Saturday, 18 July 2015

So, Where Are We Now?

Look at that folks. Let's be honest, with all that's been going on of late, the scene above, which is the Il Porto Café/bar/restaurant in Kiotari by the way, is still looking the same. Good eh? A few more people might be nice though.

Just read some news this morning about Mr. Varifocal, sorry, Varoufakis, and his views about the deal they're putting together. Now, as you'll know if you visit this blog with any regularity, I tend to steer clear of politics and stuff. But this time I'm going to make a few observations. 

But first let me establish some ground rules. 1. I dont' do politics and 2. I don't pretend to understand the workings of the international banking and political systems, except to say that they're all probably riddled with - let's just say "irregularites" shall we? 

Right, good. That said, I'll make a few observations as a layman living and working in Greece.

I have read with interest and some bemusement hundreds of comments from folk who don't live in Greece yet seem to know what should be done here. I've lived here for ten years and so can claim to have a fairly good idea about daily life on an island in Greece under the current crisis.

It seems to me that loads of people didn't want Mr. Tsipras to do this deal. All kinds of expressions like "betrayal", "blackmail" and the like are being bandied about. Now, I'm no expert, but one thing that's patently clear to me is that politics is about compromise. All those folk clashing with police in Athens, or spouting on Facebook, expressing their view that Mr. Tsipras shouldn't have done this deal, what alternatives would they suggest? It's always been easy to protest. 

I have been championing the message for months that the situation on the ground on the islands is such that tourists can still come here and probably spend a couple of weeks having as good a Greek holiday as ever without even noticing that there is a crisis going on.

But that was about to change. If this deal hadn't been struck then we most certainly would have been facing a lack of literal cash circulating among the populace, a shortage of fuel and a virtual halt in imports, all of which would have had catastrophic effects on tourism, which is of course Greece's main industry bar none. Now as someone living and working among Greek people I talk to them all the time about how they're reacting to all that's going on. You know what? At grass roots level it seems to me that most people just want the uncertainty to end. It has been affecting tourism, since people believing all the media hype in the UK, Germany, Lithuania (I talked to some Lithuanian friends just this week) and elsewhere have been cancelling their holidays, however misguidedly.

But if this deal hadn't been struck, then in very short order tourism here, not to mention normal life, would have been hit with a brickbat within weeks. I have no idea how many people work in tourism on the Greek islands, but it's got to be hundreds of thousands. Before very long there would have been massive lay-offs, meaning no more wages, meaning rents not being paid, shops not taking as much over the counter ...the domino effect would be huge and incalculable.

I know people who own tavernas, excursion boats, apartment blocks and cafés personally and by and large they are sick of months of arguing and ever increasing worry and anxiety. Now they just want to know that the banks can open and the tourists can still come, knowing that their holiday is still going to be a good one.

 It's reached a point where many Greek folk don't care any more about how it's done, as long as a degree of normality can be resumed in their daily lives. This deal which - as I understand it - Mr. Tsipras himself has said he doesn't like, but is pragmatic enough to know had to be struck for the reasons I've referred to above, will at least restore some immediate equilibrium here, which is vital to the income and wellbeing of most of the populace.

All around me here on Rhodes I hear audible sighs of relief. So, where are we now? We're awaiting the arrival of you Mr. and Mrs. Grecophile, or simply Tourist, to come and enjoy your Greek holiday, which once again I can say with a degree of confidence, will be brill!!

(No I am not a supporter of Mr. Tsipras, or anyone else for that matter. I don't pretend to understand a lot of things. But when something or someone looks reasonable to me, I say it!)


  1. I have to agree, John, what else was Tsipras meant to do? I was interested to see figures for voting in the referendum in most villages and towns on Rhodes was split pretty much 50/50 in the yes/no camps. So it can't be said that he held a referendum and then completely went against the result, on Rhodes anyway!

    1. Yea, like I said Vicki, if they hadn't made an agreement this time, the infrastructure here in Greece most certainly would have begun to crumble within weeks. And of course, pragmatism is a Greek word!

  2. It's been reported here that those arrested in Athens for the firebombing protests so widely shown on news reports weren't even Greek! There were French, Germans & Albanians amongst others. Rent a mob...... I do hope for everyone's sake that Greece now has a period of calm & things settle down. We will be back next year anyway!

    1. Well done Sue, "see" you next year, the islands will still be here!

  3. Otto von Bismarck said, “Politics is the art of the possible.” Presented with the impossible, the UK electorate look elsewhere. It would seem that the Greek people think “Politics is the art of wishful thinking”, and this choice inevitably leads to disappointment. People going on holiday for their two week break for the year like a bit of certainty, and who can blame them? Put the two together and we have a “positive feedback mechanism” albeit creating negative results. For myself I detest the personalisation of the Greek attitude regarding Angela Merkel, and the hyperbolic polemic against the creditors. Greece needs holidaymakers from all over Europe, including Germany. Now is the time for calm diplomacy, hopefully followed, in due course, by forgiveness; on the part of the creditors. “A week is a long time in politics”, three weeks with the banks closed is a near disaster. “Keep Calm and Holiday in Greece” is the message to put out on social media, so let’s all do it!


  4. Dear John,

    My name is Joe Pinzone and I'm casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We'd love to film in Greece and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The expats on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed. They must also speak English fluently and can be buyers or renters for their homes. If you'd like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

    1. Hello Joe,

      Sounds interesting. I may be able to help. What's the time scale on this one?