I find that I always have the best of intentions to write, yet at the end of a 10hr day I come back to my cabin and the last thing I seem to want to do is put myself in front of the computer and think... Perhaps it is the lack of mindless television to provide you with that distraction. I can almost recite the episodes on the Crew channel verbatim ~ and they have gotten rid of CSI and replaced with with Bernie Mac. How wrong is that?!?
Anyway I have been prompted into action after receiving an email from a friend:
You went off to the sunny greek island of Mykonos and then the story
stopped? You bought one of the clubs and changed careers? Had a bit
too much Ouzo and got on the slow boat to China? :-)
So I had planned to write my observations about life in Greece, with the accompanying pictures... The pictures make the story, but take forever to upload over the satellite, so here is a bit of a preview, sans photos.
Lifestyle: One of the things which is most noticable is that no matter what time of day, no matter what day of the week, people are out for coffee. Now even Starbucks doesn't cost as much as a freddo, and you get more in the Venti cup, but it is truly a social outing. I was amazed when we went out at 7:30pm for coffee with friends from the ship, the cafeteria was filling up and by 9pm it was packed! PACKED ~ on a MONDAY! What is that?
Life in Greece is more difficult than what it is in Canada financially. While your coffee can cost you from 3 to 5 Euros, your salary per month if you have an AMAZING job is only 1,000 Euros. So if you figure it, that is about 200 freddos a month, or 6.6 coffees a day. I came to realize why it is that so many of the Greeks work on ships ~ it really is about the money for them.
So what do you do on a limited budget? You go to the beach, you go to your friend's home, you spend hours over your 4 Euro coffee enjoying the company of others. Akis had asked me when we were in Vancouver where the coffee shops were ~ our Starbucks version of 'grab the java and run' is completely against what coffee represents to them. No wonder he looked at me strange the first time I brough him a latte in a to go cup.
The Rules ~ these were all meant to be broken. I noticed that most people acknowledge the rules, but still do their own thing. I have no idea if there are parking bylaws, but if you can find a space, any space, you put your car there and pray to god it doesn't get dinged. This is also true of the speed limit ~ I kinda think they were of the impression that we were on the Autobahn, but hey, I was just grateful for the ride.
The area Akis is living in now is similar to my favourite places I have lived. He is a 6 block walk to the harbour and everything ~ including the grocery store is within walking distance. (That was a good thing as we didn't have a car!) What I wasn't prepared for was the lack of green space. There were some trees around, but mostly what you have is apartment buildings, businesses and roads. The home he is building is further out in the suburbs and it has been difficult for his parents to move there. His mom desperately misses the area after living there for almost 20 years. Akis is also quite attached and while he is excited about his home, he is finding it difficult to think that he is going to be leaving the Athens equivalent of Kits.
The Greek lessons are coming slowly ~ and while I know it's not fast enough for Akis ~ I am now able to understand parts of some conversations which means that I must actually be absorbing something cause before I didn't have a clue.
The biggest challenge for Akis and I now is figuring out what is next. The house needs to be finished and that is the top priority, but being on separate ships has been hard for both of us and in the long run is not sustainable. He is currently waiting for his next ship, but will be coming to visit for 2 weeks which I am very much looking forward to. I know I will be spoilt having him here, and the days after will be sad, but that's ok ~ better to have him for 2 weeks than not at all.
Having arrived back at work, I have had to hit the ground running. Running like a maniac actually as I am preparing for an audit. This will be my second audit in just over a month as we do an audit when we hand over, it is between the 2 Managers (oh yea, I am again the Manager here as George has not come back yet and is still on the island...) to make sure that the ship is in order before the one manager leaves. This next audit is with the auditor from shoreside ~ so Manolis and I are currently knee deep in boring detail of inventory, software inventory, etc. It will be good when it is over and we go back to just having Support!
So I will try to get the last pictures of Athens posted ~ coffees, and the beach. I also have been out through the fjords on my first cruise back. I have 3 cruises through the Baltic and am trying to make up for the things I didn't get to last time. Did manage to cross one item off the list ~ the Hermitage ~ but more on that later...
So with that, no, I'm not on the slow boat. Just back here on the mighty GTS Constellation, counting POS printers, making sure no one has installed inappropriate software... and realizing the vacation is over! =(