Sunday, 28 June 2015

Austerity? Up in Smoke

On 28th June last year I wrote this: 

I've arrived in Hydra on the day they celebrate thrashing the Turks.  Named after Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, a Hydriot naval commander during the War of Greek Independence, Miaoulia commemorates his victory at the Battle of Elder where he destroyed a massive 130 strong joint Turkish/Egyptian fleet with only 75 Greek ships.
The town is full of visitors and the taxi boats are still bringing more people from the mainland. A navy frigate is anchored outside the harbour and the dashing officers in their formal whites are mingling with the crowd.  I've missed the folk dancing, boat races and concerts but the evening concludes with stirring speeches, rousing music, fireworks and a reenactment of the sinking of the Turkish Flagship.   Should I be keeping a low profile tonight? I won't be advertising the fact that I arrived from Istanbul today. 

One year on, and this year I've been in Hydra for over 2 weeks so I've seen the whole run up to the "Great Finale". I watched a concert celebrating the works of Leonard Cohen (who still owns a house on the island) ballet,  karate, folk dancing, modern dance and lots of music. The finale last night was the burning and sinking of a Turkish galleon; a very convincing performance accompanied by a sound and firework display that must have cost hundreds of thousands Euros. You have to admire the Greeks: their economy is balancing on the brink, their debt has reached almost 180% of their GDP, unemployment is pushing 50% and today none of the ATM machines here are giving anyone any money. But the party went on.  I remember a friend telling me that if you owe the bank £100 pounds the bank will rule your life but if you owe the bank £1,000,000, the bank will let you do pretty much what you want.  I think the Greeks are following the same principle.  Last night the harbour was lined with massive Gin Palaces, most with British flags, none registered in Greece, but I heard only Greek spoken on the luxury aft decks. I'm told such wealthy spectators finance the festival. I wonder if they'd be willing to put their hands in their coffers and bail out their country too. 









7 comments:

  1. Somehow I doubt it. The rich are always reluctant to pay their way and their riches are mobile just like the fancy yachts.

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    1. The money has long sailed offshore

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  2. . . get out of cash and into gold and silver - the runaway train is heading for the buffers!

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    1. 'Get into grow your own and stay in the garden' will be my plan.

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  3. B to B, I guess to the wealthy, as long as it's just ordinary Greeks being fleeced for the economic crisis, it's 'Party on!' My heart and thoughts are with the Greek people this week.

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    1. I wonder if those sitting on the aft decks, under their fluttering foreign flags, are troubled by their consciences.

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  4. So very sad; I have some dear hard working Greek friends, who had to close their businesses, very tough. How great it would be for the rich to give a helping hand. Enjoy your trip - though I know it's work, I love the scenery : ) Ozlem x

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