I had gotten delayed by at least one day in almost every place I visited in Greece, so by the time I made it to Corfu where my flight home was from, I only had 3 days to wet my appetite for everything Corfiot. My flight then got cancelled and I had to fly a day home early, so I was basically down to 1 and a half days. Luckily, my couchsurf hosts’ mother owned a 5 star hotel in Dasia, a beautiful mountain top suburb, and his best friends family owned the best restaurant in Corfu town, the Italian ‘La Famiglia.’ Between them and their friends, I basically saw all the islands best highlights in 36 hours, including a private beachside hostel where the owner home grew her own olives and vineyards and homemade her own cheese and raki.
All the food in Greece had been a pleasant surprise: with a similar climate to Italy, they had exquisite olives, grapes, wines and limoncello. It’s a fact that Greece sells all its best extra virgin olive oil to Italy where its blended with Italian EVOO and sold as Italian. The fresh feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar shaken together for a traditional Greek salad never tasted the same from home to home, but always tasted incredibly fresh and delicious. Greek mousaka and gyros were also made with a personal touch by everyone, but equally amazing every time.
There were many things in Greece that I either didn´t expect or became so regular that I couldnt imagine Greece without them. The first and best of all, was Greek hospitality; every Greek host or friend I made, I also met their closest friends and extended families. If I was ever alone and Greekless, a Greek guy would pick me up off the street or invite me into his shop for coffee. Even when I walked into coffee shops to order a cup of Greek coffee, the smiley waiter or owner would come out with coffee and a bottle of water and tell me ‘don’t worry about it, drink.’ On the way to Corfu, I stopped in Patras, and sat in a cafe alone to sip on a frappé (the Greek version of Instant coffee on ice with sugar). The guy beside, Xristos, me waited until I left to chase me down the street and ask me where I was from and what I was doing here alone, and then invited me out with him and his friends to the top of Patras for a vantage point out onto the sea. There I realized another Greek stereotype: philosophy. It means ‘friend of knowledge’ in Greek, and he wasn’t the first or last person in Greece I met who wanted to dig deep into my foreign mind and discuss existential philosophy. Xristos’ friend started heavy, by asking me ‘do you have religion?’ and following up with my surprised answer with an even heavier answer, ‘What is God to you?’. Then he asked me if I believed all of the worlds problems couldn’t be solved with love, and if not, how or who can solve world peace. I met many more deep thinkers in Corfu, who drilled my beliefs for meaning and reason. When I told them about my ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ book idea, they told me it was brilliant, but that I had to be prepared to have the answers for the sequel, the ‘Rest of Your Life Crisis.’
Another weird re-occurrence was a fascination with Sweden. My couchsurf host in Santorini wanted to move to Stockholm, my couchsurf host Johnny Bravo in Corfu learned how to speak Swedish, and the Italian restaurant guy had lived in Sweden. All the friends in Corfu I met were also musicians or musically inclined, and of the 10 couchsurf host possibilities in Corfu, 3 more were musicians or singers. It reminded me a bit of Iceland, where every musician is involved with 2 or 3 different solo or band acts, and look to music as a way to get out of their home island.
Every Greek home I stepped into, I was offered Greek coffee, homemade cheese, Hellenic beer or freshly picked olives. The Greek hospitality ideals must have been taken from the Persian past, and their current economic recession didn’t give them any excuse to spare an expense. Everyone complained about the current state of affairs, unemployment and wages at unacceptable rates, but in reality, the Greek people are not suffering nearly as much as their Scandinavian counterparts (ie. Icelanders) since they still have home and family ideologies that reign true. I don’t know if it was chance or luck that I was blinded, but I didn’t see the real consequences of the recession: if you have family, friends, and happiness, I don’t see what more love money can buy anyway, so ‘Ya-mas’ to the Greek philosophy of living.