• Greece below zero

    by  • 14 February, 2004 • Uncategorized • 4 Comments

    Η Ελλάδα υπό το μυδέν. Greece is living a first for as long as anybody can remember. Temperatures dropped below zero (celsius) last night.

    Thursday was still sunny and relatively warm. In the evening (when the Tsiknopémpti celebrations were in full swing, remember) it started raining. That turned into snow in the higher parts of the island during the night. In the morning it was raining still in Fortezza when I took the bus to the centre. A mere drizzle, but nonetheless. At 10 o’clock in the morning I learned that my collegues in the village office hadn’t made it to work. They were forced to return half way because they couldn’t get any further through the snow. Agios Mironas is at about a 1000 meters above sea level. Until Voutes the roads were clear. Than it climbs really fast and there was just too much snow. Agios Mironas was isolated.

    Back in the city centre the drizzle had turned into snow too halfway during the day! At 15 meters from the sea! This was unheard of! Never seen before! The Greeks were all happy like children at Santa Claus. For them it’s a wonder! Never in their lives have they seen anything like this! I hate it. I’ve come to this most southern part of Europe to get away from the cold and the snow. Now it is following me. I hate it.

    When I left the office at six o’clock the snow was piling up on cars already. The roads were still free though. At least in the city centre and around the harbour. I waited 1 hour and 15 minutes in the bitter cold for my bus. It never came. When I stopped the bus to Knossos and inquired about the one to Fortezza, the driver told me they took it out because it couldn’t get up the hill to Fortezza due to the snow. I could get a ride with him as far as the junction of Knossou road and the main road leading to Fortezza. From there it is about a 1 kilometer walk to our home. Uphill. When the weather is fine in the morning I always walk down. The prospect of climbing in this weather didn’t attract me a lot but what choice did I have?

    I got off the bus fine and the road uphill didn’t look like it couldn’t be climbed by a bus. The clearance in the middle looked reasonably safe. At the sides the snow was piling up and covering the randomly parked cars. There were no taxi’s around at the junction (where they ususally wait for patients going to or coming from the general hospital which is 50 meters away) so I started walking to keep warm. I was home 10 minutes later. Not bad. But then I did not have to move out of the way for any cars. The road had been completely deserted. I learned later that the second part (it keeps climbing after our house) to the upper part of the village was really impenetrable. I made dinner for myself, since Yvonne was still in town and wouldn’t come home until very late. The occasion called for a really strong tsikoudiá, a high quality rakí, with mezé. I wrote about this before, somewhere in February last year. I fixed a really nice mezé (if I say so myself) with leftovers I found in the fridge. The tsikoudiá did wonders to warm up my chilled bones. At half past nine is retreated to my bed with “Encounters with Ancient Hellas” by P.J. Doedens, written in ancient Dutch and published in ancient 1960.

    I fell asleep after 10 to 12 pages and woke up when Yvonne came in. It was 3:30 in the morning (but I didn’t know it then). Yvonne had been on a “night out with the girls”. She had used the car, so apparently the roads were clear enough to drive on. Something was wrong though, I could tell, but I didn’t know what it was. When Yvonne stumbled against a chair in the living room and cursed, I knew what it was: we had no electricity! The appartment was pitch dark, no light from the street was falling in either. That’s what had been wrong. I had missed the red blinking lights of the digital alarm on the night stand. Anyway, it had stopped snowing in town Yvonne told me and the roads where completely clear, at least on the route Yvonne had to take to get home.

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    We fell asleep and woke up around 9 in the morning. The apartment was cold! But the lights were functioning, so electricity was back on. When I went down to the basement to check on the central heating, Birte was coming up the stairs. She had already manually turned the heating on. Back in the appartment I opened the shutters of the windows. I was greeted by the most blindingly white I had seen. Overnight we had been beamed to Austria or Switzerland, complete with building and all! I put on the television and every Greek channel had a special on the weather phenomenon that had hit the country. They all block lettered “GREECE BELOW ZERO”. My Greek is still not good enough to follow the commentaries by these professional “rapid speakers” but the images shown told the whole story quite eloquently. Greece was completely wrapped up in a white blanket. And moreover this was accompanied for the first time by temperatures below zero. On our balcony 20 centimeters of snow had frozen to a frosty crust, not the soft whipped cream variety of snow that we had last year for a couple of hours.
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    By the way, this is the same balcony that you saw 4 weeks ago. Only this time Yvonne refused to sit and do the Yamas thing.

    I hate it!

    4 Responses to Greece below zero

    1. Peter Timmermans
      14 February, 2004 at 16:39

      You took me by surprise!
      No new entries for almost a month and all of a sudden a flood of 3 in 4 days.I guess this shows you are reluctant to bore your audience and only write to us if there really are new deveopments.
      I’m fairly sure that fair weather will soon be restored at your end.
      Send some of the snow over and I will gladly take a hike in the Ardennes.

      Glad to find you in good spirits otherwise. We are fine as well.

    2. 14 February, 2004 at 17:13

      i saw the news of greece below zero and snow on tv. the cold weather and snow could be annoying :(

    3. Mary
      2 January, 2005 at 4:59

      How nice to hear of news (albeit a year old by now) of snow in Voutes, Agios Mironas, Herakion, etc. I lived in Petrokefalo from Jan-Sept -03 and in Kitharida (near Sarchos) from Nov-Dec 02. We had snow twice and a rainy, rainy year, but nothing close to what you had last year. How is it this year?

    4. luc
      2 January, 2005 at 12:17

      Hi Mary, the period you lived here must have been the wettest in history (Aug/02 — Apr/03). So far this year has been completely different. Only a few days of rain so far (too few for the olives) and even the Psiloritis refuses to remain covered with snow…

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