Adventures in Greece as we pursue the dream of buying a boat and cruising the Mediterranean.
Generally speaking, although we know that it’s been a challenge for many, 2020 has been a great year for us personally and we’ve avoided the worst impacts of COVID. That changed with lockdown in Greece and the UK starting lockdown which scared off the vendor of the boat we were excited about, so he pulled the plug on any deal. We’re back to starting the search again (or at least waiting until COVID settles down enough that he’s willing to travel and sell the boat).
Lockdown continues here, we’re now at the end of week 2 and although the numbers seem to have stopped exploding, they aren’t coming back down either which is a cause for concern, it seems unlikely they’ll start opening up retail again at the end of next week unless there’s some radical change.
We’ve been amusing ourselves well enough, walking a few times a day, working on projects, watching TV, reading and so forth — the time passes quickly. Karina had a follow up Dr’s visits for a mammogram but it’s otherwise been very quiet.
A common sight at the moment is restaurateurs undertaking renovations, it feels like a good third of places have some sort of activity being undertaken while they are closed for business.
One feature of Athens that we like is you frequently see glass floors to expose ruins underneath an existing property. There really are ruins everywhere here, most streets have some evidence of history on them. In this last week, they were replacing sewerage pipes and discovered a complete bust of Hermes which made it into the local paper.
A very common sight is buildings that are slowly decaying away. Our friend Michael works in real-estate and explained that they are basically “stuck” in limbo. When the Grandparents pass on, they often split the building between all the surviving kids. The problem is that they can rarely agree on what it’s worth and getting them to all agree to a sale price is hard. The other “issue” is that most of these need extensive renovations, but there is a heritage overlays on all the frontages. Real estate developers (who can probably afford the houses), don’t really want them because they usually can’t put enough units in to make it economical because the frontage fixes things like the height of floors etc. meaning that a building which might fit three floors can only have two because the existing windows for example. Obviously the cost of preserving the frontage is expensive too. Individuals, who might want to restore and live there, generally can’t afford what the families want and of course the restoration costs are significant, so the buildings are trapped into a cycle of decay until they eventually collapse (at which point they can probably be turned into units because the frontage no longer matters!). It very common to see abandoned buildings with frame out the front to stop bricks falling on to the street.
On one of our walks, we met up with Michael and wandered up to Phillopopou hill to watch the sunset finally. It was beautiful, but also getting very cold!
We’ve continued to experience the underbelly of Athens and saw a couple of guys divvying up lines of what we assumed initially was cocaine, but were told later it was probably heroin, so there’s a lot of drug use in this area (although we’ve never seen needles here which is good — in Omonia though… phew, got to watch where you step!).
The lawyer had some positive news on the Residence Card for me, he’s found a way to get an appointment now, so it sounds like we should be able to get this out of the way in the next couple of weeks which would be great!
My new iPhone finally arrived after a trek around Europe — Ella ordered it for me in the UK and the tracking showed it seeming to go through half the countries in Europe before finally being delivered to me in Athens!
In the first week of lockdown, a lot of the retailers complained that they had to close, but supermarkets (which remained open) were selling appliances and other items still. In order to make it fair, the Government ordered all the supermarkets to cover any “non-approved” items so that they weren’t competing with the businesses forced to close. Thankfully I bought ice trays before this happened as a plastic container is considered a competitive item and you’re not able to buy them at the moment anymore!
Well that’s pretty much it, a very slow week, but a pleasant enough one. We’re happily surviving lockdown but definitely looking forward to the time when we get back out and about to searching for boats again!
Until next time,
Tim & Karina