Most people who vacation in Greece have tales of equal parts debauchery and zen, great food and swimming in emerald seas. Not me.
After 10 years of enjoying peace and quiet during the city summer exodus, I’d been looking forward to more of the same by staying in Athens in August. Turns out my waiting was in vain. My list of “Pros and cons of Athens in August” doesn’t apply to coastal suburbs. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
As Betabug and I wrote previously, Athenian neighborhoods are typically empty. Seaside? Not true. The vast majority of my neighbors – affluent or not – never went anywhere. Even the paliatzi and karpouzia trucks continue to circle like vultures. For the few that did leave, there were plenty of residents from the center and visitors from abroad to take their place because…
Nothing is closed. Clubs and cafes are pulsing on beaches only minutes away, boats jockeying for position, and the manavis, bakeries and grocery stores open. That means plenty of traffic, crowds of roasters and frenzied shoppers grabbing items like “it’s the last day of their lives” in the words of my fiancé. Well, at least our electricity and water weren’t cut like last summer, and we got to spend quality time with good friends.
On August 15, the only one sleeping was the Theotokos. Our next-door neighbor decided 7:00 was the perfect time to mow his lawn, and another fired up his chainsaw at 8:00. The streets were not empty, as is often the case in the kentro.
And if you’re wondering why I didn’t get the Hellas out of here and put myself out of my misery, it’s because both our bosses gave us last-minute notice that we were literally forced to take 2 weeks vacation. (Is it truly a vacation if you didn’t want to go?) Therefore, we had no way to plan or book anything without paying a fortune, and we both hate traveling in August because of the heat and crowds; the only time I’ve traveled in August in the past 9 years was to attend my brother’s wedding.
So for this period of rest and relaxation, I was presented with two lovely and equally enticing punishments packages:
a) “His vacation is my incarceration”: Stay home and do double the cleaning and cooking in a 32C (90F) kitchen because my male counterpart does little of the former (and even less while “HE’S on vacation”) and none of the latter, work on contracted projects and sleep on the couch because the bedroom is a furnace;
b) “Build by day, have breakdown by night”: Accept my future father-in-law’s invitation to the village where 10 days of renovation projects, a sleeping room with 3 other people, no AC and “the thing” (summer edition) awaited us.
In addition to package ‘a’ and sweating bullets, I dug up 5 years worth of documents — and the unpleasant memories they conjured — to prepare to file a lawsuit against someone in Greece who owes me a great deal of money, and attended a funeral.
So did anything go on vacation? Well, aside from our 3G connection (now fixed) and my sanity, the sweet gionis departed for greener pastures. Maybe he went to his village to find a mate since this seaside suburb hasn’t lived up to the hype. Lucky little nightbird.