Archive for July, 2012

Some like it hot



To the people who like it hot Greece is the ideal place in the summer. To its residents who are not used to live in tropical climates it means that it is time to escape and take to the seas and the mountains. Ergo, we all remember the faraway village our progenitors hail from and return to it to the delight (mostly…) of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins etc.

When you ask a Greek abroad where they come from he/she is either from Athens or from Thessaloniki. It not only makes life easier (who can pronounce Gargalianoi or Petromagoula) but it also lifts us from the category of peasants. Summer and particularly August is village time: it is the time we remember traditional fairs and foods, folk music and dancing, relations and friends from childhood or from previous holidays. Dekapentavgoustos is the climax with the celebration of Virgin Mary’s passing away: every church holds a fair (panygiri), with an open market, free food and evening entertainment. Panayia means the saint of all saints and is, after Christmas and Easter, the most celebrated religious event.

The younger generation which was brought up to despise everything connected to the past moans and groans but follows since the financial situation does not allow them to go their separate ways. This return to the roots is the only good thing to come out of the crisis and might be the answer to it. To me “back to the roots” means more solidarity, more hospitality, more sharing, better human relations. It means less consumerism and more productivity. It means appreciation of your origins and less effort to be something or someone that you are not.


In the meantime, Athens is baking and looks for ways to refresh itself and the few of its residents left behind. Open air cinemas have a field day and in neighbourhoods where there are not any the municipalities organise screenings in pedestrian areas. Coffee shops offer now a cheese pie with every coffee and if you take it with you a bottle of water is free. One of the beaches closest to Athens – that of Hellinikon – is free of charge due to the struggle of its Mayor, Kortzides, who managed to wrest it from a private enterprise. Right opposite the old airport and easy to reach by public transport the Hellinikon beach is packed every day of the week.

Syntagma Square is almost deserted allowing a gypsy imp to have a swim in the fountain.

Hot is not that bad after all.

Fire in Chania, western Crete

According to state television a new fire broke out this afternoon at 17.15 in western Crete in the town of Chania.

In the meantime the fire around Patra is still raging. During the day two helicopters and two airplanes helped the efforts to contain the fire but the night will be difficult for both the locals and the firefighting forces.

Ex prime Minister George Papandreou, an MP for Patras, visited the area. The Achaia organisation of SYRIZA has issued a press release congratulating the fire fighting forces and pointing out that the State should make sure the burnt forests retain the character of “forests” and are not turned into “urban areas” and thus become prey to various land grabbers.

Big fires in the Peloponese – Patra in a cloud of smoke

The fire that started early this morning near Patra seems to have got out of control. Regional and municipal authorities are cooperating with the inhabitants trying to curb the spread but the strong winds prevailing in the area do not allow their efforts to succeed.

According to a local e-zine ( the Patras Hospital is in danger of evacuation while nearby villages are already being emptied. The Achaia region is in a state of emergency.

A second fire has broken out near the village of Zevgolatio in the Corinth region.

Going going gone!!

One of the good things we heard this morning: finally the Greek state managed to sign the documents for the sale of the 4 airbuses of the now privatised Olympic Airways. When the sale of the airline went through back in 2009 Marfin, the new owner, refused to buy them. The greek state has been paying thousands of Euros for the last three years for the airbuses’ “parking” in the Eleftherios Venizelos airport and a minimal maintenance.
According to NET the price achieved today is six times lower than in 2009.

Olympic airways busses rotting at the old airport

Would you be optimistic about the privatizations announced by Mr. Antonis Samaras? If so visit the old airport and feast your eyes on the completely wasted bus fleet of the Olympic airways. These cars were left to rot while the state pays taxis to carry pupils from villages to schools, or coaches to take pensioners on short trips.