Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The "Expiration Date" Law

According to a new law passed while people were on vacation, starting with the 2nd of September, the supermarkets are allowed to keep on their shelves products that are about to expire. They also need to offer a discount and properly signal these products. 

The official position about this situation, quoted by (see source at the bottom of the page) is that "this law changes nothing in the "Αγορανομικό Κώδικα" (the code which provides the good practice laws of food commerce). Only the procedure tightens."

For me though, this law doesn't make a lot of sense because ANY product is allowed on the shelves until the day it expires and it's in the sellers best interest to offer discounts so that the product will be sold quicker and not remain on the shelves.

What DOES this law actually mean? I have no idea but lots of people already plunged into the subject accusing the government of "unofficially" legalizing the selling of expired food products.

Now, I don't know if I should attribute this reaction to the innate flair for the dramatic that Greeks have or if I should consider this as an educated guess from people who lived here more than me and understand better how the system works but I am defensively going to read the expiring dates on all the products from now on and not presume anything. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Child labor a rising concern in crisis-hit Greece

Child protection groups and the Greek Ombudsman estimate that up to 100,000 children have been forced into the illegal labor market since the start of the crisis. The figure does not include minors who are victims of trafficking, traffic light children or youngsters who are victims of criminal gangs or their own families, but, rather, social groups that have become marginalized by the crisis, such as families where the parents are unemployed, Roma, migrants etc.

There is no hard data regarding child labor in Greece as in most cases it concerns undocumented work, so estimates are based on information compiled from different sources. According to the Labor Inspectorate, just 562 minors were registered for legal work in 2012, while in its manpower study for the last quarter of 2012, the Hellenic Statistical Authority estimated child workers as numbering 6,238.

The European statistical authority Eurostat, meanwhile, reports that 11.4 percent of the student population dropped out of school in 2012, meaning that some 70,000 children left secondary school, raising serious concerns among child protection groups.

Furthermore, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that some 139,000 young people aged 15-24 were not in school or employed in 2009, suggesting that at least a percentage of them had been absorbed by the illegal labor market. That number climbed to 161,900 in 2010, according to the ILO. As far as teenagers aged 15-19 are concerned, the ILO recorded that there were 31,400 in employment in 2009 and 25,700 in 2010. The number of unemployed young people aged up to 19 was reported to be 14,200 in 2009 and 15,300 in 2010.

The Greek Ministry of Education could not provide official data regarding children who leave secondary education, though it does have data for the 2011-12 period concerning primary education, where the percentage of school leavers was estimated at 0.6 percent, or around 3,500 pupils. While the number of children dropping out of school gives only a general indication of the number of minors working illegally in Greece, there is even less clarity to be gained from a study of the number of children who work and go to night school or vocational training schools in their spare time. These numbers, in combination with data compiled by the Greek Ombudsman from educators and other professionals, suggest that there may be as many as 100,000 minors currently employed in Greece, often part-time and mostly uninsured and badly paid.

“It is estimated that around 70 percent of children that abandon their school studies do so in order to work. It would not be excessive to say that around 70,000 to 100,000 children are working in this country,” says Ilias Lyberis, the director of Unicef Hellas.

“We know that this is not a new problem, but one that has always been around, given that in 50 percent of cases, it is the families themselves that push their child into the labor market. The crisis, however, has given rise to new challenges that the state must address,” he adds.
The United Nations and Unicef suggest that Greece adopt a national action plan to deal with the negative impact of the crisis on children.

More specifically, Unicef has called for labor inspectors to receive specialized training to tackle issues such as trafficking and child labor, the introduction of a centralized body to address these issues and a redesign of policy regarding how benefits are paid to minors.

 Source Here

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Government Pulls The Plug On ERT

Employees of the Greek national broadcaster ERT who vowed to stay on the air even as the government said the TV and radio stations funded by mandatory payments in electric bills would close and then re-open with a drastically reduced staff were stunned when the transmitting signals were suddenly shut off at 11  p.m. on June 11, leaving the stations dark, except for those who could see it on the Internet or paid satellite systems.
The broadcaster had been brutally critical all day of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ decision to shut it down without warning as part of a plan to shed 15,000 workers on the orders of international lenders by the end of 2014. Samaras has so far exempted Parliament workers from further pay cuts or job losses.
The transmitter atop Mt. Parnitha was discontinued, then followed the cutoff of ET-3 in Thessaloniki, and at other stations in Patra, Kefalonia and Ithaca.

ERT consisted of five TV channels, ET-1, NET, ET-3, ERT World and ERT-HD as well as seven radio stations in Athens, three in Thessaloniki, 19 peripheral radio stations across the country, symphonic orchestra and one of modern music as well as a choir. It also had magazines, and a website, digital archives, web TV at, some 2,324 regular employees and 792 provisional workers.

Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, took the action over the objections of his coalition partners, the PASOK Socialists and Democratic Left (DIMAR) who weren’t notified until earlier in the day. The union representing the workers said 2600 of the 2800 workers would lose their jobs, but the government said the broadcaster was full of dead wood – hired over the years by New Democracy and PASOK administrations in return for votes as it did in packing other government agencies and entities, helping create the country’s crushing economic crisis.

Although there had been rumors over the past few days that the government would opt for closing ERT as a way to reduce civil servant numbers, the announcement by spokesman Simos Kedikoglou took millions of Greeks by surprise. Kedikoglou claimed that ERT suffered from a “lack of transparency” and was a source of waste.

“The Greek people are paying for ERT, which has three times, even eight times, as much staff as it needs,” he said. The government, he said, was sacrificing one of the public sector’s “sacred cows.” Greeks pay roughly 300 million euros ($400 million) a year in license fees. Kedikoglou said that these charges would not apply until a leaner and more efficient public broadcaster is set up but no timetable was given. The decision leaves Greece for now without a national broadcaster.

The ministers from the two junior parties did not sign the legislative act published in the Government Gazette yesterday allowing public enterprises to be shut down but can do nothing about it, leaving them no where to turn unless they decide to walk away from the coalition, which would bring down the government. They have previously said they wouldn’t do that.

The announcement prompted terse responses from both coalition partners, who said they had not been involved in the decision, and sharp criticism from opposition parties. “The state broadcaster cannot be closed down,” PASOK said in a statement, adding that the party supported “bold and genuine reforms” but opposed “irresponsible and dangerous public relations stunts.”

Source Here

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Safety Measures in Greece

Safety Measures in Greece

An employee of the gas station having her morning cigaret and coffee in front of the diesel pump.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Level of Public Sector Corruption in 176 Countries

An article regarding this subject along with the map to support it was posted a few month back on the Washington Post.
The article shows the level of public sector corruption in 176 countries around the globe.
According to this map, Greece's position is 94 with a score of 36 points, the same as India, Djibouti and Senegal.
Romania's position in the top is 68 with 44 points, along with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 
The top three countries where corruption is virtually in existent are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. 
At the opposite pole there are Somalia, Afghanistan and North Korea with the lowest score in the chart, 8 points. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

The Blood Strawberries of Nea Manolada Greece

Last week Greece was faced with horror scenes that looked taken from a slasher movie.
At least 34 Bangladeshi workers ended up in the hospital after they were shot by land caretakers in the strawberry fields in Nea Manolada, Ilia. More then 150 angry foreign workers from Bangladesh and Egypt who were unpaid for at least six months had gathered demanding to be paid for their work. Instead they were shot by the business’s caretakers.

According to the victims’ testimonies, at least three people with hunting rifles suddenly starting shooting at them. Pandemonium followed with gory workers trying to hide in the nearby fields and gunmen chasing them.

The injured were taken to hospitals and health centers of the region and the most seriously injured were transported by ambulances to hospitals of Patras. Five people were hospitalized in critical condition with wounds all over their body from the shots.

As the Greek police revealed, they arrested the owner of the company while they are still searching for the three caretakers. Information indicates that the perpetrators fled by car to Patras.

The police, however, said that one of the three company employees opened fire.
This is not the first time similar events involving foreign workers in the region are reported. 
Sources say that one of the three care takers was involved in a similar violent outburst against an Egyptian worker who dared to ask for his money. The worker was dragged behind the car while hanging from the car door and left unconscious at the side of the road.
The Serious incidents having to do with the wages of foreign workers had broken out last May.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Panic level loading..Loaded!

Last weekend we went to Veria, a mountain town in the northern part of Greece. And since someone we know rented an apartment and intends to move there, we decided to go see the place.
In Greece, when you rent an apartment, you get it all empty, without furniture, sometimes even without bulbs. So, it wasn't much to see except a previous tenant which died of totally unnatural causes, a scorpion. 

Where I come from, we don't have scorpions. And I could have sworn there aren't any here either since in two years that I've been living here I haven't seen any....until now.
Have you ever seen a cat getting scared?

See the jumping cat? That was me! Panicking!
I started asking around and apparently there are scorpions in Greece, lots of them, but they are normally in the rural area. The apartment that we visited was in the center of the town which makes it kinda odd. 

The good news is, as far as I read, that even though they are all all venomous  none of them are deadly, just very painful. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Money for Nothing

 If you ever go to "laiki" which is the fresh market in Greece. Look very carefully at the bills people give you as change, not at their big smiles and willingness to help. 
You might get the surprise of receiving fake money. From the two bills bellow one is fake and the other one is real. To tell you the truth I couldn't make out which one is which at the beginning but need teaches you. 



Thursday, March 21, 2013

World Poetry Day

21st of March was first celebrated as the World Poetry Day in 1998. You will probably ask yourself how is that relevant to this blog. Well, it seems that the one who proposed this celebration in the first place was a Greek poet,
Mikhail Mitra.

The date came from another Greek poet, her name is Lidia Stefanou, and the reason for choosing this particular day is the equinox, the perfect balance between light and darkness.

I will let you enjoy a poem that a like very much. It's called Ithaka and it was written by Constantine P. Cavafy

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thessaloniki Weather Forecast

I forecast that the weather is going to be bitchy today.

Thessaloniki today

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


This year Tsiknopempti was on the 7th of March. And now you're gonna think: " Ok, ok, but what is Tsiknopempti?" 

Tsiknopempti(τσικνοπέμπτη) is the first day or the carnival here in Greece. The name comes from tsikna which is the smell of the grilled meat, generally pork, while pempti means Thursday. Why is this Thursday in which you eat grilled pork so important? Because after the carnival, the Easter fast begins.
Not that I would know a lot of people who actually fast but every reason to have a party is a good enough reason. 
This year's theme was "Not everything that shines is gold" probably referring to the company who intends to extract gold in the area of Halkidiki while the local community is trying to prevent it and/or the current political situation.
Since the theme was related to gold, the symbol of the carnival was king Midas He was the one who presided the 4th edition of the bike parade, his chariot being pulled by a bike. 
Here is a small movie from this Tsiknopempti in Thessaloniki.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's All Greek to Others Also

I received this photo today and I found it very funny.

As I understood is an ad for a Norwegian language school. It's a expression written with Greek letters. 

Since there already exists a Greeklish. The combination of Greek and English. This ad would be...Greewagian, probably. 

Anyway, the point of the ad is that "Norwegian won't be All Greek to you anymore".

Monday, March 4, 2013

Traffic Jam

I was in the buss the other day going home and suddenly the buss stops. Half a millisecond later the buss driver starts honking...and honking...and honking and waves of swearing and bitching are coming from his direction.

Apparently someone "parked" their car so that no one else could pass through the road. The car was double parked and practically in the middle of the road. After about 20 minutes of intensive honking, during which about 30-40 cars, that I could see, gathered behind us joining in the honking and swearing concert, the owner of the car appeared. 

He was having his coffee in a nearby coffee place, the heard the noise outside and he came out out of curiosity. 
I can understand the buss driver's frustration but what have I don't wrong? Because of the guy who left his car in the middle of the road I would have been late.. and I came to terms with that but now I also had a brilliant headache because of all the honking and I was not ok with that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Au Naturel

Hi everyone! This post has nothing to do with Greece. It's just something I made today and I hope you like it. is our new e-shop. Whenever you have the time, come have a look. Enjoy!

Au Naturel

Monday, February 18, 2013

Medicine for Someone Else’s Pain

 Medicine for Someone Else’s Pain

Medicine for someone else’s pain is a fundraising campaign initiated by Medecins sans frontieres. The campaign was initially launched in Spain and, later on, in Greece. 

The concept is simple but incredibly powerful. "In the first world, as we call our selves, if we have a pain, we take a pill. What happens to those who don't have that pills but are still hurting? Could WE take a pill for THEIR pain.

This campaign brought sales of 3 million cases in the first few months in Spain. The money gathered there were used for the treatment of Changas disease in Bolivia and the HIV Zimbabwe.

In Greece the campaign is only a few months "old" and I haven't managed to find statistics about the income and the use. What I do know is that the price for a package of gum with honey and thyme, which represents the pill that you take for the pain of others, costs 1,6 Eur. Out of these money 1 Eur goes to Medecins sans frontieres

What's interesting is that the campaign have been launched in the two most affected by crisis countries from Europe: Spain and Greece. Could it be that people are more sensitive to other people's pains when they suffer themselves? That is also the point of the "Call to Action Video" made in Spain addressing the Greek public.

The Call to Action - TV Spot

Here you can find the list of pharmacies that sell "Pill for Other People's Pain" in Greece.
Official site of the campaign for Greece
Official site of the campaign for Spain

Monday, February 11, 2013

Setting Things Streight

Dear all, 

I probably should have done this before but it's better to do it later then never.
The blog that you are reading is mine. It reflects how I see things, in my distorted or not reality, and how I feel about things. This is not a news blog and it's not intended to be. This is a personal blog with the pluses and minuses that come from it.

It had never been my intention to insult anyone through this blog so if I have done that or will do that in the future I apologize. However, if anyone doesn't like how I write or what I write about, nobody is forcing that person to read it and I believe we would all be better off each other.

Thank you for your understanding
Have a brilliant week ahead

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Ugly Face of Greece

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." -Immanuel Kant

A study conducted in the US by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. The majority of inmates on death row in California's San Quentin State Prison "practiced" their crimes on animals, according to the prison's warden.

The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in the backgrounds of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.(source here)

At first I was surprised by the big number of road kill, particularly in the cities, then, I understood they are not by accident. Some drivers, by the body count I could even say "many drivers", not only don't try to avoid hitting the dogs and cats on the car road, the aim for them. 

Last Saturday, we were passing through a small village outside Thessaloniki and I saw a scene that is going to haunt me for a long time. A dog, at the side of the road got scared by a motorcycle and went a bit into the car road. From behind came a blue van and ran it over despite the fact that it would have had the time to avoid the impact by breaking or stirring the car. The driver aimed for the dog. He didn't slow down and didn't stop. He just continued his way as if nothing happened. 

I found a group on Facebook, it's called Greece Exposed.If you have a strong stomach have a look to see a few examples of how some understand to pass their free time. Animals that are hanged, shot, eviscerated or tortured for the "pleasure" of it.  And remember, this is a country in the XXI century that is part of the European Union. We are supposed to be in the so called "civilized" part of the world.

So now, along your "idyllic vacation" image of Greece and the "point of reference for the world's history" image of Greece add the "animal violence and torture" image of Greece.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Visiting Oslo

I really enjoyed my trip to Oslo. Even though visiting Norway in winter might not be the best thing to do if you don't ski. Temperatures there have two digits and they are negative. 
We didn't manage to see all the interesting things in the city but at least we got to see some. When we visited The Folk Museum which is an open air museum, there were -17 C. What can I say? it was a refreshing 2 and a half hours.

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Receipt, No Pay!

No receipt, No pay! Is a new way in which the Greek state is trying to reduce the "black" income of the companies by forcing them to register the real income they are making.

For example when you go to a coffee place, a tavern or even a supermarket, if they don't give you a receipt you are allowed to leave without paying. That is the official version. What they failed to mention is that generally, you receive the receipt after you pay so what you would actually need to do is ask for your money back. With the traditional and well known Greek temper though I don't see that negotiation going very well. 

What the politicians from this country haven't figured out yet or, even worse, they continue ignoring, is that there is no law in the world that Greeks can't find a way around to.

The law starts to have effects from the 12th of January 2013, meaning last Saturday. Businesses were testing their "way around" even from last year. Now, you will probably receive a receipt, so you won't be tempted to ask your money back but the value on the receipt will be, if you're lucky, one third of it. If you are vigilant and ask for explanations they will apologies and bring you your receipt or, even funnier, several receipts that other customers didn't take that add up to the sum of your order. 

The people though usually don't ask for receipts not to mention ask for their own receipts. That is why I believe that this law, for as nice and efficient as is could have been it's going to end up like the "smoking law". 

Like in all other European countries, smoking is forbidden in bars, coffee places and restaurants in Greece. The law exists, the fines are high, they even have a phone number where you can denounce places that allow smoking. What they don't have is someone to apply the law. And there is where the law becomes useless. 

The thing that is the hardest to change here but once changed it cold improve a lot of things is the mentality of people. Everything starts and ends there. For as long as they don't understand that they'll keep chasing around their tails. 

Source article

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ikaria, the Island Where People Forget to Die

Nobody actually knows how many islands Greece has. Counts vary from 1200 to 6000. Out of these only 227 are inhabited and 72 have more then 100 people.
Old Woman from Ikaria

The life expectancy in Greece is generally about 20% higher than the world average. On a top including 194 countries, Greece sits nicely on the 18th place. 

Chronic diseases are a rarity in Ikaria. People living in this region have 20% less cancer, half the rate of cardiovascular disease and almost no dementia! People traditionally have farming or fishing jobs and live in a mountainous terrain, which keep them active throughout life. They eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and a little fish. Goat milk and wine are also traditional here and loaded with antioxidants. Time is taken out of their day to nap and connect with friends, reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

A study made on 673 people from Ikaria showed that afternoon nap increases life expectancy with 12%. If take regularly, three times a week, the afternoon nap may increase life expectations with up to 37%.

What are the lessons that researchers learner?
  1. Get your antioxidants! Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, which consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little fish. One key feature of the Ikarian diet are wild greens, many of which have ten times the level of antioxidants in green tea or red wine!
  2. Drink tea! Regular herbal tea consumption is common of Ikarian centenarians. Many of the teas here act as mild diuretics, prescribed by doctors to lower blood pressure.
  3. Take regular naps. People who nap at least five times a week for half an hour have 35% reduced chance of cardiovascular disease. Stress hormones also decrease when you’re napping.
  4. Make walking part of your daily routine. The hilly land lends itself well to burning calories. The Ikarians exercise without thinking about it just by walking to church or work.
Ikaria on the Map
Ikaria is an island of approximately 256 sq km situated in the North Aegean Sea that has between 8 and 10 thousands inhabitants.