Lifestyle & Culture

Lynne Evans’ expat diary: Trading Athens for the tranquility of rural Greece

So finally, my house moving is almost complete, Now we just need to go shopping for some necessary household items and arrange a plumber and an internet connection.

Hopefully it won’t take too long to have a plumber call and to get an Internet connection, as it isn’t great to be cut off from the outside world. However, this is Greece, so I’m not holding my breath.

In Athens I lived opposite a high school and was awakened every weekday morning by the school bell at 8;30. On Mondays and Fridays, if the weather permitted, morning assembly was held outside, after that, a bell rang every 20 minutes to mark a break so that students weren’t overtaxed. (Theorists say that 20 minutes is a student’s maximum concentration time.)

The bell was an irritant, especially when it rang at the weekends and all holidays when there were no students in the building. They did, however, use the basketball court all day and well into the night. The plus side of living in the apartment block was there were many trees around, both mulberry, in front of the apartment, and on the hill behind the school. There were bats flying around at night and gionis (owls) calling.

I moved out of that apartment at the end of April and into the “new” house two weeks later. I have now been living in it for two weeks. I have discovered that there are gionis (Otus scops)around the house in the pine trees, but have yet to see a bat. The birds and trees are really the only similarities between living in this small settlement and living in Athens.

The nearest city is Corinth, and we are close to the Corinth canal. The new house is on two levels, with a sloping roof, reminiscent of a Swiss chalet. It’s the only one of this type in the neighbourhood.

There are pines and eucalyptus trees all around. There’s an especially beautiful tall pine outside my window, but we’ve been told that it must be uprooted as it will destroy the foundations. It could also fall on the roof. It’s a shame to have to get rid of it, but it will probably be necessary before winter.

Today we have to go to the land registry in Corinth to register the change of ownership, which will probably take all morning (at least).

Problems so far

When we got here, there was no water in the kitchen at all and no hot water in the hot water taps in the bathroom. The estate agent we bought the property through gave us the phone number of a plumber who, when called, came the same afternoon.

He showed us how to fill the three tanks outside the house and said he would return the next day. He duly appeared, after a phone call, as there was no water at all.

It turned out that an air bubble had formed, trapping the water in the pipes. Next, he explained that we had a supply of spring water as well as a supply from the municipality.

There is a pump to deliver water to the taps, but there isn’t one for the spring water, which just trickles out. So next week he will integrate the systems,

The boiler was another problem.

An electrician came and spent half an hour fiddling about before telling us what we already knew – we need a new boiler. We need to decide whether to have a solar-powered one or a traditional one. Solar is preferable of course, but we wonder if one could be fitted on the roof. We’ll have to ask the plumber. He is a local who knows everyone, he’s pleasant and has proved invaluable.

The other problem is that we have to wait another two weeks for an internet connection and when we get one, it will be slow. This part of Greece is behind the times. However, I have reached the point where any internet connection is better than none.

I am appalled at how much I rely on it, but it’s necessary if I want to earn money.

The upside of living here

I hope you don’t have the impression that I don’t appreciate how lucky I am to be living here. I know that to live in such a beautiful country as Greece is the dream of many. There are so many plus points to living here.

  • There are no neighbours living above or below us, Our house is detached.
  • The few neighbours we have are friendly and keep themselves to themselves.
  • It’s peaceful, with bird calls being the only sounds we hear.
  • The house is surrounded by trees.

Why I love hoopoes

I have never seen a hoopoe in the UK, I believe a few may exist in southern England though.  I first realised that there were such birds when I had to read Aristophanes play, “The Birds ” in the original Attic Greek. I objected to having to learn ancient Greek in school because the alternative subject was geography, which would have been more useful. However, I now realise its value, as many English words come from ancient Greek, and knowing it has enriched my vocabulary.

I digress; back to hoopoes. In the play, the hoopoe is the main character and leader of all the birds in Cloud Cuckoo Land. I was entranced with the character and ever since reading the play, I had wanted to see a real, live hoopoe, not the sad, stuffed ones that can be viewed in natural history museums.

My dream came true when I was in the Punjab in Pakistan. I recognised that the flock of birds in front of me were hoopoes from the many pictures I had seen. My Pakistani colleagues couldn’t understand my excitement, because, for them, hoopoes are common.

There are different types of hoopoe. The Pakistani ones are smaller than the Greek variety are. Today I saw my first hoopoe in flight. They have a large wingspan and the wings and tail resemble a cloak.

In fact, the costume designer who made the hoopoe costume for the 2016 production of The Birds in the ancient theatre at Epidauros, had got it right (although the costume was more colourful than the real hoopoe’s plumage).

Not only am I away from the hustle and bustle of the city. but also, I have hoopoes to look at.

About the author:

Lynne Evans is originally from Wales but is an inveterate traveller. She is passionate about writing and feels compelled to write something every day. Lynne has visited many countries in Europe and South Asia. Working as a freelance writer gives her opportunities to travel.

She’s currently living in her favourite country, Greece, in Athens. In the past, she was always leaving Greece and then returning. This time she wants to stay.

Here are more of Lynne’s posts about her adventures in Greece:

Expat Essentials: Lynne Evans’s expat guide to moving to Athens

Lynne Evans in Athens: An expat’s misadventures in the Greek healthcare system

Lynne Evans on daily life in Athens, the newly crowned European Capital of Innovation

 Lynne Evans in Greece: A Greek real estate agent tried to rip me off … and how you can avoid this scam

Lynne Evans on Greece wildfires: ‘We can’t keep destroying Athens’ environment’

Lynne Evans in Athens: More tips to navigating the expat life in Greece

Lynne Evans: The trials, tribulations and absolute pleasures of living in Greece

Lynne Evans: The unvarnished truth about living in Greece

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