” Is there anyone there ?” said the Traveller in Walter de la Mare’s poem The Listeners and I guess I echo that as I have been off the air for so long but those of you who live on Mainland Europe will understand the hoops that have to be jumped through to do something as simple as bring a Cyprus registered car back to the place of registration after a gap longer than a few months. Add to that the shipping of it from one Greek speaking country to another one and you have a red tape nightmare when it should be so simple.
Days have been spent in various ministries explaining this simple proposition. The car has been away and now it is back. The officials on the other hand are busy explaining the number of penalties ( money) that you must pay for doing this. Indeed at one stage on Monday we were to have had to toss the old Cyprus plates and put new Cyprus plates on the car to reflect the fact that cars from Cyprus should only go on their hols for a maximum of three months without another penalty.
The concept of free movement of goods whilst built into the EU Charter is not something that any EU southern state has ever embraced . There are just too many penalties (money) to be imposed. I read the other day that Portugal still has a tax on the import of cars from other EU countries and the income is greater than the EU fine so they continue to do it. Still the car was pronounced Cypriot again at 3 p.m. yesterday and I can now drive past road checks here head high rather than praying the policeman isn’t about to raise his baton.
We are now in the apartment and settled after those 3 weeks of hotels in Greece. George Bernard Shaw wrote ” the great advantage of a hotel is that its a refuge from home life” but I would paraphrase it as the great advantage of a home is it is a refuge from the buffet breakfast.
In Italy buffet breakfasts in hotels are rather sad affairs or certainly in the 3 star places I frequent. A small room is set aside and in it sits a gurgling coffee machine whilst on a table sits an heated (partially )plastic see through cabinet with a few stale baguettes. It is why when you read Tripadvisor reviews of hotels outside of Italy the Italian reviewers spend all their time talking about the breakfast. In fact it is true of Italians writing about Italian hotels. I stayed in one near Otranto where all thirty Italian reviews merely talked about the number of cakes on offer so surprised were they to find such offerings. The hotel was in fact not bad but I couldn’t get on with eating just cake for breakfast whatever Marie Antoinette said.
In Greece the buffets have been grander affairs as they are quite keen on tourism ( Italy take note) and try to pander to the requirements of a more international group of breakfast eaters. In the Peloponnese this international group tended to mean German. Now a bit like eating cake I am not great on eating cured meats and sliced cheese for breakfast like our German cousins but normally the odd boiled egg and a toaster are hidden amongst the meats. .
Breakfasts are well attend by the Germans staying in the hotel and as many would do justice to a defense line backer in the NFL getting to and from the buffet when they are in attendance can be a struggle. To me it is essential that the hotel at least has someone delivering the tea and coffee and then you can focus all your effort of grabbing the morsels that are being left before they head out to the pool.
The last hotel we stayed in before Glyfada ( which is best just forgotten ) was in Githio ( a lovely town by the way) and prided itself on its breakfast buffet. Not only didn’t it have someone delivering tea or coffee so you queued like a small quarter back behind his offensive line but horror of horrors alongside the said coffee and tea dispensing machine they had placed a juicer !
A guest has to first cut up his oranges then place them in the Juicer and await the juice. Now I’m sure the wretched staff member that came up with that great wheeze has been warmly congratulated by management. But in reality it is a disaster. In your mind’s eye place three 300 pound hotel guests in front of that juicer. Then surround them with 6 equally large people trying to get to the coffee maker and the rest of the restaurant trying to get to the plates and cutlery you can see on the left of the juicer.
I rest my case. George Bernard Shaw you are wrong.