Saturday, July 3, 2010

Visiting family in Greece for the first time.


On our first trip to Greece, we naturally overdid the “family thing,” we saw as many as we could. They were very open and loving, sometimes much too generous.

After spending time with Pop’s family in Edipsos, on the island of Evia, we went to Salonika to see more relatives in Nea Michaniona a town in Halkidiki. We did not know them, but we had a list from Momma.

Nea Michaniona was a refugee village, built in the 20’s; it was a fishing village, just like the one in Turkey. It had rather sweet little houses painted in bright colors, pink, blue, green. I think they used left over paint from the boats, which were brightly painted as well. There were a couple of big villas as well, on the sea front.

We sat in the square and had a coffee, we were early, and as we sat there watching the people stroll by, Jeannine noticed a lady walking past us, she said, “that one is a cousin”; I said I don’t think so. She looks just like your mother, I could not see the resemblance, but Jeannine insisted, more about that later.

We went to see my Fathers eldest brother, Theo Stephanos. He is on the extreme left in the photo. A big tall man with a rather wild look in his eyes, I had heard he was a bit of a nutter. Theo promptly picked up a young calf and told me to take a photo to show Pop, and asked if my father could do that. I told him no, there are no calves in Coney Island, that seemed to surprise him and please him at the same time.

The visits continued, house after house, traditional liqueurs and spoon sweets are served, one after the other, I do not remember lunch, but we must have eaten something. Jeannine did not drink, so I would have her liqueur as well at each visit, I did not want to offend anybody. This went on until late afternoon, in incredible heat.

The last house we arrive at belongs to the lady in the square, and yes she is a cousin, Jeannine was right as usual. She immediately brings out the proverbial drinks and sweets, not a meze to be had, more booze, Jeannine’s as well, as usual. Another round before we leave to go back to Salonika, I am starting to feel this “family thing”.

We get back to Salonika safely, it is only one hours drive. I recover and we are off for the rest of our trip.

A few weeks later, we are back in the States visiting my parents, Momma laces into me: evidently I embarrassed the family, actually I evidently disgraced them, Greek mothers tend to exaggerate.

It seems that “nice” lady, my cousin that Jeannine recognized, wrote my Mother to tell her I arrived drunk at her house and spoke for some other relatives that felt I was a heavy drinker. It was their damn liqueurs I was drinking, Jeannine’s as well to not offend anybody.

When you visit relatives in Greece, be careful, liqueurs and spoon sweets can ruin your reputation, especially if you have a wife that does not drink

8 comments:

  1. It was just awful...Not one relative offered us anything except liqueur, a spoon sweet and a glass of water. We were told that we had to eat and drink what we were offered or we would offend everyone. Then when lunch time came we actually found no place to really eat as somehow the shops were all closed...everything was closed and perhaps we grabbed a bag of crisps or cookies at a kiosk and then resumed our visits to more relatives...poor, dear Greg was soooo good and soooo polite and as he was getting quietly giddy we had that damn final name on our list all the while hoping that a morsel of food might be offered to us....It was very, very funny in retrospect.......

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  2. Very funny story Greg. The photo is terrific and your uncle looks exactly like your father. I assume that's you and Jeannine on the extreme right. Cute kids.

    I think that even if you were cold stone sober, your relative would have found something to complain about so you were better off getting high. At least you enjoyed yourself. Nice piece.

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  3. thanks Frank, not Jeannine o me, a pic from my sister, Fevy is the second, next to my uncle, other is a cousin, my Uncle does look like Pop.

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  4. Straighten me out here. In the photo, left to right is your uncle, then Fevy then your cousin and the next 2 are NOT you and jeannine?

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  5. I first thought that looked like Fevi- but then I figured it was a family resemblance...bet you had a headache to boot from that sweet liqueur.

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  6. Actually Paul, in the above photo, starting on the left is Uncle Stephanos, then your Aunt Fevi
    (visiting Greece)Fevi and DaD's 1st cousin Pavlos and his brother and perhaps another cousin whom we can't identify.

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