Jul 082013
Taverna row in Athens' Psirri neighborhood

Taverna row in Athens’ Psirri neighborhood

It’s amazing how easy it is to slip back into life in Greece. Even when I’m walking streets I never walked 22 years ago when I lived there, they feel familiar. It’s instinctive to watch for uneven pavement, or to look left, right, sideways, behind me when I cross the street. I’m confident in the knowledge that pedestrians never have the right of way, no driver will simply stop in goodwill to let me cross, and a motorbike can come from anywhere (sidewalk, pedestrian area, wrong way on a one-way street). It’s just an easy reflex to pull in elbows and feet without a pause in my retsina drinking when a car drives up a too narrow street between tavernas.

The natural instinct is still there for how much attention to give restaurant hawkers and pushy souvenir-selling salespeople—not too much (newbie gawker) or self-conscious total avoidance, but just a simple acknowledgement nod dripping with “No thanks” that I never manage as smoothly anywhere else.

My comfort must show. Whenever I leave the tourist areas, people start talking to me in Greek. (At least, I hope it’s because they think I belong here, not because they’re saying, “You poor thing. You must be lost. Let’s get you back to the Plaka.”)

I was genuinely horrified when an American I met suggested dinner at 7 p.m. I couldn’t imagine eating that early—too early and too hot to consider it. Last night I settled into dinner at 10:30, just about right.

Even my lungs have adjusted. A week ago in Seattle, a woman sat down next to me on an outdoor bench, then lit up a cigarette. I stalked away, glaring in disgust. Yesterday, I sat in a café with smokers on either side of me, and merely leaned back, not missing a turn of my newspaper page as their smoke drifted around.

It’s so easy and natural, I could be home in Seattle. I am at home. In Greece.

(Follow my travels in Greece on Facebook.)

  One Response to “At Home in Greece”

  1. Evcharisto for that cute articles on Hellenic manana.

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