I know I haven’t written a post since February – a time when the world wobbled and still remains unsteady. I had just framed a post after a visit to Thessaloniki earlier that month. It was for Norm’s Thursday Doors on the doors of an Ottoman prison (now a heritage site) sitting in the remains of Thessaloniki’s old fortress and city walls. However, with lockdown happening soon after we returned to Athens from Thessaloniki, a post featuring a prison just didn’t hit the right note. I’ll post it sometime, but perhaps not just yet. Here is a taster photo:
So time passed, we adapted and got on with our lives here in Athens, lockdown style. Many of Athens’ family-run restaurants increased their take-out and delivery services; grocery shops did the same. Motorbikes and mopeds with delivery boxes are a common sight in the city, so during the months of heightened lockdown, they still managed to deliver supplies to residents. We were never short of anything essential. Open-air markets have also continued, but with social distancing rules in place.
During the early days of lockdown, the internet was flooded with amusing memes. We’ve tried to hang onto the humour that these engendered through the ensuing months of restricted movement.
A lot of comfort food was produced in the first few weeks until it began to show on our waistlines. This initially took the form of pumpkin bread until my supply of pumpkin pulp in the freezer was depleted. Sourdough bread making went on as usual with a little experimentation in the use of discard, put to good use in breadsticks and cheese scones. Easter was celebrated with lamb (at home, just the two of us). There were a lot of leftovers adapted to other dishes.
Then, the hot summer months rolled in. Tourism is a significant portion of the overall economy of the country and people began to worry. Travel was eased first within the country. We managed one small trip up north in Greece. Zagori was practically devoid of tourists. The 19th century triple-arched bridge at Kipoi is usually swarming with people. This time, we had it all to ourselves.
External flights were then allowed in, with ample testing, tracking and tracing at entry points. Yet, as the weeks have gone by, cases have increased – due, not entirely to opening the borders, but from an a difficulty adapting behaviour in the new normality. Summer has always been a time of relaxed conviviality: beach going; meeting friends at tavernas, cafes, clubs; huge weddings (note we went to two on Crete last summer), other celebrations and get-togethers, and a general exodus out of the city to summer homes in the countryside.
Despite the recent increase of cases, I am extremely lucky to be in Greece. The country as a whole has handled (and is still handling) this crisis very well. However, it worries me that so many of my relatives and friends are in countries that have not been so lucky. Hope all of my readers are doing well wherever you may be. Stay safe!