We've decided to add this new section for every country we visit. In every country, we've noticed some recurring, consistent themes which help give each place a unique national flavor. We thought we would share these "Country Impressions" with you all to give you a better idea of what our day-to-day life is like in each place we visit.
Impressions of Greece
- Greece has a smoking problem. And that's an understatement. We're not exaggerating when we say that about 90% of the population over age 15 smokes. Like chimneys. Even the bus drivers smoke on non-smoking buses. In many of the other European countries we visited, people seemed to be cutting back on smoking in general. But it's a real epidemic in Greece.
- Ferries are the way to get around the islands. We really loved taking the ferry system throughout the islands. Efficient and inexpensive, they may be slower than airplanes, but airplanes don't let you sit outside and smell the fresh Aegean breezes, do they?
- The Greek opinion of NATO. It's always good to get a fresh perspective on international issues which we take for granted back home in the States. The Greeks, being Orthodox Christians like the Serbs (and being geographically very close to the problem), don't like what the U.S. and British-led "coalition" did in Serbia last year. Nobody here likes the Milocevic regime, but they believe there were other ways of dealing with the tyrant than bombing his country and killing hundreds of innocent people in the process. This viewpoint really makes sense when you consider the fact that, despite the intense bombing and widespread destruction of the Serbian economy, Milocovic is still in power nearly two years later.
- Greek food gets old fast. There's some very tasty food in the country, but there's not much variety. So while those first six Greek Salads taste great, the next fifty aren't quite so delicious. Also, the Greeks tend to put a lot of olive oil on and in everything...many items are literally soaked in the stuff. We found ourselves seeking out international restaurants wherever they were available (which was only in the bigger cities).
- Turkish-Greek relations are a bad subject to bring up. The Greeks are very sensitive about their neighbors, Turkey. It seems they're still very sore over the fact that the Turks took over a lot of ancient Greek territory when the Ottoman Empire expanded hundreds of years ago. We don't really understand how this is any different from what, say, Alexander the Great (a Greek) did in his conquest of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), but we suppose you have to be Greek to really understand this. It's interesting to note that so many Greeks have terrible predefined notions of Turkey and the Turks, while almost none of them have ever been there.
- The fresh fruit is unbelievably good. We can't believe how ripe, sweet and tasty all of the fruit is here (imported bananas being the exception). Peaches and melons are so juicy that they're actually hard to eat without making a mess, and tomatoes are so incredibly ripe that they seem like they're about to burst open when you cut into them. We wish we had produce like this back home!
Back to Greece pg 6 On to Turkey!
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