My Thoughts!!

As you know, this year I have to make a decision on where to live because of medical coverage. I don’t think I want my base to be Canada, travelling is much easier and cheaper from Europe. The Grandkids are all growing up very quickly, so, not the same involvement as when they were small.

Having a base in UK is very doable. l have a passport. The trick is to find an affordable space to use as base. My criteria is a city with an international airport and a city that has culture and my cinemas of course. I would also want a space that is in walking distance of a city centre (none of this will be easy to find)

I plan also to try and acquire a 10 year visa for India. That will also give me another option. People ask me if I am interested in another relationship. It would have to be just very spectacular. I have male friends around the world, but settling  down is difficult for me now. For years people would say to me I wasn’t normal (whatever that means); well now I agree. I enjoy the movement, different cultures, people and just enjoy most things I do and get involved in.

I have committed to writing another book. The working title is….In Search of Spiritual Intelligence…and will include essay type interviews with people all over the world using my travels and my own spiritual journey as a backdrop. I must admit I am very excited about this and I will need piles of help and it will take at least a year, if not more.

So, for now, back to the cold in Canada!

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Observations in Athens and visit to Thessaloniki!

Culture is alive and well. I met an actress who wasn’t paid, (no money for salaries) but felt continuing her craft was very important.

Family units are very strong here. Two examples of this are; that the actress went back to live with her family and I met a young engineer that was offered a job in Canada. He decided to stay in Greece because he said Canada was too far away from his family.

Everyone is in a big rush and courtesy is not extended in any way lines, seats; anything.

People feel the younger generation must make the change before the Government listens in any way. Not just demonstrate, but some strategic changes and methods must be employed.

The Australians have done very well from a business perspective here.

When I hear conversations in the Greek language it all sounds like a very long story they take so long to say anything. The unemployment rate is anywhere from 24 percent to 50 percent depending on who you talk too.

Athens feels very safe. Just have to be careful in crowds as there are lots of pickpockets.

I had a wonderful visit to Thessaloniki with new friends that I had met in Athens. Velko; very entrepreneurial and smart, involved in many businesses and has superb connections.

His wife is just lovely and very smart also. The kids were great. We will certainly stay in touch.

They were excellent hosts and showed me an amazing time. Right now I am sitting in the lounge in the airport waiting to go to Athens hopefully later today as my plane was cancelled this morning because of high winds.

I have 10 more days in Athens!

PS – The weather is perfect for me between 10 and 15 with sun everyday. The Athens Studios where I am staying, I would recommend to anyone, excellent service in every way. I will have stayed here over 2 months with an amazing deal, because it is the winter!

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Northern Greece and the Holidays!

I travelled for 6 hours on a train to Metora to see the famous Monasteries. The trip was beautiful. There was lots of deep snow as we travelled through tunnels and over bridges in the high mountains.

Now I have to say Greek trains are not the best. They are dirty and old etc. They are nothing compared to the Underground in Athens which was built for the Olympics which is bright, airy and pristine, just excellent in every way.

When I arrived in Metora, I was staying in a hotel in town. When I walked into the hotel it was freezing cold. The temperature outside was -6. I asked the staff on desk about the heat and was told heat was turned on for 2 hours every day. The woman looked at me and said she was very warm. She was wearing a ski jacket with a scarf (that said it all). I went to negotiate with the manager and I ended up with heat, and an extra duvet on my bed. It was a very cozy, lovely hotel.

If you go to Greece, this trip is well worth it. Game of Thrones was filmed in the mountains.

The Monasteries are very beautiful. We visited 3 and one nunnery. The Nunnery had woman of wealthy families in Greece there. The Nuns had donated a new fire truck to the town, so they could have their ice cleared first with the firehoses. (that’s power).

On Christmas Eve I went to a Church Service. I couldn’t understand a word, but it was beautiful! Christmas Day, I spent at the BK centre. They had a wonderful dinner for 15 people. They even had me ironing tablecloths and making fans for napkins. I haven’t done any of that for many decades. On Boxing Day, I went on a walk to see the wealthy homes in Northern Athens with a volunteer guide. Afterwards I had a wonderful lunch at a very old restaurant in the community. On New Years Eve I was invited to a very elegant dinner party (FUN)

I will be leaving here February 2nd to spend a week in Cambridge UK before I fly to Toronto for another Bar Mitzvah. This is the last one, next will be the weddings!

I really enjoyed Athens. Where I am staying is just perfect, very central, very well cared for, lots of culture, and great energy.

When I was here 3 years ago people were very angry over the state of the economy. It isn’t any better, but they are resolved to what it is. The Greeks are very proud. They care about family and they take care of one another. I am told 50 per cent of people are unemployed and the people that do work are not sure if they will get paid. I met a teacher the other day. She made 800 euros a month and felt very fortunate. Greeks have no use for their Politicians or the European Union!

I was invited to a book launch last evening. I thought it was for an art show, so I sat for one hour not understanding a word.

Athens is certainly less expensive than UK, but I think anyplace is less.

 

 

Wonderful mountain top views from Monasteries:

 

 

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THE LAW!!!

I am on a train for a 5-hour journey to the famous Monasteries in Meteor, Northern Greece.

There are piles of snow on the ground and it is cold; -2. It is a spectacular train ride. It goes right through the mountains, and they are very high.

But this blog is to tell you about my adventures in customs to retrieve my vitamins. I had ordered my vitamins from Canada in November and they arrived at customs in Athens on Dec 4th. It was saying they would be delivered in a few days. On Dec 20th, I decided to go to customs. Customs is near the airport and since my friend Carol was on her way to the UK with my driver Nickoss, I went along for the ride!

Customs is about 2 km from airport. It is a massive area with about 10 buildings each the size of an IKEA store.

When I finally found the right building, it was full of mail in large bins with labels on them from around the world, but no people working.

Someone finally appeared and took my pick up number and ID. When the lady came back, she told me it would be delivered in 5 days and I couldn’t pick them up. l told her I wasn’t leaving without them! I said due to Christmas, there is no way they would be delivered in 5 days. Next a young man came out from customs. He looked like he had just rolled out of bed! He stood right on top of me and I told him to back away. He brought me a declaration form and said they will be delivered in 5 days. I asked if I fill out the form, why couldn’t I have them now? First of all, he said he didn’t know where they were, but I knew he did because my name and bin number were on the form. He appeared back saying I could have them if I paid the 27 percent tax on the bill. They even charge tax on the courier charges.

The problem was that I had to go to airport (which was 2 km away by highway) to the Post Office to pay my bill of 37 euros, and had no way to get there. Since I had sent Nickoss back to Athens, I had to find another way. I discovered the staff bus did the circuit between customs and the airport. They let me on the bus and I went to the airport, paid the bill, then was ready to head back to customs to hopefully get the parcel. I found the staff bus, and by this time I had a special permission slip to use the bus. So, I got my vitamins and was faced with a new challenge; how to get back to city? A taxi wasn’t an option because they couldn’t get through security. I was told there was bus across the highway in front of the IKEA store, but how could I get across the highway? At that point a man appeared and drove me to meet the bus, which was very kind.

There is a word about all of this which I won’t use. The whole time I was being told this is the LAW. I finally said why you don’t use word procedure instead of law? It sounds a little better.

So, after five and half hours, I was back in Athens exhausted drinking a glass of wine!

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Happy Holidays!!

 

Card 6

All the best for 2018,

Betty

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More From Athens

My normal drama of accommodations happened again.  The flat that I was going to rent was without heat until December 15th.  When it was turned on, it was for only 3 hours a day. The flat was very damp and the bedroom was in the back of flat without sunshine. On top of that the hot water couldn’t be left on because of cost. I had asked all of the questions about heat and hot water before I agreed to rent and I was told all was well.

The flat was in a great location.  Luck was with me; a small hotel called Athens Studios was right across the street owned by Ozzies.

I have a lovely studio apartment. It has 2 terraces, a bedroom, a bathroom, a living room and kitchen. It is very well maintained and serviced every day, oh and with breakfast. I would recommend this place to anyone. The price is very close to what I was going to pay for a flat. It’s a good price because tourist season is over.

Athens weather is mixed; not too much rain. The temperature is 13 to 20 and most days there is sunshine, which I just love! I seem to be very social here, with friends, lots of events, (fun). I will be taking the ferry to one of the islands to see friends this week.

As I said in last blog economy is still very difficult and people are reinventing themselves and trying to stay very positive e.g . I met two Architects last week and had both lost their jobs. The cleaning staff at the hotel are from Africa and think of working here as another family.

Athens has a brand new state of the art Cultural Centre, Opera House and National Library all funded by the Stravos  Niarchos Foundation for 650 million Euros and 5 years of maintenance. It has nearly 1000 employees and I was very fortunate to have a private front and backstage tour. It is just magnificent. I also got a ticket for the Opera next week, which wasn’t easy.

Next door is a major hospital funded by Mr Onassis. He was married to Jackie Kennedy, and these gentleman were in major competition in the shipping world. Now they have left legacy projects to their country. I thought it was interesting that these buildings were next door to one another!

As per usual, I have found excellent laundry and coffee. Lunch here is not until 2 or 3.  I attended Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the American Republican party. It was a very interesting evening. They love Trump and think he is doing marvelous job. I decided to stay quiet, but the first course of dinner was served at 11.15.

Not sure how long I will stay here. Will be back in Toronto early March for another Bar Mitzvah. Also a lot of Leonard Cohen music here. He lived on Greek island, I think where he met Marianne.

All for now!

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Wonderful Gritty Athens!

I have been in Athens about 10 days now.  The flat I am renting is in the heart of the city and the underground is about one minute away. The underground is very pristine, built for 2004 Olympics. It looks and is excellent!

Rosamund, my friend who owns the flat is Australian and is going home for Christmas. I think she is coming back in February sometime.

I have been very social, reconnecting with friends I met here 3 years ago, so lunches, dinners, teas and drinks! This whole city is very social and they love to meet up for whatever. Rosamund had a party to introduce me to new friends.

The Canadian Cultural Association is very active and I have joined the American Embassy discussions. Very interesting stuff about Trump etc.

I plan to visit friends on a couple of islands.

Rosamund is leaving next week, so maybe I will have time to think about the book.

Athens seems to be friendly; more than when I was here before. Things are still very bad economy- wise, jobs etc. I just think people are resolved to whatever life brings. The homeless on the street are all displaying wounds and cuts to get money. I met a man, very well dressed, black leather pants, white shirt, and good shoes with a great suntan, apparently he lives on the beach! (Who knows)

I have even been talked into helping with a Church Bazaar for Christmas. It’s very large and I am told the helpers are served coffee with Bailey’s when they arrive. I will let you know.

So all in all great beginning.

 

PS: Oh, I forgot about the demonstration. In 1974, 18 students were killed, so every year on November 17th they are remembered and the city is closed down and I mean everything!

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