A changing world

The period since my last post, has been filled with horrible events like the brutal killing of mr. George Floyd and the ongoing news about the corona epidemic which still takes a lot of lives. Because of the corona epidemic and the various new rules and regulations I have a slight problem to get a grip. Some things don’t seem real.

We have to get on with our lives though, out there and here on Skopelos. We have to start or continue working, finding solutions for daily problems and take charge. But nothing will be the same ever.

I want to be ready for probable clients and not have awkward situations in my workspace so I have masks, gloves, anti septic gel and various kinds of paper in my office.
Do I shake hands when I meet clients? Do I greet them with a mask on? etc. etc. I don’t know, I will have to wait and see. I try to be careful when I go into a shop, if I see many people I wait. If I go to a coffee place I look if tables are apart and I see that a lot of businesses have plexiglas installed on counters for protection. Staff works with gloves and masks.

On Skopelos most businesses that cater for visitors are open and trying to make a living. So far we mostly see locals in the bars and sometimes in the restaurants and their presence is very welcome. Because of the long weekend coming up we also saw Greeks from the mainland arriving today and hopefully they will spend some money here.

Beach bar Glysteri has officially opened today. We saw waiters with gloves and beds and umbrellas with the approved distance between them. Kastani beach has opened also but no sign of a beach bar on Milia except for the kantina truck at the beginning of the beach. Milia beach has been cleaned except for the area around the beach bar and that is a shame , big pieces of glass lying around and rubbish too.

I visited Amarandos after a long time and the green sprouts that I saw between the burned trees, give me hope. In a couple of years small trees will cover the hills. The sense of mystery there is gone though but I hope it will come back slowly slowly.

In one week more international flights can go into Athens and Thessaloniki airport. I hear about a lot of cancelled flights and that is a shame because the companies don’t always return money but give vouchers and if your flight is cancelled many times you might get fed up and don’t want to go anymore to Greece and that is a shame and a loss for many.

Boat itineraries are updated slowly slowly and so far we have two ferry boats and one flying dolphin (Erato started today) sailing in the Sporades. From Volos and Mantoudi they sail. These itineraries will not show sailing dates very far ahead. It has never been like that but I hope we will have a good schedule for the (hopefully) busier summer months.

We have to remain hopeful that some kind of tourist season will take place. At the moment we take it week by week and that is the best thing to do, I think.

Getting here

seaside Skopelos

On Monday two ferry boats and a flying dolphin will sail between the Sporades and Evia (Mantoudi) For more info.
I advise to look at http://www.openseas.gr. You can search with English terms.

Greece will open its borders for 29 countries from June 15.
I imagine that week by week more countries will be added to this list and that on the first of July all the other local airports will start receiving more visitors mainly with charters.

The tourism ministry on Friday announced the list of countries for which Greece’s borders will be “open” from June 15, with flights permitted to land in Athens and Thessaloniki. In detail, the list of countries is as follows:

Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, and Finland.

The list of 29 countries was drawn up after a study of the epidemiological profile of the countries of origin of tourists and after taking into account Thursday’s announcements of the European Air Safety Agency (EASA), as well as the relevant proposal of the Infectious Disease Committee. For the whole article click below.
Greece opens its borders

Bus stop Limnonari

Protected from the sun and with a nice bench is this bus stop on the crossing to Limnonari

The exit of the harbor next, to the town beach, is being re-designed with hand made stone walls. When I was photographing the walls, one of the men working there said: “what about me?” so I photographed him.

Grasses have grown, trees got bigger, branches are sticking out but fortunately there is a big crew of the municipality that make the streets more safe and clean.

I have had questions about hotels re-opening. I will post about it when I know more.

Have a nice day everybody, stay safe!!

Get on with it

(Skopelos today, early in the morning with a cloudy sky..)

Not all bars and restaurants on Skopelos opened today but many made an effort. It is good to see. I will show photo’s in the coming days of places you know and love. It were mainly locals drinking a coffee today because we don’t have visitors from abroad yet. We also see that Greeks from the mainland with shops and businesses came to Skopelos and are opening their places too.

After my message yesterday there were many comments (on Facebook) about whether you would, could, should come to Greece or not. Greece will have visitors from abroad coming accordingly to the timeline the Greek government has set. It is a done deal. I think it is safe to say that the Greeks and the people from Skopelos want people to visit and spend money, because they need it. A big part of Greece relies heavily on tourism.

I don’t think it is good to start judging people who want to travel to Greece in general and in particular to Skopelos. Everybody should have the right to make the decision whether they want to come or not. I think most people will keep in mind not to travel if they have symptoms that might indicate they have the virus and that during the their stay they should avoid being in big crowds and keep social distancing in place.

It is their choice though and be sure that they will be welcomed with “open arms”. When you can visit Greece depends on the country you come from. If your country has many casualties it will probably take longer and there might be a obligatory 14 days quarantine when you return to your country. That might be lifted by the time you start travelling because the amount of casualties per day has declined. It is all up to the governement of your country.

I think that the decisiveness, openess and the speaking with one voice of the Greek governement will help businesses and visitors to comply to the rules that have been implemented and it will make visitors feel safe to travel and holiday in Greece. For all kinds of business there are different protocols that should be followed and in general there is a healthy discussion possible about it. The rules will be checked for everybody’s sake and fines will be given when nessecary.

The Greek goverment has said that it wants to help out everybody and help re-start the economy. Mistakes have been made because so much is unknown and new rules and directives are implemented, adjusted and changed accordingly to results and experience. I think there is a general feeling that everybody wants to get on with it.

In the meantime on Skopelos, a lot of repairs and work have been going on. Kastro area, the square, the stairs going up en the surrounding area got a facelift. Stone walls repaied and built, the electricity on the square and along the staircase up is being re-newed and a waterpoint is being installed. I will show more of other work in the coming days.

Athens airport has released the guidelines that incoming passengers to Greece should follow. I have put them on my corona page. I think the same will apply for the other airports that will re-open in July.

found today on the road to Glossa

Tomorrow on Skopelos but also in the rest of Greece, coffee places, taverna’s and restaurants will open their doors and customers can take place in newly arranged areas. The tables and chairs of one group of customers will be placed next to another table and chairs with at least 1,5 meter in between them.

What I understand is that the extra space that is needed within a business because the tables and chairs are further apart, can be taken from areas around the terrace (if there is space).

The Greek organization for food control (ΕΦΕΤ) has issued a lengthy information leaflet for all those working in the food industry. It is in Greek but anybody that is interested can ask me for it. Owners and employees of businesses will have to follow the new rules that have been set by the Greek government.

Organized beach bars will open on Skopelos and in the rest of Greece but the general rule will be that no alcohol can be served and no music will be played.
The general directive is not to get together in big groups with people you do not know, no dancing etc.

When visiting shops please take care and look how many people are already inside. There is a maximum of customers that can go inside. Some shops will have cards and when they are given out you need to wait outside.

Greece will be welcoming international flights from June 15, initially only at Athens International Airport. From July 1, all other Greek airports (including Skiathos and Volos) will be open to flights from abroad. There have been announcements from charter organizations that will start flying from the first of July.

Travelling with boats and buses can be cheaper because the VAT will go from 24% to 13%.

According to mr. Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, Greece’s visitors will undergo sample tests when required and must abide by the country’s general health protocols (to be announced soon), which however “will not cast a shadow over our bright sun or natural beauty”.

It was announced that Greece’s incoming tourists will not need to have a corona virus test prior to travel nor will they be quarantined after arrival.

Source: skopelosnews and GTP travel pages

Elios beach at 16.20 hours today

Dirty girls of Lesvos

Today I received a special envelop that was promised to me after I made a donation to a wonderful group op people called the dirty girls of Lesvos that make a difference on the island of Lesvos. This island, apart from the island community, houses thousands of refugees and asylum seekers in camp Moria.

Social media are able to show us almost everything that happens around us. When the Corona epidemic came to Greece I thought of all of those thousands of people living, packed together, in difficult circumstances. Fortunately there are organisations that help out there.
This information below is from the website of the dirty girls.

Dirty Girls was initiated in 2015, so that good quality wet and dirty clothing discarded by thousands of people fleeing war and terror, arriving by sea on the island of Lesvos, would not be trashed.

Dirty Girls washes (to hospital standards), blankets, sleeping bags and other materials so that they can be reused, rather than the present practices of most International Non Government Organisations – the cavalier trashing of all materials and replacement with new ones.

Dirty Girls takes the materials from discarded life jackets and upcycles them into messenger bags.

The life jackets have been worn by people, fleeing war and inhumane conditions, making the treacherous sea crossing from Turkey to Lesvos in overcrowded flimsy boats. The jackets are filled with fake life preserving material, which means they won’t save people’s lives. Every jacket used represents a person who has survived a journey that too many haven’t. Each bag has a different, one off design; representing the fact that each refugee is a person with an individual life story. Donations from bags are used for washing blankets.

Dirty girls website
They are also on Facebook.