Tag Archives: House Hunting

Our Neighbor is a Pig

21 Feb

Mr. Mallios and I have been looking for some new digs for the past month or so.  We found one contender not too far along in our search that was nearly perfect.  Great location, big enough yet cozy, fairly new,  2 bathrooms!  We decided we would take it.  We called the real estate agent that showed us the place and he agreed to drop the price down.  Great!  We dropped off a deposit and were contacted the next day by the owner of the place who wanted to meet his new tenants.  Sure, no problem.  At this meeting we discovered that the owner never agreed to the new price the agent had quoted us. Since the deal had already been done though, he said ok.  About a week later we found out that our friends had happened to rent the exact same house about 3 years ago.  What a coincidence!  They didn’t have too many good things to say about it.   They were especially vocal about the hotel across the street (closed for the winter season, opening in April) and its live Cretan music on Friday and Saturday nights.  No Thank you!  There’s nothing that I, or Mr Mallios for that matter, could want less than blaring lyre and sorrowful crooning at 11 o’clock at night.  I know, we’re getting old!  But try and find me a Cretan song that is uplifting and full of hope and you’ll be looking far and wide my friends.  Needless to say we reneged on our end of the deal and collected our deposit and began our search anew.

We looked at a lot of places outside of the main city.  I guess we are turning into country folk (haha not really).  Most were uninhabitable.  One resembled an old warehouse.  Windows and doors circa 1978-no insulation, frosted glass, iron bars.  Don’t really want to live in a jail thanks.  I’m not sure this was intended to be an apartment or any sort of living qaurters.  Perhaps a re-purposed animal shed?  Upcycling at its most creative!  A wall had been erected to divide the two “bedrooms” from the rest of the living space.  Leaving the rooms depressingly windowless.  The plus side?  The bathroom was gloriously big!  Greek bathrooms tend to be on the smaller (claustrophobic) side.  Well they used to in any case.  Now a days houses seem to be built with more comfortable proportions in mind.  On to the next place!

The real estate agent from the original find informed us that he had a house in a town right next to where we were looking.  2 bedroom, 2 bath, lots of living space!  We agreed we would meet there the following day at 10am.  We arrived at the house looking westward toward the majestic White Mountains and due north to the mesmerizing Aegean sea. Score!  The agent approached the gate with a few BAGS of keys, elevating the whole janitorial keychain to new heights, and proceeded to try out a few before lamenting that he did not have the right set with him.  We decided we would meet again tomorrow at the same time.  We arrived at 10am.  That morning the agent battled with considerably less sets of keys than the day before.  Alas he did not have the keys with him again.   Since we were there Mr Mallios decided to jump the fence to take a quick peek around the property.  The agent suggested he might try going through a window to see the inside of the house too.  Breaking and entering apparently carries no penalty when advised by your realtor here!  He found a window that didn’t have the roll down shutters and climbed on in.  In the meantime the agent’s right hand man (assistant?)  found a large rock and was bashing it against the padlock on the fence in the hopes that he would break it, thus allowing us access to the inside.  Hmmmmm……peculiar real estate practices here.  Mr Mallios successfully entered the house through a window.  I guess this means there’s no alarm system!   The assistant,  still adamant that he can break the lock on the gate, continued to beat it with a rock.  The agent was barking at him to stop and yelling at Mr Mallios to pull the front door open harder.  Shouts from behind the front door revealed that the door was locked from the inside or was it outside? The assistant gave up and tossed the rock aside and decided to focus his attention on me.  He was trying to formulate a plan on how to get the pregnant woman (his words) over the fence to see the inside. “We can hoist her over that part of the fence…or you go over and I’ll catch her.”  I don’t think so buddy.  The pig across the street decided to make an appearance after hearing all the commotion, letting out a few grunts and oinks before retreating back to its sty.  I guess that takes care of meeting the neighbors.  We left again without proper access to the house.  Two days later we got a call from the agent stating that the owner of the house would be there tomorrow (with the RIGHT keys).  Finally!  We went and took a tour of the spacious abode and decided to take it.  Not only was it the right size, price, location-all those important real estate things-but there were other less obvious factors that enticed us.  Namely we already knew how to break in.  Important if you lose your keys once a month.  We knew we had good neighbors.  Quiet and solitary so no loud parties on the weekends over there!  And probably delicious to eat come Easter!  Moving in next week!!

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Operating Instructions

25 Jan
I went house hunting with Amy last week.  We started out in Vrysses and meandered back into the hills behind the village into what was a charming, in the crumbly old stone stone sort of way, small village/hamlet.  The house there had excellent views of the mountains and surrrounding land, a swimming pool and nice vibe.  This would be Amy’s winning pick!
The next house was somewhere behind the hills of Giorgoupoli.  The owner met us outside, a tall thin man in his early 40’s who spoke pretty decent English.  He had converted his grandfathers country house into a more modernized version of what it had once been-not much.  There were some beds placed helter skelter, a giant loom dominating one corner of the second “bedroom”.  In case Amy wanted to weave a rug?  It was very haphazard looking.  Outside there was a small plot of land.   He proceeded to explain to Amy that  the 7 or so chickens that were pecking away at the grass were included in the price of rent and if she wanted to have fresh milk he would be willing to throw in a goat at no extra cost.  Hmmmm, I’m not sure that’s exactly what she had in mind but ok.  We putted around and up the mountains through light drizzles of rain and bursts of sun coming through the clouds to the cute village of Vamos.  The house was no great shakes but the garden was something out of The Hobbit.  It was brimming with lush green plants and bright pink and red geraniums.  A bed of clover covered the ground.  Buttercup flirted playfully with all the greenery adding splashes of yellow to the rich emerald carpet below.  It was very magical.  Our last stop brought us to a village called Maxeri (which I kept pronouncing like the word knife-haha this towns name is knife-but was informed otherwise)  perched high up on a sort of jagged edge of mountain at once both charming and frightening.  This little nook of a house also reminded me of The Hobbit and the ceilings were high enough only for a Hobbit to reside in comfortably.  I offered to take the wheel on the way back down so Amy might sight see.  Besides I was reminded of driving with my mother, which can be a terrifying experience especially in Greece, when you realize that you, the passenger, are the only one looking at the road.  Love you mom!  So Amy found her new house and she moves in on Friday!
Saturday night Dimitri and I went to the ubiquitous nameday celebration in honor of a few guys named Adonis.  Who ironically  do not resemble Adonis in the mythical sense.  We came into a cozy room with some people gathered around the tables picking at the meze in front of them.  I thought we might be late arriving at 10:30 instead of 9:30 when the party was set to begin.  Then I remembered that if you are 15 minutes late in Greece you are considered early!  Mom this is really your kind of place in that sense! (love youxx)  More people began to arrive and the party really took on a festive vibe.  Tucked in the corner was a man on the synthesizer who was playing what I can only describe as a Vegas style lounge act.  Was that a deliberate move to be ironic or was he seriously jamming out to that?  I guess we’ll never know.  Not long into the Vegas act a man with a lyre joined him and the party definitely took an upswing with the Greek tunes.  My favorite.  😉 Since it was pretty hard to have a conversation due to the music being so loud I took the time to make some observations of my surroundings.  There were about 30 or so people at this party, plus about another 10 in the front part of the restaurant which was about as big as the tiled section of Rockas, so not very big.  If I didnt know we were at a nameday celebration I would have thought we were at the National Smokers Association annual smoke out.  As long as Philip Morris has Greece their children will not go hungry.  Come to think of it I believe I saw ashtrays on the maternity ward at the hospital in Hania.  Right next to mommy’s bed!  I think i heard the nurse say to Dimitri that every baby you deliver here you get TWO FREE packs of cigarettes.  One for the mother and one for the baby.  Too bad I’m not having twins.
The party was well underway when some of the restaurants’ other patrons departed for home or other watering holes leaving the waitress to do her job.  She was a young girl in her early 20’s. Probably a student from Athens, since I have rarely seen a young Cretan working outside the home or family business.  I noticed her earlier chatting with a table of young lassies who were enjoying Greece’s national drink: ouzo. Blech!  At one point she pulled up a chair and engaged in conversation which i could not hear due to the music being as loud as it was, so it was kind of like watching a silent movie but with blaring Greek music on the background.  She had a water glass full of ouzo and proceeded to gulp it down like no big thing.  Just kidding-she did grimace pretty hard afterwards but definitely held it together for something as disgusting as ouzo.  She did it again not too long afterwards.  Bravo sister, a woman who can drink!  She stood and cleared away the tables surrounding her like a pro.  A wobbly pro but a pro none the less.  And it dawned on me.  Greeks have a special code in their DNA whereby they can carry a tray brimming with glasses, plates and all manner of detritus from a table (which for some reason tends to be a lot here) with such ease and skill just like a black guy has it in his DNA to be a very impressive athlete.  Too bad for the Greeks waiter-ing is not an olympic sport.  Or smoking for that matter!  Gold medals all around.
Amy's New House!

Amy’s New House!

Living Room at Amy's

Living Room at Amy’s