This post was first published in iamgreek.nl
Many of us – Greek immigrants that live far from Greece – write from time to time posts about what we miss from Greece since we don’t live there anymore. We may feel nostalgia and maybe sadness because of the thought we won’t go back (yet) and some of us choose to write and “become one” with other people who feel similarly to us.
On the other hand most of us may have noticed the high rate of agreement that Greeks share between us especially when we want to refer to negative things about Greece. More specifically when we want to talk about non-cool stuff from our beloved homeland, we may become really descriptive and talkative and full of cranky comments.
During our last months I moved back to Greece for some business reasons but soon I will be back “home”, Netherlands (I think I chose some really interesting words to form my last phrases!). Coming back to Greece after some years of living abroad gives me the great chance to make some interesting comments! As a typical Greek I can skip quickly my obvious happiness that has – also – to do with the fact that I am eating my mum’s delicious food – which is full of aromas and unique taste of the qualitative Greek products that she buys – and start complaining about all these small annoying things that I notice in Greece and I almost never experience in the Netherlands. This post is a total challenge because in a few lines I will try to refer to many facts I experience in the Netherlands and consider them as absolutely positive. I dare to say that I miss a lot of these small but important details of everyday life now that I am back in Greece.
I won’t mention Dutch trains that could be a pain in the ass (especially for anyone who wants to be in a specific place on an exact time) but I will speak for the rest types of transportation: Buses, trams, metro (subway). They are usually on time and rarely they are full. Usually there are semi-full so you could find easily a seat or a comfortable area to stand without the danger to fall on somebody around you by mistake.
Good pavements and rightly asphalted roads
An easy subject if you want to say good things about Netherlands. Pavements in most Dutch cities are broad, comfortable and well-made – Amsterdam’s city centre is excluded. You feel really happy to walk on them! You feel something similar when you drive on the Dutch roads in and out of the cities. Dutch roads are annoyingly good! Seriously I cannot compare Dutch pavements and road networks to Greek ones (we all know why) or even German ones. I believe that a well-organized country has always well-conserved roads and Netherlands is one of the best countries in this domain!
Bicycles and bicycle paths
I think that Dutch and Danish are the world champions users, holders of bicycles/per person and best constructors of good bicycle paths. Greek weather is amazing for more than 6 months per year, so bicycles could be an ideal way of transportation in Greece. Obviously we cannot have it. Who can rebuild most of the Greek cities to construct decent bicycle paths?
There is a lot of green around
No country is more green than the Netherlands! Nobody can persuade me that the presence of nature in a city centre is not something spectacular. In Greece we should stop letting our precious forests burning and we should not build our houses where trees previously existed.
When you are new in the Netherlands you may freak out with the level of silence and privacy of everyday life. Nowadays I am sure I cannot live for a long time without it. In Greece we make so much noise and most of the times without a good reason!
The coolness of summer times
Yes, I am one of those irritating Mediterranean persons who don’t like heat. For some reason many Greeks but also foreigners strongly believe that if someone is born in a country with too much sun, nice beaches and exotic places to discover, then he/she must adore summer and high temperatures. Unfortunately or not, this doesn’t apply to all the people that have lived in “South” areas. Personally, I am not at all a fan of high temperatures, I can easily get a sunstroke and often I cannot stand sunbathing for more than 10 minutes. During the last years I got used to cool summer days in the Netherlands (which are not obviously the typical summer days!) and every year that I visit Greece for my annual summer vacation I wonder how I spend most of the summer days and nights of my life in these suffocating conditions! You are free to hate me but seriously most days of the year I don’t miss the 35 degrees of Greek summer!
Taking care of everyday responsibilities and tasks through the website of a company or an organization
Greeks will take a lot of time to be like Dutch in this domain. Frankly I don’t believe that bureaucracy is a Greek phenomenon. Bureaucracy exists everywhere, in every country. Bureaucracy in the Netherlands could be really annoying! However, the big difference between Greeks and Dutch regarding this subject is one: Dutch most of the times use their computer data to take care of tasks while Greeks keep behaving to computers as vases with flowers that don’t need too much touching! If employees of organizations and social services won’t learn how to properly use computers and use digital data then their customers won’t be able to manage easily and efficiently their tasks through websites.
I am so curious to see if you agree or not with all these stuff above. All the comments are welcome. Feel free to discuss below anything related to this post.
The photos were taken from Thrasos Panou.