How do you know you are back in Greece?
- No one smiles at you in the streets.
- The guy giving you the mooring screams at you frantically when you are trying to make sense of the knotted bunch of two combined mooring lines he just threw at you, while your boat drifts with a nice 30 knots right onto your new neighbours.
- The marina staff (Rhodes Marina – but honestly, could have been any other…) is so welcoming, service-oriented and friendly that they cannot even arrange for the fuel tanker to arrive on the day of your departure, instead ruining half of the one day you have to explore Rhodes, forcing you into tight and dangerous marina manoeuvres (yes, of course, with kids on board) at a lovely increasing 30 knots of meltemi kisses. Am I not supposed to be the customer if I’m ridding myself of 300 Euros for a service?
- Before receiving any service in the new marina which hasn’t even installed its showers yet, you are asked to pay RIGHT NOW and UPFRONT!!!
- Rubbish greeting you in tons in every bay you sail in.
- The taxi driver is about the grumpiest person you’ve ever met on the planet and almost starts a fight when you want to pay him and don’t have the exact change.
- Being the only ones in a restaurant, it still takes them half an hour to take your order (with eyes rolled) and another half hour to serve some nibbles, a few drinks and a (admittedly very nice!) nagile.
- The waiter starts cursing at you (of course with more eye rolling and ‘tss’ and ‘ouff’ and ‘all too much’ kind of noises) when your two year old breaks an ash tray.
- Food, drinks, buses, rental cars and a heap of other prices quadrupled.
- The ticket guy on the bus almost kicks you out because your toddler is crying.
- Supposedly fresh food from the markets goes bad the next day.
- No matter where there’s zero effort made to increase economic activity, make the customer feel welcome and provide a fair and welcoming service.
- In the average chandlery they shake their head ‘no’ at you before you’ve even finished your sentence as to what you are after.
- You go for a run and all you can see for twenty minutes along a dirt road is three metres of rubbish on either side of the road. You can literally hear the earth crying out: Why are you doing this to me? I’m treating you so well; delicious olives, unique island paradise, incredible ruins… and this is how you treat me in return?
- All the glory seems to lie in long past history.
- You barely make it back from a run with a twisted ankle, obviously in pain, yet no one on the road would even bother asking if you need help.
- … I could go on, but someone told me once if you don’t have anything positive to say, then better don’t say anything at all. The above, though, I just couldn’t hold back. Excuse my honesty.
Yes, we are back in Greece, and yes, I do miss Turkey where
- You are received with a friendly smile everywhere you go.
- People go out of their way to help you out and make provide an excellent service.
- Life is hustling and buzzling at every corner.
- The past is cherished, while the present embraced and the future welcomed.
- The food is diverse, delicious and cheap and eating out can sometimes be cheaper than cooking on the boat.
- Breath-taking markets are a living prove of aliveness.
And finally a disclaimer, yes, we’ve seen a lot of Greece (the Ionian, the Peloponnese, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and now Crete) and yes, there are also good sides to it, like the occasional friendly person, Rhodes being an exceptionally beautiful city, Crete seeming a fraction more friendly and switched on than the rest of the country, our journey west bringing us closer to Malta, Marocco, Spain and Gibraltar and, last but not least, we’ve been able to catch up with our cruising family friends on Maya which has easily been another highlight of the past two years in the Med.
Both countries have exceptional sailing grounds from a purely geographical point of view, but if I had to chose between one of them, I wouldn’t have to think for a second! Maya, enjoy Turkey! We’ll be waiting for you over the pond.