English Christmas in Greece

Km 1739 – Patra, Greece


With the Greek writing we feel like first graders again. Though we did note all letters and their pronunciation, we only remember the sign for sums (Ʃ = S) und omega (Ω = O) while the rest keeps confusing us: the Latin p is the Greek r and a sign that looks like an n is a p in Greek (so Patra is written as Πατρα) and so on – how shall we remember all this? Later we learn: ena, thio, tria = 1, 2, 3, efharisto: thank you, paracalo = you are welcome, yasu/ yasas (polite)/ calimera = Hello/ Good day, Adio = Good bye. (Oh, and the weather is super!)


  • We start cycling early at Hermann’s and already arrive in Brindisi around noon. According to the internet the ferry leaves at 7 pm, but the actual start is planned for 10 pm as we learn at the counter. As we want to check in at 8 pm, one hour delay is announced. Well behavingly we wait and eat muesli. After one our of waiting the following conversation takes place at the counter: Me: “So we heard the ferry is late. At what time should we go down to the harbour now?” Friendly man behind the window: “Oh, I remember you. You are the two with the bikes, right? The boarding will start after 11 pm!” Me: “Oh, it changed to 11 pm? So the ferry is 3 hours late now?” Man behind the counter with great enthusiasm: “Yes, PLEASE!” Finally, we roll onto the ferry around quarter to midnight and the ship starts around 2 am, but when it leaves we already lie in our sleeping bags somewhere on the deck (a cabin costs about three times as much).

  • The advantage of the bike: we just pass the huge car and truck lines and are among the first persons on the ferry. The disadvantage: everyone else can just leave their things in the car and take only the most important things, we rather take everything to be certain.


  • Instead of relying on GPS-gear we are happy about seven nice Greeks that pilot us to Yorgos’ house. Shortly after arriving the full bearded man welcomes us warmly and ten minutes later we are on our way to his (!) bar that he recently opened together with some friends. Among others we meet Marc (U.K.) and Jana (Germany) there. They think that cycling is too fast and therefore they walk (!) to India. In Montenegro most of their luggage has been stolen as they had hid it in the coppice for hiking. In spite of the shock at first, both are now thankful for this experience. They can see it as a forced improvement of their equipment and now travel light and unburdened.

  • Annie and Mariejeanne are – just like Hermann – members of the helpexchange-network. The two English ladies are in their sixties and live together with their mother on a green piece of land on the edge of Patra. There they shelter a pride of street dogs and a long dozen chicken. The old house, the huge garden and the animals make a lot of work that is delegated to us for approx. four hours a day.

  • 25th Dec 12: Our „English Christmas“ starts on Christmas Day around noon (in Germany it is the evening of the 24th, so that’s new to us). The house is decorated and colorful lamps sparkle from the little Christmas tree. We listen to the Choir of King’s College and can see the nature and choir pictures corresponding to the music on the screen. Next we distribute and unpack presents. Shortly before eating stuffed turkey with many different vegetables, we all pull bonbon-like paperbags with intersected arms – there is a bang! A little red crown falls out of each bag – everyone puts the crown to her/his head. Also a joke (e.g. „How does Santa Claus move around? With an icycle!“) as well as a little present (e.g. key chain) jump out of it. After eating we play Monopoly and inbetween we watch the short Queen’s Christmas speech. We were really happy about this enjoyable day.

  • For culinary interested people: what we have never eaten before: breadsauce (made out of bread and milk among other things), mintpie (a type of pastry filled with raisins) and Christmas pudding (cake with spices (you can choose to add hot vanillasauce/custard or rum butter that melts on the cake).

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