4 thoughts on “featured posts

  1. Dear Heidi,
    Not managed the whole blog yet – but I’ve really appreciated reading your personal views and experiences of Greece from a mainland/city aspect. Pleased to read that in spite of the problems you are still a grecophile/philhellene. It’s a shame you didn’t get to Greece before 2 years ago, as you missed out on the better times (economically), but we all hope they will return. The Greek spirit is certainly indomitable.
    The ‘frugal living’ interested me particularly. I’ve always enjoyed the simple life and felt closer to it in village Greece than in UK where everyone has to have the latest gadget. I think it’s a lot easier on the islands, or mainland away from cities. Paying rent is clearly one of the costliest parts for you. On the islands everyone seems to have lots of family property, even if it is not in perfect repair, or is small – particularly on Lesvos where so many emigrated in the 40’s & 50’s to find work. Those that stayed got the family property, but many youngsters shunned the older properties preferring new cement brick homes with large modern open plan living to the little rooms of the old houses where their parents were brought up. A few have started to sell up to fund life, university or whatever, others who seem quite poor are still reluctant to sell family property, but it can be rented cheaply.
    Terry (my husband now and partner for 21 years) was the first British person to buy a small village house in Eresos 23 years ago (originally in a lawyers name, then transferred when we could buy), 2 small rooms, outside kitchen, donkey basement – yet the owners had successfully brought up 3 children there before moving to a slightly bigger home. A former neighbour on holiday from US where he had made a new life said it had seemed so much bigger when he was a child. They used to sit in the kitchen and when the ‘exo fournos’ (outside wood oven) was lit others in the street would bring a dish to cook, just as they often did at the bakery.
    The house has a long and mostly happy history for us, although it burnt down (uninsured) 10 years ago a couple of weeks before we were getting married in Eresos), but we restored and recreated a more sound version that still has the same charisma. The village now has less derelict properties than those days, with more mostly northern Europeans buying derelict old houses and restoring them for holiday or retirement life. We decided to move our part time Greek home to a more traditional part of the island, Polichnitos, starting all over again making an old house into a traditional yet functional Greek home. Probably picked the wrong time mid 2008, but have at last found a buyer for the first house who love the house and village. We love the simpler life we enjoy in Greece, doing as much of the work on restoration as we can. We need to employ local ‘experts’ for some work and sadly it is also possible to be ‘ripped off’, difficult to get official receipts from workmen even when prices are not cheap, but we have also made very good local Greek contacts and friends on Lesvos. I’ve put some personal pictures on greekofile.multiply.com if you are interested in our current house work. I also maintain a grecophilesforum.multiply.com – originally for readers of our books to share their love of Greece – feel free to join us.
    Having bought property in UK when I was earning a proper income, my UK mortgage was paid off by moving to a cheaper area and we started publishing Greek-o-File magazines in 1998 then books from 2002 as a way to spend more time in Greece. (see http://www.greekofile.co.uk) It never made the small income we had hoped to achieve and after 8 paperback volumes I don’t plan to publish any more, but being a lot older than you I have been able to take my private pension early, Terry gets his state pension in November at age 65 and we live very well …. although our meagre income is considered to be at ‘poverty’ level in the UK.
    I hadn’t meant to pour out all this personal ‘stuff’ when i started this comment to you Heidi … but your out-pourrings are personal too. I always enjoyed reading Greek-o-File contributor articles, many of which we published in our books alongside our own articles. The ‘blogosphere’ has taken over from our kind of paper publication, although not all are so interesting as yours.
    I’ve signed up (I think) to receive your new posts as emails. I wish you all the best with your life in Greece and look forward to reading how life in your part of the country I love unfolds.
    Thanks.
    warmest regards
    Sylvia

    • Hi Sylvia!
      I first came to Greece in 1999 and lived here on and off since then, but didn’t move permanently until 2009. So I did get to enjoy a little bit of the ‘glory days’ so to speak before the euro. I first noticed prices getting out of hand in 2003, and by 2007 it was getting difficult to survive on a standard wage.

      As you know, we lived on a small island (population 200-600 depending on the season) and I found frugality to be even harder there, because of the cost of food and anything else that needed to be brought from off the island (everything, in other words), but the lower rent made up the difference. However, we weren’t able to live there year round because NO ONE would rent year-round at 270/month when they could charge 100/night in the summer. We were very … offended … that we (the whole faculty and their families) weren’t “welcome” year round considering the services the faculty was providing, and we had enough after two years of moving back and forth. It was the main reason we left the island.

      Even though our income dropped sharply after we moved off the island, our quality of life shot up because of the difference in the quality of home construction and the availablity of lower priced goods. There are plusses and minuses but after 2 years on the island, I think it would take a lot of convincing for us to try again.

      Before the crisis, S and I dreamed and planned to buy some land somewhere and build the house of our dreams – small but exactly what we wanted. We still dream about it – after all, like you say, we’re young, and things may look up in time for us – but because of that, I love reading stories about house building, renovating, etc in Greece – the good parts and the bad parts. Although lately I’ve been a little tired of hearing about the bad parts and need a little more positivity. I will check out your photos. Our koumbara is about to start building a house on the little island and I’m excited to follow her progress!

  2. Thanks for the background & glad you enjoyed some ‘good years’ too. I get the impression that a big (and very Greek) island like Lesvos, or Crete which I also know from many holidays, is different to the smaller ones like Folegandros that don’t have many resources to grow fresh food and rearmany animals. We don’t get much of the cheap international imports, or maybe there is a surcharge for shipping to the island, but a Greek friend once said no-one dies of starvation on Lesvos. I’m not sure how true that was during the German occupation, but use of weeds in food, etc (as described in your article) would have been easier on Lesvos than it was in Athens where many died of starvation. We often enjoy horta freshly picked and local ‘manitaria’ – both very tasty. A regular visitor from Athens (friend of our koumbaros) always collects a big bag before returning to Athens where she says it is expensive.
    I hope you get a chance to buy a home somewhere in Greece to renovate one day (or build one, but the former may be cheaper and certainly less taxes). I think a lot more cash poor Greeks will need to sell their spare empty family houses and they would be available at lower prices now, but I guess a mortgage even on a low amount is out of the question right now! (I just checked the Greek islands Property, Hibiscus link from our greekofile website and there are plots to build on in South Lesvos from 16,000euros, but small cottages needing work start at around 23,000.)
    We had a number of renovation stories in our magazines and books over the years – although there were usually downs as well as ups, the overall experience was always positive. Certainly working on our own renovation, then rebuild after the fire and now renovating again has been fun AND very satisfying.
    Good luck in all you do.
    Sylvia

    • Hi Heidi,
      I hope all is well with you & your husband.
      I’ve only been getting your Church on Sunday posts recently and have missed your comments on what is really happening in Greece, also your recipes. Thought I’d check your site to see if for some reason they have not been getting through to me, but nothing more on here. How are things now the new school term is under way and holidays are over? Glad you had some good trips in the summer holidays. I saw some posts on FaceBook.

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