I caught the bus up to the top and walked down the other side today, re-acquainting myself with places I used to know well. This side is not as picturesque nor as “tastefully” developed as the other side: it’s still the same old square concrete blocks of holiday homes and rooms for rent as 20 years ago. The sea is still great, and there were plenty of Greeks bathing. I have the impression that this side has remained the holiday destination for Greeks wishing to escape big towns in the summer, while the other side has been colonised more by other Europeans. It’s obvious from the appearances of the different places who has more money. As the καφετζού said yesterday, Greeks don’t have much money to spend. So – as Cavafy didn’t say – καφετζήδες are περιμένοντας τους ξένους. I suppose us foreign tourists are μια κάποια λύσις since we are enabling Tsipras to claim that Greece’s economic growth next year will be 2.7%. (!)
Anyway, some miscellaneous thoughts:
Things I miss:
- Being served by an elderly woman in a tiny café; most waiters now seem to be young, and cafés are rather swisher affairs.
- Radios blaring out traditional songs about το φεγγάρι, μάτια σου and αγκαλιά μου; songs today sound more westernised.
- Lack of knowingness about the attractions of Greece. For example, I have realised that the double-top-tube bicycle that I recall with nostalgia has now become a style item. I almost expect to see one being ridden by a hipster with a beard and a check shirt.
- Crocheted pelmets on bus windscreens, along with assorted family photographs and icons.
- Embroidered cloths on top of fridges, placed diagonally so that you always had to lift up the cloth to close the fridge door.
- Walking along busy roads without a pavement is still horrible.
- Locally sourced food is still the easiest and most delicious thing to eat.
- There’s still a generally cavalier attitude towards disposing of rubbish.
- Notices of deaths are still displayed on telegraph poles.
- An unsmiling demeanour does not indicate unhelpfulness.
Things I don’t miss:
- Smoking everywhere. Recollections of bus and railway stations are particularly bad.
- Trying to get a Νες ζεστό σκέτο με γάλα down my throat – which used to be the least undrinkable hot beverage on offer. It was usually served by an elderly woman in a tiny café . . .