Posts Tagged With: shopping

The Milan’s Trip to Greece – John the JUMBO Criminal

 Dino - View from hotel porch. It's so rough here!!!!!!!  near Néa Iraklítsa, Kavala.

Dino – View from hotel porch. It’s so rough here!!!!!!!
near Néa Iraklítsa, Kavala.

Yesterday, after another delicious Greek meal with Niko and Popi we went to get coffee. The place we sat at for coffee had an atrium with a pond in it. I am pretty sure the pond, with beautiful lilies, carp, frogs and turtles was there for an aesthetic reason, not for children’s science projects. Our kids along with several other kids were all playing along side the pond. The play slowly escalated over time into full fledged turtle and frog hunting, shoes off, pants rolled to their knees and slugging through, who knows what, to find critters. They all had plastic cups and were catching little tadpoles and baby fish. I didn’t stop them because Niko and Popi seemed to think it wasn’t a big deal. I was thinking that if this was the States the owner or manager of the cafe would be ready to throw us out. When we left and began to walk home, Dino let us know that his shoes had gotten completely soaked in pond water and the sole inserts were rolling up on him when he walked. I didn’t bother to deal with it or take it too serious until tonight when we started smelling something wretchedly foul we discovered were his feet. He wore his pond wetted shoes all day and no matter how many times we washed his feet with every detergent and soap available the horrible smell wouldn’t leave him!

Today we went to a store called JUMBO. My friend Voula told my kids about this place a week ago and the store has plagued us every since. Every time we drive by one, the kids scream JUMBO! Of course the signage is giant, larger than life florescent bubble letters that every child can spot from miles away. JUMBO is if ToysRUs, IKEA, Claires, and Walmart all got married and had a baby together. You enter the store in one tiny door and then you wind thru all these isles of endless things go down a ramp lined with more things to the bottom floor more winding around through all their manipulations until you finally get to the cashier and out the tiny exit door, miles away from the entrance door. Forget building codes and fire safety, they will absolutely not allow you to leave through the entrance or enter through the exit. You are forced by JUMBO security to traverse their maze of colorful nick nacks and exit through the exit. We know all of this because John tried it.

He lost us and knew we were probably near the end of the maze and he was at the beginning. He thought he would just exit through the entrance and walk a few steps outside and slip through the exit. NO WAY! He tried and a lady jumped him and hit an alarm. All the sirens went off and John tried to explain but the lady wasn’t having it and she was waving and talking very strongly to him. John said he remained very calm and just looked at her until she pushed another button and turned the alarms off. When John found us and told us the story I shuddered to think of him getting hauled off to Greek jail because he tried to exit through the entrance at JUMBO. How could you even explain that to people? Its all good in the end, if its not good then its not the end. Between the 6 of us, we purchased a 30 cent fly swatter, a mask and snokel, a bathing suit, a pair of flip flops, stickers, a couple of journals with nonsense words from English speaking Chinese manufacturers, 2 spray bottles, and a couple of t-shirts. Dafni bought me a t-shirt that says, “My nick name, watch out my blog”. Because every time the kids do something naughty or crazy, I tell them, look out I’m putting that on Facebook! Dino is at the point that right after he does something or says something weird he says, “OK, fine put that on facebook, I don’t even care”. Poor kid!

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Milan’s Trip to Greece – near the city of Thessaloniki

Dino in the cityWe have been having busy, running, fun from 8 in the morning until midnight every night in and out of city. Our apartment is about 25 minutes from the city and parking is impossible. So we park the car on the outskirts and take the bus or walk into the city. The bus is always an adventure every time you get on it here. When you get on the bus in the morning heading into the city, you are in the midst of the heaviest bus traffic. There is a constant stream of buses passing through each bus stop and with 6 or 7 of us, we have to wait until we can find a bus that can fit all of us at once. When it pulls up you look inside and it really doesn’t seem possible that you can fit. The capacity of each bus is probably 200 with sitting and standing. The actual amount of people on each bus easily exceeds 350! You are pressed against each person on all sides, each fighting to find something to grab a hold of to steady yourself as the bus wildly flings itself through the city streets. Now the bus is an unfortunate place for short people. You get a face full of armpit no matter what you do. It seems that everyone in this country smells the same. It must be the food and spices and all the onions we eat, but it seems that there is no American brand deodorant up to the task to remain faithful all day.

Yesterday we went to the Greek Starbucks called Migel, which is right next to the American Starbucks. Since I am un-fan of Starbucks I was tickled to see that it was completely desolate and the Greek Starbucks Migel was full beyond capacity. There are hundreds of Migel chains in Greece and the owner is one of the few Greeks prospering and thriving during these times. It is a new chain that really has taken off in the last few years. He has a total system to his franchise and artsy look that is consistent. Also his prices are great. He only charges 2 Euro for almost any coffee, from cappuccino, to espresso, to Frappe to Fredo, while Starbucks charges 4 to 5 Euro. That is 6.50 to 7 dollars! The employees are expertly trained and have to go to Migel school for a few weeks before they can work there. They always have 3 to 4 coffee hosts walking around outside among the seats and tables welcoming customers and asking if there is anything they can do to make the coffee experience any better. John was trying to take pictures of the scene yesterday and one of the hosts stopped him and said it was against company policy to allow anyone to take pictures and ordered him to put his phone away. A few minutes later, another host asked me if I was enjoying my coffee and if there was anything he could do for me. I said, “yes, you can let us take pictures” He said no, it was company policy. I said, “well, I think you are making a mistake, because, as Americans we wanted to take a picture of the empty Starbucks next to the thriving Migel’s and post it on Facebook for all of our friends to see” I told him his policy was eliminating free advertisement. He quickly changed his mind and said we could take pictures. In fact he said he would take our picture for us, and so we got a few of the other hosts in our picture with us. Good times!

The girls are totally enthralled with city life here. They love the masses of people walking around shopping, talking on their cell phones, laughing in groups of friends. They love the thousands of boutiques everywhere you look with motivated sales people wanting to help you with anything you desire. They love seeing the latest fashions we don’t have in Arizona and the creative displays and decor. Anytime we ask the girls what they want to do today, they all say in unity, “SHOPPING!”. We have literally walked over 15 miles in shopping in just 2 days.

Not everyone in Greece has the entrepreneurial spirit though. We were in a clothing store called “Anel” last night around 8 O’clock and the girls had a few things in their hands and the clerk, said she was closing now and asked us to put our things down and leave. We questioned her thinking we misunderstood, but NO! she was emphatic and told us to leave at once. Also, there is a mall here that rents stores that are very expensive. Stores have been closing down and the mall is left with unrented stores. The owners of the mall in their business brilliance have decided to charge a few Euros for parking to offset the loss of rent. This has of course resulted in less people going to the mall and therefore more stores shutting down and therefore more rent loss. We are trying to figure out how the Greek business mind works.

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