Monday, April 5, 2010

Greece—Reflections and Observations

April 1, 2010
By Chuck

We are leaving Greece today; so it is time to complete our nation to nation rite of passage.

• ATMs are everywhere and work well—but they don't tell you everything: For example, some of them issue only Є50 multiples; so our normal withdrawal amounts of Є340 or Є360 don't work.
• Change is a problem when buying things—but much less so than in Egypt or Turkey. People want the correct change or the ability to return your change in convenient amounts: 1,2,5,10, or 20Є. Rounding off to the nearest 5 Euro cents is common practice.
• We are finding that we average about Є40 for major supermarket shopping expeditions. Oddly, they call almost everything a supermarket in Europe: a 7-11 store would be a supermarket, here.


• Regarding drivers, laws and traffic signs—they are merely suggestions: Greeks tend to drive at either twice the speed limit or half of it; they also usually only pause, at best, for stop signs.
• Greeks frequently drive in the shoulder area of the road to create a middle lane for passing in either direction.
• Greeks are honking the moment the light is changing if you aren't already moving in your vehicle.
• Motorscooters and motorcycles are abundant. Our friends Karin and Michael, on Paros, rely exclusively upon them as a personal vehicle; public transportation is often used, too.
• Greeks are friendly, but not overly so; they are helpful when asked or when on public transit. We'd still be on the Metro in Athens if people hadn't stepped up to provide helpful advice as the service ended and people exited in the middle of our route.

• We like the food; you can simply point and eat the pre-cooked fast food at the many tavernas and gyro shops. Most items seem to come with “Freedom Fries”—bizarrely, they simply call them Fries over here.
• The yogurt is very thick and delicious, especially with honey—even the low calorie versions; however, some of the latter have a weird texture and are less desirable. The “Total” brand is our favorite, even the 2% fat version.

• We came to Greece, separately, many years ago (1973 and 1989) and felt little need to repeat ourselves in sightseeing; we did see a couple of spots this time that we thought were special: Delphi, Meteora and Methoni. We did travel over a lot of beautiful countryside and enjoyed that very much. We had planned to see the new Archeological Museum in Athens; but, the public transportation option from our campground turned out to be less than ideal: They were working on the Metro and we were unwilling to do all the transfers required; the bus ride sounded longer than we cared to endure; instead, we relaxed and read, resting up for our excursion to a new campground and our camper refrigerator repair.
• The beautiful seascapes here are to die for. There are beaches everywhere; but, they are often rocky and few can compete with Southern California—Newport Beach, for example.

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. ~ Greek Proverb

No comments: