Friday, 18 November 2016

a day out to the hospital

A cheap day out at a city hospital, whoopee. 

15 euros for the car ferry, to and fro
20 euros for petrol

and just a few more euros to celebrate our good test results.

The tests at the hospital cost nothing and we weren't on a waiting list for months either.  Unlike Athens where you wait ages for an appointment our rural hospitals are efficient and quick.  We did once wait three weeks for an appointment to see the opthamologist but it wasn't urgent.  On that day all the villagers and their dogs had appointments so there was a three hour wait at the hospital.  Who can complain when it is free.

The gypsies love these hospitals too.  While I was waiting for K to finish more tests last week I sat in the sun and whiled away the time guessing the nationalities (and origins) of patients.  I estimated that 50% of the outpatients were of  the ethnic group called 'roma' (romany), of the other 50% half were from the Balkans and that left 25% maybe to be Greek.  That is not many greeks considering the price of private health care and the economic crisis.    The gypsies drove away in the latest model BMWs and mercedes.  They're not in the system, they don't pay taxes. 

Free medical care for everyone. Subsidised medicine, as long as you have been paying into one of the government social security schemes. A short, or even long wait, a growl or a grunt from a nurse who is owed 6 months back pay is something to be understood and suffered in silence, thankful for what we are about to receive.

A warm winter's day, good health.  We went to celebrate as Greeks do.  A few months ago we discovered a small raki shop which serves simple meals for extremley sensible prices.  It is from another era.  Poros used to be full of small tavernas like this, just half a dozen tables, where the old men would come to while away the morning having a drink and a meze with old cronies for just a few drachmas.  Poros had one taverna left like this in the back street behind the meat market with wine in barrels and tripe soup every morning but alas even this has closed down.

The tavern we found had just six tables and four of them had old men seated around, some drinking a greek coffee with a small bottle of tsipouro, others wine or ouzo and a small plate of pickled fish or octopus.  The days specials were boiled goat soup or  salt cod with garlic sauce.  The wine was white or rose, not from the barrel but a cardboard container.

I would have taken a before-photo but I was too busy tucking in!  The clay pot held the juice from the boiled goat which K ordered.  This is his favourite.  The bones are from the goat and the fish.  Wine jug empty.  It was all fresh cooked that day and delicious.  Well, I suppose the goat was delicious.  Not quite my cup of tea.

The tablecloths were paper with recipes printed on them.  This rather grease stained recipe is for  fried pork meze in the oven

Two of the patrons.  They didn't even have a paper cloth.

Coffee is served as well.  A hot capuccino for me.  Good coffee and hot.  I'll be back.......not for the goat

On our way home we stopped at one of the big supermarkets.  I walked in with my big trolley and literally stopped dead in my tracks with my mouth open.  The cupboard was bare.  The long  aisles of usually overflowing foodstuffs were completely empty. On one aisle there were ten cans of milk spaced evenly out along 20 metres of barren shelving, the next had 20 odd boxes of cornflakes sitting like rifle targets.  

This supermarket chain used to belong to the giant Carrefour  and was sold back to the greek group Marinopoulos who owned the business originally.  The Marinopoulos family were apparently spending all their profits living an extravagent life in Dubai and the chain went bankrupt. Mr Marinopoulos was so sorry but he would have to close all the stores and put the thousands of employees on the streets.  Another Greek supermarket chain stepped in and bought into the business.  That was months ago.  The girl at the cash desk where I went to pay for my two tins of milk, rattling round in my massive trolley,  told me that the shelves would be slowly filled by Christmas.  I hope they do get filled and customers arrive and workers get paid.

So onto another supermarket, another greek chain which is doing very well, even more so I suppose because of the collapse of the first.  And lo, my Christmas miracle.  Small elusive jars of marmite.  So expensive I really shouldn't have bought any, but I did, two tiny jars costing all together 8.50 euros.  That was half the cost of our boiled goat dinner with all the lashings.

One final stop  for more coffee and our first real sign that Christmas is approaching.

Coffee and a free, freshly baked,  greek christmas cookie, a melomacarona


  1. The demise of the small taverna is worrying. They used to be my absolute favourite thing about Greece.

    1. I can't understand why they are closing. They are cheap, a gathering place for the locals, provide a basic meal for the home as well. Just the local traditional stuff which does not cost much to make. Such a pity.

  2. The tavern sounds wonderful. What beers can you drink there? I have drank Ouzo.

    1. They always have Amstel and Heineken which is sold throughout Greece and produced in Greece and usually a couple of other greek lagers like fix or alpha. The wine was really nice,cool and fruity. I wanted to ask what brand it was but forgot as I wobbled out of there having had a glass or two too many

  3. I think that would be my worst nightmare going into a supermarket and the shelve empty. It would make me really worry. I try to keep a full stock at home. And then wait for the sales or coupons (we dont get many coupons here), then stock up to make my house keeping go further.

    1. I have been stockpiling for a few years now. Sugar, coffee, flour,macaroni, loo paper. If Greece goes bankrupt the shelves in every supermarket will be bare