity, an industry which has its roots set in everything, from sending young children to beg and steal, to actually smuggling people over borders to partake in illegal activities.

How can we really help people who really need our help, and how do we decide who these people are. Are they those who live in the rundown areas of every town? Are they those who sit on street corners with their babies and ask for money? Are they those who will do any work, as long as they get paid? To distinguish is impossible, but to close our eyes choosing not to see is inadmissible....Devious Diva..thank you for not allowing us to think that this problem will just go away....

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Parga....just 15 minutes away...

For any of you who have visited this area, we are very near a major Greek Holiday resort, Parga. Last week, I visited the town, to see friends, and I was taken aback by the difference in such a short distance. As I walked down the "tourkobazaro" which is a cobbled, steep, narrow lane running through the centre of Parga, all I could hear was " ooh, this would be great for ...." or " gosh, it's hot, shall we go for a beer". Yes, the town was flooded with Brits, spending their vacations in this part of Greece. I must tell you that due to the lack of native speakers around here, when I here English spoken by a native, I get a tingly feeling all over. It's a funny sensation, as nostalgia and surprise seem to take over my senses, and all I want to do is stop and start having a chat with the nearest available tourist. It may seem funny to a lot of people, and disturbing to anybody I am with at the time, but this is why I always get excited about visits to Parga during the summer months. Another thing I like about it is how picturesque it is. Houses seem to have been built upon each other around the small port, each lane leading to a different place, hiding small shops and restaurants. Flowers of all colours adorn doorways, window ledges and gates, and just like the local people, they have become a part of the attraction of the area.

The views are tremendous from wherever you stand, wherever you sit. Watching the sailing boats coming in and out of the harbour, visiting the local historical sites, lying on a beach with the green hills and cliffs around you gives you a feeling of being in another world, where nature and modern life seem to have made a deal to work together.

At night all the local sights are lit up and the effect is superb, and when there is a full moon, seems that the world starts and stops here. But don't just take my word for it...add it to your list of "places to visit".....

Monday, June 4, 2007

Amalia.....a cause worth fighting for

This article has been copied from the blog which I read today. Giving doctor's money for services which they are obligated to provide is something that all Greeks have become used to. Some day this must stop. Amalia's blog is a written documentation of how her struggle with cancer touched the hearts of the people and some true and decent doctors, but also of how yet another person struggles against a system with rules that are consistently broken. Amalia ... for you ...

This one is for Amalia…

"Every patient has the right to being respected and maintaining his dignity."
(Greek law, article 47, L.2071/1992)

"Quacks should be the exception, you guys, not the norm…"
(Amalia Kalyvinou , 1977-2007)

Since the age of 8, Amalia Kalyvinou started having pains. Despite her numerous visits to doctors and several admissions to hospitals, no-one managed to diagnose her in time with the benign neurinoma of her lower extremity, which was the actual diagnosis at that point. 17 years later, Amalia was told that the neurinoma had transformed by then into a malignant tumour.For the next 5 years, Amalia not only had to fight with the cancerous disease and amputation, but also with a corrupt Greek National Health System: it ignores (by choice) the ongoing patient-to-doctor bribery and insists on time-consuming bureaucratic methods and practices. Besides radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Amalia had to face the financial exploitation by doctors that stood opposite to rather than by her side. On top of her pain, she had to endure the greediness of private clinics and the exhaustingly long waiting queues of the health insurance system, in order to get legal approval for some ridiculously low financial compensation.Amalia passed away on Friday, May the 25th, 2007. She was just 30 years old.Before dying, she managed to document her experience and share it with us in her blog The promising literature graduate named in there each and every one of the doctors she had to bribe, praising at the same time the ones that honoured the Hippocratic Oath. Her testimony moved thousands of people that stood by her side all the way to the end."Amalia's main aim was to tell her story, so that she could awaken as many people and as many consciences as possible. She mainly wanted to show that there are ways to resist not only the self-regulation and authority of dishonest and heartless doctors, but also the bureaucrats of the Health System."(Dikaia Tsavari & Georgia Kalyvinou – Amalia's mother & sister)According to the Greek law, it is considered a major disciplinary offence for the doctors of the Greek National Health System to:"Accept bonus and especially any compensation or property grant, for any medical service provided.” Amalia Kalyvinou fought for things that are taken for granted in a modern European country. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Greece. Continuing Amalia’s effort where she left off, we protest in public and we demand:
Next time you’ll have to bribe a doctor, just don’t. Choose instead to make a donation. Amalia’s last wish was to contribute to the -under construction- Oncological Centre for Children. (Elpida foundation, tel no 0030210-7757153, email:,Bank accounts: National bank of Greece, account no 080/480898-36, Alphabank account no 152-002-002-000-515. Please remember to quote that your donation is “for Amalia”)INTERNET MOVEMENT OF AMALIA’S FRIENDS

Why Greece....?

I read an article today, about why somebody should move to Greece for a while, maybe to work or study. The question raised was why Greece, or rather, why not anywhere else. I must admit it is a question I have asked myself on may occasions, and the answers may not always be what we are looking for, but they certainly are worth considering. Firstly, the whole Greek attitude to life seems somewhat philosophised. Work is work, but pleasure must be part of the daily routine. Whether it is a walk with the kids, a visit to a local cafe for coffee, meeting with friends at the beach, going for dinner at a seaside taverna, driving to a nearby resort or just strolling along the streets window shopping, there is always something you can do. History, mythology and culture all mingle with daily life, giving a different perspective on things. Just knowing the history of your area, or the people that live in this area, gives you a feeling that you could also become part of that history. Every place has a story, every person has a dream. Multi cultural societies are springing up left, right and centre, and people are even finding new meaning to their lives. Hospitality is a word that can be seen, felt and enjoyed throughout the country, and although the older generation has its flaws, younger people are now coming to terms with those flaws and attempting to change them. Greece is a country associated with bribery, looking the other way, and knowing people who know people. I know this, I live with this, but I am trying to change it. More and more people moving around Europe, searching for a place to live in a united continent, wanting to know more about the more ancient races have found a home here. Others, who cannot live in a society devoid of rules, just visit. But as I look out onto a deep blue sea, and hide from the sun under a clear, cloudless sky, my worries disappear as I answer the question Why Greece..? ...Because such beauty is rare and hard to find, so why not....?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Eating Greek Style

Mealtimes are still a family event in Greece. Most families get together for at least one meal of the day, although this does depend on work schedules, school and so on. Some things can always be found on a Greek table, depending on what is on the agenda for the day. One thing I was not used to when I first came to Greece, was the fact that no matter what the meal was there was always bread on the table. When I was younger, in the UK, bread was something I associated with sandwiches, toast, and soup. Here in Greece though it is a standard part of the Greek meal, as well as salad which varies according to what is in season. Feta cheese and olives are also a must on the table, depending on what the meal is. We usually have olives when we cook pulses, like the traditional bean casserole, or lentils. Daily meal planning can be a bit hectic, but once you get the hang of it, everything can go to plan. Now the Greeks do have days on which they don't eat meat. Wednesdays and Fridays are religiously connected to our eating habits. Wednesday, being the day of the last supper, and Friday, the day on which Christ was crucified, have been marked as days of fasting. This means that on these days we do not eat any animal produce or oil. Of course, this is something which is upheld in the smaller communities in Greece, but apart from the religious aspect, this is also one of the reasons the Greek diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Apart from this, Greek housewives like to have a varied menu. As in other parts of the world, roast dinners, and meat dinners are usually planned for weekends, when most people are at home, and have the time to prepare such meals, and also enjoy them. Past, rice dishes, and potato based dishes are usually cooked once a week, and also fish is something there is plenty of in this country, so most households cook it once or twice a week. Another thing that Greeks like to do is use vegetables in a variety of ways, so during the summer months you will see aubergines, courgettes, peppers, runner beans and okra cooked in a variety of ways. As for meat, you will find that this also has special treatment, and the ways of cooking it vary from place to place, and season to season. I must admit, that growing up with the Greek cuisine has had a delightful effect on my taste buds, as the herbs and spices mingled with vegetables and meat appear to trigger the appetite and make you want to try a bit of everything. The Greek cu sine, much like the Greek people has been influenced by other factors as well as religion. The refugees from Asia Minor brought with them their middle eastern gastronomical delights, and so we have our syrup based desserts. The shepherds and farmers also played an important role in cooking habits, as they used whatever was in season and available in the mountainous regions they travelled through with their herds. Therefore, when visiting Greece, it is essential to try out authentic Greek cooking, although souvlaki and tzatziki are a tempting delight. On the other hand, good old fish and chips with plenty of salt and vinegar is definitely something I miss living here.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Perdika...past, present ...what about the future....

I thought I'd write a little more about my village today. It seemed the obvious choice this morning, as the grey skies had cleared, and the waters had got their sea blue colour back. Over the last decade, we have seen a change in our village, as more tourists visit, especially over the months of July and August. The change is not enough to give us the title of "holiday resort", as not having at least a six month season does not give the locals the chance to expand their businesses, but it is enough for people to have a job in the tourist industry, at least for three months of the year. The funny thing is that we are very close to some of the biggest resorts in our area Parga and Sivota, but because of the uniqueness of the area, a plus in my mind, it is not chosen as a holiday destination. Let me explain. The village is actually set in the mountains, overlooking the Ionian sea. The islands of Paxos and Corfu can be seen in the distance, and it is about 6 km from the coastline. Our beaches are about a fifteen minute drive...nothing really...and we have the clearest waters on this side of Greece. I think it is perfect. A smooth combination of nature, sun, sand and sea. There are hotels on all the beaches, small, family run businesses, but also very professional. There are also many rented rooms, a campsite which cater for every one's needs. It does actually provide something for all ages and all tastes. The hotels are in areas where peace and tranquility reign, but the village has plenty of authentic Greek restaurants, offering Greek specialities as well as international cuisine. Fast food outlets provide the traditional souvlaki and pita. Fishermen sell their catch every day, so fresh fish is always available. There are cafes offering coffee, drinks, ice cream, open all day every day of the year. A local cake shop brimming with fresh desserts is a must, and well at night you will always find one of the two bars playing any music you ask for, so you can dance syrtaki until your feet drop off. All this in the same area. Yesterday I wrote about the other facilities available, so I won't go into detail again, but apart from the other shops here, there are also plenty of places to buy souvenirs and anything else you may want. You really have to see it, to actually understand it. The small churches hidden within the forests are worth searching for, so trekking along the road to the beaches is a journey with surprises along the way. Personally, I love it, but I also know that once somebody visits, it does become a place you want to come back to.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Greek women

Now, over the years I have seen a tremendous change in Greek women. Their style, look, aura all seem to have gone through a makeover, and to be honest, the results are astonishing. Wen I was younger, I remember vacations spent with relatives, always left me in a bit of a muddle. My aunts were always either dressed in black, in mourning, or wore shapeless skirts and dresses. My cousins, having no real contact with the fashion world, except for magazines, tended to be dressed in whatever was handed down from others, or made by mothers and grandmothers. This seemed to be the case wherever I went, apart from in Athens, where it seemed fashion started and ended. Nowadays, times having changed, and boutiques opening up left, right and centre, there is no longer a problem of not being trendy, but rather one of being a bit OTT. More skin, less cloth appears to be the message, especially in the hot summer months, and believe me, the frumpy, pear shaped bodies have quickly disappeared, and in their place we now see beautiful long legged, tanned Greek women strutting around, and they are not to be ignored. In the evenings, when I have time to sit and have a coffee in the village square, I find myself surprised at the ways things have changed. When I was 18, on holiday from the UK, the foreign relative, I remember the local women looking me up and down, as I walked along the streets in my mini skirt, or my extra short shorts. All I could hear was tut tut and a "koitaxe tin...den ntrepete" which for those non Greeks out their is loosely translated as "look at her...shame on her". Today, as I watch their daughters and granddaughters wearing even shorter skirts, and high heeled stilettos, I wonder if they have even noticed them as they leave the house, and I am sure that if they have, their only reaction would be to give them a clove of garlic to carry around with them, so as to ward off the "evil eye". Times have changed though. I remember that to have a haircut or even styled the nearest hairdressers was an hours drive. Now, well, now two of my best friends own one of the three salons within walking distance from my house. Anna and Rania ... great stylists, modern salon, a good place to go even if you' re just a bit down, and a need something to pick you up. Head massages while you have your hair washed are a must, especially if you feel tired. Then there are the clothes shops. Again, in just a few minutes you can pop in and find current fashions, for men women and children. Also, another friend has accessories from bags to bangles, whatever you fancy. Gone are the days of just being a mother, a wife, a housekeeper. Gone are the overalls. No more facial hair, no more bland makeupless faces, discreet clothing, flat shoes. Greece and Greek women are making their mark in the world, becoming more like Greek goddesses each day, even in small villages like this.....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Greek Men (part two)

I seemed to have got carried away on my Greek men post, and ended up talking about football and politics!!!!! Anyway, I thought that I should go back to the article I was actually referring to. As I said, there seems to be a shortage of Greek men in Greece. That is to say in relation to the Greek women. I am not quite sure what the explanation is, but having had two children, on both occasions the maternity ward was filled with more girls than boys. Now, it may be something in the water, or something in the genes, but whatever it is, the future looks somewhat dim. I did have a theory that maybe the mythological Amazon women warriors had left behind a curse, but then realising that I was possibly talking of my ancestors ( the Amazon women were said to have come from Pontus, my grandparents' birthplace) I quickly dismissed the theory as I was beginning to lose my train if thought again. So what is actually going on. Clearly there has been a change in Greece over the years, and families have drastically reduced in size as they have begun to fall in with the European 2.1 children phenomenon. Analysing the area I live in, I also found an additional problem. There is an outstanding number of thirty and forty something bachelors. Then I began thinking, maybe the problem isn't actually the shortage of men, but the amount of unmarried men, who have yet to start families and begin increasing the male population. My mind again went back to the Amazon women. They were said to have killed all their menfolk, and male offspring were killed at birth in order for there to be a "reign of women". Could this "reign of women", without all the killing, be happening again. If so, should we women be preparing ourselves and our daughters of what is to come? or should we Greeks merely have more babies to increase the population and the chances of having a son. Whatever the answer...there is still one question...where have all the men gone???

Friday, May 25, 2007


What are your passions in life? A question that I always want to ask people, but you do have to have more than a mere acquaintance with somebody to be able to ask. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about a fetish, and I am not a crazed woman bounding upon middle age, fearing what is ahead. No...I'm talking about passions....things we yearn for in the middle of the day, all day, all night. I have come to thinking that it's only when we reach a certain age, or level of thinking, or even when you just have the time to think, the feeling that something is missing comes up. I used to think that anything Greek was my passion...the food, the drink, the smells, the colours...they all seemed different here, but now I have changed my view. Passion, the dictionary meaning is "..a powerful emotion such as love or anger.." , so what triggers that powerful emotion in us all, and do we all have that emotion? I know that feeling....a feeling deep down that makes you dizzy, that makes you feel empty and full at the same time. The feeling which triggers euphoria, fear, confusion, and wisdom all at the same time. It's a feeling that is confused with other feelings, only because we name those feelings, but passion, passion cannot be named. My teenage neighbour screaming at the sight of her favourite pop idol...passion...the cafe owner just down the road watching his favourite football team....passion...the widower tending to his vegetable garden every morning before the sun rises...passion....the dreamy forty-something lady lying on the beach dreaming of the perfect tan...passion. It is something unique, a part of each one of us that makes us special. Some people show their passion, some people are loved for it and others hated for it but it is one of the things that makes us ... us...I am one of those people who likes to keep my passions for me. There are a handful of things that give me that feeling, some that others know about, some that are only for me. Living in a country full of "passion" does tend to bring it out in you though...So, forgive me for my indiscretion, but tell me ...What is your passion????

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Greeks and Politics

Ok, so yesterday was not a good day for Liverpool, but that's life...every day can't be a good day, but there certainly should be more good days than bad. A conversation with my mother a few days ago sparked off some thoughts in my mind, and as usual, I thought that conveying them may or may not be a good idea. You see, for as long as I have been living in Greece, I have always found myself comparing the two worlds I have lived in. Now you may say that this is not a good idea, as we are talking about two opposites, two very different sides of the coin. However, my mother's words do keep bothering me. As we were talking about how some people have managed to secure, not only their own futures, but that of their offspring, mum remarked that some people were just lucky in life. I did not react at the time, but over the past few days I have been thinking about luck and its effect on our lives. Many things tend to conflict with the theory that it is all a question of the "right time, right place", especially here. Take lucky games, for instance, I clearly remember that when the lottery first began in the UK, as I was there, people would wait beside their TVs for the draw, and lo behold, a winner was found. Over the next few days, there would be an interview with the winner, no names mentioned of course, but there was at least a feeling of hope that one day it would be one of us who would win. Over the twelve years I have lived in Greece, I have never heard a winner being referred to, or mentioned. Everything is so low key, that it makes me wonder if somebody does actually win. I have been playing lucky games ever since I came here, and no, I have never even come close..but it does make me think. Another "lucky" coincidence is that politicians, members of parliament, local leaders, all seem to be "set up " in life. A bundle of money in their pockets, they rule our country, and, not only that, you see citizens daily announcing their visits to a ministry, a local political office or even dropping their acquaintance with party members into every conversation they have. Where in the world does this actually happen. Maybe I've only ever lived in Britain, but I never remember my life revolving around a member of parliament that may or may not have lived in my neighbourhood, let alone visit him to talk about a piece of land that was not actually allwed to be built on, to see if he could something. And what about the other curious things ...for example every school child has a dream of going into the civil service!!! A dream of working in offices of the state, in schools, in the health service and why??? Because they are permanent, and when I say permanent I mean it. You get your monthly pay cheque, qualified or not, competent or not, polite or not!!!! And the icing on the cake is that you have to break the law in a BIG way to ever get fired!!! So why shouldn't kids have this dream?? Even the police force is a big plus. Have you ever seen a police officer drinking on duty? I can tell you it does not give you greatest feeling of safety. And don't even get me started on local authorities, anything goes, along as you have voted for whoever is in power. So does luck have anything to do with anything, I ask myself. My reply is No!!! There is always a way round things, sometimes illegal, other times immoral, but that has nothing to do with luck. On the other hand, I'm still counting on my lottery numbers showing up on the TV screen one day.......