I’ve always wanted to be able to say that in context. And now I can. It is a language where some of the letters are not even recognisable and others are vaguely reminiscent of high school maths or science classes. Slowly, they begin to look familiar.
I have been in Greece for a week and a few things have struck me. First impressions are so important… you forget what stands out after a while in a new place when the once-new becomes commonplace.
Firstly, the Greeks: They are a strange mixture of really friendly and somewhat offhand. There is the grandmother who helps her son at the campsite where I am staying and greets everyone with outstretched arms and a big smile — even if she saw you just five minutes before. Sometimes she blows a series of kisses, flapping her hands to and from her lips in frantic butterfly movements.
The son, who is the manager and in his early thirties, plied us with raki the first night. It didn’t end well… A few days later, after fixing me with his intense Mediterranean-blue eyes, he asked me, “How you stay so “feeet?” I laughed in that way where you feel flattered but don’t want to let on, lest you look middle-aged and needy. He then proceeded to proposition me – on behalf of his unmarried friend (of course) – so perhaps I did look marginally interested. No. I didn’t and wasn’t. He was just being Greek. And male. Male Greek.
Olives and olive trees: There are many. They arch above the tent and shield us from the intensity of the full moon.
Sun and boats: There are many of them, too. You could be forgiven for thinking that the entire world population lives on boats.
The strange custom of putting dirty loo paper in the bin provided instead of down the loo, thereby protecting the aging sewers. By 5pm there’s a certain warm, unpleasant aroma radiating from the ablutions.
The distinct scarcity of traffic accidents on the island, even though mopeds and bicycles commonly appear the wrong way down a one-way street. You know it’s a one-way because of the direction the cars are parked, I think…
Old men fingering their worry beads.
Then there’s the naturally vegan food: stuffed vine leaves; huge, juicy red tomatoes; olives and capers; boiled greens; cherries; fava and, lastly, accidentally vegan rusks (an unexpected treat.)
Ubiquitous rosy-faced British tourists: They tend to waddle from side to side like ducks. Not sure why.
It’s a lovely place. So calm and peaceful. And warm. Until the afternoon wind picks up and tosses the washing off the line and makes the tent flap, interrupting your siesta.
Here are some pics.
The Parthenon at night. Viewed here from a rooftop cinema.
Train graffiti in Athens.
Raw vegan sushi.
Ferry to Kefalonia.
Vegan dinner by the beach.
Vegan dinner at the campsite.
Cycling the road to Lixouri.
Morning coffee with rice milk from “Bio” shop.