Tuesday 28 July 2015


I should have trusted my instincts and known this was all just another greek drama.    This weekend traffic on the waterfront was in its usual chaotic summer mode, the supermarket was full of shoppers buying fresh fruit and vegetables, cafes were full and tavernas were setting up tables on the sidewalks,waiters buzzing  backwards and forwards with laden trays.  Greeks just cannot be kept down. 

The feeling now is 'enjoy life today for tomorrow we could still be bankrupt'. 

coffee at the orange chairs
No. 1 K-approved waterfront café
Nels, Elli and a young Natalia

I am sure all the unemployed sitting in cafeterias  sipping  one all-day coffee and arguing politics would prefer to be working 15 hours in the scorching sun and have money in their pockets.

Work means money.
Money means:
a winter holiday in the Carribean sun
replacing your rotten shutters
a new car (preferably a Mercedes)
nights out at a taverna with friends and laughter
a trip to the putanes over the border in Bulgaria, in your new mercedes (as some of the  local business men used to do every November)

The money is spread around, everyone prospers: the small business that cleans the hotel sheets, the local fishermen who sell their early morning catch on the waterfront, the fresh frozen potato man who operates out of his house and the beach bars that sell craziness on the sand.

Kyriakos and his water taxi ' Socrates'

Stathis from the little mini market at Neorion beach peddles furiously taking orders to tavernas and cafes all over the island.  He is in training for a winter job as a ski instructer  in the alps.  His bike pulls a laden trailer,  leg muscles screaming as he climbs up Neorion hill and over the top past the Poros Image hotel.

Every enterprise is set up to serve the tourist and the local community.  The small neighbourhood grocery stores stay open all day and deliver at any hour.  Grandparents and young children get roped in to sit at the till, weigh out the snails, stack the tomatoes.  Beach bars like our local at the bay below open at 9am and stay open until the last customer goes home.  One man drinking a slow beer may keep them open till 2am.  That's summer.  These two guys have set up a couple of tents in the field next door and take turns having a siesta when trade is slow.

The locals work long hours in a normal summer.  I worked at a swimming pool  bar for three years (many years ago) and 15 hour work days were the norm.  We did it gladly because of course the money we made kept us going through the winter when everything closed down.  Poros locals do spend a lot of time in cafes in the winter but that is what seasonal work means.  Unfortunately the tourist season which used to last here from April to November now lasts only the  hottest summer months, July and August. 

this is it folks
taverna by the sea
Rainy and Tony

Poros  lost a lot of its tourism after the fall of the English holiday companies at the end of the 80’s and is taking a long time to recover.  We need a leader with initiative on the island with fresh ideas and the will to implement them.

 Regular air travel to the other islands is now available from cities all over England . It is so much easier for tourists to fly straight to the island of their choice and be transferred in minutes to their accommodation.  Coming to Poros means a one hour bus ride from airport to harbour, a wait for boat or hyrdrofoil, 1-2 hours travelling, and then a taxi to accommodation.    Greek tourists took over as the roads improved and it became easier to come  Poros from Athens by car.  1 ½ to 2 hours, a short car ferry ride and you’re set. 

National Day
a young George in traditional dress
Long Live Greece
'freedom, education, bread'

Winter employment is difficult.  Nearly all tavernas close down and only half the cafeterias will remain open.  Olive picking is hard, dirty work in the freezing winter months.  Nothing romantic about it.  Long hours starting in the frost and working through till early evening through drizzle and misty fruitfulness.  Most olive pickers are family and they get paid in oil so they can ensure their years supply. 

Lemon and orange picking used to be an option but prices have fallen so far that a lot of orchard owners let their fruit drop and rot.  It is not worth employing someone to pick and pack them.

The Navy base provides bursts of money with their visiting days but generally winter is a time of café hibernation.

our house in the hills
right hand side at the back

Domestic tourism, especially in these islands in the Saronic gulf just out of Athens, is picking up.  We still have August to go so all is not lost.  I shall be the one hibernating till all the tourists go home.  Our house in the hills is well away from the bustle and noise of the waterfront.  We have the beach below us and the bar there in the early evening is quiet and Manolis and Marcos have time to sit and chat with K about tomorrow's weather and fishing prospects.

with friends on the island of Agistri
also in the Saronic gulf
where K's father was born

summer days at the navy beach bar
K on the left, Kyriakos on the right

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