Short stories

Greece, tourism, travel

Winter holidays

Don’t forget about winter holidays! Choose Greece and do not hesitate to contact me for a quick search of comfortable accomodation for reasonable prices. I could also arrange transfer from Athens airport.

Be free and fly!

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South Euboia cloud. Photo taken in summer 2017
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Euboia, Greece

Wild is the wind

Paximada is a promontory on the South Euboia. At this point the seasonal summer north wind meltemi, μελτέμι, exceeds 100 km/hour. The sea becomes rough and dynamic, you feel sand and rock dust on your teeth, you can’t walk vertically, the air is full of music of spheres, finally, meltemi can just take you like a sand grain and throw into the sea. This almost happened to me once, but I grabbed the air with my terrified hands, and that was what saved me from the falling from the rock. Victim of the small stones shrapnel, I got red bruises on my legs… What an adventure!

food, France, Greece, restaurant

Death metal day

I would describe this day at Mavrommatis as the “death metal”: furious hunger, crowds of clients. Where were they yesterday??? The scroogest of the scrooge left something. 4 euros for me + 3 Melina + 2 Djibrine + 2 Ammara + 1,5 Raluca + 2 Mamadou + 1,5 Mila.

After I finished I handed my letter saying that I quit this job. Vassilis, my boss, asked me why. Because, I say, my exhaustion is THAT BIG while my salary is that small. He did not try to negotiate nor asked me to change my opinion, nor promised to find a solution.

Chloe and Melina – Lumière and Black Beauty – really, sincerely regret I’m leaving… I understand, you do what you want, but I already miss you so much! told me Melina… the girl who criticized me all these three months!

I love them too. I’ll miss them too…

food, Greece, tourism

Anthotyro cheese

If you like soft cheese with minimum of salt, anthotyro is what you have to taste in Greece. It is the secondary product made after the main one – kephalotyri. The best anthotyro however is not sold in the supermarkets. The supermarkets only sell the pale shadows of things.

The best anthotyro is made by those Greeks who have cattle (of sheep milk). It is seasonal because it’s usually produced in May and June, so it’s impossible to find a piece of it already at the beginning of July 😦

During summer 2017, we were offered two BIG, generous pieces of anthotyro by Angeliki, a woman holding one fish shop in K. on the Evia island. Its texture, color and taste were completely different from those of the supermarket “ready-made” anthotyros. More rich, containing small bits of fat, yellowish instead of whitish, and having taste!

Angeliki refused to take money, so the next summer we did not dare ask for anthotyro once again as we would like that the person (Angeliki’s sister) producing cheese was rewarded at least a little bit. I would pay for the home anthotyro three times more than for the industrial one… At the same time, I love Greeks for their simplicity and generosity, for their staying so often so far away from commercializing any bit of any thing, far away from capitalism. Since ancient times, the oldy-wordly barter system is still functioning in this country.

Ανθότυρο (Greek version)

Το καλύτερο είναι να μην το πάρεις στα σουπερμάρκετ αλλά να δοκιμάσεις αυτό που φτιάχνουνε οι άνθρωποι που κρατάνε ζώα, το σπιτικό τυρί.

Η Αγγελική που κρατάει ένα ιχθυοπωλείο στην Κ., μας πουλάει ψάρι μας έφερε δυο φορές ένα μεγάλο κομμάτι, περίπου ένα κιλό ήτανε. Αυτό το ανθότυρο το καλύτερο! Είναι λιπαρό, λίγο πιο σκλήρο αλλά και μαλακό ταυτόχρονα, το χρώμα του δεν είναι τόσο άσπρο όπως στο σουπερμάρκετ αλλά υποκίτρινο, και η γεύση του εντελώς διαφορετική δηλαδή έχει γεύση. Σαν να ‘ταν λίπος ή βούτυρο το τυρί αυτό λιώνει επί το μαχαίρι, περιέχει και μικρά κομματάκια του κεφαλοτυριού. Δεν πήρε λεφτά η κυρία αλλά εγώ θα πλήρωσα για αυτήν την délice δυο και τρεις φορές παραπάνω.

Ακόμα και μια κυρία που μένει κοντά μας στην Κ. έχει κρεοπωλείο με τον άνδρα της, μας έφερε ένα κομμτάκι ανθότυρο.
Τότε καταλάβαμε για ακόμι μια φορά, ότι τα σουπερμάρκετ είναι ένα μεγάλο λάθος.
food, France, Greece

Tips and names

Monday, December 10, 2018.

Quite a quiet day, but 8,5 euros tips for me + 5 euros shared.

People ate mostly mezes.

Do I work with the best girls ever? Seems like… But today I’ve told them I want to quit this job. Not enough money, too much time and energy; post-doctoral thesis to finish this year.

One Greek girl whose name is Melina calls me all the time Μαυρη Καλλονη, after the series Black Beauty: I remind her the black horse of the movie (despite I’m blond), so silent I am. I am like a silent horse running across the desert or along the ocean coastline… Melina is perhaps the only human creature who grasped the essence of me without even knowing it. Another girl, Chloe, French one but born in Greece, calls me Lumière (“light”). I call her by the same name 🙂

tourism, travel

Starting point

How did I start my everlasting discovery of Greece? By chance.

In 2003, I came to Athens for one year as a scholarship holder (thank you, IKY!) and as a doctorate candidate in order to work in the libraries and to gather material for my thesis that I was writing in Ukraine. The monthly amount was 500 euros, and most people told me that was a very good money. At the beginning, I had no studio, no hotel room reservation, of course. Such things were unthinkable that time for me, who was going to visit Europe for the first time and who only had 50 euros which my mother gave me in case I need money if my scholarship is not paid quickly by the IKY.

I only had come contacts, and, thanks to them, one Athenian family offered me shelter for a couple of weeks until the moment I find something to rent. But in one or in two weeks, Sophia, her husband Sakis, and the rest of her family proposed me not to leave their house but to stay as long as I need. The whole year. For free. And they would feed me. I asked but could I pay at least for water or electricity. – No, that’s too little money. And we need millions, – answered Sophia, then working at the National Bank of Greece.

Here’s my benefactors’ portraits made 5 years later, in 2009. We went together to the village Loukas on Peloponnese, place where Sakis grew up.

This unexpected confidence, friendliness and generosity of the Greek people that I did not know at all and who did not know me became the source and the possibility of my escapades from Athens, of my discoveries of the Greek islands, like Crete, for example, and all those lands that I saw not only during my stay in 2003-2004, but also afterwards, because when one throws the ball, it never stops.

food

No tips

There’s seemingly no rule what day people give and when they do not give tips. Some days are good enough, but others very poor. I’ld call these last the Scrooge days.

Today was the Scrooge day. The young goodlooking and capricious French – daughters and sons of bourgeoisie de Paris – or else the blue-rinsed French women, they too capricious: here are two groups of people who never leave a penny at Mavrommatis. There were representatives of both today…