Showing posts with label ex pat life in Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ex pat life in Greece. Show all posts

Monday, January 15, 2024

With a Toss of a Cross

With the toss of a cross the holiday season came to an official end last week and winter arrived in the Greek village we call home.

Ready for the Blessing of the Water in Agios Nikolaos

The Blessing of the Water, which involves tossing a cross into the rather frigid waters of the village fishing harbor and having it retrieved by a brave - young - swimmer, is an annual religious tradition in the Greek Orthodox religion. It commemorates Christ's Baptism in the Jordan River.  Throughout the country similar ceremonies and pageants took place on January 6th, the day known as Epiphany or Theophany on religious calendars.

On the way to the harbor ceremony

In our village of Agios Nikolaos in the Mani region of the southwestern Peloponnese, the day dawned picture-perfect, with blue sky and sunshine. Harborside tables at restaurants and cafes were filled long before the bells of the church (also named Agios Nikolaos, the patron saint of sailors) began announcing the mid-morning service. 

Pappas Panayotis in Agios Nikolaos

Villagers and visitors alike were waiting for the colorful procession of officiants and congregants to make its way from the church to the harbor's parking lot.  

The ceremony at harborside

Once there, our village priest, Pappas Panayotis, offered a brief service, blessed the cross and tossed it into the water. Young swimmers stood on the harbor's breakwater, opposite the parking lot and launched themselves into the water to retrieve the cross as soon as the Pappas released it. 

One of two brave swimmers helped from the water

Just like that, the ceremony ended. The swimmer who retrieved the cross was blessed. The crowd shifted toward our small fish market to the side of the parking lot where the counter -- normally used to display the catch of the day -- had been turned into a magnificent banquet table, filled with platters of sweets and savory goodies donated by the local bakery, restaurants and individuals.

Table begins to fill with donated tasty treats.

Then Came Winter

That holiday Saturday was gorgeous, so much so that we stopped on our way home to admire 'our' Pantazi Beach.

Pantazi Beach just like Hawaii

This stunning beach is walking distance from our home at the base of the hill. In tourist season it is jam-packed with tourists and sunbeds but on this day, it was empty and inviting.  The slight breeze, the warmth, and the wave action that day reminded us of similar scenes in Hawaii.

Well, that was Saturday. . .by the next morning, winter in all its stormy glory, had arrived.  We again stopped to admire the beach, this time for the wild fury of the place. The roar of enormous waves, gusting wind and sea mist showers were what greeted us on Sunday morning.

What a difference a day makes in winter here. . .

Weather here could be described as Longfellow once poetically wrote of the little girl with a curl: 'When she was good, she was very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid.'  Further down the beach, the giant waves had carried driftwood, rubble and large stones onto the roadway. The skies were leaden, and the rain came - at times - in buckets.  Such is winter in our slice of Greece.

This Saturday night in the village

Winter weather definitely puts our village into hibernation.  Olive harvest is coming to a close. Only a few fishing boats remain in the harbor.  The slash from olive groves is being burned as weather permits. Restaurants close for maintenance. At night streets are deserted.  

However, gardens are flourishing again, revived by the rain and cool temperatures. Roses and geraniums are in bloom, reminding us that spring will soon be on its way.

My rose, a bit wind-beaten, in the garden

Spring seems far distant though while we have a low temperature advisory in our area. It dipped to 37F/2.2C two nights ago and while that is balmy for some of you reading this, I can tell you it is COLD for here. The highest peaks of the Taygetos Mountains are finally iced with snow.  We've had our oil furnace, fireplace and electric wall heaters going in tandem and separately for days.  

A snowy peak of the Taygetos Mountain peeks out

But the storms come and go relatively quickly here compared to our old Washington State weather and we should soon be back in the low 60F's/15C's. Yesterday we had sunshine and by today the rain is again pouring down.

Gray days in Greece

We spend our winter days, snuggled up with our 'gatas' (our cats), catching up on reading those books we've had stacked up, planning future travels, and for me, writing.  We know many of you are having tough, cold winters right now, so we send our wishes for your safety - whether just going outside your door or traveling to some far distant place.

Thanks for being with us on this blustery winter's day in Greece. Hope you'll be back for our next report and bring some friends with you!  Anybody have a good book recommendation for us? Add it to the comments or send us an email - we are always on the lookout for new titles!

Sunday, October 22, 2023

In Greece ~ The Curse is Lifted!

 Last week we officially lifted the curse that had been cast upon us.  

Back in ancient Greece curses were a real thing. And for a time, I'd started thinking they were a real thing in this 21st century Greece as well.  It seemed as if we had been targeted by the famed and feared 'evil eye' and a curse or spell had been cast upon us.

Mati's to ward off the 'evil eye'

Although our Stone House on the Hill sports any number of 'matis' the Greek icons that are believed to ward off the evil eye, we had fallen victim to our curse sometime during or in the aftermath of 'those Covid years'.  

For that reason, I named it, the Covid Curse.

Amathus archeological site in Cyprus

In comparison to some Greek curses that have been cast over the centuries, ours was a mild one.  It thankfully was nothing at all like the one unearthed in 2008 during excavations of Amathus, the ancient city state in Cyprus. Archeologists there in 2008 discovered a lead tablet, believed to date back for centuries, on which was written, 'may your penis hurt when you make love' and with it the image of a man holding in his hand something described as being the shape of an hourglass.

Covid-cursed castaways?

Our curse was one that didn't inflict pain or hardship on us, just a bit of mental anguish and embarrassment. It seemed to have made us: castaways.

Visitors return to the village in droves.

While expat friends in the village began welcoming houseguests as soon as the Covid travel restrictions lifted, we waited . . . and waited . . .and waited.  No one came to visit. No one even mentioned coming to visit. In the pre-Covid years we had guests both coming to the village and to our home to see us and our world at regular intervals.

A long-haul flight between West Coast USA and Greece

For a time, we reasoned that it was the lingering fears of Covid that kept them away, or perhaps, the distance they would need to travel. The majority of our guests - back when we had them - came from Washington State in the US Pacific Northwest.  

 But then our friend Chuck, who hails from the same Washington town and now lives just down the road, started using a calendar to keep track of his upcoming guests. Then our expat friends from California, now just down the road the other direction in the village, started using a calendar to keep track of their guests. Another couple from Portland, Oregon has also been hosting guests from back home regularly.

Easter dinner with expat friends and their guests

Thankfully those expat friends who had guests let us share them - inviting us to join them for holiday celebrations, dinners, drinks or morning coffees.  Friends quit asking if we had guests coming anytime soon.

Finally, The Curse is Lifted

For a time, I actually thought that maybe what we needed was a 'curse expert', one who in ancient times, specialized in the writing of curses and spells, according to historian/archeologist and author Jessica Lamont. I figured if they could write a curse or spell, they could probably conjure up a removal incantation of some sort as well. 

Lamont, by the way, is an expert on the subject and her most recent book published by Oxford Press is titled, 'In Blood and Ashes, Curse Tablets and Binding Spells in Ancient Greece'. 

Curse was lifting. Dinner with two sets of visitors!!

Before we resorted to some sort of exorcism, we started seeing signs of the curse losing power. A blogger friend visited at the same time as friends returned to finish the visit, they'd cut short in 2020 when Greece closed down for Covid.

48 hours of guests. . .how great it was to see friends!

Then former neighbors of ours in Kirkland, WA, now of California, tacked on a side trip to the Mani to visit us as part of a whirlwind Greek trip.  We had a fabulous 48 hours with them in June.

The curse was officially lifted last week with the arrival of our first houseguest since November 2019.  

Curse was lifted: our first houseguest since Nov. 2019

My friend and writing colleague, Brian Cantwell, (cub reporters together in our 20's and then he became my travel editor at the Seattle Times, during my freelance years) arrived for a long weekend stay as part of his 10-day tour of Greece. Brian lives on a remote San Juan Island, called Center Island, year-round population of 10 households.  He adapted well to our rural Peloponnese expat world. He writes of life on his island at Cantwell's Reef. He also wrote about his time with us if you want his take on the visit!

Exploring our world with our guest

His arrival at the Kalamata bus station on a Friday kicked off a long weekend of eating, touring, drinking, touring, hiking and swimming that continued until his Tuesday departure.  

The curse was lifted!

It was like the olden days of having guests!  But just as he admitted being rusty at travel logistics (his first trip after Covid) we were a bit rusty at being hosts.  It was good to get back into practice again.

More to Come?

Our slice of the Mani

Between January and August 2023, some 18.76 million travelers to Greece transited the Athens Airport. That is 8% more than traveled through it in 2019, before Covid.   We are so thankful for our guests who were among them and who made the effort to get to the Mani to see us.  

We expats agree that folks back home don't understand just how much it means to us all to have friends and family who want to come and experience our slice of Greece.  We hope the trend continues.

Your travel tales:

Travel isn't for sissies!

And speaking of travel, we want to thank those of you who responded to our question last week about your unexpected travel detours and delays after you read of ours. Here's a sampling of your responses:

 Emily from California told us: 

 'Our latest travel nightmare was due to a late arrival and missing our connection on a SFO to Istanbul flight. Although we were whisked all over CDG (Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris), up and down elevators to the tarmac and sent in a van careening around planes, other vans, baggage carts, and meal wagons, we ultimately missed our connection. We then had to wait in CDG for 12 hours for the next flight to Istanbul, arriving in the middle of the night. On the return, we missed our connection from LAX to MRY and sat for 7 hours waiting for our 45-minute flight. Flying these days isn’t for sissies.' 

Tom and Jackie from Washington who traveled to Normandy echoed of her experiences with the Paris airport: 

'We have a history of dissatisfaction with CDG from past trips that was reaffirmed. We deplaned and walked the long hallways to Passport Control. The place was overwhelmed with travelers. We were sent to an Air Priority line to get faster service. Not so, other lines were moving while we stood not moving for over an hour and fifteen minutes. Fortunately, our driver waited, and we were able to get to Saint Lazare railway station in time for our noon departure to Rouen.'  

                                                                            ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That's it for this week. Thanks for being with us! Olive harvest season is upon us in the Mani. We'll tell you more about autumn here in our next post. Until then safe travels to you and yours~

Sunday, August 13, 2023

The Mail in the Telephone Booth

 'There is mail in the telephone booth at the Kafenion,' wrote a neighbor on Facebook last week. 

Mail delivery in the Mani, Greece

While that probably sounds odd to those of you reading this, it was good news! It meant mail was being delivered again!  

Mail delivery, summer protests and road work are my topics this week.  While vastly differing subjects, each provides a look at real life in Greece this summer of 2023. This one is for those of you who turn a critical eye to my reports and photos of beautiful sunsets, of the quaint village settings and those featuring the fun times we have with friends here, and ask, 'But, what's it really like?'

Agios Dimitrios village

The dusty, abandoned booth in the small village of Agios Dimitrios, at the foot of the hill where we make our expat home in the Greek Peloponnese, seems to be one of the new 'substations' for mail collection.  Other mail drops (almost literally) are said to be somewhere outside the small grocery store in nearby Agios Nikolaos village and at a taverna in Stoupa village, just down the road.  

Of course, figuring out which of those places one might find one's mail. . .well, that it yet another story. Because our mail is addressed to a business (Mani Money) in Agios Nikolaos, it doesn't come to the phone booth near us. While they continue to deliver parcels to Mani Money, we are told, letter-sized mail isn't being delivered there. Those are going elsewhere. . .somewhere.

You've Got Mail. . .maybe, or maybe not!

You can't make this stuff up.  It happens in Greece.  And we expats find ourselves becoming so inured to it that we discuss the logistics of finding our mail as matter-of-factly as we do the weather.  

Now some techno-enthusiasts are probably wondering why 'snail mail' is even important these days.  It is here because many still receive phone, electric and water bills via snail mail. Believe it or not, a number of banking, government, and other official transactions often require us to present such a bill as part of our identification and authorization process. That paper copy has come in handy more times than you can imagine.

Delivery is also key to successful mail order, as on-line shopping is a means of commerce used by many of us living in this rural area. 

Mail at Gregg's - in the good old days

Many of you longtime readers, recall 'that back in the good old days' our mail was delivered regularly to Gregg's Cafe in Agios Nikolaos. In fact, it served for several years as our mailing address. We'd go have coffee and sort through the mail, picking up our own on an on-your-honor system.  The cafe owners kept a watchful eye out for us. They knew it - and us -so well that once my friend Marti received an envelope from Washington State addressed simply to 'Grandma' at Gregg's. 
That system crumbled when the village closed for Covid.

Covid shut down the village and mail delivery Gregg's pictured on left.

Our new delivery model operates as a self-serve, on-your-honor system.  Of course, if you see mail addressed to a friend now, you are likely to collect and deliver it as they may otherwise never find it again.  With the new self-service system, old mail is picked up and new mail replaces it. There isn't yet a timetable for when the new arrives and the old goes away.

Me in Covid days at the Stoupa post office

The new haphazard system was instituted after the real brick and mortar substation in Stoupa was closed this spring and its two employees let go. The original explanation had been that the operational contract had expired and a new one not yet awarded. Later media reports told a different story: several post offices were closed throughout Greece as a result of cost cutting measures. There was no indication they would be reopened. 

The Mani and our villages

For the time being, we are somewhat 'mail-less in the Mani'. But there are bigger things unfolding in Greece this summer, like. . .

The Towel Movement  

The Towel Movement, while you may not have read about it elsewhere in the world, is a headline- making topic in Greece.  It is the name given to a growing protest against what one might call, 'privatization' of Greek beaches.  The movement's epicenter is two Cycladic islands, Naxos and Paros, where citizens have issued the call to take back beaches. Technically Greek citizens have the right to access and use beaches when they please. In reality access has been limited on many popular beaches.

Stoupa's beach fills with sunbeds in the summer - all for rent

Over the years, beach-front hotels, tavernas, bars, and eateries have taking over beach areas in front of their establishments. They place sunbeds there which are rented out by the hour or day.  The businesses are required to pay for a license to operate a certain number of them.

Many here recall when for the price of a drink and some food one could use a sunbed. Now you pay rent and the cost of the food.  So, this summer it seems some beachgoers in some areas of Greece have had enough. They want their beaches open -and their cry is being heard by media and government officials. Their movement has been labeled The Towel Movement.

On the flip-side (of 'the towel') others observe that the beds are popular and being used, so what is the fuss? Most are removed in the fall and beaches return to their natural states.

Pantazi Beach just below us - in August 2023

In our area, Stoupa's main beach and its nearby cove beach, Kalogria, historically have served up the most options for sunbeds. But this summer Pantazi Beach, the beach just below us in Agios Nikolaos, welcomed Cube, a new beach bar and eatery. It offers sunbeds for rent as does the long-time Pantazi Beach Bar, operating at the opposite end of the beach.  And between the two, a beach vendor set up shop at water's edge offering kayak and SUP board rentals. 

All seem to be popular as the beds are often filled, and the beach is alive with the sounds and laughter of sun and sea seekers.

Pantazi Beach 2020

For the record, we aren't beachgoers, other than to sip coffee or krasi (wine) at a table at one of the two Pantazi beach bars - it is from there we will see how The Towel Movement shakes out. 

On the Road Again

The mail delivery might be topsy-turvy and the Towel Movement soaking up the public's attention, but our immediate focus is on being back on the road again.  Crews moved into town weeks ago determined to fix a section of the road along the sea that floods every time we have a major storm.  Over the years, the street surface has warped, and underground pipes have surfaced and broken. 

Road closed, take a right here. . .

The repairs though required closing the road that serves as the main north-south access road between Agios Nikolaos and Agios Dimitrios villages.  A smaller track road can't accommodate large delivery trucks and municipal garbage trucks.  

Someone was thinking outside the box when they came up with a brilliant, if slightly different, detour route. And I doubt if any environmental or shoreline protection agency was consulted before using:  The Beach. A rocky sort of area at the south end of the municipal parking lot.

The beach - a two-lane detour route; road to the left, sea to the right

Amazingly, the two-lane sand and rock road has worked well. Drivers have been courteous and cautious as they make their way past each other on a surface that could easily break a shock absorber if not traveled gently.  The repair work continues, siga, siga, slowly, slowly, just like we drive on the detour!

And that's enough 'behind-the-scenes' look at expat life in Greece for this time around.  We will be back with more travel tales and reports from Greece and hope you will join us again and bring a friend or two with you! Until then, wishes for safe travels to you and yours~

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Greek Summer ~ Time to Halara under the Almyrikis

That title sums up life in our slice of Greece right now. 

Halara under the Almyrikis translates to relaxing under the Tamarisk trees.

Almyriki on Pantazi Beach, Mani

Halara, or xalara, (ha - laa - RRRAAH) the newest word in my slowly increasing Greek vocabulary, might just be one of my new favorite words as it so perfectly describes the state of mind one must be in to survive summer in Greece.

Almyriki shade on Pantazi Beach

Almyriki, or Tamarisk, trees are unofficial symbols of summer in Greece as many beaches are still lined with these gentle giants sporting wispy green feathers of foliage.  Beachgoers vie for coveted spots underrneath them.

Our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Mani

For those who are new to this blog, we are Americans from the Pacific Northwest who left that life behind for an expat adventure in Greece's rural Peloponnese.  Summers here remind us of summers in the arid and irrigated regions central Washington State where we grew up. In fact, as I write this, Greece is under an 'excessive heat advisory' just as is Washington. But Greece is actually several degrees cooler right now.

Almyriki tree in the village

Today after a sweat-inducing hour or so of watering our plants we headed out to accomplish the simplest of tasks in the village and found ourselves in need of both coffee and halara before we got home.  It was while we were sipping cappuccinos at a table under an Almyriki tree, running our flip-flop-clad feet in the sand that I finally understood how perfect the word halara is for life in Greece.

A few almyriki line the road to the village

A waiter friend who has been advising me on everyday Greek words, offered the word a few days ago when I had told him to 'take it easy' or 'not work too hard'.  He gave me a sly smile and said, "Your new word is 'halara', to relax.". For those who like to double check the things that I write, if you look this one up, it will tell you it means 'loose'. If you look up the slang, it will tell you to 'hang loose', 'relax' or 'take it easy'.  

Bits and Bobs

While kicked back under that tree I thought of a few things I've not told you about in recent posts so as our British friends say, here are some bits and bobs of travel news:

Stoupa Beach awash in sunbeds

* The Greek tourism folks have projected more than one million visitors will be arriving the first week of August. The most popular destinations are Athens, Thessaloniki, the south Aegean islands, Cyclades, Crete and Corfu. (From the looks of our crowded restaurants and beaches, I'd say our Mani is also drawing a lot of them this way!)

A trip to Greece for medical tourism someday?

* Greece's Health Tourism Council is working in partnership with Athens International Airport to develop a medical tourism package. (They must have read my post about our health care in the Mani and our recent colonoscopy experience!)

Under construction in March, the W Hotel opens in August

*W Hotel is the newest in the Marriott Bonvoy group to come to Greece. It opens in mid-August at our plush Costa Navarino resort on the 'finger' to our west, about an hour and a half from us. With room prices in the 650-euro range, we won't be staying there until some very low season rate tempts us.

Award-winning Athens Airport

*A headline appearing in social media yesterday shouted the news that "Athens Airport Named the Best in Europe" however if one reads the whole article, you learn it is the best in Europe to be in if your flight is delayed. And a lot of them are right now. While I can't say any airport is great when it comes to flight delays, I do have to sing the praises of our Athens' airport: modern shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, baggage storage, museum and archaeological displays not to mention cultural shows every so often to entertain travelers.

Can You Go Home Again?

That flight delay headline was a good segue into a question a few of us from the States are asking ourselves this summer. There is nothing philosophical or political about the question, it is a matter of logistics.  

May not take this many bags back to the US in August

The chaos occurring in airports throughout Europe and being reported in mainstream and social media is very real. London's Heathrow capped the number of passengers to whom airlines can sell tickets through Sept. 11 in an attempt to get control of its spiraling out of control situation. KLM banned checked baggage for all connections through Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Malaysian Airlines has banned checked baggage on flights coming to several European airports. Lufthansa, the German airline, cancelled more than 1,000 flights on July 27 as result of a one-day strike by employees.  

The Road Home in Washington State

The Scout and I have now booked tickets to Seattle, cancelled the trip, and rebooked other flights as has another expat friend; all of us hoping to get back to Washington State.  We continue to monitor our reservations to make sure segments haven't been cancelled without notification (yes, that does happen these days).  

There is always the chance they will be cancelled at the airport so we find ourselves in limbo as to making hotel reservations for the overnight we will have in London enroute to Seattle, we hesitate to make legal and medical appointments that are on our 'to do' list back in the States. 

That '71 is the graduation year - not our ages, . . .yet!

For those wondering why we are traveling with such chaos and uncertainty in travel, when we are retired and could travel at any time, it is because I have a high school reunion to attend back in my hometown. A Big One. One that was postponed from last year, thanks to Covid. And I am the reunion co-chair.  I need to be there. . .simple as that!  

The good news is that we are allowed to go back to our home country while in the residency permit renewal process in Greece. . .and that is good news because we still don't have renewed residency permits and are doubtful we will have them before we leave.


Under the Almyriki trees

So, for now we will stay sittin' and sippin' under the Almyriki tree, enjoying the cooling breeze from the ocean. It is Greek Summer. . .time to make the most of it!

Our wishes for safe travels to you and yours. A big welcome to our new subscribers! Thanks for joining us and to all of you for the time you spend with us. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Expat World~ Expanding or Ending

'I am impressed the way you two were able to end your world back in the States and embrace expat life,' observed a new expat friend in Greece. He was pondering the pros and cons of  'leaving it all behind' for a life here.

Agios Nikolaos, our expanded world

'Expat life didn't bring that world to an end. It has simply expanded it!' we assured him. 

In recent months we've had similar conversations with a number of  Americans who are contemplating a move from one world to another, specifically from the United States to Greece. While their questions are many and varied the one common uncertainty for them is leaving all that is known for all that is pretty much unknown. The heart might be saying 'take the leap' but the head is thinking of logistics and loss.

American expats who have expanded their worlds

' What things do you miss? What do you enjoy? How do you fill our days? Are you glad you are here?' they ask us.

Their questions have made me stop and think about our world and how it seems to be working for us, and others we know, who've also decided to expand our worlds.  

Letting Go, Not Leaving

As expats we are planted in two worlds

The first and maybe the biggest concern about expat life is: how do you shift gears and leave one world to embrace an adventure in another?  I do believe it is really is a matter of letting go, loosening the grip but not altogether leaving that world 'back there'.
Arrow points to Our Stone House on the Hill in very rural Greece

We let go of a conventional suburban lifestyle in America's Pacific Northwest for one not quite so conventional in the rural Peloponnese, a half a world away. It takes a good two days to travel between our old and new worlds but I can assure those who ask, I feel very much a part of both. 

Letting go, not leaving that old life meant storing memories

Uprooting ourselves from our life in Washington State -- cleaning out accumulations of 'stuff' and selling our long-time home -- brought on the same angst that others have experienced when moving to a new home. Any one who's done it - including me -  will tell you there is always a bit of fear about letting go of the known for something new. . no matter how excited you are about the new. 

Olive harvest ~a new adventure of this expat life

We'd eased ourselves into this 'foot-in-two-worlds life' by saying we'd give the Greek adventure 'five years'. If it wasn't a fit, we'd return to the old life satisfied in knowing we had at least given it a try. 

We said that when we bought the Greek house, now eight years ago. We said it again when we applied for our first residency permit five years ago. We've just begun the application process for another three-year residency. 

Learning new ways of food shopping in our expanded world

In moving to Greece, we haven't given up our US citizenship. Nor have we become Greek citizens. We have simply been granted a permit to live full-time in Greece. The first permit was for two years, then it can be renewed in three-year increments (if we continue to meet the requirements set forth by the Greek government.) We didn't opt for the much touted Golden Visa, which sets a 250,000-euro threshold for investment in Greek property in exchange for a five-year visa. And buying property is not a requirement of residency, many expats in our area rent their homes. 

Note: This is different than the way our British friends apply and the length of their permits. . .so if you are researching permits make sure you are researching one that will apply to you. 

The Expanded World

New friends in my expanded world

My heart swells when I think of our new expanded world: all the friends we have made since moving to Greece, both expat and Greek. All the adventures, experiences and travels we've had. It contracts to think of all these wonderful experiences we'd have never had, and people we'd never have met had we stayed within the confines of that suburban US world. 

Greek and expat friends celebrate Easter Saturday night

We were asked the other day if we had much of an expat community where we live. And we certainly do! We are getting a total multicultural immersion as our expat friends hail from Britain, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Turkey and Singapore. . .just to name a few. And there are more than two dozen Americans now living in our little slice of Greece.

Expat Christmas lunch 2019 - multi-culture at its best

I think  one of the best Christmas's we've ever had was with a gathering of expats at a buffet lunch hosted by Swedish friends who live a short distance from us. Each expat brought a traditional holiday food from their country. What a fabulous and varied feast we enjoyed with a fabulous and varied bunch of people! 

Expats in Mani from France, America and England 

In the big cities, like Athens and Thessaloniki, there are formal expat organizations designed to help expats meet other expats. Here we have no need for such things. All it takes is a few trips to the village for coffee or wine. Because here you always speak a greeting or nod to others at nearby tables.  It doesn't take long for a bit of conversation to follow the next few times you see each other, and then, in many cases, a friendship isn't far behind.

The Old World

Keeping in touch with long-time friends - both sets have been to Mani

The truth is that it takes a bit of effort to remain a part of our old world when we are 10 hours ahead of it.  It takes some juggling and scheduling to communicate face-to-face or by phone. Written communication works 24/7. 

We've learned that those friends and family who want to keep us a part of their worlds do and many of those folks have even come to Greece to see our world first-hand. Thankfully with Covid rules easing, we may have even more come visit!

Decades-long friendship going strong in both worlds

The internet has made expanding our old world easier.  While we are enjoying new friends here we still have strong ties with those we have known for years 'back there'. There is nothing better than finding an email filled with chit-chat in the inbox. Or a Messenger note that simply says, 'thinking of you' or comment on a FB post. 

FB Messenger and Skype provide us the ability to make phone calls or video chats and we use them often.  And I have to tell you that those conversations keep us a part of the old world - sometimes better than when we were living in it! 

In Hawaii - now WhatsApp brings us face-to-face twice a month

My Hawaii walking buddies (one from the U.S. and one from Canada) and I haven't been physically together for nearly three years, but thanks to WhatsApp we see each other for visits twice a month and have done so since our last walk together on O'ahu.

Now to keep from sounding like Pollyanna about this expat life, I need to admit that we've lost touch with some friends. And it can happen whether they live a few miles or a few thousand miles away. Some we will hear from infrequently. Others will tell us they 'think of us often'.  And even that is better than being gone and forgotten!  

When the Worlds Converge

New friends from the Seattle area help harvest our new world olives.

Something we didn't expect was to be meeting new friends from the old world because of some Greek connection. Twice last year we had the pleasure of meeting and then becoming friends with people from Washington State whom we would never have met had we not moved to Greece.  

We met in Manson and they visited us in our Greek world

One set hails from the Seattle suburbs and another set from Manson, where we have our second home. Both couples were coming to Greece and made it a point to visit us!   It reminded us that there really is a convergence zone of our two worlds - the old one hasn't ended by any means, it just keeps getting bigger and better! !

That's it from the expats living in The Stone House on the Hill for this time around.  We hope this finds you enjoying your world and those who make it special.  Welcome to our new subscribers and thanks to you all for the time you've spent with us today in our ever-expanding world. Hope to see you back again, soon!

Linking with:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...