Sunday, 16 August 2020

At last, a night out!

We have finally arrived in  Greece! Heathrow was packed whilst Athens airport was relatively empty. The flight was o.k. - we booked ourselves in business class as we were worried about the flight and lack of social distancing in the plane. It's just as well, as economy was quite full whilst in business it was one passenger per 4-5 seats, so very comfortable and relatively safe. We had also booked a taxi to collect us from the airport and that was o.k. too.

It's wonderful being here, despite the fact that it's been quite tense for the first few days. I won't go into personal matters that make our stay here quite stressful, but we also had a series of hiccups that needed sorting. When we arrived we realised that our fridge was not working: a technician from Samsung came who said that he could not look at it properly unless we took it the plug off which meant that tons of food that was in the freezer had to be chucked - we managed to rescue a bit of it and store it in our family's freezers, but not much, as their freezers were quite full. We eventually managed to have the fridge fixed and then our internet connection went. I had to spend 2 hours on the phone to Wind before having it fixed, and the minute that was done, my computer stopped working. Fortunately, wonderful Ken managed to fix that. All of this is in the context of me not having a virgin connection on my laptop - it's been four weeks now and Virgin don't seem to be in a great hurry to fix it even though I keep calling them. Fortunately I can get emails on my iPad but it's not fun writing long emails with one finger. As I type this, Ken is trying to fix our printer which also has packed up.

Despite all this it's been wonderful being here. A few nights ago we had our first night out in five months - Covid 19 and the subsequent lockdown have meant that we had not been to a bar or restaurant for all this time. Greece, thanks to a swift response by the government and very clear messages about what was at stake and what should be done to protect against the virus (unlike the governments in the UK and the USA) has fared relatively well during the pandemic, and is one of the safest, if not safest, places in Europe, despite the fact that infection rates are rising at the moment. So, it's a good place to be at the moment.

We left early for our night out, and walked down the main road of our area. We were headed for the Agora, where most of the shops are located, which is a ten minute walk from our apartment.

One of the first things we noticed is that all the utility boxes for electricity, phone etc connections (I don't know if there is a word for those in English, but there is one in Greek) have been painted and decorated.

here's another one.

We passed the dry cleaners and the owner rushed out to greet us. Even though we only use this shop once a year when we have the guilt washed, she has sort of adopted us. Not only do we have a good relationship with her and always stop to chat when we go by, but she very often will rush out of the shop and ask us to come in to accept a gift: figs from her garden, her homemade wine in September, olives from her village when she has come back from a visit, and all sorts of other very welcome gifts. She is a lovely person.

Past Anthaki, a wonderful flower shop

and we are in the middle of the shopping area.

To Fistiki, where we buy our nuts, seeds and dried fruit

Lots of bars and cafes around here

Our favourite pharmacy, one of many. Pharmacies have a monopoly in Greece, in that what you buy here you can't buy anywhere else, things like aspirin, you can only buy in pharmacies. There are hundreds of pharmacies all over the place, a real petty-bourgeois monopoly. There is a saying in Greek: 'the prices [of x shop] are like a pharmacy'. I don't need to say more...

We have reached the first stop of the evening, Le Bon, our local, where we come for ouzos. We like sitting here, watching the world go by, the owners are very friendly, and even after a year's absence, Michalis asked me: 'your usual?' It's also cheap and does not get that busy, but busier than this: we arrived at 7:00 and most people come a bit later.

We like to sit at the table on the left - you can see my bag on the banquette. It gets very embarrassing when our place is taken by other customers, as Michalis or Voula will ask the people sitting here to move to another table. I get so embarrassed I want the ground to open up and swallow me, I protest violently, but it makes no difference, they still ask people to move. I just wish they would not do that - we would be as happy to sit somewhere else. 

After two ouzos and a lot of conversation we got up to leave and retraced our steps, back towards home.

Past the children's playground which is normally packed but this is August and despite coronavirus, a lot of people have left the city - the whole Agora is normally buzzing with people but at the moment it's very quiet.

Past Palet, where you can get the most delicious pastries

another of these utility boxes.

And we arrived at Emagie, the taverna where we had our evening meal. Emagie is three blocks away from our apartment and yet we have never eaten here before, mainly due to the fact that they had no outdoor sitting area. But, now they have expanded, so we thought we would give it a go. I have to say that I had the most delicious meal I have had in a restaurant in a very very long time. The cook is obviously very talented with a real flair for food. I had the best grilled sardines I have ever had, and the salad of grilled mushrooms on top of a bed of lettuce with a balsamic vinegar dressing was to die for. We will be coming back here very soon.

We left as the birthday party of thirteen French people was getting rowdy

and made our way home.


  1. Enjoy it all after your stressful start!

    1. Thanks Avril. I am really loving it being here again.