Living in Greece

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

Archive for April, 2009

Kokoretsi countdown

lamb-kokoretsi
Photo from blogs.sch.gr

Look familiar? If you’re Greek, had the pleasure of being invited to Greek Easter by friends or eaten at a good taverna, these side-by-side spits of lamb and kokoretsi are staples.

What is kokoretsi? Don’t ask and just try it. Seriously. I also recommend sampling it more than once because everyone prepares it differently.

Though I and many Greeks in my life do not like lamb that much, there’s something nice about the men taking turns at the spit and getting drunk over conversation, while children play and women gossip busy themselves in the kitchen. Nowadays, however, nearly everyone has an electric device, people pick at food all day and serving the lamb is somewhat anti-climatic. Krima.

It shan’t be long now!

Greek Easter for Greek-Americans

Some know about Mr. Panos from Lazopoulos. Since I don’t watch Greek TV for reasons explained in “More windows on Greek TV than my house,” my introduction came through Big C.

This is his Greek Easter “vlog.” To me, the funniest part is his imitation of the way Americans pronounce Greek words, and I’m not ashamed to admit I sounded like that 13 years ago. Hey, we all have to start somewhere. *Warning: Only those with a sense a humor should watch the video.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfXIWYdL8dU]

Also, should you ever play τσούγκρισμα with the Archbishop, let him win or be quick to apologize and give him your winning egg if you crack his. I speak from first-hand experience.

Kalo Pascha, Xronia Polla and Christos Anesti! 🙂

Related posts

Death and resurrection: Paschal journey, life journey
Kokoretsi, heart of the Easter menu” — Kathimerini
Easter in Athens
“Sellers reap 400 percent profit on ‘Greek’ lambs from FYROM” (article removed)
Easter of the Greeks” – Kathimerini


Tha ta poume, Vigor

On Saturday morning, like many mornings of the year, George went for an organized ride with 140 others who shared his love of cycling. It was 15:30 in the afternoon and a light rain had fallen earlier, but visibility was crystal clear as he entered the last 20 kilometers of a 200-km brevet.

Near Pyrgos on a two-lane highway, a 33-year-old driver prepared to overtake vehicles in front of him by accelerating and using the lane with vehicles approaching from the opposite direction — a common occurrence  in Greece, where impatience and “freedom” take precedence over maturity, respect and responsibility.

van

The van was traveling at a speed fast enough to dislodge a concrete column from the ground,

pole

then struck George and threw him off the road into a field, cutting his bike in half.

giorgo-bike

This bike was his partner in a sport he found joy, riding and competing alongside friends lucky to not lose their lives this day, but forever scarred by witnessing his horrific and untimely death. He was 31.

To cycling friends he was known as “Vigor.” He had eyes that rivaled the blue of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful seas, and it was only days ago we basked in his easy smile. The next time we see him will be in the afterlife.

I know the story of George’s last moments because he was a friend and classmate of many friends I consider my family, and I feel their hearts breaking with shock and sorrow as he is laid to rest. This post is for them.

In Memoriam

His friends created a video in his memory. The Greek text translates to: “Dedication to our friend George Vidos – Vigor, who wrongly left from this hard life. You will always be in our hearts.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvDQL_h1-ms]

“Up there where you went, they needed an angel and they took you far from us, however they didn’t ask us if we needed you. The bike was your life…and it was this that took you away.”

Related articles

O Vigor efyge” (in Greek) – Ποδηλάτρης
“Hobby Thanatou (in Greek) – Patris News (Front page, page 9)
Bike + Greece = Yikes” (in English)

Photos from patrisnews.gr

Greece vs. USA: Inflation in one year

Greek inflation

Figures released by the National Statistical Service (NSS) in March 2009 claim that inflation in Greece is 1.3 percent, its lowest in 41 years; inflation in the United States is at a 50-year low. This is a significant change from May last year when Greek inflation was reported to be 4.9 percent, its highest in 10 years.

However, it finally came out via IMF audit that Greece lied and fixed its stats. To receive the biggest bailout in history, three tax increases were imposed between March 2010 and January 2011 and inflation hit a 13-year high. As of January 2011, Greece has the highest inflation in the EU, second only to Romania.

The Greek government promised that grocery prices would be lowered in late 2008, which did happen for a few months. But they were raised to rates above the original once that period ended. For example, a half kilo of rice was 0.55 when I surveyed the price in June 2008, the government and cooperating supermarkets lowered it to 0.45, but now it’s up to 0.65 — that’s 31 percent higher if calculated from 0.45, and 15 percent if calculated from 0.55. However, the NSS claims the price of rice only rose 11.2 percent. The 2008 IOBE report was more in line with my findings, citing price hikes of 20.1 percent for pasta and 12.7 percent for bread by end of August 2008.

Speaking of bread, we now pay 0.23 cents more to receive 10 grams less product, and prices will again be raised February 2011. I pay attention to these things because I calculate everything to the penny to make these price comparisons as fair and accurate as possible. I am also an active part of this household’s long-term financial planning, so I know exactly where money is being spent and why. It’s not sexy or cool, but there’s a huge difference between consuming and investing.

In the cabinet reshuffle, former Transport Minister and current Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis replaced Christos Folias, the self-proclaimed corruption fighter who vowed to “cut off the hands” of profiteers. Hatzidakis promised that consumers in Greece can expect price cuts in May. Tha doume (we’ll see).

I realize the price of everything goes up every year in every country, but I seriously doubt the majority of us working in Greece saw a 10-20 percent salary hike to keep pace with the double-digit rise in cost of living. In fact, 600 people lose their jobs every day in Greece and a great number of highly educated professionals are now amongst the ranks of homeless.

* Graph from IMF.org

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