The happy Greeks are far, far away from Athens where snubbing tourists is a contact sport. As the Athenians brush past, don’t expect an “Excuse me” or “Pardon.” They’re still simmering from the financial mess the country has found itself in. The only country in worse shape is Cyprus.
The natives who have been poisoned by Athens’s toxic air as well as its attitude have moved on to bluer, as in the sea, and greener, as in money, shores. Santorini.
Everyone bustles as tourist season is about to launch. Construction workers are putting the finishing touches on shelving and storefronts. Painters are splashing white everywhere. Electricians are stringing cables and pools that became green over the winter have returned to an intoxicating blue. Boxes line the brief alleys and shops that have been shut against the bone-chilling wind are coming alive once more.
A fellow with a new gelato store is looking forward to his first season. He wisely turned a long-term friendship with the owner of a similar shop in Athens into an investor in his current location. It doesn’t matter that two other shops sit on the same stretch inside the maze called Fira. Everyone loves gelato’s chill on a mercilessly sunny day.
The owner of the Blue Note Restaurant in Imerovigli has returned from Florida. He wears a burnished tan as he inspects the reopening of his eatery. The owner of Stamna, a fast food Greek joint, says the tourists will keep his crew busy until 3 a.m. when the season gets rolling. Another restaurant owner, this one from the only Mexican restaurant on Santorini, relishes the return of palefaces and jokes about the effect that Angelina Jolie’s recent purchase will have on the neighborhood.
Only the captain remains undisturbed. Still wearing his winter coat on a mild day, he visits the news stand and finds a quiet spot to read his daily paper.
The Lezovi are visiting Santorini, Greece, the eighth country on their European tour.