Friday, 9 August 2013

Midstream tactics

The doors are locked, again
Greek unemployment is up again  - 27.6% at latest count, an unthinkable figure to non-Europeans. It's unthinkable to Greeks too, I guess, especially young Greeks who are jobless at twice that rate.  How do people manage without income, we wonder. We're often walking back to the boat from the train station at Piraeus close to midnight, and we've seen surprisingly few people sleeping out, though it's the weather for it, so homelessness doesn't seem to be a symptom of poverty here. Few beggars either, and or people rummaging for food in bins.

Good, simple food - fava bean puree with Santorini capers
Last night, after we'd spent too long thinking through the implications of a feebler Australian dollar on our chosen way of living, we sat at pavement table, watching sleeping dogs and young people. We were in Gazi, a neighbourhood that felt very Surry Hills-ish. We'd gone there to see a modern art museum, the monumental Benaki Pireos, but found it closed when it should have been open. Another of those paper notices taped over the opening hours. At 7.30 pm, when we sat down to eat at an empty restaurant by the train tracks, we thought the place was probably struggling. By 10 pm, we were struggling to catch a waiter's attention to pay our bill. Twenty and 30-somethings were arriving on foot, by bicycle, motorbikes (never a helmet) and small shiny cars which they parked with barely a look at where or how. They were looked care-free. Why not? Summer is summer, still.

I thought of how I would describe Greeks and their attitude to what has befallen them - that is, the drying up of money which had flowed so freely. Hard times for year after year, with no let-up in sight.

Heedless. That's what I came up with. It's not a nasty word and I don't mean it nastily. Young people  are typically heedless, that is, they don't seem to worry too much about consequences. It's what makes them so attractive and so infuriating to worrying grown-ups. It's not that life's too short to agonise over what currency or interest rates will do tomorrow or next month, it's more who can control such things anyway?

Hydra harbour, seen from the Koundouriotis mansion 

We were on Hydra the other day, the island made famous in our lifetimes for the young Leonard Cohen having bought a run-down mansion there in the early 60s. Among his creative friends was our cat Po's new mother, Susan, but that's her story - and we can't tell it, but we thought of Susan, and L. Cohen, when we were there.

Ferry in reverse, 25-30 knot northerly blowing straight into Hydra harbour

Donkeys are the main form of transport and carriage on Hydra

Hydra is beautiful still, not spoiled by its popularity, but it's got a crazy small harbour, and friends had advised not to take our boat in there. So we went as day trippers - the fast ferry takes 2 hours each way. Alex took some wonderful pictures of the craziness in the port as we sat in the shade sipping freddo cappucinos.

The person in the water is trying to retrieve the yacht's fouled anchor

Yachts have their engines running to keep off the town quay 

..but the driving gusts are just too fierce

The problem of the anchor not holding

...and then the wind pushes the boat side-on the the quay

The only way out for this guy is backwards

Boats keep arriving, and anchoring on top of each other

The coastguard is only barely interested

...but she does ask the Ukrainians to squeeze in tighter

Catamarans are the least suitable vessels for small harbours but they're out in force

The big guy doesn't worry about any of this nonsense
My finger has almost grown a full covering of new skin over the wound, thanks in large part to Alex's skilful nursing and dressing of it, and the wind and sea are settling down for a day or so in the Aegean. It's time to get moving again, with care.


  1. Well, I tried posting by signing in to WordPress, but goofed it up somehow, so will try again.

    Wanted to say how much I love your photos with captions. They say so much.

    I am Sue from, but have not added to the blog for quite some time. We are just living aboard Sunline in Craig, Alaska, while we work and talk about going north. We hate heat, so that makes sense to us.

    Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Sue. If you like cooler latitudes, you would be totally miserable here where we roast and bake and grill simultaneously until the sun dips below the horizon...but there are compensations, many in fact. Hope one day we can get to Alaska too, if that's not too much to ask!