Winter Ithaca Greece


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It's Carnival time almost...

click on photos to see more pics of the day
Sunday 15th February 2004 - Pre - Easter activities are already starting in Stavros. Today marks the day Greeks stop eating meat and that means Ithacans too. What? No more Souvlaki? Next week cheese takes it's turn. This festival, as most around the world, has it's roots stemming back to pagan times, but was transferred with ease into Christianity and now stands proudly as a prelude to Greek Easter. It's an occasion for the Primary School children of Stavros to dress up and play games like 'musical chairs' and 'burst the balloon'. Sunshine and blue skies had the locals coming out of their warm houses and into the cold, giving the kids an enthusiastic audience to play for. It was a colorful afternoon and a good opportunity to meet up with friends and acquaintances who become hermits over the winter months. Today had a real sense of the Easter to come, usually a wonderful time on Ithaca, and a time when the island becomes full of life again with lots of people visiting family and friends here from the mainland and beyond. Next week The Carnival begins in earnest. There's of course the big one in Patras, but Vathy will again have it's own Carnival for Ithacans as it does every year. So, if you're passing by, drop in and take part in the Ithacan Carnival, the island would be happy to see you. There are still Souvlaki to be had for the 'wicked' and I don't believe there is such a day in the Easter Calendar marked a 'no more wine' day. One can only sacrifice so much afterall.

Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd February 2004

It's Carnival time.....for real !

The Parade
The Party
The Big One


Friday 27th February 2004 - Everyone on Ithaca is suffering from Election Fever, as are all Greeks, with the National Elections 7th March. The hush of winter is now exploding with loud and passionate arguments and discussions over who should win the Election, PASOK or New Democratic Party. The Plateias and Kafenios are the arenas of lively debate. You can forget about television. All channels show exactly the same thing, experts interviewing other experts about their expert opinions on the result. When I say interviewing, I mean of course, commentators shouting over eachother with dogma and party propaganda. Greece lives for news programs and with the pre-election run-up, they are getting their moneys' worth. That Greeks take their politics seriously is an admirable characteristic, so let's hope that whatever party the majority trust their vote in, doesn't just enhance Greece internationally, but more importantly, does the right thing by the people of Greece by bringing real security and genuine prosperity into their lives, not only in the cities, but also where the heart of Greece lives, the mountains, countryside and islands.

Spring is just days away and if the sun could break through the muddy sky, everyone would be out and about, but today the heavy winds blowing dust up from Africa are making the mild 22 degrees C difficult to enjoy. Still, that winter is on it's last legs is a heartening thought. 10 days ago it was -8 degrees (an unprecedented occurrence say the locals) and water pipes froze all around the island. Even with such low temperatures, Ithaki saw little snow unlike the mainland, which was buried under it for one week. This winter has been cold, but mainly dry. Ithaki has had patches of rain, but nothing like last year when it rained so much people considered building an Ark. It has also been very quiet on the island, but that's all about to end with the Elections in March and then Easter in April. Soon we'll be back to the mayhem of Summer.

To remember how the rest of the world live, this webmistress is going away for a week to get some chaos into my life and some pollution into my lungs, so sorry, no updates for at least 6 days. "A beautiful thing is only as beautiful as the ugliness you compare to it." Yes, even here on Ithaca, beautiful scenery can become as beige as suburbia when that's all you see, so I'm getting off and out and into the quarry that is Athens. I should get enough ugliness there to see Ithaki as the beautiful paradise that it is for at least another year. (Just kidding. I love Athens ) I'll be back for the Elections, so keep your eyes out for it right here.

Ithaca Greece is getting back up to date. It's March 6th 2004. Thought I'd put a few pics of Athens on because I know that all the ex-pats love the place as much as I do. If you haven't been to Greece for a couple of years, Athens in particular, you won't know the place. It's clean and getting more organized by the minute, but beware, Athens is under construction wherever you look. It's mayhem getting around the roads. Many are closed to traffic as the city reroutes in preparation for the Olympics. The new Metro is immaculate and everything is running like clockwork. Train stations from Kiffissia to Piraeus are being renovated or completely rebuilt. It's a real easy ride wherever you go. Old and dilapidated buildings all over the city center are getting facelifts and being returned to their original architectural beauty. If Athens gets all the bulldozers out of the city before the Olympics the 'Olympics public' will surely be treated to a spectacular looking city which will be easy and enjoyable to get around. When you see all the construction however, it's hard to imagine it will be completed by the time the Games come to Athens. 'Slowly Slowly is the Greek motto, but I think it's time to get a move on. One thing is for sure, that with all the construction and excavation, real archeological treasures have been uncovered, something we can all enjoy, Olympics or not.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Acropolis - As I was walking through the Plaka, admiring the old buildings, out on the first floor balcony of a Plaka Hotel, a man, stark naked and severely hairy, talking on his mobile phone , was reaching deep under his fat belly to scratch his testicles. It was ugly, but I couldn't stop looking. I should have taken a photo.

American Indians playing outside the Monastiraki Station.
Piraeus Market - The variety of fruit and vegetables is something many of us miss living on Ithaca.


The race is on to rally up the votes before Sunday 7th March

March 5th - Elections are on Sunday and the island is buzzing again with many coming from the mainland to cast their vote. The ferry was booked out for Friday and Saturday with the main Parties pre-booking everything that moves for their members to get to their elected zones. Until recentely all voters had to return to their place of birth or the place in which their family is written in, in order to vote, but now certain locations in Athens are designated for voting out of zone and hopefully soon, postal voting and the internet will become the next voting bootsh for people who live great distances from their birthplace. Greeks take their politics very seriously and with the incentive of a long weekend thrown in for good measure, there are no complaints about travelling to vote. Bemenis in Frikes opened up it's doors for the first time since last Summer to give Election Revelers a place to vent their pre-election hyperactivity. "Another whisky". Ithaca feels more like it's in the midst of a Festival than a National Elections. It's Party time.
National Elections 2004 Ithaki style

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