Elli danced one night last week.
It was then that I knew our world was righting itself.
We are returning to normal, real normal, not new normal.
|Elli danced last week|
Elli, is Elisavet Nikoloudi, who runs Elli's Restaurant in our fishing village in Greece's Peloponnese. Everyone for miles around knows her -- and most everyone has eaten many times at her place in Agios Nikolaos. Every houseguest we've ever had has been introduced to her culinary skills early on in their visit. Most have asked to return again before their visit ended.
|A Time to Dance Again|
In the pre-pandemic world Elli would feature local musicians once a week and her restaurant would fill with the sound of all that makes traditional Greek dining such a magical experience: music, clapping, singing and dancing. At some point in the evening a particular song would prompt her to put down her serving tray, raise her arms, snap her fingers and start twirling around the room - to the delight of all.
Elli hasn't danced like that for a long time as result of Covid and its lockdowns and restrictions on businesses and behaviors. In fact it hasn't been very many weeks ago, that while restaurants and tavernas were again operating, they weren't even allowed to play recorded music, let alone to offer live music.
|A Time to Celebrate|
But Greece, like the rest of the world, is slowly lifting restrictions. The Greek government has allowed us to quit wearing masks outdoors and when we walk inside restaurants. We've been able to sit inside for some time now, but music had been banned and masks required.
That Time in Between Normals
|Eating from Elli's during lockdown|
Elli's was one of a handful of businesses that remained open for 'paketo' as take out food is called here. The government allowed businesses to provide food and drink but nothing to be consumed on premises. The photo above was taken in March 2020 - shortly after businesses were shutting down normal operations, as lockdown was introduced, and before masks were mandatory. Instead of reading her extensive menu, we would call in advance and see what Elli had cooked that day, place an order and pick it up - it was just a bit different eating it on a seawall along the parking lot.
|Our last U.S. visitors dined at the side of the sea in a parking lot|
Little did we know that as lockdown got stricter, even this wouldn't be allowed. Paketos were taken home and eaten there. Gatherings of friends in private homes was also forbidden.
We've had several sets of new expats arrive during this on-again, off-again lockdown period. Sometimes for a month or so we'd have a few freedoms and then they'd tighten up again. On the occasions we were allowed to get together, we found ourselves sounding like old-timers as we reminisced about how it 'used to be' before Covid.
'There was life and music and happiness in this rural corner of the Messinias region. . .', we begin, as we'd tell stories of:
|Aris and Dora masked up Easter Saturday night|
Aris and Dora Christeas hosting a full moon party at their Vesuvius Restaurant each month on the night the moon was its fullest. Tables were full of diners waiting for the globe to rise over the Taygetos Mountain range. There were fireworks, food and dancing into the night.
|Vesuvius Restaurant in Agios Nikolaos|
For a time they resumed the parties last year. We are certain they will be featured again when the eatery opens for this season.
|Julia and Bill hosting events again at Hades|
|Easter dinner came from Hades during our Covid year|
|Gregg (right) gives a Greek coffee lesson to our U.S. friend Greg|
|Gregg's during Covid lockdown|
The Real Normal
|Pantazi Beach soon will welcome tourists again|
|Restaurants are opening early|
The Elephant in the Room
The elephant's name is Ukraine. Since my last post, A War in the Neighborhood, I have been asked by readers about whether we feel safe being in Greece.
I can assure you that life is going on as normal here - in fact, better than it has been for the last two years. Costs are high, but they were higher than normal before the conflict began and can't be blamed entirely on the unrest. Gas in the village hit $9.75US a gallon this week, food prices have been higher than normal since long before the conflict in Ukraine.
|Back to Bologna . . .soon?|
We are not cowering in our homes fearing fallout (both literally and figuratively) from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Speaking for the two of us, we are not at all thinking of packing up and leaving. . .well, except for another trip to Italy that we plan to take in the near future.
But each traveler must determine their own level of comfort. Afar Magazine ran an excellent article this last week on the topic of the safety of travel in Europe - it wasn't a Pollyanna sugar-coated enticement to travel nor was it Chicken Little screaming that the sky was falling. I encourage you to follow the link and read the article if you have concerns about travel to Europe.
Again we thank you for the time you've spent with us today. Safe travels to you and yours whereever they take you~ Hope you will join us soon for another travel tale. . .bring some friends with you!
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