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Kea and Athens Apartment Problems

KeaToday was the hottest and most humid day of the summer. Luckily for us we decided to go to Kea to get our winter clothes and some of the stuff we left behind. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it is here. The loudest noise was the dekaoctades, the doves that repeat the number 18 over and over again (deka-octo). The second thing I noticed is that living in Athens had made me slightly insane and Andrea more insane than she normally is. Its the constant traffic and movement and all the little things that grab your attention. The driving is like playing bumper cars and the vigilance it takes to avoid accidents makes highway driving seem like the ultimate in relaxation. Until I got here. I just lay on my bed and listened to the silence. I didn't want to do anything else. I didn't want to turn on my computer or put on some music or watch the TV. It seems disrespectful to the peace. We went to Rolandos last night and it was like island life just continued after we left and all we had to do was take our seats and join the passage of time. Most of our friends have returned to their homes abroad but there are a few stragglers left. But it is too hot to do anything but sit by the fan and wait for the sun to go down and hopefully cool off.

Amarandi stayed in Athens with her grandmother. She loves the city and is becoming adept at using the buses and the metro. She likes ACS as well. She has made some friends though I get the feeling I paid a lot of money just so she could have a new gang to party with. Last week the Greek schools started and it added hundreds, maybe thousands of big Pullman buses into the traffic mix and it was impossible to get anywhere. But here is the thing about Athens traffic. Once you get use to it and comfortable and confident, if you are in an air-conditioned car who cares if you are driving or sitting or stopping and starting? Especially when the alternative is to be in a hot apartment. I have been driving around the city lately, following roads to see where they end and then trying to get to my neighborhood without going back the way I came.

There was a small leak in our toilet. It was in the pipe that sends the water in, not the dirty stuff out, and it was about a drop every half hour so I didn't think it was a big deal. But Andrea told the landlord and he came up for a look at it and then called the plumber. The plumber took a look and said to just leave it. It was not a big enough leak and if he tried to fix it he might make it worse. The landlord kept on insisting that it could be fixed and the plumber kept resisting. The landlord was actually showing the plumber how it could be done. I assumed the plumber would win in the end but a few minutes later I hear the sound of an acetylene torch being fired up, then curses and the sound of rushing water, never a good sign. I saw a flash as the plumber raced out the door to either shut off the water or find the right tool in his truck for this particular situation.

After an hour he had caked the pipes in some kind of silicone substance and told us not to use it for three hours until it dried. But it took 24 hours to dry and as soon as we flushed the toilet water shot out with the force of a geyser. Its been patched up several times since but still leaks and now we are waiting for a brand new system which will be installed on Monday, we hope. That's another reason we came to Kea.

We are also waiting for our phone because the guy who installs it is still on vacation. We are waiting for our air-conditioner too. Well actually we have the air-conditioner itself. I was sittingin the living room when the delivery guy brought it in and then asked him where he was going when he had me sign a paper and walked out the door. "I'm just the delivery guy. You need to make an appointment with a technician and he will come in 3 or 4 days." Great. That's about when the heat wave is going to end.

You are probably wondering what could be so difficult about installing an air-conditioner but in Greece they don't have the window units we are familiar with and are so easy you just bring them home, stick them in the window and turn them on for instant Arctic paradise. In Greece the units are in 2 pieces, one attached to the wall inside the house and the other outside with tubes and wires connecting them, which usually means drilling holes through the wall.

Anyway we are sort of adapting to all these things. Sometimes I just want to drive my car right to the airport and buy a ticket home, but other times I am really happy to be here. It may take a glass of wine or an ouzo but once I get my center back the chaos around me is just entertainment and not something that will swallow me up and turn me into a raving lunatic. But living in a city, especially Athens, is stressful and sometimes it takes leaving to realize how stressed you really were. But while I have just been laying around and taking it easy on Kea, Andrea has spent this hot sweltering day organizing clothes and papers and who knows what else? Its like she brought Athens with her and can't slow down.

Anyway there is rain and cool weather in the forecast starting tomorrow. Rain here is like snow in Carolina. Something to look forward to and enjoy when it comes. (and curse if it sticks around too long).

There are a couple things I meant to mention in previous ramblings. The most important is a trip my friend Stephen Papadopoulos, took to Istanbul this summer. I persuaded George at Fantasy Travel to give him free hotels there in return for writing an article and taking photos that I could put on my website. Actually he and I did together so I knew he could write. So a couple weeks ago he sent me a lot of words and a lot of photos and I sort of put them all together and it's a pretty interesting and practical guide to Istanbul. Check it out at

There was something else too.... maybe I mentioned it already. I finished pages for Kythnos and Serifos which are great islands to do in combination with Sifnos because they are on the same ferry route. See and

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