Showing posts with label COVID-19 in Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19 in Greece. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Jubilate: A Greek Village Christmas

Jubilate ~ a verb; to feel joy or great delight.  That is my word for this Christmas in Greece.

Village Christmas 2020 - Agios Nikolaos

Few creatures have been stirring this week in our Greek village that hugs the western coastline of the southern Peloponnese. The usual slow pace, has slowed even more in the days leading up to and following Christmas as our weather has alternated between sunshine and storms. 

Carolers at our taverna table in the village, 2021

But what made this Christmas special was that we were stirring, if even at a slowed and somewhat sporadic pace!

Jubilate ~ the gift of freedom

Christmas Syntagma Square Athens, 2019

This year we have been basking in the gift of freedom, something we had taken for granted up until it was snatched away by Covid prevention restrictions in the early months of 2020 and not returned until late spring this year. 

Christmas Morning 2020 - coffee in the parking lot - Covid lockdown

Last Christmas was celebrated with all of Greece in lockdown. Lockdown meant that we texted the government for permission to go out for one of six allowed reasons - and didn't leave the house until it was granted (thankfully, it was usually an immediate response). 

Christmas morning, 2021, inside with friends - jubilate

A year ago,  the Christmas morning highlight was drinking a take-away cappuccino in the parking lot at the harbor. This Christmas we joined friends for coffee on the day before Christmas, sitting at tables on the taverna's deck enjoying the winter's sun and youthful carolers (not allowed last year). On Christmas morning we sat inside the gaily decorated taverna and sipped coffee with other friends.

Paketo Christmas dinner - alone at home - 2020

Paketo, literally means packed, but became the shortened phrase for 'to go' or 'take out' during lockdown. Our Christmas dinner from a favorite taverna was served paketo, aluminum foil containers in a plastic bag. We ate at home alone - gatherings were discouraged. Vaccines hadn't yet been made available and frankly we feared getting Covid.

Food, wine, music - Christmas Eve dinner, 2021

We went out to -- and dined inside -- another favorite taverna this Christmas Eve! We listened to Greek musicians play traditional tunes. Live music, for that matter, all music, was banned in public establishments last year, as it might have caused patrons to linger longer. 

Christmas Eve in Kardamyli - Jubilate - 2021

Later we sipped a glass of wine sitting at the bar and visiting with our longtime friend who owns it.  Last year it was forbidden to sit at any bar so what a treat it was this year to do something as simple as sipping wine sitting at a bar! 

The two tavernas in which we celebrated this Christmas Eve are in our neighboring village of Kardamyli, about five miles from our village. Last Christmas we weren't allowed to travel that far from home.  

Jubilate ~ Gifts not wrapped

Jubilate - music inside Christmas Eve

Inside! What a magic word! Another word and concept we took for granted in our staid American life that we left behind when we chose to try expat life in Greece. No one expected when we made the move, to have the entire world turned upside down by a pandemic. We are still thankful we rode out the initial year here in Greece. It taught us much about appreciating so much of which we previously took for granted both here and in the States.

Kalamata Christmas carols rang out through the town

Music! Christmas carols have never sounded as sweet as they did being played from speakers along the pedestrian street in Kalamata (another forbidden destination at this time last year). Or when the school kids came to sing songs to us in the village.  

Jubilate - to feel joy or delight - is definitely my word this year. 

Friends on the beach Christmas Morning 2021

Friends! You don't know how much you miss your friends until you are not allowed to be with them. What a gift it has been to be with people again, laughing, hugging, chatting and getting caught up with each other.

Jubilate ~ Savor The Moment 

The only village decoration, 2021

Now to be totally honest about this Christmas, I must tell you that Covid case numbers are soaring in Greece at a dizzying pace. The government tightened prevention measures the day before Christmas requiring masks be worn indoors and out, double masks or N95 in grocery stores. We continue to show proof of vaccination or recent negative tests to enter stores and entertainment venues. We are prepared for additional measures to be announced this week - nothing as drastic as before, though, we are told.  

And for that we jubilate.

We hope that whatever the holiday or season you are celebrating that you have cause to experience my word: jubilate. Again thank you for the time you spent with us and we will be back with more tales from Italy next week!

Linking sometime soon with:

Monday, May 10, 2021

Greek Easter - A Giddy Sort of Week

 After so very long, we finally had cause to celebrate in Greece.  And even better, we were allowed to celebrate!

Pascha - Easter in Greece is not to be missed even with COVID

Megali Evdomada - the week between Palm Sunday and Pascha (Easter) is a time to celebrate rebirth. This year we were celebrating not only the rebirth of Christ but what feels like the rebirth - most certainly, the reopening -- of Greece itself. 

Church bells tell the Easter story

Traditionally this Holy Week is marked by church bells chiming with regularity, their peals heralding the days of Easter with dirges mourning Christ's death or upbeat peals of joy for His resurrection.  A year ago, the Easter bells were silenced by the country's first Covid lockdown. At the time none of us suspected it was only the first multi-month lockdown and that the second would drag on until it was a few days short of lasting six months.

Church bells rang out during Easter Week

On Maundy Thursday, the church bells began chiming. They rang again on Good Friday. While not a joyful peal because of the days in which they were commemorating it was a joy to hear them wafting across the water again as they had in year's before Covid. 

Greek Orthodox Easter Week was the last week of April this year with Easter falling on May2nd.

Easter Saturday night in the village

Although we are still in lockdown, the government allowed modified church services and Easter traditions to take place - a significant step in reopening the country. The next giant leap came Easter Monday when restaurants, bars, cafes and tavernas were allowed to reopen for outdoor seating, (distancing, masks and group size limitations are in place at all those establishments). We still text for permission to leave our homes and curfew is in place.

Nothing Short of 'Giddy"

Getting ready to open after six months closure

The excitement of the upcoming reopening of eateries and watering holes, combined with the celebration of Christ's Rebirth brought the village to life last weekend. Painting of storefronts, setting up of outdoor tables and chairs under enormous umbrellas, planters being filled with colorful blooms, . . .well, to be honest, there was just a plain old 'giddy' attitude among us all.  

Easter Saturday fireworks

Easter Saturday is one of the biggest nights in Greece -- the night when church services throughout the country concluded with the glad ringing of the church bells and candles are lit and the proclamation, 'Christos Anesti!' "Christ's Resurrection!" rings out from those gathered.  

Usually held at midnight, this year took place at 9 pm as we still have a late night curfew in effect. Although not officially open until Monday, tavernas along the harbor allowed those coming for the service, the fireworks and festivities to sit -- socially distanced, of course -- but it felt so almost 'like normal'.

Hot Air Balloons an Easter tradition

We watched small groups of teenagers sharing whatever it is they share on mobile phones these days, their heads bent over the small illuminated screens. We watched younger kids racing through the parking lots.

Adults were lighting and launching hot air balloons, a tradition at Easter.  We watched others walk towards the church where the evening service was getting underway.  In previous years so many people attended the service that it has been held outside the village pharmacy so that crowds filled the streets. Not this year, as all services were confined to the church yard. 

Friends pause for a photo after candle-lighting

The candles were lit at the conclusion of the service, calls of  "Christos Anesti!" rang out, fireworks exploded over the harbor. 

There have been bigger crowds and celebrations and there will likely be bigger ones again in the future.  But after a somewhat bleak and very long lockdown, for the couple hundred people that had come to the village, this was definitely a night of celebration. 

What's Next for Greece?

Restaurants are reopen - a big step towards normal

Major international media outlets have been announcing that Greece reopens to tourists from around the world this coming weekend, May 14/15. (Proof of vaccinations and/or negative tests are still being bantered about as requirements to avoid a quarantine. And arrivals will be subject to random testing as well). But at least the country is putting back the welcome mat they rolled up more than a year ago.

However, Greek media has been speculating that we who live here may still have some restricted movements, need to seek permission for movement (those SMS/text messages to the government) and other constraints. The Covid counts remain high in some areas.  

Cafes along the harbor in Agios Nikolaos are open again!

Others speculate that once the gates open, they will be open for all.  We are hedging our bets and making plans to travel as soon as it is allowed. You might just say we are continuing that giddy attitude, just thinking about the possibilities.  At this point your guess about what will happen is as good as ours. . .we'll answer this cliffhanger in our next post!

Our thanks for the time you spent with us and our wishes for a 'giddy sort of week' for you and yours! Hope you will be back with us next week!

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

Friday, April 9, 2021

Travel to Greece ~ A Matter of Test and Time

We had 72 hours to get from Washington State to the arrival gate at Athens last week.  

The return trip back from our 'other world' turned out to be both a matter of test and time. 

Heading back to Greece

The time clock against which we were racing started the minute the swabs went up our noses for the PCR-Covid test and would stop when those results were presented to some official at the Athens Airport.

We'd returned to the U.S. Pacific Northwest as expats who had finally needed to address some deferred home-owning obligations and routine medical matters. We'd not been back in over a year - the longest we've ever been out of the country.  

We'd also given up waiting for vaccinations in Greece and had headed back to the States with getting vaccinated as the top priority on our list.  (Turns out that was a good thing as fellow expats haven't yet been allowed into the jab scheduling system in Greece.)

Last week, our 'to do' list was completed - it was time to return to our world in Greece. And it didn't take long for this White Knuckler to have far more things to fret about than keeping the plane in the air!

72 hours to make it with  time zones and overnight layers

As I mentioned in our last post, testing for Covid has become a major requirement of travel in this 'new normal' world. Unfortunately for the traveler, there is no uniform requirement for test report formats or timelines for obtaining the tests. Our trip illustrated that point well as there are very distinct rules for each of our country's, even though they seem very much alike at first glance!  

Greece's mandated negative test within 72 hours prior to arrival is much more daunting a timeline to meet when flying from the U.S. west coast than a test three calendar days before departure was when traveling to the U.S. 

PCR test in our Greek village

What that meant was: we could take the test at a lab in our Greek village on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and depart for the U.S. from Athens Friday afternoon. Because of time zones changes we arrived in Seattle the next day, Saturday, which was the same day we flew out of Dubai, (our connecting city). Three days were no problem.

Entering Greece with test  results obtained within 72 hours was a much higher hurdle: We lost a day, thanks to those time zones and Greece is 10 hours ahead of the U.S. West Coast.  That meant if we had the test on Tuesday at 8 the U.S, we had to be back in Greece by 6 p.m. Friday (adjusted for time change). Our flight was scheduled to arrive at 3 p.m. which gave us a three-hour window for any potential delays. 

From Greece's PLF - required for entry

Greece also has two seemingly simple sounding requirements for those test results, but both became major concerns in the preflight dash:  1) the test results be printed on paper from an accredited lab or medical facility (that meant letterhead paper) and 2) our passport numbers were to be included on those reports.

Playing Beat the clock

Heading out over the Polar Route to Greece

In all fairness to Washington, a number of drive-through, do-it-yourself test sites were available. But those provided quick tests and Greece required the PCR, the one that involves a bit more scrutiny under the microscope. And the places we contacted that did those PCR's were limiting testing to those who thought they had Covid. They weren't conducting tests for travelers.  

 SeaTac International airport does have an on-site testing operation that claims to be for international travelers. But when we finally reached them by phone (that in itself a stressful matter) we were told that printing test results on paper wasn't 'normal', and that they were unsure the passport number could be added, but to check with those administering the test.  We couldn't take that chance - we needed, what we needed and an assurance at the time of making the appointment that we could get it.

A long day's night got longer while awaiting test results

There was also the matter of defining 'next day results' - when pressed on when the results would be available we learned their definition of  'next day' meant the results could come in by email by 11:30 p.m.-- potentially too late for our 5 p.m. departure.

(Here I must note that journalists on both sides of the Atlantic have been writing tales of travelers all over the world in much the same boat as we found ourselves: lab results being promised 'next day' but not soon enough for the traveler to make a  flight. But because of limits like 72 hours, tests often can't be done earlier because of travel times. Somehow we felt better knowing we weren't alone in being stressed.)

Rural Hospital to the Rescue

Heading out for testing in Wenatchee, WA

Most of you regulars here know that our home is in Washington State's rural agricultural region, a near four-hour drive to SeaTac Airport. It was at the regional hospital an hour's drive from us  that we finally booked our drive-through tests after being assured that results were 'next day' and if tested early enough, perhaps even same day! We rejoiced! 

We were the first car through the test site, on that day before our flight, however our stress level went up a notch or two when the lab technician preparing the nose swabs told us that test results could be 24- to 48- hours away because of testing volumes. 

The Devil is in the Details

Up in the Air over Test Result Format

The hospital came through for us and our results were emailed 2.5 hours after we took the test.  We had paper copies of the results in our hand 4.5 hours after the test. We remained moderately stressed though as there was no way to include our passport numbers on those results.  Especially knowing that  Greece often wants identification going back to our father's and mother's names and birthdates, so we weren't at all sure our tests would be accepted by officials. . .even though on the bright side - they were negative!

Take Off and Landing

An overnight in Dubai was part of the return itinerary

The PCR test results, our Greek residency permit and the Greek-required Passenger Locator Form were all checked closely in SeaTac prior to boarding our flight to Dubai. Because our connecting flight was the next morning and we entered Dubai by leaving the airport there our Covid test results were scrutinized twice upon landing and again the next morning when we returned to the airport prior to boarding the flight to Athens. 

Thankfully, no one along the way questioned the lack of passport number.

As we disembarked in Athens (on time so within the 72 hour limit) I had test results in hand to show the first official who asked for them.

Nobody asked to see them! 

No one! 


Instead, we all were paraded through a temporary medical testing station and random Covid tests were administered.  The Scout was one of many selected for testing. Then we were sequestered in a holding area until test results were known. Luckily, no one tested positive, we were free to collect our bags and leave.

However other travelers report having to show test results upon arrival. And we'd have never gotten on the plane without them. So test results whether reviewed here or not are key to entering Greece

 So, what?

Back Home in the Mani - Greek Peloponnese

I suspect if you made it this far, you might be wondering why I even told this story. We'd made the decision to travel in a time of Covid and we knew their would be hurdles.  However, we didn't anticipate how stressful getting over those testing and timeline hurdles would be and we wanted  our experiences to help you to be prepared for such requirements when you start traveling again.

We were gobsmacked by how difficult it was to find testing sites and the cost of them in our corner of the United States. Our test in Greece was 60 euros per person or $71US.  The tests offered at SeaTac were $179 (next day) and $350 (one hour results) per person. The test we had cost $218 per person. Had we been delayed for any reason and had the test again in Dubai it would have been another couple hundred dollars per person.

European Union considering Vaccination Passport

And I tell our testing tale  because right now Greece and other members of the European Union are considering Green Vaccination Passports, a uniform piece of identification issued by each country in the union with a 'Q' code that verifies the holder has been vaccinated and can travel without further testing or quarantine requirements.   

President Biden has repeatedly said the U.S. government is not interested in issuing such passports.  So we travelers vaccinated in the U.S. will be limited to the CDC testing cards we had stamped at time of the jabs and any state records that might show vaccinations we've had.  

If Greece and other EU countries don't accept those documents, then there will be continued requirements for having had a negative test to enter the country: the test and the race against time will continue. 

Our Greek Village Agios Nikolaos

That's our story for this week. We are happy to be back at our Stone House on the Hill.  We are now in the fifth month of Greece's second lockdown. It is not surprising that 'Lockdown Fatigue' is being mentioned more and more in the headlines here.  How is life going in your part of the world? Leave us a comment or send us an email, we'd love to hear from you!  

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Travel ~ To Go or Not to Go. . .

With apologies to Hamlet, we borrowed his famous soliloquy, 'To Be or Not To Be' and made it our own this week. For days we've asked ourselves, 'To Go or Not To Go?'

To go or not to go, the great unknown right now

A week ago we decided 'To Go!' and booked ourselves back to Seattle, Washington; Washington the state in which we were born and lived most of our lives - where our American roots are firmly planted. 

We would fly from Athens to Dubai on Emirates and connect there with a direct flight to Seattle this weekend. 

Homeward bound via the Arctic route

Less than 48 hours ago we decided 'Not To Go' and cancelled our trip. . .and not, I might add, for the first time since COVID became a household word throughout the world.

A year ago and a world away. . .

To go or not to go, is the question being asked by travelers everywhere these days. Remember back when the biggest decision was 'where' and 'when' to go? Back when you didn't have to convince yourself that the purpose of the trip was 'essential' enough to go through the hassle and hazards of taking it?  Back when you didn't have to worry about which country might be the next to close its borders or impose new mandates for Covid prevention?

The Scout in Manson, our other home

It was February - a year ago - when we last were in our other world.  It was a short stay at our home in the rural part of the State but that was okay we'd reasoned because we would be back in six months.  Our list of projects needing attention upon our return was already written.  However, it was only a matter of weeks after resuming our expat life in Greece, that we found ourselves in the first of the country's lockdowns. 'To do' lists elsewhere were forgotten.

Our other world in February 

Our longtime readers know that three years ago, when we chose to have a final adventure as expats before age and health prevented it, we saw it as merely shifting our lifestyle: instead of living most of the year in the US and making extended visits to Greece, we would live in Greece and make extended visits back to the United States. We had thought through - we thought at the time -- all the possible scenarios that could impact that plan.

A worldwide pandemic didn't come to mind.

However, as we enter the fourth month of our second lockdown in Greece, we have adapted  to this mask-wearing, socially-distanced, limited world of ours. We continue to be grateful to be living near our small village in the Greek Peloponnese.

A foot in two worlds

Manson - our other home

As much as we love our life in Greece, having a home back in the States was prudent, we decided, as one never knows what kind of requirements the Greek government could have for residency in the future and it is a place we could go should we find ourselves growing old or tired of this adventure (so far, neither have happened!).

Other expats we know with a foot in two worlds have also had their best laid plans upended the last 12 months. One set of new friends, a Canadian couple building a home in a neighboring village finally was able to check on the project last fall after delaying their trip time and time again. . .they left Greece having no idea when they will be able to return again. Another FB friend in Australia was set to come and buy a home and plant her roots in Greece last year. .  .now she speaks of getting here 'someday'.

When we get too old for Greece. . .

Having a foot in two worlds isn't difficult in normal times and thousands of people do it.  But the reality of having a far distant home and life, is that you can't shirk the responsibilities that come with it. There are only so many things that friends and family can step in and do when you are unable to get back. Some things you need to do yourself. (Here let me add, we have been blessed by good friends and neighbors who have been so willing to help out in our absence.) 

Finally the time has come -- in the not too distant future -- to go back. Long overdue 'annual' medical exams, and a growing 'to do' list have made the trip an essential one. The question however, remains. . .

To Go or Not to Go? 

At this point in time there are no restrictions in either country that would prevent us from going back. The U.S. is allowing citizens to return and as legal residents of Greece, not tourists, we could return to Greece.

But as all of your reading this know, the Covid situation is fluid and could change with the morning's headlines. A country we transit could close. Greece or the U.S. could tighten its restrictions for international travel.  To use the term of gamblers', it becomes a crapshoot.

A Shot in the Arm

Sanitizer machines are common

I have to admit that when the age for COVID vaccinations dropped to 65 in Washington State, it tipped the scales in favor of booking ourselves back as soon as possible. It didn't take many headlines,  Facebook posts, or attempts on our own to find that booking an appointment there was another crapshoot. We might be more likely to get the shot sooner here in Greece. . .but there is confusion over how and when expats will get the vaccine here and that is a story for another time. 

Bottom line: We will be going back in the next few months, shot or no shot there. 

Travel Realities in a time of Pandemic

The days of Belinis and going mask-less are over

No matter what class we might travel in, we aren't seeing the trip back as a 'pleasure trip' in these pandemic times. Those who've made the journey between eastern Washington and our home in The Mani know that figuring out how to get here can be daunting in 'normal' times.  The journey takes two days - there are no direct flights between Seattle and Athens. 

COVID's sucker punch to the airlines and travel in general has added a few more pieces to the trip planning puzzle. If that wasn't enough, along came Brexit on January first, to add more disruption to travel on this side 'of the pond' 

Fewer Flights: There are fewer options to go back to the States these days. Norwegian, the go-to, low-cost airline that flew between Gatwick and Seattle has ceased its transatlantic long-haul operations. 

Lufthansa, connecting through Germany has severely curtailed its flights. KLM has cancelled all its long-haul flights in response to a severe lockdown imposed by Netherlands.

Our go to airline just went. . .

British Air, our 'go to' airline is no longer that, thanks to Brexit impacts. Its flight from Athens to Seattle that connected in London was the perfect route - back when it was a connecting flight. The UK is no longer part of the EU so British Air is only allowed to fly point-to-point flights meaning taking the same flights we once did would no longer be one trip, but two separately booked flights. Checked bags would need to be collected in London and rechecked to Seattle.  The time between arriving and departing flights in London doesn't allow for that. And with COVID running rampant in England, we aren't sure we'd want to spend anymore time than necessary in Heathrow. 

Travel in the time of Covid

Covid testing is another layer of travel requirements that add time and expense to a journey. The need for a negative test is a pandemic reality these days when it comes to travel on this side of the pond.  An expat friend who traveled from the UK this month to check on work being done to his home here said that he had been tested three times on his relatively short trip: in England before departing, again in Amsterdam where he caught his connecting flight and then he was randomly selected when he arrived in Athens. 

Temperature checks now common place when traveling

When we do travel to Seattle we will likely take the COVID test administered at the Athens airport, with results coming within 24 hours (that alone adds a day to the trip and an overnight hotel stay). Dubai also requires the negative test within 72 hours of flying, even if connecting to another flight there. The same testing and 72-hour timeframe is required for flights returning to Greece. There is a test site at Seattle's Seatac Airport where the test costs $250 per person. A bit of a trip cost add-on one might say.

We wholeheartedly agree with isolating ourselves after arrival but the practical 'get things done' side says that a two-week isolation will cut a month -long stay in half. We aren't planning to see many - if any - friends while back this time around as we are keeping our social distancing practices.

So at this point we continue to enjoy our winter in travel limbo in Greece. We know we will return to our other world in the near future. Our bags are packed and arrangements for house, garden and kitty care in Greece have been made. 

For the time being we will continue our soliloquy: 'To Go our Not To Go?'

A January day in our slice of Greece - not so bad at all

So what questions have you been asking yourselves about travel? Have you traveled? Are you starting to think of travel? How goes the vaccinations in your part of the world?  We hope you are able to deal with your Covid disruptions and that you continue to be safe and distanced.  When you get down to it, staying healthy is the bottom line, isn't it? Let us know how you are doing in the comments below or shoot us an email. 

Thanks for the time you've spent with us today. . .stay safe!!

Linking sometime with:

Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 28, 2020

Season of Gifts: Eggs, Oil and Spinach Pie

Six eggs, a bottle of olive oil, two fish and a piece of spinach pie. . . each a  gift given us by a Greek friend in our small fishing village in the rural Peloponnese.

Christmas decorations in the village

With each gift, I thought of the fellow, another expat, who had proclaimed a few weeks ago on Facebook that Christmas was cancelled this year because the COVID prevention lockdown had been extended to January 7th and stores would be closed.

I felt sorry for him, not so much for missing the retail-based holiday he envisioned, but for not yet realizing that gift giving here is not done by the calendar and holiday; it comes from the heart and as such, nothing can cancel it. Not even COVID lockdown. The Season of Gifts is year-round:

Six Eggs - a Christmas gift

Six eggs gathered fresh for us

My friend's eyes twinkled as she handed me the small plastic bag with six eggs in it a few weeks ago. Mine teared up.  She'd chased us down to give us the gift as we walked the road along the harbor in the village; the road on which she lives. With the help of a bystander who translated her Greek, she told me they were fresh, gathered that morning. And they were for us.

 Always clad in black - both garments and scarf holding her white hair in place - she is usually busy sweeping the area in front of her home when we pass. I don't know when our waves and nods to each other moved into friendship, but they did some time ago. Perhaps it was when I began admiring her plants, despite my Greek being as limited as her English. I still don't know her name, nor she mine. But we both brighten when we happen to meet.

The street on which my friend lives

Last Christmas I decided to surprise my friend with a poinsettia. The exclamation of surprise and the delight reflected in her smile was one of the high points of that holiday season.   

As spring, summer and fall came and went in the village, she has presented me with plant starts and seeds from spent blooms from the garden she grows in a hodge-podge of planters in front of her home. 

Fish and Oil - Autumn thank you gifts

Captain Antonis

Captain Antonis, is the village fisherman with whom we had our outing last September. (If you missed that post, read it here). In addition to writing about the trip here, I posted photos of our excursion on my Facebook page. When we next saw the Captain he said he doesn't 'do' social media and tapping his heart (as they do when thanking someone here)  said I had helped others know about his tours.

Basil seed and fish - a season of gifts

He gave me a large bottle of his olive oil to thank me. Much later in the fall we saw the Captain one morning displaying his catch of the day at our village fish market.  When I asked what kind of fish he'd caught, he insisted on bagging up two of them for us to take home and try. No charge - just a tap of his hand on his heart and again, we were told, 'it is for you.'

A gift of fresh pressed olive oil

In early December the Captain presented us with yet another bottle of his olive oil - this one fresh pressed. When I told him I couldn't take it - that he'd already given us many gifts -- he tapped his heart, shook his head and said, 'this is for you.' 

Spinach Pie - Just Because 

The Scout and Joanna - pre-COVID photo

Our friend Joanna, runs one of our favorite village tavernas up in a hillside village a few kilometers from us. Her restaurant has been shut down for weeks as result of our COVID lockdown restrictions on restaurant operations. We were delighted to bump into her a few weeks ago when we stopped for takeout drinks at one of our village tavernas. 

Home-made spinach/feta pie

As we were chatting together she suddenly said, 'I have something for you in my car!' She returned with an enormous foil-wrapped piece of spinach pie.  'I made a big one, so I give some to my friends.' 

A Season of Gifts - In a time of Lockdown

Village decorations 2019

Looking back across the seasons in this year of COVID uncertainty, we recall the bag of eggs brought to us by the man who trimmed our grove in the spring. The pomegranates given us by friends in late summer when our tree failed to produce any fruit and they had more than they could use.

The gifts have come as gifts should - unexpectedly and with  'just for you' as a reason -- even during a time of lockdown when many are feeling the economic pinch that the prolonged shutdown is causing. 

'To Go' Meals always include something extra

A handful of local eateries and tavernas are open providing 'to go' food and drink. As we make purchases from them, their generosity, often leaves us touching our hearts in thanks.

At our favorite purveyor of pastries and ice cream, we have on several occasions during lockdown, been presented with pastries when we've picked up our cappuccinos. When we object, we are told, 'this will be good with your coffee - take it, eat.'  

Fresh picked gifts

Across the street at Elli's Restaurant we always find something extra in our 'to go' dinner order just as we did at Melissa's taverna in the neighboring village when we picked up our Christmas dinner. That Christmas dinner (pictured above) came with a salad and dessert on the house as well as a bag of fresh picked oranges and mandarins from the owner's yard.  

Chutney, relish and butter

We did have Christmas gifts to be sure - and some of the best things imaginable. . .from expat friends we received wine and chocolate, a jar of homemade fruit butter, another of relish, one of chutney, and a a bag of fresh-picked oranges from our neighbor's tree. 

The village Christmas Star

We hope that your holiday - whatever it is and where ever you celebrate it - was as enjoyable as we found ours to be.  As 2020 comes to a close we again want to thank you for the time you've spent with us this year and send wishes for a happy and healthy New Year! 

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday


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