Living in Greece!
Many people from northern Europe dream about the sun and relaxed life that Greece offers. A lot of tourists are coming every year, and Kos island is one of the most popular. The dream of moving to the Mediterranean may be something many have, but few make it real. Annelie did, and now she has been living in Greece for 30 years. Read her story.
Name: Annelie Stoltz
Occupation: Runs Beach Café/Strand Beach Club www.facebook.com/StrandCafeet/
Family: Greek partner and two children, 22 and 27
Lives in: Kos town, Greece
You have been living on Kos for 30 years. How did it all begin?
First time I was here was summer 1985 when I came for five weeks vacation. Same thing the three following years and in 1989 I decided to work all holiday season. I came here early of the year and planned to go back to Sweden again in the autumn. Then in August I met Thomas, a Greek man and very soon I decided that I wanted to stay. I felt that here is where I want to live. After all those years I still feel it was right. It's a wonderful place.
Now 30 years have passed and I have two grown up children, who both except Greek and English, speaks Swedish. They are even born in my home country and have double citizenship. We are actually speaking three languages at home: Greek, English and Swedish. It works well although it may sound a bit awkward.
Did you ever think you would be resident here when you came and worked when you were young?
No I didn't. First it was only for vacation, although I really liked this town and island. But even when I planned to stay all spring, summer and fall, I thought I would go home to Sweden again.
When I started to come here, many young women and men went down to have fun and enjoy the sun, but we saw it as some weeks of fun, not a place to live. Then, when I felt that this could be my home, it was no way back. But I still go home to Sweden every year and I always celebrate Christmas and New Year there.
You have always lived in Kos town, which has grown and has a lot of tourists. How would you describe the change during the years?
Yes, we have always lived in Kos town. I really get on well here; it's very nice. As I also work in town it's practical, although we have moved a little outside now, but I have my electric bicycle, so it goes fast.
Lots of things have happened during my years here. When I traveled here as young, it was lots of tourists, but then it's been up and down. Several things have been hard on the island. First it was the financial crises, then many refugees came here and two years ago it was the earthquake. All things those things made many to go on vacation to other places. But on the whole, we have always had tourists.
A new airport is built now, so it seems as the popularity is on its way up again, unfortunately many all inclusive hotels are popping up, which makes it difficult for many of us small business owners.
The town itself has grown nicer. For example we have got cycle path all over, something that also is very appreciated among the tourists. Many rent bicycles when they are here. Compared to other islands it's very nice and clean here and we have a lot of restaurants and also two harbors.
Here you also have your own business. What does it mean to you? I know you have many Scandinavian guests.
I love my work, although it was nothing I planned from the beginning when I came here. Then I had an employment like many others, but can tell now that this is so much more fun. I meet a lot of people from many countries, but most guests are from Scandinavia. I've been running this place on the beach since 2003.
We have many guests who come back every year and some have become friends for life. When one lives abroad it means a lot to be able to speak one's own language. Also some feel at home here as not all Scandinavians speaks English.
Many says that they like it so much here, which is a confirmation that we are doing the right thing, people feel welcome, and that's what we want them to do. It may be a lot of hard work, but it gives so much back.
In winter though I can take time off and relax, going out with friends and family, sit and read, and do whatever I like and do what I didn't had time to when I worked seven days per week for several months. That's usually the life here, work every day when the tourists come, then social life in winter.
Finally: Could you ever see yourself living in Sweden again?
To be honest I've never had a thought about going back, but of course one shall never say never. However, I hope to stay here as this is where I have my life.
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