Living in Greece as a non-citizen requires a visa, and a residence permit, and a tax ID number. Getting our Greek visas was a part-time job of mine for several months. Having jumped through all of the hoops... like being finger printed, having FBI background checks, going to the doctor for TB and Syphilis tests (that was a lovely date,) and having Apostille seals placed on all of our birth certificates; I thought I was all set for arriving, paying a residence fee, and having our residency permits and tax ID numbers issued. I was wrong... whomp, whomp, whomp.
We met with our Greek immigration lawyer and found out that there are many more hoops to jump through to obtain our residency permits. I'm mentally athletic and totally game to take on the hoops... but in our current situation we can apply for our permit and the application will be viewed in 12 to 18 months.
What does that mean? Well, it means we won't have our residence permit while we're living in Greece and therefore have 90 days before we can be denied access to the 26 Schengen countries (which are basically all the places most people would like to see in Europe.) To my credit I did not cry when that particular piece of news was delivered, but I did die inside a little.
I'm a firm believer that where there's a will, there's a way... and we're on a quest to find it. Yes, we can most likely travel without being denied access into a country, but I really don't love the idea of the possibility of planning a family trip, booking tours, booking an AirBNB, and upon arriving in a new country being told we can't enter. So, our new challenge (aside from Operation Tame Parrots) is finding a way to get our residency permits in the next 3 months.
Now for the good stuff. Our taxi driver from the airport mentioned that his favorite Athenian beach was not the tourist destination of Glyfada, but a quieter local beach called Nea Makri. So of course when Saturday dawned with 100 degree temperatures we piled into our car with my new sparkle floatie, plugged Nea Makri into Google Maps, and drove there with zero idea what to expect.
Nea Makri was lovely! We drove 30 minutes out of the city and along the coast to a stretch of beach dotted with restaurants and parks. We settled at Magko, a very cool beach bar, that rented beach umbrellas and loungers (oh and served champagne.)
Merric usually makes beach buddies in 10 minutes and then spends hours playing with them. This was not the case at Nea Makri. There were many boys to play with, but Merric (uncharacteristically) was feeling shy and didn't want to find out if they spoke English. This could have been an issue, but it turned into an opportunity to find a hidden talent... acrobatics.
Yes, you read that right. We are on a random Greek beach and find a woman giving acrobatic classes. This leads to Merric taking and hour and thirty minute session and loving it! For the kid who couldn't do a cartwheel before... he made massive progress, and most importantly found a passion for acrobatics. This would never happen in the United States. Or if it did, there would be waivers to sign, and a much less rigorous session. Part of our reason for moving to Athens was to expose Merric to new experiences... and this totally checked the box!
On Sunday we met up with the family of Merric's friend from camp. His mom was nice enough to answer my handwritten "please be our friends note" and invite us to lunch in Kifisia. We were excited but a little nervous. These were the first people we could have conversations with in 6 days! What would they be like? Would they like us? Would the Greek husband look down on our Americanisms?
There was no reason to worry. We had a fabulous lunch, learned a great deal of Greek context and politics from the husband and laughed at how different some things are here from the United States with the American wife. We could not have wished for better people to meet as our first Athenian friends.
The lunch went so well we headed to a coffee shop afterwards (I think this is why the Greeks eat so late... they drink crazy amounts of coffee all day) and the kids played outside for hours. Everyone was happy. Well, at least everyone in our group was happy and the elderly Greeks were indifferent to the level of insanity outside the shop in the courtyard.
Spending Saturday at the local beach (with champagne,) meeting an AWESOME family who will be moving to Athens in August, and the heat wave finally breaking!
Merric discovering hidden acrobatic talents at the beach, how unfazed Greek people are by kids bouncing balls off of walls outside a coffee shop, and me pouring what I thought was milk into my espresso, but what was in reality more like liquid cottage cheese.
Obtaining our Greek tax ID numbers, and heading off on a 7 day sailing flotilla of the Ionian islands to celebrate our 14 year anniversary.
We have missed our boat very much this spring/summer, but couldn't justify opening it up for the short period we had before we headed to Athens. This trip will provide some much needed time on the water as a family. However, we've never really sailed before and don't have a skipper... so another Tate family adventure is brewing.