Adventures in Greece as we pursue the dream of buying a boat and cruising the Mediterranean.
Sorting out the residency
This week we started getting deep into the administrative side of things. We met with the lawyer who will be helping us with the residents card and then followed that up with a visit to a notary to grant the lawyer a Power of Attorney so they could do some things for us (like get a Tax Number) with some of the Greek authorities.
It reminds me of when we first moved to the US (although with a little more support but add a language barrier), everything is a puzzle and there’s a right way to “twist it” that makes it all fall into place, but until you get the correct combination, it’s a challenge. Right now we’re waiting on our Tax Numbers, but we can’t get an appointment for a week — once we get those, then we can open a bank account, get a mobile plan, sign our lease, transfer in some money and then finally, file for residency for Karina, which will allow them to file for me. Phew!
Of course the whole finding an apartment has been a challenge too. We’ve learnt there are different types of properties registered (essentially a regular lease or a tourist lease), we need the regular lease to get the residency, but most of the furnished places are tourist leases. Never mind, the lawyer and the accountant for the rental property have talked and we have a solution, but we’ll move in to our “permanent” rental on a short term tourist lease because we can’t sign the residential lease until we get the tax numbers! With all that done now, we’re really excited about moving. Exarcheia has been fun, but it’s now thoroughly explored and really, we’re ready to be more central given the walking we do.
Anyone who travels knows that there’s a lot about the locals that you just have to learn through experience. For example today on our way to beach we learnt that the #2 Bus and the #A2 bus are two very different busses that go in completely different directions, something we only realized after 20 minutes or so.
Smoking is of course a much more common thing here than in Australia or the US, every table has an ash tray and it feels like 80% of people smoke — including inside offices still, so it was very pleasant when we got to the beach and it had a “non smoking” section!
We’re learning to watch for air conditioners. The vast majority are split cycle type systems and the outside always drips water. Walking down the street you learn to look for the drips or you’ll end up with a large drop of water hitting you which can be unpleasant. You have to watch the footpaths and paved streets too, water often pools under loose tiles just waiting to splash up on you when you least expect. Watching a local walk down the street is to see someone versed in the art of side stepping no apparent thing, only to realise that the particular tile they dodged was on top of a hidden lake!
The size of cars is also very different. Silicon Valley is of course flash cars and SUVs — we’ve barely seen an SUV or fancy car here and maybe a third of vehicles are only 2 doors in size. There’s very few asian manufacturers as well. For every car, there’s at least two scooters, much to Rosies disgust although she’s slowly learning that she doesn’t need to bark at every single one of them.
A big theme has also been adjusting to the passing of time here. It’s not a complaint at all, we love it, it’s just that it’s so different from what we’re used to in the USA in particular. The hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley is replaced with a different pacing of life.
You’ll notice it in a myriad little ways. One is that you can walk down a street that feels abandoned, yet return several hours later and it’s a bustle of bars, many which don’t really open until later in the evening like 8PM.
Many shops close from around 2–5 for the siesta. This “hours of popular quiet” is very noticeable with only a handful of places open, usually catering to tourists who don’t know better. Traffic disappears and construction (mostly) stops. It’s actually a government mandate from 3–5, but in the height of summer often runs from 2–6.30PM.
This cadence is really pleasant once you get used to it — we’re waking up much later than normal, usually not leaving the house until around 11.30, then back inside from 3–6pm when it’s way too hot anyway and heading out for dinner around 8–9pm, and bed sometime after midnight.
It does mean adjusting expectations, some shops are open in the morning, others in the afternoon and still others only once the sun goes down, it’s all part of the adventure of exploring our new home.
Of course it hasn’t all been work, there’s definitely some touring going on. Often it’s “let’s find this shop”, but we did also manage to get up to the top of the Acropolis (stunning but way too hot), visit the National Museum and today, hit the beach. I will say that the beach was amazing — right then it validated the whole plan and experience thus far, we can’t wait to have our boat and just dive into the waters at almost any time.
Next week the milestones are moving into our semi-permanent home, starting to establish ourselves in that area (like working out where the supermarkets are, where the vet is, getting Rosie registered for a ‘Euro Pet Passport’) and with a bit of luck, meeting our first boat broker!