Gwen and Michael's 2011/2012 Greek Sojourn Seventh Travel Blog

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February 11th 2012
Published: February 11th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Ice from Water Bucket, PereaIce from Water Bucket, PereaIce from Water Bucket, Perea

The water in the bucket near the tap formed a disc of ice
Wednesday 1st Feb

A white cat was sitting on the pergola, waiting for some little birds to come along and eat the left over grapes still on the vine. Except I went out with a wooden pole and sent him on his way.

Thursday 2nd Feb

We went to Athens on the Train at 10am today and got to Athens at 6pm. The trip was supposed to take 5.5 hours, but with nearly snow all the way to Athens, had to get new train loco to clear tracks, etc. So an 8 hour trip. There was actually snow covering everything when we left Perea at 7am to catch the bus to take us to the railway station. Looked lovely, and we were the first ones to walk on it- amazingly no cars had driven in it.Apparently later on, that road outside Mama’s house became unpassable. It has a fairly large incline and the snow turned to ice, and no cars, nor even motorcycles could not get up the incline due to the ice. On the train, the rain on the windows turned into icicles from the chilly weather. There was no heating apparently in First Class, so the
Our hot house, PereaOur hot house, PereaOur hot house, Perea

Perhaps should be called a snow house, with its white covering of snow
people came into our carriage. Then later on we did not have heating and my feet were cold all the way to Athens, even though I wore my hat, scarf, gloves and overcoat inside the train. The wind deposited the snow on one side of the electricity poles and tree trunks. At Katerini, there was 30cm of snow on the car tops and a little Smart car was caught in the snow- driver tried to push it out of his yard, but even the local streets were impassable, as so much snow and those streets not snow ploughed. That was only for the highways and major roads. The train, I noticed, does not whistle when it is about to leave- just takes off silently. I glimpsed 3 fox cubs in the snow down near a river just before Katerini. They looked well fed. The footprints on the snowy platform turn to ice when the snow melts and even the chairs on the station, under the roofline were covered in snow. The train stayed at Litochoro for about ¾ hour till the another train went by to replace a broken down train. Two young soldiers who got off the train for a smoke and toilet break were left behind when the train took off without warning. It was not a usual stop, so conductor radioed through and the next train would pick them up and their luggage on the carriage would be taken off at Larissa. We got to Larissa at 1.30pm and kids were throwing snow balls at the train and at each other as we passed. First time Michael says he has seen snow from Salonika to near Athens. One guy dropped his phone or left it behind at Larissa and he asked the conductor if the train could reverse so he could find it. The funny thing was, he was being serious. We stop for the Salonika bound train to pass. Salonika people must be second class citizens, as the train from Athens has right of way. Some people are smoking between the carriages outside the toilet, but the carriage entry door opens and smoke comes into our carriage. A lot of Greeks say they would not be able to visit Australia, as they could not travel that period without a smoke. At 4.40pm near Liavidia the snow is not as dense as earlier on in the
Litchohori Railway StationLitchohori Railway StationLitchohori Railway Station

We stayed about one hour at this unscheduled stop, due to the heavy snow.
trip. When we got to S.K.A. station, near Athens, we caught the regional train out to Corinth, near Corinth Canal, where Michael's cousin ( Ermina and Andreas) have a holiday house. That train line runs from the airport to Corinth, and is a very modern train. Andreas, Michael’s cousin picked us up from the train station and drove the 20 mins back to his house. Ermina, his wife,had made some fish soup, so we ate that for tea. Our 9 hour trip from Salonika, had made us tired, but we stayed up till 11pm.

Friday 3rd Feb

We spent the day at the house. Michael helped Andreas do some sorting out of timber in the garden. I helped mind their little granddaughter. Andreas, the neighbour from next door, came over around 4pm and left around 7pm after playing Tavli with Andreas, Michael’s cousin. I can’t make head or tail of it of the game. We went for a walk in the afternoon and there were little wild cyclamens growing, but no flowers yet. Also some yellow crocus were flowering out in the uninhabited areas. I asked Andreas if any gypsies passed around the neighbourhood, asking for scrap metal and other old stuff. He said one neighbour was using his chain saw to cut some wood and wentinside for five minutes, and they drove by and the neighbour saw the gypsies take the chainsaw, but they left before he could do anything. So an opportunist theft. When we went for a walk with the two year old granddaughter, there were two dogs guarding one property. The white dog jumps over the other dog, as they run from one side of the gate to the other. I should have video taped their antics, as amusing, but you did not want them to keep barking and making a noise any longer than the time it took to walk past the property.

Sat 4th Feb

It is 15 C here in Corinth, but snow in Salonika.Talk about extremes in weather this year. We went for a drive to old Corinth town, about 20 minute drive away and there were hot houses growing vegetables which use olive pips to fuel the heating burner. There is an early indication of spring with blossoms on the wild almond trees. There are still some olives on the wild olive trees- little black olives,
Building in the snowBuilding in the snowBuilding in the snow

Taken enroute to Athens on the train
about 1.5 cm in length. Apparently they are used for pharmaceutical use. In ancient times, before the Corinth Canal was built, the King of the area had a system where the ships were lifted onto logs smeared with oil and the horses would pull the ships overland to the bay near Athens. He had hotels, hospitals and brothels to cater for the travellers and sailors, as it would take about 2 weeks. So an early entrepreneur. There were still remains of the castle right up on the top of the mountain, but you could not drive up there. We drove half way and could see where the moat would have been, but now a bridge and there was a shepherd with his flock, grazing on the grass. In the Corinth Museum grounds, there were a lot of real size sculptures of people, with their draped clothes, but their heads had been removed. Michael thought that it was the early Christians who had thought it represented pagan worship, but Andreas and Ermina said that it was because wealthy people could pay for them and take them as souvenirs. So a lot of them are in museums around the world, they
Snow covered chairsSnow covered chairsSnow covered chairs

At Lamia railway station
said. The ancient ruins in the Museum grounds still had two roads that originally lead to ancient Rome. We called in to the neighbour's block where he has olives and another one where he has an orange grove and we picked eight bags of oranges and one of mandarins. Apparently he gives them away, and does not sell them. The orange trees, once they are around 30 years old, are cut off around 60cm from the base and new varieties are grafted into them, to reinvigorate them. They do not graft the same variety of oranges back, but different ones. There were three hunters on foot near where we were picking the oranges. Don’t know what they thought they would find, but bit unnerving, them in their hunting clothes with their guns. Later we heard them shoot a few rounds off. There is a hunting season stipulated, so assume it was still open.

Sunday 5th Feb

Michael and Andreas help build a chook run for a neighbour. When they returned, Andreas cooked some kebabs and some mushrooms on the coals on a little bbq outside, under cover from the rain. He said it was a messe, ( entrée)
Fruit trees in the snowFruit trees in the snowFruit trees in the snow

On route to Athens on the train.
as I said we had other food from the previous day to eat. He invited the neighbours next door to join us.

Monday 6th Feb

We put the alarm on for 6am and have a shower and breakfast and ready by 7am for the return drive to Athens to baby sit the granddaughter back in her parent’s house in a suburb of Athens. We go on the toll road and the drive back to Athens takes on hour with us utilising the freeway to the airport, to avoid the Athens traffic. Michael’s Uncle Haralambo and Aunty Coula look the same. Holarilba is now 90 years old, He built the 5 units where he and his wife live and also their four grandchildren. They were commenced in 2004, but he bought the land over 20 years ago when the area was just an agricultural area. Haralambo makes these crystal chandeliers when he gets bored. He sells them for one thousand Euros, but the equivalent in the shops, he tells us, is 4,000 Euros. But he has not sold any lately, as people do not have the money to spend on such luxuries. Aunty Coula gave us some
Lacework from the snowLacework from the snowLacework from the snow

Delicate lacework due to the snow covered shrubs
sweet, cooked orange peel to take home. Not as sweet as some others, but nice. For lunch, Michael’s aunt made stuffed cabbage leaves with an egg lemon sauce over the top. We left around 3pm to go back to Ermina's house near Larissa Railway Station, the main station for north heading Intercity trains. Michael went over to see if there were tickets for this evening. Because Greece hasn’t decided whether to undertake all the financial cuts the Troika has stipulated, there was to be a strike tomorrow to keep the pressure on the Greek Government not to give in to all the stipulations. So no public transport, etc. So we left at 6.15pm and Michael had to pay an extra 39 Euro for the train tickets, as you have to give them 48 hours notice of when you want to return ( we had an open ticket) So really a premium for asking to go on the next available train. We got into Salonika about one hour late than scheduled, at 1pm, due to the rain and gale force winds. The strike had already started, with no buses, so we had to take a 25 km taxi ride from the
Snow covered stairsSnow covered stairsSnow covered stairs

This house near Larissa
railway station to Mama's home. Stacks of rain over the road. 36 Euros for the taxi trip from the railway station. Andreas said after he had walked us to the railway station, the down pour had blocked the downpipes and he had to go up on the roof to unblock them, in the rain.

Tuesday 7th Feb

The coffee ladies here at Mama’s this morning said that there was snow about a 10 minute drive down the road- very unusual, as it is a fishing port and so temperate weather. Well this weekend we were to go on a bus trip to Patra and this place where you go on the railway which has cogs, as its destination is so steep. But the travel agent rang this morning and said it had been cancelled. Not sure if it was the weather or not enough people for the trip.
I went down the street at 5pm this afternoon to get some milk. 1 C was being shown on the outside of the chemist shop. If you had said in Australia that I would be going outside in that temperature and rain, I would have said: ” You
Palm tree with snowPalm tree with snowPalm tree with snow

Enroute o Athens, taken from the train window.
are crazy”.

Wed 8th Feb

It snowed today and the little kiosk roof was white. Just light snowing till about 11.30am, then it melted. I made fassolya, a dried bean dish and just made it into a soup, as I ran out of time to put them in the oven and have them as a baked dish. Around noon, Stella, a friend of Mama’s visits and gives us three little pitas she had made. So when she left, I gave her some soup. Not sure if the beans were quite cooked, but it would do and was something warm for lunch, as still lightly snowing when she left. I walked up the street to get some Echinacea tablets for Mama before the chemist closes. But they must close at 2pm and so went to a different one that was opened till the evening- they get rostered on when to stay open on the Monday, Wednesday afternoons and also on Saturdays, so there is access to the medicines if you need it. One lady was sweeping the leaves on the road outside her house. It was lightly snowing and she had sun glasses on. Can’t be too careful,
Side of the train at a stationSide of the train at a stationSide of the train at a station

This shows the pristine snow covered platform near Katerini
I think, tongue firmly in cheek. My clothes that I had washed yesterday and put outside under the kiosk were frozen this morning. I put them on the verandah and later near the stove to dry, after they had defrosted. Bought some mince pork to make some stuffed cabbage leaves or some pitta with leek and mince meat for tomorrow. Can’t decide. Mama went to bed after watching her Greek serial on TV at 8pm. She usually goes to bed around 10.15pm, after watching another serial on the TV. Think she is getting a cold. Probably from when she had to go outside to feed the chooks when we were away in Athens.

Thursday 9th Feb

Michael went into the city to get our refund from the travel agent for the trip that was cancelled. He also bought a lovely jumper, so helping the Greek Economy. Mama has a cold and hasn’t been feeling the best. Michael bought some medicine from the chemist in Salonika and they asked if he was from Cyprus, due to his Greek accent, then England and then he said, no Australia.

Friday 10th Feb

Today is Haralambo’s Name Day. Mama remembered
Frozen washing clothes, KateriniFrozen washing clothes, KateriniFrozen washing clothes, Katerini

These would need to be defrosted before they could be dried.
from her sick bed at lunch time and so Michael rang for her to wish her brother in law well. I went down to the street market in Nea Epivates and bought some fruit and vegetables. The stall owners had their tarpoulines up, keeping the lightly falling snow off the produce. Michael minded his mother, who still has this cold. It snowed here in Perea, the heaviest it has snowed before. But by one o’clock, the snow had disappeared from the kiosk roof. On Skype, I showed Lisa, our friend from Upwey, the snow covered back yard. Going to the street market, I tried to catch some snow in my mouth. No one was around to see me and classify me as silly, but not really cold, 4C. If the stall owners can set up in that cold, the least we can do is support them When we got home last night at 11pm, there was no snow, so must have fallen early in the morning hours. The chooks delivered seven eggs, so don’t seem too deterred with the cold weather.

Additional photos below
Photos: 51, Displayed: 32


A disused building in the snowA disused building in the snow
A disused building in the snow

This roofless building was half way to Athens on our train trip.
Snow in a Katerini Street Snow in a Katerini Street
Snow in a Katerini Street

This shows the heavy snow in Katerini, about one hour south of Salonika.
Smart Car in snowSmart Car in snow
Smart Car in snow

The driver gave up trying to push the car forwards, then backwards. Viewed from the train enroute to Athens
Snow scene from trainSnow scene from train
Snow scene from train

The solar panels would not be very effective, being covered in snow.
New Year Good Luck PlantNew Year Good Luck Plant
New Year Good Luck Plant

This leafed bulb has garlic and horseshoe packaged up and hung from front gate as good luck for the new year.
Wattle Tree, CorinthWattle Tree, Corinth
Wattle Tree, Corinth

We say several flowering wattle trees in gardens near Corinth.

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