30th May, 2010
Terribly hot as we close up the shutters and walk down the road to the harbour to catch the ferry. 33°C feels incredible at mid day when you are carrying bags. Unusually, we had left the car in the garage and were flying to UK. Sweating profusely in the cafe, we order cold drinks and wait for the ferry’s hooter. When it comes, we walk smartly down the last 500m to the jetty and Speedrunner IV. We hadn’t booked economy or even First Class. We had booked VIP Class which meant that we got leather reclining seats, smoked glass windows, our own waiter and complimentary drinks. We paid 150.00 instead of 100.00. The ferry was so packed it was worth it.
The ferry left at 17.45 and by 21.00 we were pulling in to the harbour. We walked across to the Metro station and caught a train for about 6.00 to takes to Syndagma via Omonia.
We had seats and the twenty minutes of the journey was spent looking for a branch of Leroy Merlin. I spotted one between Neo Faliro and Moscato stations and made a note. Unfortunately, by the time we had got checked in at the hotel, the restaurant had closed. We were so tired after the hot travelling, we drank a beer from our mini-bar with some salted nuts and then showered before falling asleep.
31st May, 2010
8.00 am – Fantastic late buffet breakfast this morning: fresh orange juice, fresh fruit salad, bacon and eggs, croissants, wonderful fresh coffee. We won’t need to eat again until tonight. After breakfast, we return to our room to read the Sunday papers and check our email. Around 10.00 am we ask the hotel to call us a taxi and we go to the Leroy Merlin shop we had spotted on our way here.
How this shop gets any business? Even the Hotel concierge or the taxi driver had never heard of it. A French shop in Greece? Unbelievable. However, when we did find it, what a find. We will never be subject to the tyrany of the little island shops again. This place was one up on a huge B&Q. The tiles we were offered by the Sifnos tiler for the kitchen (only 4 sq. mtrs.) and the outside patio (200 sq. mtrs.) were in the 40.00+ region per sq. mtr. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the tiles alone would have cost over 8000.00. They weren’t even the tiles we really wanted but just what was available. The choice at Leroy Merlin was enormous and the price was less than half. The kitchen tiles were 9.50 per sq. mtr and the patio tiles were 15.00 per sq. mtr. This fantastic saving will pay for delivery and laying.
The employees of Leroy Merlin are expected to speak French and English as well as Greek on a shop worker’s pay. The man in charge of the tile area was clearly in deep pain as he wrestled with his English but he was determined to do it. It made us feel ashamed. He took us under his wing and called for the best English speaker to accompany us as we went out in to the garden area where it was 20% discount just for one day. We bought a wonderful patio dining table and four arm chairs for 750.00. We were taken to the check out to pay for our goods and arrange delivery. A Greek-Australian was chosen to deal with us and take us through the process in that weird mangling of the English language that Australians use.
The temperature was a painfully hot 34°C as we moved out of one airconditioned superstore into another airconditioned superstore. This time is was the electrical giant, Kotsovolos which is owned by Dixons. We were after airconditioning. We chose and paid for our airconditioning, hailed a taxi and raced back to our hotel for a cup of tea and the Sunday Times.
1st June, 2010
8.00 am – Fantastic late buffet breakfast this morning: fresh orange juice, fresh fruit salad, bacon and eggs, croissants, wonderful fresh coffee. We won’t need to eat again until tonight. (Notice the similarity with yesterday?) We are on Ermou Street in Athens. It is their Oxford Street and is within a hundred metres of Syndagma (Constitution) Square and the Parliament building. Pauline has been out shopping in Oxford Street while I stay in and write this. After all the walking yesterday, my legs won’t work this morning. We spent the day chilling out.
One nice discovery was a small, family run taverna in a back street. We had courgette slices fried in batter along with garlic sauce as a starter. We followed that with roast pork and potatoes as a main course. After that, we felt stuffed but the family sent over a huge slice of watermelon as a sweet. We did our best, paid the bill of 35.00 and staggered back to the hotel for coffee.
2nd June, 2010
This morning we woke at 7.00 am, put the Greek news on to find that a transport strike has been called for tomorrow. Thank goodness we are flying today. Tomorrow there will be no buses, trams, taxis, planes, etc.. How lucky we have been. We have a shower and sing.
8.00 am – Fantastic late buffet breakfast this morning: fresh orange juice, fresh fruit salad, bacon and eggs, croissants, wonderful fresh coffee. We won’t need to eat again until tonight. (See why I like this hotel?)
9.30 am – We set off for the airport. We will be in Manchester by 3.15 pm. We will be met by a taxi and taken home.
Good flight delayed about twenty minutes. Taxi driver picked us up in his Jag. and whisked us off to our (almost ex) home where we were met by our neighbours. The house still looked lovely which made Pauline regret selling it. She’ll get over it. We had no car so ordered a pizza and watched the news about the multiple shooting in Cumbria.
3rd June, 2010
This morning we woke at 5.00 am. It is 7.00 am in Greece and it will take us time to adjust. By 6.00 am we had had tea (no bread for toast) found the documents our solicitor wants relating to the house and still had three and a half hours to go until our car hire firm picked us up. Enterprise Car Hire arrived before 10.00 am and took us to their offices across town. After providing more examples of proof of identity than we needed to enter of leave the country and providing six signatures, we drove off in a new Vauxhall Meriva ‘Design’ MPV. It’s a bit like a wobbly box on wheels. It has a 1.4 ltr engine which is like pushing a mule through treacle and it has manual transmission. I had cramp in my clutch leg before we’d driven the four miles home.
It is brand new but they told us for each small scratch we put in the painwork they would charge us £600.00. We immmediately switched the car on to our own policy which cost us a nominal sum and has no excess. We then drove to Sainsburys. What a joy. I bought English asparagus, a huge bag of mussels and some Jersey Royal potatoes. I can’t wait for dinner tonight!
4th June, 2010
Put on a suit and tie this morning for the first time in twelve months. It felt very strange but quite pleasant. Of course, I would choose the hottest day for a long time in England to do it. Went out to meet our Estate Agents and to put a face to the voice of those people we had been speaking to on the phone for weeks. The only thing we did learn was that our buyers had requested a ‘Buyers Survey’ but had only received a ‘Valuation Survey’. They were not prepared to hold the process up for this but still wanted it doing. The surveyor is coming round on Monday. In spite of this, our buyers expect to have their mortgage offer confirmed over the weekend. Then we went on to our solicitor’s offices. He seemed confident that the whole process would take less than three weeks. That is exactly what we wanted to hear.
Although it could still all go wrong, I am beginning to look at flights back to Athens for the last week of June.
5th June, 2010
A warm and sultry day. We had torrential rain for half an hour last night and everywhere looks so verdantly beautiful, that we are walking round saying, “Why are we leaving here?” We are only saying it half seriously but that half has a point.