Driving in Greece
In order to get a Greek Drivers License (for those who actually drive with one) you must do two things, spend a year driving in Bangkok to learn how to overlook every driving rule, as they are only suggestions. You’re then required to attend the New York City School for Effective Horn Blowing – a necessity for all NYC cab drivers. Once proficient at using your horn, you will never have to step on the brakes again. Now you’re ready for the mean streets of Athens and elsewhere. To survive as a driver in Athens, you must ignore all pedestrians, particularly those on the walking streets and alleys, as well as other cars motorcycles and bikes.
The Greek Language
I did some research on this complex language and here’s what I learned. When you see anything written in the Greek alphabet, you will notice several unrecognizable characters. Disregard them completely, as they are not part of the vernacular but have been sprinkled in merely to confuse the Russians. Or was it the Romans or Turks? Even in English, all words must have six syllables. And the more difficult they are to pronounce, the more they are used. Whenever we had a conversation with the friendly locals, we mistook their laughter to be a sign of their happiness and contentment. Instead, it was their reaction to our confusion trying to understand what they were saying. The only time they made sense was when they were trying to sell us their retail merchandise or get us to dine in their restaurants. And then they knew every American slang expression to pull us in the door.
The Greek Islands
I have heard many statistics about this vast collection of mountains, volcanoes, and rock formations. I believe there are 6,000 of them, but only about 200 of them are inhabited. We visited four nearby islands in seven days, spending only a few hours on each. At that rate it would take a few years to truly explore all of them, plus more years to visit the larger uninhabited islands.
Except for those closest to the coast, they are brown, volcanic rock with very little vegetation. Goat farming and beekeeping are productive, and with some water management and terracing of the hills, olive trees will prosper. And aside from the few major tourist islands, the small settlements are supported mostly by Greek tourists.
The Greek restaurants serve what is abundant. Lots of fresh-caught seafood, especially octopus and squid. Chicken, pork, lamb, some beef, plus goat are on most menus. That and lots of fresh vegetables and cheeses round out their offerings. They all serve large portions, so we often shared salads and entrees, and grudgingly the desserts. We never had a less than really good food at any restaurant, and only once had disappointing service. Except for two restaurants, mentioned in a previous blog, the preparation was not creative, but excellent, traditional Greek fare.
Most restaurants were not adept at preparing cocktails, so we stuck with the wine. Tom drank the plentiful varieties of ouzo exclusively, while we got by on the affordable, but poorer quality Greek wines, which were the only choices available.
Again, the exception to the above was the far more interesting and wonderfully prepared food served on our yacht by our talented chef, Aga, and where Marlena made really good cocktails.