Stepping outside

I love it here. I have to say I do understand why all the Canadian ‘silverbirds’ (not sure if that is correct, supposed to be a nice way of saying pensioners) choose to come and spend their winters here. This morning I started an email to Susan and we were marooned in the hotel lobby (about the size of Corfu airport, with ponds, parrots etc.) due to torrential Corfu style rain. Settled down with a lemon tea and about 10 minutes later it stopped, the sun came out and that was it for the day. Temperature about 29 degrees, so off to the beach.

Having said that, boy, are there some downsides. We wanted to have a look at real estate here. Just a quick scan in an agents window, maybe a quick chat. We left the protection of the hotel, past the security guards and crossed the road. All the shopkeepers grab you, literally grab you, and shriek at you until they work out what language you speak (we are having a certain amount of fun with ‘Greek’ as our answer to French, Spanish, English?) and you quite genuinely have to fight them off – they use a handshake as an opportunity not to let go!

The staff in the hotel are very friendly but even the hotel has a sideline in ‘holiday clubs’ for which “you DEFINITELY do not have to pay anything and if you want to take advantage of our special rates/rooms etc. We just want you to come for a short time and listen to our presentation and collect your ‘free’ t shirt”. We had actually begun to scuttle out of the room at the word ‘presentation’ so we did manage to escape. Apparently you pay a sum of money in return for which you get priority bookings, rates, etc. in all their hotels worldwide, but they don’t tell you that, just keep saying you do not have to pay ANYTHING!

Everyone here is selling something and you really can’t walk down the street without being harassed every step of the way. Jamaica was reasonably bad and generally in the Caribbean, and Thailand if I remember rightly, there are vendors in the villages and on the beaches, but this is something else! Spiros actually spent a few moments explaining to one shopowner that the more we get hassled the less inclined we are to buy and that in general, the British are of this opinion. But I think his words definitely fell on stony ground.

When we used to go to Hania and Rethymnon in Crete, many of the restaurants line the harbour and have people standing outside with menus trying to drag punters in. I used to think this was bad enough, but now these people look like angels by comparison with what we found here. Sorry to make comparisons with Greece – but generally speaking we do not do that to visitors to ‘our’ country. Some of the shopkeepers might be a little enthusiastic in the promotion of their wares but as far as I know they never cross the line so that visitors decide not to bother to leave their hotel again because they just get hassled too much.

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