I say yes! To a life in Greece

I started this website because I wanted something of my own when I would move to Greece with my boyfriend. A getaway from his country and family, something to allow me to share the experience of living abroad. We had many ideas for businesses in Greece and imagined moving together next year to start a different life. 

However, business in Greece is not easy. With vague rules and regulations, unmet promises, and the siga siga mentality, plans for the future rarely work out as you want them to. While I got more and more excited to leave my life in the Netherlands, the chances of starting over in Greece got smaller and smaller.

My life doesn’t suit me

For me, the idea of a life in Greece is intertwined with the lack of happiness I feel in my current life. I struggle with my ADHD in the career-oriented environment I am in. It is not that I do not like to work. Instead, I love to work hard. But the repetitive aspect of my job here and the artificial landscape of Rotterdam, are two things that do not fit me. I need a more active and free life to feel my best.

During my years as a student, for example, I took time off whenever I wanted to. No one cared if I attended classes or studied at fixed times. I had the freedom to organize my life in a way that suited me. There were weeks I hardly slept and worked 16 hours a day. But there were also weeks when I left everything behind and explored other countries and cities. 

The result? I was happy and graduated with honors. I was great at what I did because I could do it at my own pace. However, no boss will allow me to work that way. Unfortunately, I do not fit into a regular job.

What do I want?

When the business ideas in Greece started to disappear, I didn’t know what to do. It had been the idea of a future abroad that got me through my days behind a desk. Without this idea, I felt lost. How long before I could start figuring out what I want in life? When would I find a lifestyle that suits me? How was I supposed to get rid of this intense feeling of being trapped?

I believe that, with the disappearance of a concrete plan for a future in Greece, I discovered what moving to Greece meant to me. It wasn’t that I was sad to lose the business plans. Instead, I lost the chance to have to opportunity to get away from my desk, connect with nature, and work at a pace that suits me. Greece had been about my need for freedom and an inspiring environment. And for this, I do not need a concrete plan. I need to be brave!

Realizing this, I decided that no matter what opportunities would come or not come, I would leave. Follow my heart and discover what makes me happy. Learn about myself and figure out what is bothering me in my current life. Work hard when I am motivated, and take time off when I need inspiration. 

A plan without a plan. Only based on my own emotions. Irrational and impulsive. And most of all, freaking scary.

Do I have to go alone?

After this decision, came doubt. Although I now thought of Greece as a way to discover my own needs in life, I always imagined going on this journey together with my boyfriend. However, around the time I decided to go to Greece, my boyfriend got a promotion. A new opportunity that got him excited. So excited that even if a business plan in Greece would have appeared, he would have wanted to stay.

Suddenly we wanted two different things in life. I wanted to realize his dream in Greece. He wanted what I had always believed my life to be. A successful career in the Netherlands.

We took some time to discuss and think about what this would mean for us. Was one of us supposed to wait? Was one of us supposed to give up their dream? Or were our dreams even false, influenced by the other person? 

Doubt

I doubted myself a lot during this time. I wanted to be ok with staying here, in this city, doing this job. I blamed my ADHD and told myself I just had to set my feelings aside and keep trying. Be normal, and be with my boyfriend. 

Besides my doubts about wanting to leave the life I have here, I started doubting Greece a lot as well. I mean, before I met the Greek boyfriend, I had never been to the country, nor did I have plans on going. How could it now be my dream to go to Greece? Was I being true to myself?

I tried to imagine myself in Indonesia, Italy, or Argentina. If I wanted to go to one of these countries, at least it would clearly be my own decision. However, no other country attracted me as much as Greece does. Greece fascinates me. Maybe because my happiest adult moments have been in this country, or maybe because the culture is so utterly different from the home I grew up in. I want to understand the Greeks, their relationships, traditions, and beliefs. But I also want to explore the country, the landscape, and the clear blue seas.

I choose life

I decided to quit my job in February. To travel and write in Greece, starting the first of March. My boyfriend will stay here in Rotterdam, and we are not sure how often we will be able to see each other.

I believe it was this website that helped me make this decision. During the past six months, writing about Greece was the one thing I kept enjoying, even when I did not feel good. The idea of being able to write daily, without other occupations, gave me a new sense of happiness in life. I have no clue how long I will stay, where I will go, or how I will support myself. But I do know this experience will make me a better, happier, and kinder person. And that is what is important in life!

Why I fell in love with Greece

I guess most of you know Greece as an ideal holiday destination. The combination of beautiful and unique beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, tasty fresh food, countless ancient ruins, and idyllic villages make this country one of the top places in the world to spend your summer. Why not love Greece? Well, for me, my love for Greece only grew after the country became more than what it is famous for.

I didn’t know Greece

Before I met my Greek boyfriend, I had never been to Greece and neither had I ever wanted to go to one of its famous islands. In general, I had never been a beach holiday person. I tried it once, long ago in Italy, but I felt bored within just a couple of days. So I decided back then to spend my holidays only on quick city trips.

When my boyfriend and I started planning our first trip to Greece to meet his family, I was afraid. We were going for a month. Stayed at the beach house with my boyfriend’s parents in a small non-touristic area. What was I supposed to do there? I really expected myself wanting to come back within the first week.

The beach house

But then we reached the beach house, and with beach house, I mean a house literally on the beach. Away from everything else. There is almost no cellphone reception or internet. No cars passing by and no people other than the family to share the beach with. But instead of freaking out about the month to come, I immediately recognized this place as a little paradise. Just for us.

During our first weeks there I started learning the greek way of living in summer. Swimming before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating fresh fish straight from the sea and vegetables from the garden. Doing some work around the house in the morning, taking a nap in the afternoon, and meeting friends at night. I learned how to live with nature and family, which I, as a Dutch city girl, never tried before.

My father-in-law taught me how the direction of the wind and the temperature of the land and water determine the state of the sea. My eighty-something-year-old grandma-in-law taught me how burning coffee scares away the mosquitoes. And my mother-in-law taught me to cook with whatever was around the house and my boyfriend taught me how to fish.

I fell in love

Every member of his family and there are many of them in a Greek family, taught me something new. But the main thing I learned was to appreciate slowing down. Never had I felt more relaxed and loved as I did after just a week at my boyfriend’s family. I cried a lot that first trip, tears from real happiness, real connection, or from the diverse and beautiful landscape around me. I found my home with my love for Greece.

For two years now we have been traveling back and forth between Greece and our home in The Netherlands and it is difficult. We both prefer to stop coming back here. We want to live our lives in the country we both love instead of making money in a place we simply don’t connect with. But it is scary to leave the safety of the Netherlands knowing that life in Greece will get hard. It is a big step, that we prepare for every day.

Vitamin D deficiency in summer

Every year there are around thirty million people who come to enjoy the Greek summer sun. But while the tourists take over the many Greek beaches to work on their tanning. The locals often are trapped inside with a vitamin D deficiency in summer.

Life in a Greek city during summer is far from the paradise we find in Greece as foreigners. The continuous heat combined with the lack of greenery, makes the cities heat up so much during the day that the only way to live is by staying inside. With the windows, shutters, and curtains closed and the air-conditioning put to its maximum. Waiting for the night to come.

Fortunately, many Greeks that live in the big cities have a family house somewhere far away from the boiling concrete. But amongst the people that do not have this luxury or the ones that have to work too much for too little money and can not afford to leave the city, vitamin D deficiency in summer is a very common problem.

So next time you find yourself drinking a cocktail on one of Greece’s paradise-like beaches. Getting rid of your vitamin D deficiency. Think about the real Greeks. Because real life in this beautiful country is not as pleasant as your stay there.