Catching Up With Roo....well, Edwin asked.

Yeah, so I'm still in Greece. Just got DSL, finally.

Hmmm, how to sum up all this time. On the relationship front, all is very well, still engaged, still very happy in my relationship. You all would laugh, in that she's never really played computer games before, nor wanted to, but I asked for Civ IV for X-mas. I asked her as an extra present to me, if she'd at least sit down in tutorial mode for 10 minutes, just to see what I was so excited about. Well...yeah, you might have guessed it, but several hours later I got her hooked on Civ. We play Hot Seat games with us as a team, against 3-4 other teams of 2. She has her single players games, and I have mine. After the first three days of playing, when we'd play 6-8 hours a day...we decided we had to set a time limit and alarm beforehand. Now the funny part to me is that I end up being the one saying, "Okay, but only 2 more turns. You should have (X) done by then." Where X is raiding some city, or building a city, or getting some tech or building some wonder or other.

The whole being in a very different environment thing has been difficult at times. Not so much the, "whoa, I'm living in Europe" as much as the, "My god, I'm living in a city of 4 million people and 70% of them smoke." I'm life did get complicated a bit over what passes for winter around here. It's now getting to be "spring." Everything here seems a bit more emotionally...intense. Everyone (yes, men do too) kiss each other on the cheeks in greeting, and it's not rare to see 2 people break out into a fist fight over a very minor fender bender, and of course there's the strikes every other month (where there's fighting), the protests (less fighting), and the occasional anarchists (who torched a van near my Greek class one day). But people here are very welcoming, warm, kind, etc. and at worst sometimes embarrassed if their English sucks as bad as my Greek. I've taken one intensive language course, and have books that I'm slowly learning from, but I'm hoping to get into another class in the next couple weeks. My comprehension is getting okay, but my verbal skills are the bad.

My entire sense of time and seasons passing is very messed up. I'm used to 5 months of snow, or 4 months of snow and 1 month of slushy muck. Greece is sunny all year. It actually snowed (which is a big rarity) and it stuck around for 2 days, bringing most everything to a standstill. Mountains and the sea are pretty much everywhere you go, so it's pretty here. It's also arid, and nothing like forested, lake-and-river-filled Michigan. Which is weird at times. Athens is a really spread-out, sprawled city where the tallest buildings are maybe five or six stories (earth quake concerns). Oh yeah, had my first real earthquake. The whole apartment moved back and forth for six or seven seconds. Very long seconds. If we do stay in Greece, I think Urban Life (tm) is not for me. I love the choir that I'm in, but I hate being on a bus and the metro for an hour to get there. I gave up the paying choir gig I had, cause it wasn't paying that much, the commute was worse, and most especially because the director drove me nuts (no musical knowledge whatsover, he just raised the money to pay people). Sorta too bad, cause the professional choir sang only in Greek, which has helped my reading and pronouncing a weird alphabet tremendously.

Sometimes things have been very difficult. Not as much from anything here, but old ghosts and pains sort of creeping up on me. I miss my dogs alot. More than I can describe in text. And I think part of starting a new life means mourning for the one you're never gonna have again. It's strange, and hard to articulate, which in some ways makes it more difficult to deal with.

Some trivial stuff: seafood here is amazing, costs half of what I'm used to, and is caught the same day you eat it. Grilled squid has become my favorite (even if that sounds weird, trust me if they just caught's really good). Ice cream here is so-so (even the Haagan Daas franchise) and costs 2-3 times as much. Of course, there's like a whole industry of sweets/dessert shops that are simply dangerous to go near...mmm things made with chocolate and/or honey.

Right now my "job" involves a growing clientelle of young kids I'm teaching English to. (yes i thought it'd be funny to end that with a preposition). doesn't hurt that my fiance has access to "free" materials, as she's the director of marketing for one of the biggest publishers of English text books. I'm learning what that means these days, though, as she's gone more and more frequently to seminars and exhibitions all over Greece (which, granted, is like the size of Alabama if you don't count the 1500 spread-out islands). I travel with her sometimes and get to see some cool stuff. Like

I've been making up for lost time since I got DSL a week ago with some BF2...on European servers. DSL is new to Greece. The phone company has a virtual monopoly on charging you a huge rate, on top of which your actual ISP charges you another huge rate, for slow speeds. There's some alternatives, which we found, but it would be hugely expensive to go faster than 512k. (I had ~2.25mbs in Ann Arbor). Imagine paying 100 Euros (so like $118) for 1mbs per month, when the average Greek income is like 800 Euros per month. Incomes in general here are approx. 1/3 what's normal in the U.S., but many things (besides seafood) cost around the same....

Last but not least, I thought these things were like, airport-only cars when I first got here, but people actually drive these things (which are about as long as a normal car door) on the highway, and park them...on the sidewalk:


do a google image search of "smart car" and you'll see what I mean.

I missed you guys. It feels strange popping my head in and saying hello, but at the same feels very, very good.

Welcome back, Mr. Anderson. We m-missed you.

(also, nice write-up)

Ice cream here is so-so (even the Haagan Daas franchise) and costs 2-3 times as much.

In the summer the local icecream brands are pretty good.. try the "Boss" cone.. thats pretty damn awesome if you get a reasonably fresh one.

Good to hear from you, Roo!

Nice to hear from you! It sounds like you're on your way to become a full-on Greece native. Are you planning on getting citizenship there? Ever plan to move back to America?

Good to hear you're doing well Roo. I'm envious of your experiences. For all it's pollution, noise and drama, I love Athens and always dreamed of getting a full time gig there.
I could eat Souvlaki Pitas all day long.

Good to hear from you!

Must be exciting and tough to immerse yourself in a new environment. Kudos to you!

good to hear you are adjusting well to Greece.

the DSL system they are running is the same as israel but in israel there is alittle more compatition. we have a cable company that provide fast internet and phone service (recent change) . the phone company which used to be a monopoly provide ADSL . the highest line provider is for 5MB down /512k up is about 32$(US) the 1.5M/96k cost about 13$ the isp have a similar price i once payed for the highest rate with low lag QOS ( gamer package) and it cost me about 60$/month. in israel there are about 4 large ISPs and a few small ones. the average sallary is around 1490$~ and most people have at least one cell phone ( there are 4 companies with full coverage).

we had a few relativly weak (4.9-5.1) earthquakes in israel - it was alittle scary but none got hurt and damage was minimal. I've read that the people on top of tall buildings really felt it...

the smoking problem is getting better but slowly there is a law against smoking in public places but it's unenforced ( none is certified to give a fine). restaurants have non smoking area but most of them don't match what the law specified (physical seperation). my wife choke whenever someone smokes but spicy food seem to cure her. we recently went to a cafe' where the waitress drove the smokers away before they even started smoking when we asked if it was the smoking section because smoke would bother us.

we've had less strikes recently but don't forget israel is #1 in the world in strikes.

parking spots is also a problem in israel and so are trafic jams . many people use scooters/motorcycles for both their fuel eficiancy ( fuel in israel is 3-5X more expansive than USA) and for the fact they can get around trafic jams and can easily park. the only downside for scooters and such is the insurance and low chance of surviving an accident. violance due to an accident is rare but it happens but most people drive like barbarians. smarts are kinda expensive. all cars have a 90-95% tax and smarts cost about the same as big cars of other brands.

in my opinion you should probobly stick to teaching english in greece i read in wikipedia that their economy is driven by tourism (70% of GDP). maybe you should learn how to be a tour guide or maybe publish a book on the subject (your fiance' is in the buisness isn't she?). israel also has a large tourism industry which suffered from the political instability of the region. luckly israeli other industries mainly hightech and weapons export has always been prosperous .

anyways greece doesn't sound that bad . in terms of gaming you should consider checking shops in uk(english) and hong kong (hk has real good prices) . you can probobly still play wow on american servers ( time zones will be a problem) - they like money not matter what color it is.

good luck finding a stable short commute job. did you set a date for the wedding yet? I recently got maried in israel ( got maried with my wife in vegas too - complicated) and the wedding was a blast even though it wasn't perfect. we had 250 guests show up cost like 10k$ but got covered by the gifts we got from the guests.

Welcome back! Sorta.

Glad to hear the fairy tale is still working out for you; now we know what happens after the credits roll.

Sounds like a fun time, and I can't wait to hear what you have to say about the summer tourism industry when it hits full bore in august.

Roo, The Wise wrote:

I think part of starting a new life means mourning for the one you're never gonna have again.

This is one of the most profound, and true, statements I have seen on this forum to date. Glad to hear things are still working out, despite the hiccups.

Thanks for checking in Roo.

I wondered if you got one of your pups. I guess not. That must be tough.


Removed picture of my dog that added nothing to the tread except blown out margins

Thanks for the update, Roo! Good to hear that things are still going well over there.

We have Smart Cars here in Canada too. I thought they were everywhere by now. In my town of 15000 there are 2 Smart Cars.

I joined this board right when this whole story began, and even though I never knew you before I caught myself wondering what the hell would be going on with that Roo guy in Greece with her hottie fiancee

Looking forward to the next iteration (come and see next week), great you're doing great!

Good to hear from you Roo, and glad that life still finds you well minus the homesickness.

Any chance on moving back to the states, or is it Greece for good? If you are staying any chance of having the dogs brought over?

Roo, I remain transfixed in awe of the massive brass balls it took to move to a country where you don't even know the alphabet.

What you've done is nothing short of incredible and should be considered Legendary. I hope nothing but the best for you throughout your adventure.

Roo wrote:


do a google image search of "smart car" and you'll see what I mean.

Ah, so "smart car" is Greek for "golf cart." Good to hear from you, Roo.

I want a Smart Car. It would make me feel HUUUUUGE!!

Good to hear from you, Roo! Keep checking back in!

Always good to hear from Roo on his Greek Odessey and to hear on top of it all that he is expanding the number of Sid Meier minions is outstanding. Glad to hear you're doing well.

Great to hear from you Roo, glad it's (mostly) working out for you and you're settling in ok!

I was cruising around in a Smart Car a few weeks ago. They seem real smart until you have to load some computer supplies in there when the trunk is already full.

Certis wrote:

They seem real smart until you have to load some computer supplies in there when the trunk is already full.

But did you have room for golf clubs, right?

parking spots is also a problem in israel and so are trafic jams

Israel is funny that way. I saw the tow trunk in action there. Someone parks incorrectly, the tow truck with 2 giant forks stops next to it, lifts it up and bam they are gone in 60 secs and the person walks out wondering where their car is!

Also why do Israelis feel they have to honk the horn when a light turns green. Even when they are 1st in line?

Roo, you seriously need to write a romantic comedy about your life. You would get RICH!
Very glad to hear that you're doing so well.

Also, I see about a smart-car per day. I think they look dumb, but I can't deny that they're handy.

Roo, great to hear from you. I am so glad that things are working.


I looked up Smart Car thinking they'd be getting awesome fuel consumption or something. The website says the four seater gets around 50 l/ 100 km. The internet then converted that from metric-gibberspeak into like 4 mi/gallon. Did I do something wrong? If not, what's so "smart" about it?

...and it's not rare to see 2 people break out into a fist fight over a very minor fender bender...

Wow, a society where it's socially acceptable to hit people that are irresponsible. I'm there. Does the average Grecian prefer Bobbing Fisticuffs stance or Drunken Mantis?

Hey, we have smart cars in Mexico too. Actually, I've seen them all over the world.

/Eagerly awaiting "My Big Fat Roo Wedding" comedy

The smart car... "uses just 3.5 litres of diesel fuel per 100 kilometres"

Mongo no fit in puny Smart Car.

Roo, I too came in after you had departed but I'm envious of you for taking a chance on a great adventure. Glad things are working out.

But, now that things are warming up there, we need some beach pictures please. Preferably with Greek goddess bathing beauties in them.

Good to hear from you, Roo!

Stop poking your head in intermittently! Take a seat and chat for a while!

Thanks folks. I don't know with great certainty yet how long we'll stay in Greece. In some ways she'd like to move to the U.S. this summer...but she really is very "connected" to things here in a way that I'm just not in the U.S.. I was all ready to move my life to a whole different state, so what's another country more or less. I think it would be easier for both of us in many ways to live in the U.S. (jobs & salaries, language, access to dental care....heh) but...I'm not sure I'm ready to leave Greece yet either.

The thing with the dogs has been more difficult than I imagined. We don't live in a good place for dogs, and I wouldn't really dream of trying to get one of them over here. At the same time, I hear from my ex-wife that they're more than she wants to take care of right now so if I was in the U.S., I'm sure I'd have ended up with 2 of the 3. One thing in Europe that I'm really not used to is seeing all of the stray dogs that live on the streets. I found a group that does stuff for them that I plan on volunteering with soon.

Someday I believe I will be writing a book; let someone else turn it into a script.

Now that I have real internet access at home, I'll at least be lurking and occassionally replying to items. BF2 and Civ IV with a little DoD: Source are my current games. I'm not sure about leaving X-fire on though, as it seems to be too much overhead for my 512k connection to share. 9pm EST is 4am here, but hey....sometime I'll have to get in a game with you all.

Smart Cars are just funny, so if you hadn't seen them I thought they'd give you a laugh. I must be getting used to Greece, cause what used to freak me out was that motorcycles drive *anywhere*, especially on the dashed white lines between cars to get to the front of the line at intersections. They'll even go over sidewalks if they're impatient. And yeah, if you don't hit the gas *before* the light turns green, people will be honking. And don't even get me started on taxis....heh. Traffic is a funny and scary-ass thing here, and most people don't wear seatbelts. Blech.

As far as summer goes, I'm sure I'll be at least visiting the U.S. and going to 3 or 4 Greek islands again. And while there is much more skin to be seen here than on a normal U.S. beach, trust me, not all of it is stuff you want to see. Some women should be forced to wear a top, and some men should be forced to wear...well, much more in general. I do have bikini pics of my fiance from last dice. Maybe I'll get her to post in my Goodjer shirt, though.

Anyways, back to my lurking, etc.