Saturday, May 23, 2009

83 Reasons For Greek Pride

This list of what it means to be Greek comes from an email which has been doing the rounds. We don't know who the original author was and it didn't come in the form of a numbered list, we've restructured it that way so its easier to talk about.

Why do We Fancy Ourselves For Being Greek?
  1. Because we buy whole watermelons and not in slices.
  2. Because we buy whole lambs and not in pieces.
  3. Because nights in Greece finish in the morning.
  4. Because we take our coffee slowly, while smoking and not in "shots"
  5. Because flirting is our national hobby.
  6. Because sex is our national sport.
  7. Because we always moan about the public sector and everyone seeks to get a job in it .
  8. Because we are not puritans.
  9. Because we are not racists.
  10. Because we cheat openly, without trying to hide it.
  11. Because we go out almost every night even if we are penniless.
  12. Because we know how to spend better than we know how to save.
  13. Because we never visit others empty handed.
  14. Because there is no way to explain to foreigners what is "kapsoura" (burning desire for someone).
  15. Because in Greece family is still something valuable.
  16. Because we do not share the petrol with those we take in our cars.
  17. Because we always make it, albeit in the last moment.
  18. Because we were slaves for 400 years yet never bring that up as an excuse for our current state.
  19. Because for the sake of a woman we made war for 10 years (Trojan War).
  20. Because we are everywhere around the planet.
  21. Because we love and hate with passion. Because "filotimo" (friend of honor, helping someone because it is a shame not to), does not exist in any other language.
  22. Because whenever foreigners cannot find a word, they use one of ours. Because we spend our bad and low times with our friends and family, not with shrinks.
  23. Because Socrates, Pluto and Aristotle were Greek.
  24. Because we invented theatre.
  25. Because we gave birth to Democracy.
  26. Because we discovered logic.
  27. Because we jump started science.
  28. Because we are proud of our culture, not of our wars.
  29. Because when others were discovering meat, we already had cholesterol.
  30. Because we gave the light to all these leaders who are "striving" for peace by making wars.
  31. Because we can give anything up just to make love.
  32. Because hundreds of European women travel to Greek Islands every summer just to get laid.
  33. Because we have a distinction between Eros (falling in love) and Agapi (innocent love), while we feel both of them passionately.
  34. Because Eros was a Greek God.
  35. Because we change our cars every three years, our mobile phones every year and our lover every three days.
  36. Because when others used to be clothed with wolf skin we were weaving see-through linen.
  37. Because "Greeks do not fight as heroes, heroes fight like Greeks".(Winston Churchill, 1941)
  38. Because we don't use ketchup with our food - it tastes good anyway.
  39. Because we gave our ancient alphabet to the Romans and our Medieval alphabet to the Slavs.
  40. Because we converted all of Eastern Europe into Christians.
  41. Because we get angry quickly but we forget all about it even quicker.
  42. Because we are not ashamed to cry.
  43. Because we dance when we are sad.
  44. Because we work to live and we do not live to work.
  45. Because 97% of the stars' names are Greek.
  46. Because although we know danger well, we dare.
  47. Because when you shout "brother" in the streets everyone turns around.
  48. Because we always talk about getting in a diet after we had our meal.
  49. Because we speak loudly and laugh even louder.
  50. Because we do not know what anxiety is.
  51. Because, although we smoke more than anyone in the world and eat the most red meat in Europe, we live the longest in Europe.
  52. Because we are starting with "just a coffee" early afternoon and end up off our heads in the morning.
  53. Because we walk in the streets at 2:00 in the morning and there are traffic jams.
  54. Because we walk in the streets at 4:00 in the morning and there are traffic jams.
  55. Because girls are not scared to walk alone in the streets at 2:00 or 4:00 o'clock in the morning.
  56. Because the inside of all our churches are not dark, but full of light.
  57. Because we are direct.
  58. Because we know how to cheat.
  59. Because we never report people who cheat.
  60. Because we always have a solution to problems, even if usually indirect or illegal.
  61. Because we have tendencies to extremity.
  62. Because our parents do not forget that we exist when we reach 18.
  63. Because when we want to sunbathe, we go to the beach, we don't crawl on grass or jump into fountains.
  64. Because we confront every difficulty with humour.
  65. Because the Olympic Games were born here.
  66. Because our sky is blue, not grey.
  67. Because we have the cleanest seas on the planet.
  68. Because 40% of Oxford dictionary is made up with Greek words.
  69. Because we are a poor country with very rich citizens.
  70. Because we know what "Kefi" (propensity to fun) means.
  71. Because we like to spend money and eat fish while they are still fresh.
  72. Because Homer wrote Iliad 3500 years ago and Hollywood turned it into a movie just recently.
  73. Because we speak foreign languages - who learns Greek?
  74. Because Tsikoudia from Crete is the strongest drink in Europe (85% alcohol)
  75. Because we grow hallucinogenic weed without biological engineering!!
  76. Because our "model for life" has many curves.
  77. Because we wear sandals without socks.
  78. Because we get paid on Friday and we end up owing money Monday morning.
  79. Because we gave the oath "freedom or death".
  80. Because God did not choose us as his favourite people, but we always choose our Gods.
  81. Because we are European Champions in football and basketball.
  82. Because we have a small, poor country full of people with big hearts.
  83. Because only in Greece, the guy who prepares the Souvlaki asks the young lady: "What shall I put in?" And she happily replies "Please put everything in!''

There are some whoppers and some belters in there but overall we reckon it gives a pretty accurate insight into the Greek mind.

Our particular favourites:
  • the withering disdain of foreigners in numbers 22, 32 and 63.
  • the belief that its only thanks to Greece that people around the world are able to express themselves at all. (14, 21, 22, 68)
  • the outright lies (e.g, 9, 50, 51, 64 67.)
Oh well, it gave us a laugh anyway.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This boat is called the Bediah and it's been in Kalymnos for a couple of months now.

Some geezers are restoring it down at the far wharf and it just looks great. It's got a huge front that soars almost vertically out of the water.

Maybe'll get made into one of the tourist boats that carries Germans, English, Swedes and Dutch all around the little islands for scheduled pleasure.

If so it would feel like a slight waste. The Bediah should be getting used by PIRATES! Arrr.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yes, You Can See Her Fanny

Round the corner from us is Tzinadiko which more or less means "Your jeans" but could be mistaken as meaning "her fanny".

For in the window, at just the right height for the slavering attention of the local nine-year old boys, is a picture lady's pussy.

The excuse for the muff is a packet of stockings, manufactured by a company who seem to think that a wavering customer might be swayed by the sight of a heavily-trimmed bush.

You never know.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Goat Climbs Tree: photo evidence

We knew goats were pretty handy at climbing mountains. But it wasn't until a recent trip to PSerimos that we learned they are also pretty useful in a tree situation.

The leaves up there are, presumably, tastier than the grass down there.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thankyou for Not Smoking (Two Fags at Once)

Greece is a place where smoking is still cool. However, there are some limits.

On the Pserimos ferry, this sign asks patrons to at least hold off smoking two cigrattes at once while they are on board.

Progress, one supposes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chroscheria Castle

A local landmark is Chrysocheria Castle which stands halfway up the valley and looks down on the town. It's quite a steep walk up.

The castle which was built by Crusaders in the Middle Ages. Chrysocheria means 'golden hands' and is something to do wit ha Vrigin Mary icon which had golden hands... we don't kno the full story.

The last people to live here moved out about 300 years ago and it's pretty much a mess now. But you get a nice view down the valley and over the town.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Holy Bling

Kalymnos is big on statues and big on Priests. It follows that there are statues of priests.

This is our favourite. We reckon that, apart from that cross, this chap has two mobile phones round his neck. One for business and one for "personal".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How Greeks do Banks

In the UK, the bank manager lives in a wee room at the back. You never get to see her.

In Greece, the bank manager has to be a man (legally) and is always stationed on the (large) desk nearest the window so that everyone can see his status.

Generally, a large desk seems to be a highly valued accessory for any worker. We think that a large desk indicates seriousness and importance, which is heavily valued.

Learn Greek:
  1. The Desk = τo θρaνio (to thra-nee-oh)
  2. My Desk is the biggest = τo θρaνio μou εivai τo μεγaλητερo (to thra-neeo mou ee-nai to mega-leetero)

Surprising Incidence of Modern Art

You don't see a lot of modern art in Kalymnos. It's not really their style, but these little 3D panels adorn th outside wall of a local shop and they are quite modern/urban.

They are roughly 60 x 30 cm and protrude maybe 5 cm from the wall at their deepest.

We like.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You Don't Need All The Gear

Some people take fishing seriously and have all the latest gear.

In Kalymnos, this is also a common sight. A bloke rolls up to the wharf on his scooter, drops a line over the side and stays there until he harvests enough sea-meat to go home again.

No fuss, no fanfare. This is fishing for fish's sake.

Friday, April 17, 2009

After The Rain

One morning after the rain (this is from a few months ago - maybe Feb). It's nostalgic on occasions like this when our corner of the Aegean has a very Scottish-looking sky.

The Plateia

Up towards Agios Savvas.

Back streets.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beware of the (Pathetic) Dog

ΠΡOΣOXH ΣKYLOΣ (Prosochi Skylos)

The sign promises terror, danger and sharp teeth.

Reality is a "dog" you could fit in your wallet.

Beware? Of that? Do me a favour.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nice Dead Bike

This bike looks very cool for having been burned and stripped of all its paint, rubber, decals and other frippery.

Now its just core metal bike.


Euro Punk

It's amazing how widely one individual idea can spread, especially when it seems so unimportant.

I swear to God you can go to just about any town or city in Europe and find "Sid Vicious" sprayed in close proximity to "Punk's Not Dead" (or spelling variant).

Sid Vicious died thirty years ago and had been famous for about two years. They're still writing his name on the walls of countries he never visited.

Not bad.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blue on Blue

A wee blue house with blue shutters and blue trim.

Hoop Dreams

The Greeks love their basketball. It's on telly as much as the football. I guess the game suits the climate - concrete is easier to maintain than grass in this heat.

But they don't always look after their hoops. This one is in the playground of one of the abandoned schools near us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One thing about learning Greek is getting over the fact that they miss out vowels where a regular civilised person would expect a vowel to be.

Look at this sign for a vet. The Greek word for vet Kτηνaτρεio starts with a K and a T, which are letters that sound the same in English.
If the British were inventing a word like this we would force ourselves to insert at least a little "i" as a proper division between two hard vowels.

But not this mob.

They just batter right on. K-Teen-ee-ah-tree-oh.

Nutty as a fruit cake. But you get used to it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

East Beach

You can't beat the East Harbour for a bit of serenity. At least, when its not overrun by the funfair of the damned or fighting dogs.

The rest of the time it looks like this:

Three minute walk from the town centre that is. Nice.

Monday, April 6, 2009

National Day of Greece 25th March

The Greek National Day was on March 25th. The protocol in Kalymnos is fairly well established having being free of Italy for over 60 years now.

First: the army walk up and down to military music, waving a flag.

Then the girls walk up and down to military music, dressed in traditional Kalymnian costume. One girl gets to carry the giant sponge.

Then its all over and everyone can have a fag.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Welcome (back) to Kalymnos

This is the bronze mermaid at the entrance to Pothia harbour, the chubby, cheery sea-whore who welcomes one and all to Kalymnos.

And she's starting to see a bit of business again. Winter is officially over and the first tourists have been spotted this week: climbers returning for their fix of limestone.

You can spot the climbers a mile away: slimmer than anyone else on the island and always wearing very pracitcal-looking Northern European leisure gear.

We watch some of the climbers disembarking the "Star" and being met by a Kalymnian who happily loads their packs into his boot

"Ah you have a new car" says a French accent.

"Yes," beams the Greek, and an old friendship, albeit a commercial one, is resumed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Abandoned School

We found this abandoned school on the East Side of the valley.

Apparently the story is that a local woman left some money to build a school. However, sensing an easy buck, the builders did a cheap job and built the school with leftover cement and bits of cotton wool, pocketing the cash they saved on materials.

Next thing you know, the school has to be closed down because it's unsafe - it might fall down and wipe out all the kids inside. Result: a cool abandoned school.

It looks like they had to leave in a hurry.

Some of the kids have been back with spray tins.
The front door is locked but there's a big open window round the back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What a Load of Rubbish

The sales brochure for Greece's Aegean islands rightly focus on the pristine beaches and the idyllic mountain/sea scenery.

Of course: there's more to life, and here on Kalymnos we have a whole neighbourhood, just outside the East End of the town, which is hopelessly devoted to trash.

There is a special section of sea cliff for washing machines (above) and a separate beach for crushed cars (below).

My favourite is the boneyard of battered lorries and fucked up fridges. It's beautiful.

Hey, if you're from Kalymnos Council and you're rading this, don't freak out - I'm not trying to put tourists off our Aegean paradise, I'm trying to attract artists. They love this stuff.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Secret Backstreet Casino

You find stuff out all the time. Apparently this completely innocuous building in the backstreets behind the Alphabank is actually a casino and is full of blokes gambling each other into early graves, all day long.

No lights, no sign, no nothing and yet there it is, the pit of all morals. Fancy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just Looking at a Dead Fish

What's that slimy thing hanging off the handlebar's of that guy's wee motorbike?

Why, it's a huge ugly dead fish! Looks like it only died a few hours ago.

He sees us looking at his huge ugly dead fish and comes out of the cafe to try and sell us it but we're like "naw mate - its all right - just looking".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Disco Inferno

Here's something that we've never seen in Kalymnos: a burned out shop. The Old Jukebox Record Shop disappeared in a puff of smoke last week.

God only knows how they put it out. In the year and a half we've been here, I've not seen anything resembling a fire station or a fire engine. If we had a fire in the house I wouldn't know who to call. Mind you - we don't even have a phone, so I suppose its a moot point.

Anyway, this was kind of nostalgic because life in Glasgow was full of burned out shops. So, to whoever started the fire: thanks. (Not that we're saying this was an insurance job because as we all know, record shops are the businesses of the future - this "downloading" nonsense will never take off.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's day is traditionally celebrated in Greece by buying your loved one a large cuddly mouse.

This stuffed mouse shop round the corner from us has had a great week for business. Shame it doesn't do much for the other 51 weeks of the year.

Perhaps they should diversify.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Little Baby Lizard

We share our space with animals. In summer there are ants and recently there have been one or two little baby lizards. Pink things that cling to walls.

This one is about two inches long and he's called Theophilos.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Free Accommodation in Greece

The Global Credit Crunch is at work and people are thinking frugally. The falling pound and the rising Euro are making Brits think twice about coming abroad this year.

But you shouldn't have to give up your holiday. If you can afford the flight but don't fancy paying for a hotel, you should seriously consider some island-life city-center camping.

Kalymnos (and I'm sure its the same other islands) has loads of empty properties, some are smart and some are a complete mess.

This one is right in Pothia city centre and allows easy access through a big hole in the wall which gives way to a spacious living, dining, sleeping and recreational area. You could easily set up a tent in here and if you stayed for a week probably no one would bother you. If they did, you could move to another one - there are hundreds of these empty places round the town and elsewhere on the island.

In this one, there are plenty of bike parts lying about so, if you remember to pack a multi-tool you could probably fashion your own transport for sight-seeing.

There's no wi-fi, but look at that view right out over the harbour: spectacular! Total bill for 7 nights accomodation: Zero Pounds and no Euro cents.

Don't forget as well that Kalymnos is ideal for free food: dumpsters regularly contain fresh fruit and veg, and if you're a smoker there are always fags lying about on the ground, possibly as a result of the price: 2 Euros/pack. It's literally still the 1980s as far as UK smokers are concerned.

You would need to buy drinking water but I'm sure you could easily spend a week or two out here for less than £35.

I know what you're thinking, but there is a (just) acceptable public toilet within a five minute walk. Or you could just pish round the back. I think it would be OK.

Flights to Kos start around April. Book now!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Greek Cats are Harder than Scottish Cats but Scottish Youth Would Tank Greek Youth

Greek cats would murder Scottish cats. Fat and soft, Scots pussies want for nothing as they snore by the fireplace.

Meanwhile, life is raw for their Greek counterparts. Only a spoilt minority are family pets; the rest are hard-as-nails feral street-beasts who fight for food and die in forgotten alleyways. The guy above is having a good day - he's stumbled across a random deposit of sardines near the wharf, but he'll need to eat it quick.

This one is more typical: he looks like he's been in a fight and maybe he hasn't eaten much more than the stinking remains of an abandoned souvlaki for the last few days.

Oddly enough - the story with teenagers is the exact opposite.

The kids round here are breast-fed to the age of 30. Their only worry is what time their next pizza is to be delivered, while Greek parents work themselves into the ground to pay for it.

Glasgow's wiry young teams would tear them apart, limb from fat limb...

...but their cats would kill ours and so the question remains: which country is best?

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