Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Archive for January, 2008

Greece, land of Gods

Greek godsGreece. A place so many call paradise — sun, sand, sparkling sea.

Greece. A land almost too ethereal, too magical and too steeped in mythology to be real.

Greece. A country granted to Greeks because they came late.

The story told to me nearly a decade ago by my friend Giorgo goes like this.

On the day the Gods were distributing land to mortals, some came early and received large countries that would become the United States; some came on time and got countries that became known the Commonwealth or Spain; others came later and got Finland and Russia. Still good countries, just a little cold.

But the Greeks had been indulging in Bacchian revelry the night before and came late. By the time they arrived, there was no more land to distribute.

So what did the Gods do? Initially, the Gods thought to teach them a lesson for being irresponsible and let them wander the Earth to inhabit other lands as immigrants. But that seemed a little cruel.

One of them remembered a small parcel of land and some islands they’d set aside for vacation. And after much discussion and debate, it was decided they didn’t need this land and gave it to the Greeks.

And so the land of Gods became Greece. Why?

Because the Greeks came late.

In the News

Greece, land of gods and luxury travel” — Kathimerini

Related posts

Journey to Hellas
Live Your Myth in Greece 2008
True Greek experience
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No smoking in the house!

We both don’t smoke. The majority of our friends don’t smoke and, if they do, they usually go out on the balcony.

So what am I talking about?

The apartment has a fireplace, which my fiancé used as a selling point to move here. Even our landlords downstairs told me they wished THEY had a fireplace like ours. I didn’t like this house and was skeptical of all the enthusiasm.

For starters, the fireplace is painted orange. But the kicker is the flue doesn’t close; it’s not even an option because there isn’t one. As a result, there’s a light but steady breeze blowing through the living room most days; on windy days, it’s worse. My observations were duly noted, but ignored.

My fiancé was convinced it would be warmer and more economical than petrol if we burned some wood so, after stating my objection to burning trees, I humored him and watched him start a fire. For a man who last built a fire in the army more than a decade ago, I was impressed with his flair for fotia. But kudos quickly turned to complaint as the house filled with smoke and sent me gasping for air. The smoke wasn’t going up the chimney, the wind was blowing it back into the house!

I ran through the house to close off the bedroom doors, kitchen and bathroom, while my fiancé hoped the smoke would dissipate and leave us in cozy comfort. I could see the look of determination on his face…or was it stubborn pride? Pleas to put out the fire were (you guessed it) duly noted, but ignored. It was going to be warm, dammit!

After three hours of futility in which I sat silent, we were no warmer, although the smell of burnt wood lasted a good four or five days during which I froze my a$$ off to air out the house, then washed every linen and shred of clothing.

The fireplace is now sealed off and retired, but if I ever want to feel like a smoked salmon again, at least I know I have that option. 😉

Related posts

One apartment, hold the mold
Cockroaches and courthouses, landlords and leases
Facing the cold with fire” — DW

Photo from CNN.net

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* If RB is reading this post, may I coax you to tell your fireplace story? Cheryl also has a post called, “Asphyxiation by fireplace”; everyone can find her on my Blog Worship list.
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Athens, Greece: Real inflation in 6 months

Greece is required to keep its deficit to 3.0 percent annually and inflation to the eurozone average of approximately 3.0 percent per year, though it is difficult to understand how this is legitimately accomplished when Athens jumped 30 placegreekarrow.pngs on the Cost of Living ranking done by Mercer, an independent institution producing the most comprehensive reports on the subject.

In January 2008, the National Statistic Service (NSS) admitted that inflation was at a 27-month high, however it is officially being quoted as 3.9 percent, though most know it’s more like 10 percent. Employers benefit greatly by using the lower figure, giving employees the absolute minimum raise, if any raise at all.

Is Greece expensive? In a word, ‘yes.’

Dairy products, which are already priced quite high with past increases of up to 40 percent, were set to rise 10 percent. Milk was supposed to be the exception, but findings show this to be untrue on paper and in real life. Increases were between 4.5 to 8.5 percent.

For those who are lactose intolerant or uninterested in cheese and milk, the price for eggs, flour and pasta rose 15 to 25 percent.

Want to keep warm this winter? It’ll cost you. The cost of electricity is up 7 percent as of December 2007, and oil is at a 14-month high because Greece is heavily dependent on it as a source of energy due to outdated heating systems and its failure to embrace greener practices. Add to this poorly built homes with little or no insulation, and you have a country that burns double the energy in winter compared to Sweden, which has a significantly colder climate. (See “Save money with off-peak electricity rates at DEH” to offset the burden).

If you manage to avoid spending money on oil and gas for the car, or choose to take public transportation for environmentally conscious reasons, a 10 percent increase is coming soon. Metro tickets may rise to 1 euro, which is actually a 25 percent increase, and the Transport Ministry is still in debate about other forms of transport. (* It has now been decided that all modes of transport will convert to an 80-cent ticket, which reflects no increase on the metro, a 60 percent increase for buses and trolleys, 33 percent rise for the tram, and 14 percent for the electrikos. This means the monthly card will drop back down to 35 euros on May 1st).

Bank charges are 10 times higher than the EU average, yet bank employees say they are underpaid (welcome to the club) and want a 10 percent raise (kali tyxi). There is also a looming threat of VAT being raised to 21 percent.

Consumers in Greece are being hit from all sides.

Why are prices so high? Cartels are one reason. Lack of competition another.

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