We lost some things from our old lives since we moved to Greece.
A review on the stuff we (don't) miss.
Good, because those were the things that made us relocate to Greece in the first place. As I’m sipping my morning coffee in our Greek village ambient, I am celebrating the new life that living in Greece made possible and rewinding the long tape of things that used to pe part of our old lives and now they’re gone for good.
If you’re new here and want to get to know us a bit, go to this blog post and read our story. We’ve chosen to live in Lefakda Island of the Ionian Islands, but I’m pretty sure what I am mentioning here applies to most Greek Islands life.
NO MORE traffic.
Most of us get used to city traffic and find that spending 2-3 hours per day in the car is okay. We accept it. We live with it. It’s part of our daily routine.
Have you ever done the math on that? It’s horryfing. It’s 1 full month (24/24) out of a year that we spend in traffic. I don’t know about you but when I made this math… it terrified me.
As long as we can accept it and never complain about it, it’s fine. We can live with it and don’t feel the need to ever change something about spending time in traffice. Some of us even enjoy being in traffic, as we make it our own little bubble of being alone. That’s also nice. My best guess is that most of us are dissastifed with sitting in traffic and still accept it.
For us, it was just one of those items on our list that we really felt the need to cross it out of our lives forever. I love driving, I love a good road trip with the music of my choice, but spending time in rush hour … I don’t know it just feels ludacris.
This Greek island has no traffic lights at all. Okay, there is one when you enter the floating bridge to enter Lefakda. But we rarely go out of the island, so that’s okay.
No more traffic lights.
No more traffic jams.
No more waiting in line.
No more angry, unmannered drivers.
No more traffic at all.
No more metros, buses, trams and all that.
Just old cars going up and down the island for usual chores. Almost no one drives a luxury car here. The main road is ok for that, but all the others… meeeh…
Our car only needs a good car wash from time to time as there’s not so much dust around. Of course I’m not talking about the main city on the island, as we don’t spend much time there.
Traffic on this island is fluid and most people are never in a hurry. Nobody’s horning. At least not for the usual “I’m late” reasons. The only horn you hear is when somebody greets a friend on their way. That’s 2 short horns. So if that happens to you, reply in the same manner.
Sometimes we do have traffic jams 🙂 It’s when hoards of goats decide to go for a walk on the road.
Plus, driving on an island is sceninc anyway, so if we do choose to go to a place that’s further away (max. 1 hour), it’s a nice road trip, where the surrounding landscape is something else that what we were used to.
While we're at it... NO MORE polluted air.
When you’re close to the sea you can almost smell the sea. When you’re up in the mountains, the air changes with the season. Depening on the wind’s direction and season you sense different scents. Sometimes it’s some wild flowers, or wild thyme. During summer it’s just that barn scent of hay because of the dried grass due to lack of rain. In the village, sometimes after rain you might feel the goat farm scent. I like that.
It’s mostly clean air with some natural fragrances. You don’t really realise it on a long term but when our friends come visit they can’t stop talking about how fresh the air feels.
NO MORE winter clothes.
When we first moved to a Mediterranean climate (Spain) we only packed summer autumn clothes thinking that we won’t need winter clothes at all. Well, that was a funny mistake for the area we’d chosen (somwhere on the Costa Blanca). The humidity in the winter made the weather feel much colder that our usual dry winters full of snow. We didn’t have any problem with the rain but living in a humid non-heated house where the only source of heating is the A/C … felt like a pain in the ass.
We then moved to Greece, in Lefkada Island on the West Coast of Greece. Winters here are mild with sunny and rainy days. There is also some humidity but nothing that we cannot live with. We have some autumn clothes and one winter-ish jacket each, but no real winter clothes.
When it rains, it’s almost never a 24/24 rain. There’s rain for 1 hour, then the sun gazes through the clouds, then a beautiful rainbow pops out and then again on repeat.
Thunderstorms are present in the wet season and due to the not so great electricity wiring we need to unplug the computer. That’s okay, it just gives us down time.
NO MORE boring dogs walks.
The dog walks are part of the daily routine anyhow. But it’s so much better to have them in a forever green environment where all sorts of new flowers pop out throughout the year. Take a look at this video we made about wild flowers of Lefkada we discovered while walking our dog around the house.
NO MORE running around and being in a hurry.
Everything was moving so fast. Everything had to be done and delivered asap. Daily life was about getting things done. We were too tired at the end of the day to be able to enjoy and relax the evening. No one took the time for personal pleasures. Everything was about work, money and getting things done.
It’s almost funny how the Greeks do not get back to your missed phone call. They might do in a week, if they feel like it. You won’t see the locals people on their phones non-stop. You won’t ever see them panicking if they are late somewhere. You just don’t feel that pressure. Things are done within their own rythm. YOU’re the one who needs adapting to a slow paced life.
If you come for a dynamic environment it takes lots time to slow things down. You almost feel guilty about having a siesta (like everyone does in the Med). You have to learn to live with a new rythm. It’s a lovely ride, after you get rid of the guilt :).
NO MORE stress about being robbed.
I remember the constant look-out at my purse. I remember there was no acquaintance who hasn’t been robbed at least once in their lifetimes back home. I remember the forever lasting stress about being robbed everywhere we’d go: the supermaket, a pub, a beach, or a hotel room. These things were normal. Thiefs co-existed withinhin a busy society. Even the things you forgot in a taxi, at a hotel or in a bar… nobody would call you back to tell you that there’s a lost and found section.
I don’t know exactly how and why but this island, (like most Greek islands) managed to keep the bad guys out. The police is probably doing a good job, but also the local police. I mean the yayas (granmas) watching everything and everyone passing by, they do a pretty good job in knowing who came and who left the village.
That persisent fear of being robbed is something of the past now. It feels good to have one less stress in life. Even if it’s just a little one like this, it feels like it leaves room on your hard disk for some other things.
NO MORE living in the box. And very little sunscreen.
When living in a city, living 24/24 indoors is the way to go. Unless you build or buy a house at the outskirts of the town and you have your own garden and spend some time outdoors. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many people living in a house with garden that never went out to spend time outdoors.
No wonder we need tons of sunscreen when we go on a holiday and see the sun for 10 days per year. No wonder our skin has become sun intolerant. No wonder we’re all milky white and make sun allergies. No wonder we’re vitamin D deprived.
I don’t think we’re meant to live in a box most of our lives. To me, living in an apartment is like living in your own luxurious prison. Of course with all the comfort you need, but still you are confined to those walls most of the time.
We noticed we’re spending way much more time outdoors here on the island. It feels right. And it’s going to feel even nicer when we’ll build our own house here and get our veggie garden and Mediterranean plants going on.
NO MORE grey skies.
Previously to our moving to Greece, the sky was just there, forever present but always ignored. It was dull, grey and found nothing special about it. I couln’t even see the stars due to light pollution.
I found here in Greece a different kind of sky. A sky that is sometimes plain blue, sometimes milky white, sometimes blue with puffy multilayered white cloud formations, or angry different shades of grey when thunderstorms approach. And then there’s the sunsests into the sea, which I don’t really know how to describe, I guess each of us feels sunset differently. After the sun goes down you have the blue hour with this purple-ish sensation to it. Following that, stars pop out, one by one. And then the Milky Way is revealed. Wow, what a spectacle up there, that I’ve missed most of my life. Better late then never 🙂
NO MORE unknown neighbours. No more straight faces.
You will get to know all your neighbours. If you don’t, they’ll get to know YOU. It’s about living in a small community where “everybody knows your name”. It feels really good to pass by someone and get a Greek Hello and Are you ok? even if you know them, even if you don’t. It’s mostly smiling faces although they might have problems of their own. Most of the time it’s a genuine smile that was so rare back in city life.
NO MORE malls and hypermarkets.
Most people I knew in the city enjoyed going to malls and hypermarkets and spending hours and hours there trying to find the perfect item to shop.
We found it very time consuming and we only realised it when we came back home from a shopping day. We were so tired. Tired with shopping. That might sound stupid, I know, but that’s just how it felt for us. It was a mix of factors such as the trip itself with traffic included, the thousands of products and stores to choose from, the background crowd sounds and the stress itself of choosing the best product for the budget.
We only have a small mall on the island, which could be considered a joke compared to the ones we once had. We went there only once.
We have none of the big chains hypermarkets. We do have supermarkets. All of them in Lefkada Town. We go there once per week and complete the items we don’t find on the Saturday local street market. The funny thing is that the stress of choosing the best product for the budget dissapeared completely as the products are almost the same everywhere so there’s not much to choose from anyway. I can live perfectly fine without having to choose from 50+ types of shampoo. We just buy what we find. Makes life easier.
NO MORE noise.
No more annoying music from that neighbour. I don’t know about town in Greece, but in the villages people still respect each other and don’t listen to loud music. The only music you hear is the church’s bells from time to time or whenever there is a party of some sort, which rarely happens here as the Greeks prefer gathering at a tavern.
NO MORE homeless people on the streets.
You rarely see a homeless person or a beggar on a Greek Island. If you’ll ever see one it’s probably imported, not a local. I never saw someone looking up food in the large trash bins on the streets. The only ones doing that are the stray cats. Somehow the island society works differently and everyone has a place to stay and some money to live on. Haven’t figured out how that’s possible, but it feels right.
There is one Greek gypsy family that comes out on this island each summer to beg and profit the tourist wave that strikes the island. They are gone by September. As I unerstood the reason they go back to where they are from is that the kids go to school.
We have homeless on the islands. They are the stray cats and they live next to the big rubbish bins. They feed on whatever people deliver. There’s this particular guy we called Mr. B (Mr. Bin) who’s a big fellow always there to wait the new merchendise. He’s a sweetheart.
NO MORE imported fruits and veggies from thousands of kilometers.
The fruits you find in the supermarket are usually the seasonal ones and most of them are produced in Greece. If you go to the local street market the only fruits and veggies you’ll find are the seasonal ones and brought here from a radius of a certain number of kilometres.
It seems closer to the idea of eating seasonal local products. You won’t find broccolli during summer for instance. Or strawberries in September. We love this, because when they do finally appear, you’ve missed them so much throughout the year that they taste heavenly.
NO MORE expensive & frozen fish and sea food.
We found the source of fresh fish and sea food. It’s in a little port called Lygia Port in Lefkada. We go there and buy whatever the fisherman catch. The prices are ridiculously low and the catch is as fresh as it gets.
Sometimes it’s small fish like gavros or sardines..,
Sometimes it’s some bigger fish we’ve never tried before…
Sometimes it’s a mix of whatever small fish they catch. These are nice for soups for for preparing the caldo for arroz a banda.
Sometimes it’s calamari. Often baby calamari.
And sometimes it’s octopus.
And just sometimes… just sometimes… there’s this.
Yes, there’s a lot of fish cleaning involved at home, but that’s the price we’re willing to pay to eat the freshest fish there is. Fresh fish makes us happy :).
Don't get me wrong. The good, the bad and the ugly are everywhere. Even in Greece, the place most of us call paradise.
There are many things that foreigners living in Greece complain about…
Taxes are high. Infrastructure is mediocre. Dealing with paperwork is not funny. Things generally evolve in slow motion. The language is not easy to learn. Stray cats and dogs are still a delicate subject.
We do have some rats, some snakes during spring. But that’s why there are so many cats in Greece.
We do have months without rain, or some days of terrible heat. In this Mediterranean climate they often have fires, which they can’t really manage properly yet.
We do have thunderstorms. There are eartquakes. Most of them so small you can’t even sense them. But from time to time bigger ones occur.
We do have motorbikers that you have to watch out for. Which is fine by us, as really what are we all in such a hurry for??
They still use lots of plastic bags for every little item. Way too much plastic. And they don’t recicle. They still throw used coffee cups or water bottles on the edge of the road while driving.
They have their own rhythm of doing things and we are not here to change that. Really, all we wanted was a slow paced life. That’s what we came for and that’s what we’ve got.
In the end… choosing the right place to live in is like a game of likes and dislikes. If the proportion of likes versus dislikes is high enough, you may say that you’re in the right place. We don’t think there’s such a place that could be perfect. You’ll always find things to complain about. And that’s fine. As long as the ones you like overtake the ones you complain about.
What's your take on the things that annoy you where you live now?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on things that you dislike where you live now. But also, we’d love to hear if you’d be willing to change that lifestyle for a different one and tell us about the compromise you’d be willing to do for that to happen. I hope you are aware by now that there’s no change without an exchange.
Keep in touch!