January 8, 2008

X-rays and results on the same day

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , at 7:25 pm by expatdiane

One evening, I accompanied my husband who went to have a chest x-ray. The general practice here is to go to a radiology lab with a doctor’s order in hand to have the x-rays taken. An appointment rarely needs to be made as most welcome walk-ins.

Once we arrived, there was only one person being seen, so we didn’t have long to wait. It only took a few minutes to have the x-ray taken and then another five minutes to wait until they were ready. The radiologist then read the findings and all was well with only a cost of 45.00 Euros. What was also very different, was the fact that we were able to take the x-rays with us, not that we would need them, but after all, we did pay for them!

Back home, this is unheard of, unless of course you are seen in an emergency room where you can have the x-rays taken and the results given on the same day. I always wondered why they make us wait to have routine x-rays done and then having to make an additional appointment weeks later to get the results. Forget about even touching the x-rays after the fact, much less taken them home with you!

September 20, 2007

Blood draw

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , at 6:28 pm by expatdiane

This morning I went in to my doctor’s office to have some blood drawn. Usually, here in Greece, people tend to get the order from their doctor and then go into a lab where they don’t have to long as wait to have blood drawn. Since I didn’t get my lab order prior to, I decided to just have it done right then and there.

Luckily when I arrived to my doctor’s office, I was in shock to see that there were not 30 women waiting to be seen like last time, but only two. I was relieved as I had left my daughter with my husband at work and told him I would see them sometime within the next few hours. He planned an entire afternoon with her just in case I didn’t return early. After a few minutes, one of the ladies waiting went in to be seen when the other came out. The lady that was waiting called over the other patient to ask her the procedure for an exam. She basically wanted to know what clothes she could leave on…etc..etc. She was relieved to find out that she didn’t have to remove all her clothing and went on to discuss a bad experience she had with another doctor. Of course, I was only able to pick up bits and pieces of this conversation since I am not that fluent in the language. Once her informer left, she walked over to me and started talking away. All I could do was smile and act as though I understood all she was saying. She seemed quite relieved with the information gathered and was anxious to get her exam over with. She went on and on and for the life of me, I was not able to shut her up. I tried looking away, acting as if I were watching TV, but there was no end in site. Once the other patient came out, she went in still talking and continued with the doctor. Since they were behind closed doors, I couldn’t make out all she was telling him, even though her voice was as loud as a big rig truck coming towards you out on the freeway. Her voice grew louder and louder. From the doctor’s comments to her, I could tell he just wanted her out of there. After her exam, he kept telling her goodbye in a polite manner but she just kept on and on. He finally had to walk to her to the door but she still didn’t get it. At that point, I got up and walked around her straight in his office and it was at that point that she finally realized that her visit was over.

My doctor was relieved that the patient was gone. He was in a hurry as it was lunch time for him. As he gathered the items needed to draw my blood, he kept on bursting out laughing every so often and nodding his head in disbelief as to what the previous patient told him. I’m sure he would have told me what she said but we have somewhat of a language barrier problem. That, and the fact he was in a hurry to get out there before another woman with an even better story showed up.

September 19, 2007

Medical care and costs

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , , at 5:17 pm by expatdiane

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Charges for routine medical tests here in Greece usually depend on the doctor you see and his reputation in the community. However, charges are cheaper when compared to that in the U.S., even if one does not have insurance (example: doctor visit 30.00 euros – teeth cleaning 40.00 euros). ER services and Ambulance rides to public hospitals are free. Of course, avoiding hospitals is the best plan anywhere. The tradition of nursing as a profession is not well developed and hospitals depend on families for much care. Doctors are highly trained – many in the U.S. Pharmacists can get whatever you need and most drugs do not require a prescription. Costs are, by U.S. standards, reasonable.

**Note: one thing that has amazed me since I moved here has been the hospital ER services. When going in for any kind of emergency, you don’t see a regular ER physician but instead you are sent to a doctor within the hospital who specializes on the illness or problem you have (example: when I fractured my finger, I was sent to an Orthopedic).

One of the biggest concerns for those who are planning on moving here is insurance, but there is no need to be, unless you have major medical problems. Most of us who have insurance do not use it the majority of the time. Doctors here have insurance day while other days are not. For the convenience of not having to wait in a room full of people on insurance day, we opt to go on non-insurance day and pay the 30.00 euros out of our pocket.

Emergency surgery here is not as expensive as in the U.S. either. I had an emergency c-section due to complications during labor, stayed in a birthing center for an entire week, in my own private room, with catered meals three times a day and two nurses of my own 24/7. The total bill for that was 1500.00 Euros. Very cheap, but then again, it was the location that mattered. In Athens a three day stay in a hospital after a regular delivery costs about 3000.00 euros.

Shopping

Posted in Day to day life, Shopping tagged , , , , at 5:15 pm by expatdiane

Shopping in Greece is a very different experience compared to that in the U.S. For starters, stores here are not open 24 hours and are closed on Sundays.The first and most obvious difference while shopping at the supermarket is when you have to insert a 50 euro coin piece to unlock a cart for use. The cart wheels swivel, making it difficult to get around especially if your cart is full. As you go through the check out line, you put your purchases on the counter and as they are checked through, you bag your own groceries. You then return the cart by locking it to the others and that’s when your 50 euro cent piece is returned to you.

Besides the supermarkets, there are specialty shops such as the butcher, bakery, produce and fish. The bread and desserts, are by far, the most enjoyable products in Greece along with the cheese of course. The breads are baked daily and you can smell that fresh bakery fragrance once you begin your approach. The desserts and pastries are also baked daily and they are very proud of these products, as they should be. Prices in specialty shops are usually cheaper then in a supermarket.

As for prices, if you attempt to live solely as you might in the U.S., prices are high. Fresh fruits and vegetables come from nearby and are usually great. The range of foods available used to be narrow but have widened over the last few years and it includes many American items or their equivalents. Of course you can’t get everything, but as time goes by, you learn to live without. Generally, food is fresher because it is seasonal and doesn’t travel as far than in the U.S. Location plays a big factor as can the season.

Shopping for clothing is another thing all together. There is not a great variety of products – what you find in one store, you are sure to find in another. Location plays a very important part on how much you will pay for an item. In one part of the city, an item might be a few Euros higher while in another, it is a few Euros lower. The same goes throughout the country.

Greeks are very fashion-conscious and buying more expensive appeals much more to the consumer. In the U.S., we prefer comfort over style, while here in Greece, it is the total opposite. Fashion is very important here and there is a large consumption in brand name clothing. Popular styles go in and out very quickly (one to two months). Clothing for babies are not made for comfort either (where are the snappy crotches?).

Walking and driving

Posted in Walking and driving tagged , , , , at 4:41 pm by expatdiane

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Walking in Greece is hard work. In the states, people move aside to give the right away to the person who is coming towards them, so one might expect Greeks to do the same. But instead, they march straight ahead down narrow sidewalks with no notice of people coming toward them. Every approach is a contest of wills, a guessing game and/or a collision. No need to panic though, just step out of the way and let them go by. Come to think of it, perhaps they do walk the way they drive. It is a rare occurance for Greeks to give the right away to another car. This causes all kinds of arguments that then cause traffic jams. It is not uncommon to see drivers create two lanes where one is supposed to exist. Driving etiquette is non-existent in Greece. Drivers will not think twice to cut you off or tail you. Luckily, there is not the violent road rage phenomenon you see in the US. In congested traffic, many Greek drivers don’t believe in turn signals, pedestrian right of way, or even stoplights. If there’s a traffic jam up ahead, it’s perfectly acceptable to drive on the sidewalk in order to bypass stopped cars, especially if you’re on a motorcycle. Seat belts are rarely worn. My favorite has to be the overuse of hazard lights which is fairly common. Whenever a driver wants to stop in the middle of the road to have a chat with a friend and can’t be bothered by getting out of the car, or decides to double park while waiting for someone, out come the hazard lights. They seem to guarantee the driver who switches them on some sort of immunity and all fellow drivers will give you the benefit of the doubt and let you get on with whatever you are doing. No one beeps their horns or shouts at you if the hazards lights are on.

Parking in just about every major city can be a nightmare. Major traffic problems here are due to a large consumption of cars and lack of parking. Parking on side walks is common and double parking as well. If someone blocks the street, horns are held continuously until someone moves the car – this can take minutes.

There is full service at gas stations which includes washing your windows, checking your oil and tires. There is no self service stations in Greece.

Crime

Posted in Crime, Day to day life tagged , , , at 4:38 pm by expatdiane

Crime in Greece is one of the lowest in Europe and is one of the safest countries in the world. This is not to say that crime does not exist. It certainly does. However, the majority are petty crimes as armed violence and random assaults are fairly uncommon. Gun control is strictly enforced and possession of firearms of any type, except those licensed for hunting, is forbidden. This may play a large part as to why crime is not as high as in other countries where owning a gun is legal.

You don’t see police often in the streets, nor do you see them on freeways or roads much while traveling. The only time they may be out in full force is during a holiday when traffic is congested due to Greeks traveling the roads.

Siesta

Posted in Pace of life tagged , , , , at 4:19 pm by expatdiane

The first thing you will find is just how different the pace of life is in Greece, compared to that in the states. Like in many countries that run along the Mediterranean, the Greeks like to observe an afternoon siesta, and the business day includes a two to three hour lunch break for this very reason. Different parts of Greece may vary when it comes to the hours of siesta time. For Example, local business hours are as follows: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, most businesses open at 9:00 AM and close at 3:00 PM for rest of the day. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, most businesses open at 9:00 AM, close at 3:00 PM and then reopen at 5:30 PM and close at 9:00 PM. Sundays are a day of rest. Supermarkets, restaurants and taverns stay open throughout the day. Also, during the months of July and August all merchants stores are closed on Saturdays due to vacation time here in Greece.

There are a number of reasons why siesta time may have been put in place. It has been said that Greeks are family oriented and use this break in the middle of day to spend time with family. Greece also has a huge night life and those who go out take the the opportunity to rest up for their long evening ahead. The majority of businesses in Greece are privately owned and operated and as such, the break is set aside to rest in order to be able to return to finish out the work day. Whatever it was that has brought on the siesta, it doesn’t seem to effect some parts of Greece like it does in others.

Housing

Posted in Housing tagged , , , , at 4:16 pm by expatdiane

In cities here in Greece, people live over each other and not spread out. The majority of people live in rather small apartments and it is not likely that you would find wall to wall carpeting in any home. Instead, you will find area carpets used during the winter months. Tile floors are the norm throughout a Greek home, with wooden floors in the bedrooms. Stairs are very popular in home buildings and are usually made of Marble (Greece is rich in marble). Having small homes, which, even if they are not ancient, seem to be in constant need of some sort of enhancement. The drive to make more and more space out of tiny living areas is a national mania and that doesn’t stop inside the house. Gardening is also an obsession for Greeks, who have raised the practice of creating small gardens on their balconys that are usually not even large enough to place a table and chairs on.

In Greece, people don’t bother much with exteriors; there isn’t much exterior to a Greek home. The entire property, yard (if any) and all, is most often enclosed behind a tall brick wall that presents a blank face to the public street. The street may be dirty and rutted, but inside, there is a tidy little courtyard planted with flowers and plants. It makes no sense to most Greeks to toil away attempting to make a little bit of the outside world pleasant and clean. It’s an uphill battle for one thing, and for another, it’s the inside that matters.

Name Change

Posted in name change tagged , , , , at 4:11 pm by expatdiane

If you get married in Greece and would like to change your last name, this came done at the American consulate. All one needs to take in is their marriage certificate and passport. A stamp is then added to one of the back pages of your passport showing your new name. This only takes a few minutes.

A New Mattress

Posted in Day to day life tagged , , at 3:49 pm by expatdiane

bedframe.jpgThis afternoon I went to purchase a new mattress for our bed. My husband refused to come along, since last week, I was indecisive as to whether we should get a new bed or just a new mattress. Well, after seeing the beds offered at Media Strom and the costs for them, I decided on just a mattress.

The bed we have is about fifteen years old and is made the old fashion European way. The frame is made of wood and on the bottom, there are 2 x 4’s that lay across to complete the bed frame. You then lay your mattress on top of the boards and that completes the bed. It doesn’t feel very comfortable but that’s where a good mattress comes in.

Once I arrived, I was greeted by the sales person who walked me through the store showing me the most expensive items in the place. Funny how some things are International. When I told her I was only looking for a mattress, she walked me over to the best mattresses they had. There were two samples side by side and she told me to lay on them to test them out. I examined the mattresses carefully and even unzipped them only to find that they were filled with a foam-like material. They were very comfortable but they were not very durable. At that point, I quickly moved away and proceeded to the “real” mattresses that were not only less costly but more durable. They had about 15 samples and I tested about five of them while the sales lady watched giving me her opinion on what she thought was best for me. After testing the first three, they all starting feeling the same. So I picked the one I wanted and an order was written out.

The sales lady did not speak any English and with my minimal Greek and some sign language, we understood each other quite well. But like with every Greek person I encounter, the question of “why don’t you speak Greek fluently” always comes up. When it did, I told her it was a very long story and I just left it at that.

September 13, 2007

The Evil Eye

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , , at 9:40 am by expatdiane

This is by far the most famous of all Greek superstitions with very old roots in Hellenic culture from the time of paganism. Paintings of Greek triremes over two thousand years ago have an eye painted at the front of the trireme in an attempt to ward off the Evil Eye. The Evil Eye is known widely throughout Greece and the Greek Islands. The Evil Eye is said to be able to strike anywhere without notice and no one can be the wiser.Think back to a time when someone complemented you on how nice you looked only for you to have a painful headache immediately after. Happenings such as this are attributed to the Evil Eye.

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To ward off the Evil Eye several things can be done. An eye is painted into the middle of a blue charm, this charm is then worn as a necklace or as a bracelet. Blue beads can also be worn instead of the eye charm in the form of a necklace or bracelet. The reason the color blue and the painted eye are used is that both are thought to ward off the evil of the eye. Unfortunately people who have blue eyes are thought to be exceptional givers of it. In such, believers of the Evil Eye are weary of compliments received from a blue eyed person.

It is also said that a clove of garlic has the ability to ward of the evil eye. Many people keep the clove of garlic in their clothes or in their pockets.

It is customary for Greeks to spit towards someone if they pay them a compliment. Sometimes they will spit three times, a symbolism of the using of the Holy Trinity to defend against the eye. This custom of spitting has its roots in the Evil Eye. The spitting is an attempt to ward of the evil of the eye.

The Greek Orthodox Church also believes in the evil eye, and they refer to it as “Vaskania”. There are people who are said to know how to remove the eye from someone who is affected. The Greek Orthodox church strictly forbids this. The church sees this as dangerous ground, and only a priest has the power to read a person in an attempt to remove the eye. However, Greeks openly practice the removing off the eye against the wishes of the Church. The church fears that attempts to remove the eye can result in possession. Believers of the evil eye should understand that the person who is attempting to remove the eye should be using the method that the church uses, and not some custom that has been passed down generation to generation. Many of the readings that are passed down have their roots in paganism and do not adhere to Orthodoxy, the church attempts to guard against these readings.

Watch out for that Evil Eye!

A Parent’s Curse

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , at 9:38 am by expatdiane

“As long as you have the blessing of your parents it does not matter even if you live in the mountains.”

This is an indication of the value that is placed on the blessing of a parent towards a child in a child’s life. It is considered a very bad omen in one’s life if they lose the blessing of a parent.

What the saying basically says is that don’t concern yourself with where you live, concern yourself with your parents blessing. In such, it is better to live in the mountains then to not have the blessing of a parent.

In Greek superstition a curse of a parent is considered dangerous, especially a curse of a mother. Be sure to check the Greek superstition surrounding the losing of the blessing of a parent “The Danger of a Parent’s Curse”.

Priests

Posted in Superstitions tagged , , , , at 9:27 am by expatdiane

The Greek people are a religious people with religion forming a part of their cultural essence. This has always been the case, even in ancient Greece the populations were very religious creating shrines throughout Greece, Cyprus and anywhere they colonized to their Gods.

In regards to respect of priests, it is customary for Greeks upon seeing one to go up to them and kiss their hands or even the cloth that they wear. Priests were as highly respected in ancient times as they are today.

However, just as in ancient times as today it was considered a bad omen to see a priest walking in the street. Upon seeing one Greeks may spit three times into their shirt. It was also considered bad luck to see a priest in the morning if someone had a handkerchief they may tie it until the day ended. In this manner any bad luck would be tied until a time when the chance of something happening would not be as likely.

September 12, 2007

Getting married in Greece

Posted in Getting Married in Greece tagged , , , , at 6:49 pm by expatdiane

Marriage in the Orthodox Church for a non-Orthodox:

Paperwork needed:
1. An “eligibility to marry” form. This form can be obtained from the American Embassy. It is a simple form but one must go in to complete it and swear under oath they are free to marry.
2. A baptismal certificate from any Christian denomination translated in Greek.
3. A form that is given from the church (where you will be married) stating that the children that come out of the marriage will be brought up Orthodox. This form must be signed before a notary.
4. Birth certificate translated in Greek.
5. Dissolution of marriage if married previously.

September 11, 2007

An Orthodox Wedding

Posted in Getting Married in Greece tagged , , , , , at 9:52 am by expatdiane

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The Orthodox Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony of the Greek Orthodox Church is an ancient and meaningful service that has been celebrated in its present form for centuries. The service is abundant with symbols that reflect marriage: love, mutual respect, equality and sacrifice.

The ceremony consists of two parts which are distinct and separate from each other: The service of the Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage. Everything in the ceremony has a special meaning and significance, especially the repetition of each act three times to symbolize and to invoke the mystical presence of the Holy Trinity. The Wedding begins as the white candles are handed to The Bride and The Groom. These candles symbolize their spiritual willingness to receive Christ.

The Service of Betrothal

Petitions are chanted for the spiritual welfare of the couple. The highlight during this service is the exchanging of the rings. The priest then blesses the rings. He holds them in his right hand, and making the sign of the cross over their heads, he betroths the servants of God, The Bride to The Groom. The rings are then placed on their right hands, for it is the right hand of God that blesses, it was the right hand of God to which Christ ascended, and it is also to the right that those who will inherit the eternal life will ascend.

The koumbaro (religious sponsor) then exchanges the rings three times. The exchange signifies that in married life, the weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other, the imperfections of one, by the perfection of the other. By themselves, the newly betrothed are incomplete, but together they are made perfect. The rite of the betrothal ends with the priest praying for betrothal of mutual promise, officially given before the church, may prove in true faith, concord and love.

The Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage

The ceremony consists of petitions, prayers, the crowning, readings from the New Testament, the offering of the common cup, the circling of the ceremonial table and the benediction. At the conclusion of the prayers, the priest joins the hands of The Bride and The Groom. The hands are kept joined until the end of the service to symbolize the union and the oneness of the couple.

The Crowning

This is the focal point of the marriage ceremony. The crowns are signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns them during the sacrament. The wedding crowns (stefana) are joined by a ribbon which again symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who blesses and joins the couple and establishes them as the King and Queen of their home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice and integrity. The priest takes the two crowns and blesses The Bride and The Groom, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and then places the crowns on them. The Koumbaro then steps behind The Bride and The Groom and interchanges the crowns three times as a witness to the sealing of the union.

Some interpret the crowns used in the Orthodox wedding ceremony to refer to the crowns of Martyrdom since every true marriage involves immeasurable self sacrifice on both sides.

The Common Cup

The rite of crowning is followed by the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gospel reading describes the marriage at Cana of Galilee which was attended and blessed by Christ and for which He reserved His first miracle. There He converted the water into wine and gave if it to the newlyweds. In remembrance of this blessing, wine is given the couple. This is the “common cup” of life denoting the mutual sharing of joy and sorrow, the token of a life of harmony. The drinking of wine from the common cup serves to impress upon the couple that from that moment on they will share everything in life, joys, as well as sorrows, and that they are to “bear one another’s burdens.” Their joys will be doubled and their sorrows halved because they will be shared.

The Ceremonial Walk

The priest then leads The Bride and The Groom in a circle around the table on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross, the one containing the word of God, the other being the symbol of our redemption by Jesus. The Bride and The Groom are taking their first steps as a married couple, and the church, in the person of the priest, leads them in the way they must walk. The way is symbolized by the circle at the center of which are the Gospel and the cross of our Lord. This expresses the fact that the way of Christian living is a perfect orbit around the center of life, who is Jesus Christ our Lord.

During this ceremonial walk around the table a hymn is sung to the Holy Martyrs reminding the newly married couple of the sacrificial love they are to have for each other in marriage – a love that seeks not its own but is willing to sacrifice its all for the one loved.

The Removal of the Crowns

At the conclusion of the Ceremonial Walk, the priest removes the crowns from The Bride and The Groom and beseeches God to grant to the newlyweds a long, happy and fruitful life together. He then lifts up the Gospel and separates their joined hands reminding them that only God can separate the couple form one another.

The Wedding Favors

The sugar coated almonds (koufeta), which were placed on the tray with the crowns and which will later be offered to the guests are also symbolic. In the early days of the Church, honey dipped almonds were offered to the newlyweds by the priest. The white symbolizes purity. The egg shape represents fertility and the new life which begins with marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage and the sweetness of the sugar symbolizes the sweetness of future life. The odd number of almond is indivisible, just as The Bride and The Groom shall remain undivided.  

September 8, 2007

It must be a secret

Posted in Day to day life tagged , , , , at 9:37 pm by expatdiane

Or is it? After returning from my trip to the states, I started looking around for secret antiperspirant because I was running low. In my extended search, I found that every supermarket out there, whether large or small, privately owned or chain, had removed them from the shelves. I quickly thought they must be discontinued or was it just in this part of the country? Now I am having to try out some other European brands but they are not doing the job. I will continue my search but if I do not find any, I will have to revert to buying it on line and having it shipped to me.

This brings me back to the earlier days. When I first moved here, I had no idea where to shop for cosmetics or personal hygiene items. Having no one to guide me, I had to go out and search alone. Supermarkets carried minimal cosmetics and commercials on TV of products were non existent. This lead me to believe that the cosmetics I used back home were no where to be found here. During my trips back and forth to the states, I would load my suitcase with items to bring back, items I needed that I could not find here.

One day, I heard of Hondos center the largest cosmetic chain in the country. When I first passed by the place, I noticed that they had a huge make-up department of just about every maker out there but I had no idea they had a second and third floor. It took me a total of two years before I realized they had the other floors, one of which was a personal hygiene department of things I had been searching for for so long.

September 1, 2007

Balanced or off balance

Posted in Day to day life, Medical care and costs tagged , , , , , at 6:23 pm by expatdiane

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For the last week and a half, I have been in bed suffering from a hormonal in balance. I finished a cycle of hormone replacement and it has done wonders for me. Let me tell ya, being off balance has gotta be the worst feeling! It is very difficult to walk straight, makes your head feel very heavy while with other days, it feels like a floating balloon and as far as any long term concentration, forget it! Needless to say that the majority of my time in bed was not very productive <—- never thought I’d ever say that!

When I first moved to Greece, I suffered from a hormonal in balance that was due to the climate, although at the time, I did not know it. The bitter cold we have here during December was just too much for me to bare as I have always been used to warmer weather. Since I had no idea what I was suffering from, I went ahead and told my husband that we needed to see a gynocolgist being that the symptoms appeared to be female. He got information of a doctor from someone he knew and we decided to go.

When we arrived to the doctor’s office that evening, her waiting room was completely full of women standing everywhere, as there were no places left to sit. Once the doctor showed up, all the women began following her as if they were a herd of cattle crowding in for the slaughter. Since this doctor only takes walks ins, each person had to remember who was there prior to their arrival. So the women all sat around discussing the order in which they would be seen. When our turn came, we walked into the doctor’s office and she asked what the problem was. We gave her the symptoms and her quick diagnose was a possible pregnancy. She asked me to go into the examining room, undress and wait for her to examine me. After doing so, I noticed there were no gowns to put on and that in itself made the experience all that more difficult. The room was very tiny and had a thin wall separating it from the waiting room which didn’t give a person much privacy at all. To the left of the examining table was a large glass bowl with what appeared to be medical instruments of some kind being sterilized in fluid. At that point, what ran through my mind were those old movies you see where a woman goes in to have an abortion in a cold, small room with the surgical instruments in a bowl beside the bed. I couldn’t help but wonder what decade this doctor was living in.

In the years that followed, we heard horror stories from others on the way she practiced medicine and felt that her medical license should have been revoked long ago. Sadly, to this day, she still has her practice.

July 29, 2007

Who wears short shorts?

Posted in Day to day life tagged , , , , at 9:03 pm by expatdiane

Greek women, that’s who. The theory among women here has always been less is more, but then again, that has only been when it comes to clothing. As of the summer, shorts are finally being worn out in public and it is acceptable attire. As the years have gone by, each summer, I have watched how clothing such as pants have started becoming shorter and shorter. I was very surprised when cropped pants hit the market and never thought I would see a Greek woman wear them. From there, came shorts, but those were only purchased to wear at home and never in public.

Who would have thought that it would have taken so many years. In the past, those wearing shorts out in the streets were only tourists. But don’t be fooled into thinking that we cannot figure out who is a tourist and who is actually Greek.

July 16, 2007

Smoke out

Posted in Children, Day to day life tagged , , , , , at 8:34 pm by expatdiane

The other day we went out to the opening of a new restaurant that a friend owns. I had been gone from Greece for so long that I had forgotten just how smoked filled these places can be. Just about everyone smokes but that isn’t a bad thing if they would just open a few windows and doors. What came to mind was some smoking areas at airports. You know the ones where you see smokers in a closed in smoking area standing in the midst of thick fog? Well this restaurant was similar. For the first time, I made the mistake of taking our daughter with us. In the past, I never have taken her to any type of outing for this very reason but I had been gone from the country for so long, that I had forgotten all about the way of life here.

I am a smoker myself but have always had the common sense to smoke outside away from our daughter and have never smoked around children or small babies. I didn’t smoke tonight while in the restaurant. There was more then enough smoke as it was. By the time we got out of there, I had a huge head rush and I can only imagine how our daughter felt. I just don’t understand how Greeks can take out their children to these places, smoke right beside them with no worries about their health.

Smoking is allowed just about everywhere here, even in children’s indoor play areas. I doubt this will change any time soon. People just won’t listen and enforcing laws doesn’t seem to work either.

If it weren’t for Greece hosting the 2004 Olympics, smoking and non-smoking sections would have never been adopted. Back then, I remember there would be one non-smoking table in an establishment, while the rest of the tables were all smoking ones. It was impossible for a non-smoker to eat without breathing in cigarette smoke. Now, in most place, things have changed to the point where they have more non-smoking tables and have even stated separating the areas into two sections.

The good news is that Greeks are slowly starting to understand the problems of second hand smoke. Okay, maybe not in all parts of the country or even in smaller restaurants, but they are making an effort to understand. Public service announcements have started here in the country in early 2007 regarding the dangers of second hand smoke. It might take a while, but they will eventually get it.

June 25, 2007

Energy Conservation

Posted in Day to day life tagged , , at 9:13 pm by expatdiane

During the last two weeks that I’ve been back, there has been one day each week of rolling blackouts that last for about an hour each day. We were told it was to save on electricity throughout the country. The most aggravating part of the situation is the fact that we are not told when this will occur. So you might have your air conditioner, washer or TV on and all of a sudden everything goes off. Then you have to find something to do during that time. I have learned to keep my battery charged on my laptop for this very reason. At least I will have something to do during that one dark hour.