A Raki-Infused Tour of Greece by the author of ’30-Floor-Clutching-Hours at Sea in a Beaufort 9 Storm’.
I started traveling frequently to Greece about 20 years ago, starting in Corfu, which is where some of my family are from. Corfu is a nice, big, green island – and like many who visit Greece, I immediately fell in love with the place.
The joy of escape
Over the next 20 or so years I traveled further and further afield, sitting under more and more trees in more and more village squares, talking to more and more local people, drinking more and more local wine in more and more dysfunctional Greek places.
I should point out that I like dysfunction. I like power cuts, no wifi and never receiving the bill I asked for. I like that the taverna doesn’t have a menu, that I had to check it was even open in the first place;I like that I asked for a second coffee and the waiter refused to serve me one because ‘is bad for you’.
I like that a sudden massive coastal storm in Kasos trashed my entire holiday plan, flooded my house and dragged my friend’s Kia Picanto with it into the sea, before dispatching me into the Aegean in 9 Beaufort seas aboard a decrepit 1970s ferry the islanders call ‘The Love Boat’, for the most harrowing 30-floor-clutching-hours of my life. I like that the bus driver in Anafi overslept so I had to run down the side of a mountain in a blind panic in flipflops with a suitcase to catch an incoming ferry, or face being stranded there three more power-less days, before hitching a lift in the back of elderly Mr and Mrs Pelekis’s minivan.
Because dysfunction teaches us a lesson. It tells us to chill out, stop making so many plans, and remember whose planet we’re on. The Greeks have got this down to a tee: they know we’re all just renting, and why should we worry about that? ‘Hey, sit down! Let’s have lunch, a little wine, then later maybe a swim.’
Although Greek life in the wake of all this sitting and eating can seem chaotic to the outsider (sitting down to dinner at 10pm and ferry embarkation for example) you’ll rarely see Greeks get stressed out, and they’ll always be the first to tell you ‘Όλα καλά!’ (‘everything ok’) when you’re in a panic. And honestly, sometimes everyone needs to be told when to calm down.
There’s a hole in the road? Walk around it. There’s a storm? Eat something. The ferry is cancelled? Stay here.
Welcome to Greece! You’re going to love it…