Monday, 13 August 2007

Quarrels under the sun

The high season is in full swing. Even on the relatively quiet island of Lesvos you will now encounter traffic jams. All the cars have been rented out, no motorcycles are to be found and the thousands of cars of the visiting Greeks from the mainland and the thundering speed of some crazy womanizers make the traffic more dangerous than ever.

You can find the latest traffic jam along the beach at Petra, where two beachbars have made the beach so popular, that in daytime cars are parked on both side of the road and it is full of arriving and departing visitors.

Last year the first beachbar opened. It attracted only young people because of its deafening boom-boom music. This year the music became less loud, but then a second bar appeared and a lot, lot more customers. Once quiet Petra has now become booming business, but I wonder if everybody is happy with that. There are enough disco-islands in Greece where the young people can act as crazy as they like. I really hope that Petra is not a foretaste of such a place for Lesvos.

Except for some complaints from old Petra customers that see their peace and quiet threatened and some car drivers who are in too great a hurry, there are no problems about. On the beach at Hellenikon, near Athens there is trouble. Last Saturday fights broke out between visitors to the beach and workers from the municipality which saw the beach barred by bouncers from the nightclubs that seem to run the beach at night.

At the beginning of the summer season the mayor of Agios Kismas, the municipality where the Hellenikon beach is, started a hunger strike against the apparently illegal nightclubs at the beach, that also controlled the beaches in daytime, by asking lots of money for admittance. Last week, aided by a regional or national politician, who was probably well paid for it, a national court said that the nightclubs could resume their malpractices, while the municipality was against it. The law may not be written, but in Greece all beaches should be accessible to all people and this law is more and more threatened by people wanting to earn money, aided by politicians who only have to hold out their hands.

No, Greek law is still conducted far differently than the European way. Like the fight in Eftalou. Last year two sisters, who spend 2 to 3 months in their summerhouse in Eftalou, complained about the neigbouring restaurant Anatoli. They claimed that the new part of the restaurant, which has been there for years, was illegal and Angelo, the owner, didn't have a license for a restaurant, but only for a cafetaria.

The fight between lawyers and prosecutors took months. Untill deep in wintertime Anatoli risked closure from one day to the next. In the new year the fight seemed to have died down. Until the sisters returned this summer and refueled the fight. Now the mayor can do no more and the sad fact is that Anatoli has to close at the end of August.

In Greece you will find illegal buildings everywhere, but as long as nobody complains, no action is taken. The rule that if an illegal building has already stood for years, becomes legal, is no help in this case.

So Angelo is wrong with his illegal building. But nobody thinks of the importance of restaurant Anatoli in the municipality of Molyovs. Anatoli is the only restaurant that stays open in the winter (restaurant Eftalou closes for some months in the winter) and is a beloved place for daytrippers that come in their numbers on nice weekends to Molyvos. Anatoli is a unique place by the sea and where will the daytrippers go when everything is closed in Eftalou? And I don't even mention the high quality of the food served in Anatoli.

So who gets bothered by restaurant Anatoli, except two soured spinsters who only come to Eftalou for two months in summer in order to lock themselves up in their house, only coming out for their morning bathe in the sea? I'm bothered by their desert-like garden where two years ago they cut all the trees and that now has no flowers colouring the garden, I'm bothered by their spotless house where all the shutters are always closed and only one gets opened when the sisters are there.

And now that we are talking about cutting down trees, in the agora of Molyvos a part of the wysteria is threatened of being cut. This perhaps 200 year old wysteria, which covers the agora at the beginning of the summer with its colourful and beautifully scented flowers, is apparently damaging a house. The owner has no other solution than to cut this magnificent antique plant. For years already the various mayors have prevented this. But now it seems that the house owner found a way and managed to make a first cut to one of its enormous main branches. Are you against this destruction? Send me an email and I will see to it that it reaches the action committee.

It's a pity that nobody could talk sense into the two sisters and it's a pity that nobody found a better solution for the problem with the wysteria. One thing is sure: in Greece you either need to have a lot of money or you need friends in high places. Then you can have everything your way.

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

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