Adventures in Greece as we pursue the dream of buying a boat and cruising the Mediterranean.
This week it’s the Orthodox Easter week, and what a week of celebrations it’s been. It’s hard to really appreciate what a huge festivity this is (even during COVID times) if you don’t get to witness it, and we’ve only seen the COVID version! To Greeks, the Easter week is something like a combination of Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years all rolled into one big extended week of celebration that’s bigger than each of these.
Much of the activities were curtailed of course because of COVID, the most significant of these being the traditional exodus from Athens to your home village. Greek Easter is a time of family and renewal, even the streets around our house, normally wild with drinking and partying into the evening were subdued.
We gathered together with Camille, Simon and Sarah to celebrate at our place on Saturday, in part because of the fireworks displays which we could take advantage of seeing from our rooftop (we still have secret penthouse access!). It was also warm enough finally to all sit out and enjoy our terrace, some snacks and a few drinks and participate in a couple of Greek Easter traditions, including the traditional egg battle! You boil and dye eggs (or cheat and buy them ready done at the supermarket like we did) and then you compete in one on one battles to crack the other person’s egg. The last person left with an un-cracked egg standing is blessed with good luck for the year.
Of course religion features very heavily, there are church services every evening during the week and on Friday, they rang the bells in “mourning” for the death of Christ, something that went on from basically sun up to sun down, the bells clanging once every 15 seconds or so for the entire day. I hated it.
Earlier in the week, we caught the tram out to Neos Kosmos, for no reason other than we haven’t been there yet and enjoyed wandering around, drinking a coffee and walking back past the Acropolis.
Covid cases are now trending down again and everything is on track for further reopening. The one that we’re all excited about is the reopening of restaurants with outdoor seating. This happens on Monday evening, the curfew will shift to 11PM and restaurants can once again serve food. After 6 months of lockdown, they needed some government funds to reopen, receiving grants to help restock food for example. All week there has been a buzz of activity everywhere as people open the shutters, clean the windows, tables and chair, power wash the umbrellas and repaint the doors to make sure they are ready to go. It’s starting to feel more like Athens again, with tables and chairs lining the sidewalks, even though they are often still taped off for the next few days.
My new hand made shoes are in progress — we walked past the store on Tuesday and we were waved inside so he could show us his work so far. They are getting close, he said they should be ready in this next week.
Once thing we’ve noticed as the streets get busier again is that parking is always at a premium. Sights like the one below of a car parked inside a shopping mall are not at all uncommon, and there is usually a half a dozen or more scooters too.
Boat wise we continue to wait on the paperwork to be updated with the correct information. It’s out of ours and the sellers hands at the moment — documents have been sent via DHL back to France, now we all wait for delivery to occur and the update to happen. We will get there, but I don’t know when. In the meantime, we’ve been hunting for an English version of the “Greek Waters Pilot” for a while and I found a marine bookstore in Pireaus that had a copy. It made for a nice outing and we also stopped to check out Zea Marina again which is where we hope to put the boat for a month or so when we eventually bring it back to Athens.
We also received the quote for our boat insurance, so that’s ready to go now. We were very pleasantly surprised. The excess is higher than we’d like (€6,000 on motor related items) BUT we were very pleased that overall, it’s reasonable value. We’ve heard a lot of horror stories about boat insurance especially for liveaboards like ours. In the US the fees are skyrocketing, due in no small part to climate change and increased hurricanes in the Caribbean. Overall the insurance is around 1% of the surveyors replacement value for the boat, so not too bad.
Karina had a haircut, we both had a physical — getting some more paperwork completed for our motorboat license. Karina updated her glasses, ready for the boat (transition lenses) and we completed our US tax return. That was actually a pleasant surprise. The process of completing the return was of course fairly involved having changed countries, but once it was completed, we signed electronically, it was filed and within 3 hours it was approved. As Karina said, it was just such a nice reminder that things CAN happen quickly and efficiently, unlike our experiences with most things official here in Greece!
When Jake was here, he took a lot of photos on old-school film, I think we call this “artisanal photography” or something! He‘s now had them developed and I thought it would be fun to share a few of us — they run from January to March more or less. One thing I didn’t know is that when you get your film developed these days, in addition to the prints, you also automatically get scanned versions too. There’s a very different quality to the photos without all the AI and automated colour correction that comes with smart phones and digital cameras these days. It was a lot of fun to get this batch altogether and remind ourselves of the things we all did together. There’s also a lot of Karina and I together, which is a little rare — thanks Jake, we really appreciate them!
Well that’s it, we continue to hurry up and wait. Continue to push forward on the motorboat license and look forward to eating outside of our house for the first time in 6 months!
Until next time,
Tim & Karina