places in athens…

My days in Athens are over. I’m on my way to Paros finally. The last couple of days in Athens weren’t too bad, we had some rain the odd cool breeze. Thank goodness. I thought I was going to melt with the heat the last few days.

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Monastiraki Square with the Acropolis in the background.

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My brother returned from Paros and is probably already back home in Canberrra. Three weeks in Greece is just not enough. Its ironic that I see more of my brother in Greece than I ever do in Australia… Wierd huh?

I find myself in the same situation I was in while at home in Tasmania. Getting behind on my blog posts. So I thought I’d share some thoughts and adventures while I sit in a lounge on the ferry.

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A gorgeous whimsical street in Monatiraki where there are lightshades hanging as lighting in the street. I love it!

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Thats it. I want to do this at home!!!

Last time I was in Greece I noticed all the dogs. It seems everyone owns a dog in Athens now, and we’re not talking pocket sized dogs. Most of them are mid to large sizes. People are always out walking them… of course they have to cause they all live in apartments. And yet, I only saw one tiny dry bit of dog shit in 10 days walking the neigbhourhood streets. I see more uncollected dog poop on the streets in New Norfolk than I did in Athens. That’s saying something!

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Beautifully graffitied wall and shutters.

Am went down to Plaka and Monastiraki again. Man I love that area of Athens. Its so alive and colourful and there are so many gorgeous bars and cafes. This time I went down with my beloved cousin Zefi yes, there are three Zefis in the family. Give it time. There’ll be more once their kids start breeding…)

 

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We had a drink at a bar and art gallery called TAF which is located in the yard of King Othona’s stables. It was lovely. But then, I adore old stuff…

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We had an ice cream at the best gelato place in Athens, and they took me past a café of old floor lamps. So cute!

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Would you believe these are ice creams?

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YUM

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How cute are the lamps?

The best thing ever was the street with the pendant lights all over the road (see photos above) and a café called Little Kook. I’m having internet issues on and off so there’ll be more photos on my FB page.

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I’m in love with that place. Apparently they change the décor with the seasons. Right now it’s a pirate theme and their Christmas décor is over the top. It was like stepping into wonderland. I took tons of photos so enjoy.

z

the oldest parts of athens

 

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Crumbling old building in Plaka.

Last night was a trip down memory lane with my old boyfriend, aka Petro the Punk. I met Petro at an alternative night club in Athens called The Mad Club and we spent most of 3 years going there to listen to music and pogo all over the dance floor.

I met Petro at Syntagma Square and we walked through the oldest parts of Athens, undoubtedly the best parts. First to Monastiraki where we had a souvlaki at Thanasis, apparently the best souvlaki joint in Athens, and from there on to Plaka where the Mad used to be.

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Monastiraki at night with the Acropolis in the  background.

Its still there of course, a very old crumbling now, now an art studio for a couple of artists. We went in and it was amazing how small the place was, the dance floor was still there, the DJ booth, the bar.

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The old Mad Club.

What was even more amazing was that its located right at the feet of Acropolis. I spent three years going there at least one night a week and I never noticed the ruins on one side of the street or the Acropolis above. My goodness did we laugh at that… we just didn’t care. It was THERE, you know, nothing special, taken for granted and not worth noticing. Amazing huh?

 

We had a great night, we just walked and talked, around the base of the Acropolis, past the ancient theatre at the base, going back to Syntagma Square where we sat down for a few minutes to have an ice cream.

A few minutes during which Petro’s bag was stolen!!!

We sat alone on a bench next to the stage where they’re having a gay pride festival, and chatted, no one around us, and yet someone managed to go past unnoticed and take his backpack! Unbelievable. And he lives here, he’s aware of things like that. I’d had the fear of God put in my by my aunts and I had my bag slung messenger bag style around my neck and shoulder and had my hand on it the entire time. I’d even check my wallet was still in there every now and then.

Sheesh.

Kinda puts a damper on a great evening.

I took some photos but it was night time. Not the best but they’ll do. I didn’t bring a camera on this trip. Firstly cause my camera is big and heavy and I frankly have no desire to lug it all over the countryside, and secondly cause both the tablet and phone have decent cameras these days. I figured I’ll be taking the phone, tablet and kindle with me pretty much everytime I go out… that’s enough to carry!

Before I go, here’s a little joke my brother shared, from one of his favourite greek stand up comedians.

“People complain about the smog in Athens. Smog is no problem for me. In fact I like it. I like to see what I’m breathing!”

z

The local market

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Turns out I’m not spending enough time sitting in cafes to use their free wifi and as a result I’ve used up most of the data allowance on my greek SIM card in two days. 1GB in two days and all I did was check FB, messenger, write a post and reply to emails. I looked at data usage… turns out Google Playstore runs in the background constantly and its usage was off the charts.

So, for now I’m trying to (being forced to) not be online till I have access to wifi otherwise this will get very expensive.

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I’ve been busy and in some ways I’m already feeling like I’m getting used to Athens. After all, I did live here for 14 years solidly, then twice for one year each time, even if I’ve avoided it like the plague since then.

I worry about myself actually…

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Its not the same Athens I knew however. Crime is incredible now. Friends and relatives have been robbed, some more than once, and now most houses I know are locked up more securely than the most bank vaults. I have to use a key to get out of the house. I don’t just mean the front door… I mean the gate to the tiny space that passes as a front garden downstairs. My aunt, who lives on the ground floor here, has become the gate keeper and I’m getting too old to climb fences.

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Not that I wouldn’t try if I had to, but lets hope it doesn’t come to that. A broken bone wouldn’t look good with my bathing suit. Ok, a bathing suit won’t be improved with a cast, its going to be bad enough exposing my pasty flesh as it is…

So, what have I done since I last posted? I’ve caught up with some cousins and a few friends. Once I went to school with in 4th grade. I feel so old…

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I’ve had a souvlaki and found I couldn’t finish it. Interesting. I remember them being smaller…

I went to the local market. That was great fun. Growing up here there was a market every Thursday and it was basically a farmers market with some homeware stalls. You know, doily type tablecloths, colanders, rugs, etc. Cheap stuff. Back then it ran for the length of a street parallel to the main road through our suburb, from the ‘town center’.
Its now fanned out from that one road like an octupus, encompassing many more neighbourhoods. Mom said it comes almost as far up as our house now. That’s 3 bus stops up the main road. Needless to say I didn’t explore that far. I was only there looking for some lightweight, cool (need I even say sleeveless) tops so I wouldn’t feel like I’m dressed for winter.

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Naturally you can buy almost anything there now – and every stall has canopies over it and they even put tarps over the middle of the road so the entire market is now covered. It was amazing! I loved it.

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What on earth was I thinking when I packed? Seriously. Its not like this is my first trip here! I packed 4 pretty blouses I’d bought for my trip – all with ¾ to full sleeves and none of them particularly lightweight. Cotton, but wow…

At the last minute I added a black tshirt cause, well… you always need one of those, and after all, I’ll need something to sleep in, and the only lightweight cheesecloth type of fabric top I had which I brought along to throw over my bathing suit. Demis Rousos would feel comfortable in it. And yes, it has three quarter sleeves. But its light. I’m living in it.

At least now I have choices!

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On the plus side, I brought two demin pants with me, one just under the knee short one and one capri. I hadn’t worn either of those for years… they fit! Woohoo.
We’ll discuss the fear of flab at another time as I discover that my body has been one size (round) for too long to suddenly find it has curves that aren’t all convex… I dread learning just how elastic my skin is…

But that’s another subject for another time… hopefully one I’ll avoid facing… I wonder if swimming will help tone…

Anyway, lets not dwell…

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I’ll be in Athens till next Wednesday, that’s another 5 days and I’m already feeling like I wont have time to catch up with everyone I’d like to, let alone should. Am I being selfish when I think that ‘hey, I made the effort to come from the other side of the world and I’m only in the city for 10 days (that’s way more than usual)… I know you work but, hey, make an effort to see ME somewhere I can get to easily. Don’t expect me to find my way around a city I haven’t lived in for over 20 years.’

Perhaps I’m just a lazy bitch. I can live with that.

The market was great and tonight my favourite ex-boyfriend (the one I left behind when I decided to move back to Australia many years ago and the one I felt I really grew up with) is going to take me to Plaka in the oldest part of Athens to revisit our haunts and the site of the old Mad Club where we spent so much of our misspent youth. Back when we were punks. I’m very excited about that! I don’t even want to think about how long its been since I was down there…

Things are good right and I’ve even stopped clenching my jaw in my sleep!

z

one last paros project – shabby photo frame

This is one of the smaller projects I worked on while on holiday in Greece. I had a huge collection of old buttons (I really wish I had them here!), a large collection of old doilies, ribbons, lace…
Then there were the other odds and ends my aunt Marisa found for me. One of which was this little heart shaped basket. 
She said “Do you want this? Can you do something with it?”
I said, “Sure, I can do something with it.”
My standard reply. 
Never say no to ‘stuff’… it will always come in handy one day.
In order to prevent becoming a hoarder featured on one of those awful reality tv shows “Buried Under A Ton Of Crap” however, you have to actually USE the stuff you’re given/collect to make more stuff which you can either sell, give away or display prominently in places like your kitchen, toilet or garage.
I decided the little basket would make the best photo frame for Marouso’s bedroom… she has a little alcove in there which is bare and desperately needed something pretty. So between working on the light fitting for Zefi and some small hearts like these for my aunt, I started putting together this little baby.
I used some old buttons, some still on the card, some old curtain lace, a bit of rusty wire and a bead… plus a little bow and icon pin from a christening. You can’t see it well, but at greek christenings they hand these little pins out as a memorial. My aunt had (of course) a collection of them.
Zefi, I’m sure you’re reading this… you promised you’ll collect me some!
Next step was a photo… Marouso had a few really nice ones she’d taken with her kitten, and I had a great one I’d taken of her and her ‘titini’… a bodyless stuffed toy cat which she’s had since she was a baby. Its sort of like Linus’ security blanket. No one knows what ‘titini’ actually means, its what she called it back when she couldn’t talk. For all we know it means “Get that stupid cat toy out of my cot right now!”
Marouso and her ‘titini’.
I had a play with the photos on picmonkey.com – I don’t have Photoshop on the netbook so I had no other way of altering the images. I wanted to go with an old fashioned black and white look but when I got them printed I decided to go with the photo above.
Great photos though. I love the one above where the kitty is all eyes.
I slotted the photo in behind the buttons where I’d left a ‘photo tucking’ gap, tied a ribbon to it for hanging and voila. Done.
z

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DIY Show Off

lace doily light fitting for a cousin

Well, I’m back home. Back to Wind Dancer Farm, back in Tasmania, back to my own little family. Its good to be home despite the fact that it means no more lying around on a beach, no more Paros, no more mom and cousins around me.
The trip was good, considering it was LONG and the seats on airplanes these days are made for height challenged individuals with eating disorders.
Seriously.
Have you ever tried sitting in one of those seats for 14 hours straight?
If you’re of ‘average’ height and you try to slouch in your seat you end up kneeing the seat in front of you. They used to have foot rests under the seat in front but they’re gone, ensuring that if you stretch out your legs, the seat has a sort of tourniquet effect, cutting off circulation to your lower legs. The new, improved individual monitors are a great idea… till you realize that you don’t actually enjoy having a screen 12in from your face. And that if the person in front of you leans his seat back, the monitor barely misses scraping your nose. You used to be able to say “excuse me” and sort of squeeze past the people sitting beside you if you needed to get up, all they had to do was sit up and pull their legs back. Now you have to get everyone to get up and pile into the aisle, or what passes as an aisle, so you can get out. Heck, even getting in and out of your own seat required contortions reminiscent of a pretzel if the person in front of you has the seat laid back. I remember being able to get up and walk the aisles during a long trip and loiter near the back of the plane doing stretches. This trip four of us were standing in line near the toilets and had to dodge stewardesses and serving carts… Bet they were pleased to have us in their tiny work area.
Hey. I know I’m older. I know I’m no longer as flexible as I was, but even if I still had the figure of my 20s, I still wouldn’t be able to squeeze past my co-sardines’ legs or lean back without touching the seat in front of me.
On the positive side, the food is a whole lot better than I remember.
So, I’m back home. The tan is fading fast and jet lag is keeping me up when I should be asleep… thought I’d share my last big project on Paros before life goes back to normal and the blog goes back to being about living on a farm with poodles and other critters. (I don’t mean Wayne.)
The lace doily light fitting in little Zef’s bedroom.
When I first got to Paros my aunt Marisa was all set on getting me to make a lace doily lightshade for Zefi’s bedroom. She had seen one of these in a shop and wanted one badly. Only difference was, the one my aunt loved had a wire frame inside.
Great idea if you have a wire frame. A very round balloon and tons of glue could also make this but it wouldn’t hold well in damp conditions I was betting. I started looking for alternatives.
I saw a rusty trap similar to this at Souvlia but it was bent beyond repair. I did find a new one for sale eventually (in a fishing shop, go figure!) but by then I’d moved on…
What I decided to do was build a kind of chandelier doily and lace light using 2 of the sieves I’d seen previously at a grocery store.
I went and bought a couple of these little beauties, limed them white and got a friendly uncle with a drill to make holes for chains.
I then started planning how to place and sew on the doilies and lace without cutting or ruining them, as per aunt Marisa’s instructions, and without aunt Marisa watching my every move and making suggestions as to how to do it better…

I ended up using quite a bit of old curtain (since I was allowed to cut that) as an under-layer, then layered and joined the doilies over that. I embellished it with ribbons and buttons and pieces of lace.
Only one doily was hurt in the making of this light shade… it was just too big and I really wanted to use it.
I was working in Zefi’s place, hiding from aunt Marisa… when she walked past and saw me. First words out of her mouth were “Oh, you cut that doily” before Zefi hustled her off with threats to her life if she said another word.
Zefi and I searched every hardware store on Paros to find the right chain. She was the one who found the perfect one – large links in bronze.
We’d also asked Andreas (Zef’s husband) to see what he could find in Athens and he’d brought us some silver chain. In the vein of waste not want not, I thought we should use the silver chain as well. I secured the chains to the sieves with wire and hid the silver chain with lace ‘sleeves’ made from the old curtain hems.
That way I didn’t have to sew any more than necessary!
I had to buy a pair of wire cutters to cut the sieve for the light fitting to go through, but that was easy enough.
Lastly, while Zefi was at the beach I climbed on her bed, and with her daughter Marouso’s help, put the light up on the hook already in the ceiling, fed the light through and replaced the globe.
Let there be light!
It came up pretty good even if it does look like an upside down wedding cake!
Payment for this: some very old doilies and a gorgeous old cut lace curtain.
Thanks guys! My next trip will be longer so I can plan on working for part of it! 🙂

z

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The Girl Creative

Keeping It Simple

greek taxation office take four

Ok. I’m back at the taxation office in Athens. I got to Athens late on Sunday night, or early on Sunday morning depending on which way you like to look at things.

I set the alarm for 7am, got up after not nearly enough sleep and a headache to rival all headaches, and went down to the tax office for greek citizens abroad. Which is where I’m registered.

I have to be cause even though I don’t earn any income in Greece, the government would find a way to tax me if I wasn’t registered as living abroad.

I was told they open at 8am. I got there at 8.10am I think. It was open and it was packed. I think there were 2 employees each on each of the 4 floors. Not really sure as they were doing their best to hide cause greek people are very good at hounding the ones they can find.

Anyway, after making my way up through each floor and not finding anyone to ask where I should actually go, I found myself in the ‘director’s’ office where the poor man was sitting behind a desk surrounded by angry people yelling at him about numbers and how far they’d come and how much they needed ‘this’ done and what they’d do to him if they could get their hands around his neck.

Never let it be said that the greeks haven’t moved into the 21st century. They now have queues for everything plus priority numbers! Gone are the days of pushing and shoving, arguing, no respect for personal space and no privacy where mobs would descend on bank tellers and bureaucrats with their demands.

Now they get numbers and then push and shove and argue.

I think I figured out the system.

You arrive at 4am or so, then you can get a number under 10. At least that’s what a man was telling everyone yesterday. I got there at 8.10am and they were already up to number 150.

The director was saying they give out the numbers at 7.45am and that you have to be there then to get a number.Uhuh. Not what they were saying on level 3. And that they only give out 130 numbers. During the day, to avoid being suspended by his thumbs, he gives out more numbers.

I had a few choices:

Get a number around 156 and wait and see if I got in to see anyone before they closed or went for a long break. ie spend the entire day in the tax office.

Poke myself in the eye repeatedly with a pointy stick…

Or go home and come again today.

I chose option 3, the least painful of the lot.

So I set the alarm for 5.30am, got ready and was out the door in 10 minutes. Then discovered that my aunt Xeni had locked the front gate.

After climbing over the fence, I got a taxi and went down to the tax office. Again.

I know this part of Athens better than most taxi drivers now.

There were already 20 people there ahead of me. I put my name on The List and I have to be back at 7.45am to get my actual number. To be honest I’m afraid I have to be there even earlier just in case….

On the way here this morning I saw people lining up outside the bank in our neighourhood. it was 5.45am.

I’ve never seen anything like it. Who ever heard of having to be somewhere 3 or 4 hours before opening time to line up to get on a list in order to get a number to be served?

They blame cutbacks in the public sector… I don’t know. Last time I was down at the tax department for ‘residents of abroad’ a man was complaining about strikes and how often they’re closed. They were on strike the first time I went with my brother Petro. The guy was saying “When will you be open? Is Monday still a strike day? Tuesday? Or will you be closed on Tuesday too cause its the day before Wednesday?”

That seems to be more or less how it goes.

And then, if you do get in to see someone, its like “You need a form HGIH2234. Fill that in and come back”.

“Where do I get it?” panic in your voice.

“Upstairs on the 5th floor”, said between a cigarette in the lips, indifferently, while shuffling papers on the desk or answering a phone and chatting about the last haircut she got.

You go to the 5th floor, wait in another mob queue and when you finally get to the front, you’re told you can’t fill in a form HGIH2234 till you’re sworn a statement as to what your mother had for breakfast on the morning you were born and wherther the doctor who delivered you was glasses or not, then send you off to find out that information and come back next week….

Its now 7am and I’m thinking I better pay for 2 euros for one hour internet usage after using 30 minutes and go cause in the greek way of doing things anything can happen.

z

food glorious food

Vegetables grown in the garden at Souvlia.

There is one thing that Merrill said on the last trip to Greece which I’ve only now started to believe… She said that the food tasted so much better here.

I thought she was exaggerating. I mean, its almost all home grown here on Paros. If its not grown here at Souvlia in our own garden, Mom gets her vegetables from family or friends.

The woman knows or is related to everyone on the island, after all.

So, basically, of course it tastes better than supermarket strip-mined vegetables.

A vegetable dish made with all home grown vegies. And feta. Naturally.

I now know that she meant more than that. Home grown is home grown. We have our own vegie patch in Tasmania so we don’t lack fresh vegetables. And our tomatoes are way better than the tasteless immitation tomatoes we buy in the supermarket.

But the tomatoes grown on Paros are something else entirely. I mean wow. Taste explosion.

Its not just the fact that its home grown, its the soil here on Paros. The sea air and the soil. It has to be. Why else would things just taste better? I can grow the same things in Tasmania, make the same foods using the same recipes, but it just tastes different. Still good… but different.

One thing I learned on this trip is that Paros actually produces a whole lot of stuff. For instance, Paros produces tons of wheat every year. Tons of olives and olive oil. Obviously the marble – Paros has the purest white marble which was used to build the Acropolis.

As part of the cultural events happening on Paros this summer, there was a Festival of Bread.



There were stalls from bakeries all over Paros with their products and demonstrations on how bread is made. Some of the bakeries on Paros produce their own wheat and flour and use woodfire ovens to bake their bread. Yum.

Of course there were tastings too, with lots of things on offer. This is called ‘dakos’… dried bread rusks with tomato, olive oil and mizithra (a locally made cottage cheese or ricotta).

When we were kids my grandmother used to make this for us. She used the big HARD rusks you have to dip in water before you can eat them. She’d put the dipped rusk on a plate, drizzle olive oil on it, cut a tomato and empty its guts all over the  rusk. She’d then add olives, capers, feta cheese and oregano.

We used to call it ‘to kolatsio tis yiayia’s’ – grandma’s snack.*

Another way to eat mizithra: on a light rusk with honey and cinamon…. 

This holiday has become not only a family and friend catch up time, its become a taste sensation time as well.

To start with all I’d eat was greek salad… the real greek salad: tomato, cucumber, olives, feta,peppers, capers, olive oil, oregano. Notice the abscense of onion. I hate raw onion.

 

No meal is complete without tzatziki though… I think I’ve spent the entire holiday with garlic breath.

Souvlaki. Its a complete food group in itself. There’s nothing like a real greek souvlaki anywhere but in Greece. Forget those kebab pita bread things they masquerade as souvlaki in Australia. This is the real thing.

The best souvlaki on Paros is at Zorbas near the port. Be sure to visit when you come here!

My problems started when Inge and her daughters were visiting. I was being really good till then. I’d eat at home and watch what I ate.

(That means I’d look at it closely before I put it in my mouth.)

Anyway, when Inge came I had to take her and the girls out to try different things. Souvlaki naturally, but they wanted to try some greek sweets. We’d go to cafes and order a greek coffee and then a few sweets and share them so they could try it all. I think we tried about 5 different types of baclava, galaktoboureko, ravani… all greek sweets with nuts and syrup.

Greek coffee in a larger cup.
Ravani, a cake made with semolina and doused in syrup, served here with sour cherry.

What is it with mother’s though? From the day I arrived in Greece my mother has been a ball of contradictions. She asks what food I’ve missed, what do I want her to make me. Then she rations the bread, giving me ONE slice. If I dare to take another she’ll give me the evil eye.

She’ll tell me off for going to the bakery and buying a bag of greek cookies (kolourakia) cause they’re fattening, yet she’ll come home with some cake that some friend made for me.

“Don’t eat sweets. You don’t need them.”
“No. Do not buy a bag of pumpkin seeds.”
“I brought you this nice piece of cake from my friend’s. She made it herself. Have some.”
“You didn’t eat the cake.”
“I got you these biscuits from another friend.”
“Eat the cake. Its so nice. I brought it for you.”
“Baclava? You ate baclava? Why my child? Why?”
“You haven’t eaten the cake. Its going rock hard. Its a waste!”
“Don’t eat a lot.”
“What about the biscuits? Aren’t you going to eat the biscuits?”
“Oh, you’re home. The clothes are still on the line.”

sheesh.

She is spoiling me however. She’s bought greens for me cause I can’t get them in Australia. She’s making me yiovetsi cause its one of my favourite dishes. She made imum for me twice.

I love my mom.

Octopus drying in the sun in the square in Naoussa.

Its not all traditional greek food. When on Paros we all have to visit Nicks for a hamburger.

The Big Nick. Big Mac eat your heart out.

My brother’s friend Michali bought Nicks Hamburgers about 20 or so years ago. He still makes the best burgers on Paros. And he’s a really cool guy. I’m trying to start a tradition here: every girl who orders a burger has to give Michali a kiss.

 I thought I’d share a photo of some greek beers.

Fix is a beer that was around when we lived here many years ago. The factory closed and it went out of production for a very long time. Its now back. Notice the label.

Is it a coincidence that the beer is out now and that the label reads “Fix Greece”?

Its not all food, sweets and souvlaki. I’m eating tons of figs too. Mom, bless her little cotton socks, has been stealing figs all over Paros for me.

Lastly, here’s a gratuitous shot of spices, pretty colours, a pretty display in a shop in Naoussa.

* I’ll finish on a thought… People always say greek names are too long. Well, its not just names that are too long. Words are long and sentences are longer. Greeks are of the ‘more is better’ school of thought.

For instance, when I shut down my netbook I get a message which reads “Saving your settings…”

When I shut down my brother’s netbook (which has its OS set in greek) the message took me five minutes to read and took 2 lines.

z

dragonflies on paros

I wanted to show off another hanging thingy I made out of found objects. The rusted lattice thing was found by my cousin Zefi’s son, Giorgo. He’s turned into quite an asset as a scavenger! Plus he’s interested and quick to learn anything you want to teach him. 

The shells and stones were in a basket in Zefi’s small garden area, the beads came off a broken bracelet my aunt Marisa had kept. The dragonfly is made of a rusty bolt I found in the garden, a shell, a button and wire I’d bought at one of the local hardware stores.

Trust me, I’ve explored every single hardware store on Paros!

 

The rusty washers came from the traditional bamboo cane trellis which blew off over winter. It was replaced by timber boards painted white. It looks amazing.
The old traditional bamboo roof was dark but this has brightened the place up, allowing more light into the house (which is a converted old garage) and providing good shade for sitting during the day.
z

making do and interesting things

 My cousin Zefi’s house in the commune that’s known as ‘Souvlia’ used to be the boat shed and garage. It was built on a slope so the front is a couple of steps down. As a result its darker than most of the houses on Souvlia, but no cooler. In fact, being at the back of the block, with other buildings as windbreaks, it doesn’t get the full force of the wind – great when you want to sit on the porch for a drink, terrible if you want a cool breeze to cool down.

Despite that, Zefi has made it into a gorgeous place. Thanks to her mom’s fossicking, her husband’s good taste and Zefi’s practical mind, the place is pretty, traditional and totally user friendly.

I love her old island couches. I’ve tried to find this type of couch in Australia as its the ideal outdoor couch. Its not so comfy as a living room couch, but so pretty.

I love the big dresser as well, in the traditional dark timber. Zefi’s grandfather on her mom’s side used to be a carpenter and he made some beautiful pieces.


 I love the lace on the shelves inside the glass cabinets.  My aunt Dora has it in her kitchen in her house as well.

 One thing I love to do when I’m here (or anywhere for that matter) is look at shops. I love looking at shops. Sometimes I see things I want to buy, something I see things which inspire me. Whatever. I love to look at shops.

In the market street in Parikia there’s a traditional old homeware/grocery store. Its been there as long as I can remember. They now sell more stuff to tourists than to locals I’m sure, but its the only place I saw one of these:

 Its apparently a dough bowl of some sort. You put the bread dough in it to rise. I find myself needing one of these… I never make bread, but I’m sure I’ll find a good use for it.

I also love these things:

Sieves of all sizes with all different wire thicknesses… from flour sieves to lentil and bean sieves. Pretty cute.

At the other end of the shopping scale are the home decorator stores… not very different to the type of stuff I see in Australia. Still pretty displays and colours though.

Colourful outdoor cushions with jute and bling tassels and fish, naturally.

Burlap mini cushions and a jute string bowl on a lace table runner.

A beautiful simple white bowl.

A rope and sailcloth lamp.

Table centre piece of sea urchins minus spikes, shells and starfish.

I found an antique/second hand shop which has some beautiful things in it but this one was right up my alley: old windows with photos in them.

 

I even found a shop which sells marble things. Like a marble sink… why have a ceramic butler sink when you can have the real thing? And this slab of carved marble which you can put in your garden and run a tap through.

 A tap like this! Isn’t this a beauty?

Or, if you prefer, you can buy marble columns. Cause no house is complete without marble columns.

 

 Of course, there are tons of places which are done up beautifully whether they’re shops or cafes or restaurants. Sometimes its something simple like these fish at a taverna by the sea:

Sometimes its way more elaborate, like the boat/couch at this bar in Parikia.

And these door coffee tables.

There just aren’t enough door or window signs though, like this one on a closed antique shop.

 

And I love this sign on a cafe.

I haven’t been inside many hotels, but the couple I have been into have some interesting items in their lobbies and bars. Like this lamp …

This wooden trough is now a frame for a wooden boat.

Obviously made by the same artist, this boat wall clock at the Paros Bay Hotel.

And a ton of these fishing boats.

This is my favourite. I love the humour in the little paper sailboats.

A couple of little shops in Naoussa, a small town on the other side of Paros, have gorgeous displays. Right up my alley.


 

Closer to home, I found some interesting ways to deal with the small issues life throws at you. This is my uncle’s solution to the wind taking his umbrella along with the small table.

It might take up a bit of table space, but it works.

My fish bowl has a new spot among the shell collection in my aunt Flora’s kitchen.

The oven in the main house has a dodgey door, so the kokones (a name we call the aunts) have found a simple solution.

Aunt Marisa has found a cute way to cover the electricity panel in the hallway using a hand woven mat.

In her house a little down the road, my aunt Dora has a small corner where she keeps her ancient sewing maching, which she still uses, and a few items from her mother’s house.

You can always tell a greek house, cause there is always an icon somewhere in it. I now have my own icon, my very first. My aunt Xeni gave it to me. I’ll have to find a spot in my home for it when I get back. My decor will be shabby-greek…

Love the old irons with the big base to hold hot coals.

z

my aunt the recycler

I’ve already mentioned my aunt Marisa, the collector. She’s collected all kinds of things over the years.
In fact, it might be more accurate to say she never throws anything away if it has sentimental, historical or potential value.
She’s been going crazy since I got here, getting me to make things for her, asking my opinion of this or that, and generally making a pest out of herself. I’ve taken to avoiding working within her field of vision.
Ok. She’s not that bad. And I do love the stuff she’s collected. The only thing is, her imagination and mine don’t always meet in a harmonious blend. At least we both like similar raw materials.
This is her bedroom at Souvlia (the family home on Paros).
The bed is an Ikea bed, not an original, but it suits her style. Everything else in the room is old and has some story to it.
This lamp had a dark green lampshade on it with gold trimming.
Yuck.
So aunt Marisa asked me if I’d cover it in doilies for her.
Remember the doily post? Well, suffice it to say, this lampshade has been covered in cut up pieces of old curtains and lace.
Three old lace curtains to be exact. Two of them are old but not antique, with no particular sentimental value. The other one, just visible on the left hand panel, is a curtain my grandmother gave her many years ago which has been ruined by years of sunlight. I had to patch a small hole on it using a rose cut from one of the other bits of curtain.
By using part of this old curtain in a lampshade, my aunt can retain the curtain and still have the memories of it.
She made these cushions for her bed out of things she hoarded kept after they were deemed to useless and were going to thrown away.
One of them was from my neice Alex’s baby bed. The cushion had worn thin but my aunt kept the lace edge so she could re-use it. The other one was some other baby’s pillow, I just forget who…
The ‘throw’ on the end of the bed is in fact an old curtain she’s trimmed down and edged. The bedspread is an old thin woollen blanket she’s added a lace edge to.
The cushion covers are made of old linen and and old petticoat she used to wear in the 60s. When the petticoat wore out she kept the lace… and its made a reappearance on her bed in 2013 in the form of pillow covers.
Pretty amazing.
There’s an old chest in the room, probably something my aunt found on the side of the road… she’s found the most amazing stuff people have thrown away…

On top of the dresser is an old linen towel visiting friends had left behind many years ago. My aunt added lace to it and made it into a pretty dust collector.


If my aunt was a blood relative I could say it runs in the family!
z