A life experience of a Polish girl on the Greek island of Crete.

Polka pisze wiec po polsku tez bedzie…

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Adventures of Tsiknopempti/ Τσικνοπέμπτη/ Fat Thursday

It will be a very wet Tsiknopempti here in Chania. It’s been raining since this morning and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. There will be a lot of grilling under the roof this year.

For the ones who are not familiar with a term, Tsiknopempti is this Thursday , 11 days before Kathara Devtera (Καθαρά Δευτέρα – Clean Monday) when Greeks grill lots of meat and enjoy its taste before the Great Lent starts. For the next week and a half we will enjoy the Carnival, eat meat like crazy (see I told you that Greeks love meat!) and from Monday the 7th of March, the fasting season will begin.
I have already noticed a lot of fasting food in the supermarkets. Shelves are stuffed with halva, pickles, olives, cauliflower and carrots toursi (kind of vegetable pickles, pretty salty with a rich dose of vinaigrette).

I completely forgot that we have “charred Thursday” today (in Polish “Tlusty czwartek”). Back in my Warsaw home, we usually eat a lot of donuts on this day. Here, in Greece we will celebrate with grilled meat. Since it is only me and my husband, I think we will go for an old good souvlaki to our favorite place “Roumeli” –(http://www.roumelicapriccioza.gr/ their website in only in Greek, but if you are in Chania, just simply look for the Dikastiria Square. Roumeli is located right next to a fruit and vegetable market). 

I have to admit I had a really beautiful morning, except this nasty weather typical for February on the island. Zuza made me a gift and let me touch her and pet her a little bit after many months when our relationship was restricted to the routine: me – providing cat food, her – pretending to be dangerous but as soon as the kitchen door was closed, she was right next to her bowl.

After this ecstatic moment, I grabbed my umbrella and left right into the jaws of Greek system. 

The first on my way was KEP (Κ.Ε.Π Κέντρο Εξυπηρέτησης Πολιτών /Citizen Service Centre). This is one of those places that if you are completely lost in the whole beaurocracy, you’d better go there first before you consider more pricy solutions i.e. paying a lawyer. They are usually very useful right at the beginning of your research. They also have a right to stamp and validate almost any document that was issued by the Greek government. However, what I’ve learnt today, they cannot validate your building permits.

So off KEP I was directed to Poleodomia (Πολεοδομία/Urban planning offices). After many visits in those offices, I knew that a few stamps may take a half of my day, but it turned out I was lucky. Somehow, thank to politeness of one woman working there, I managed to skip the long line of people trying to fit in a room of 4 sq.m.. and got my stamps (three on each page!). Anyway, the room was small and the atmosphere was hectic. From what I understood they were facing some serious problems with their computers and the rest of applicants were forced to wait there. On the brighter side, "the room 2 "offers a pretty spectacular view of a long road heading straight to the sea! Yes, they have a sea view!So the poor applicant does not have to stare at the wall while waiting. 

After all stamps were where they were supposed to be, I headed to my lawyer’s office. Dikigoros (Δικηγόρος/ Lawyer) is a person that you will need in many situations in Greece. If you speak good enough Greek, you may save some cash (no time).  However, you’d better become a friend with a lawyer since their Greek may be better than yours. I visited Manoli with a case of my residence permit (adeia paramonis - άδεια παραμονής) that remains unsolved from October of 2010. As it turns out, I need this document beyond the fact that I’m married to the Greek citizen and that I come from European Union country. Stupid me! I thought that since my husband is Greek, Poland is in EU and I can freely come to this country to work, it has never crossed my mind that I would need to continue with my residence permit! How wrong I was, showed 150 euro fine for the five-month delay. It hurt my pocket, but what has to be done, has to be done. Obediently, I followed all the rules just to get over it. I waited patiently (no pressure from my side) for the last 2 months, but then I thought that something must be wrong. How long can it take to issue one permit??? So Manolis called and there are good and bad news. Good news is that my card is issued. Bad news is that there is nobody to sign it since the last elections; regional authorities still didn’t get a permit to sign such papers.  Make a long story short (I’m not even thinking how illogical it is!), I can’t get the permit because the government didn’t give the permit to the certain authorities to sign such permits! I hope you get the whole idea. It took me a while to understand it. My lawyer, probably ashamed of the whole situation, didn’t take a penny from me. Now, it is in the God’s hand how long it will take. Can be 5 days, can be 2 months. As the Greek say: Ipomoni (Υπομονή - Be patient)!

Hope this evening‘s souvlaki will compensate my adventures of Fat Thursday! I’m just happy that Chania is not a big town and I could visit all those places on foot. Well. I’ve learnt something and I had a good walk. No jogging for me today. Now I’m ready for the nice bite! Welcome to the “nest of  cholesterole” as one guy said today on TV;)


  1. KEP is not knowledgeable about as many issues as you say, and a lawyer has been useless to me for 14 years except when I went to court for a lawsuit. I usually know more about permits than them, so what you say is not true.

  2. 14 years, that's a pretty long time in Greece. You definitely had lots of years to figure out things for yourself. Though, I still believe and that is what I meant, it is useful for the beginners, with no Greek and no help from any source. I wouldn't count on them to solve all your problems, but I wouldn't also be so harsh on them. They can deal with small issues;)

  3. after 15 years of living in Greece I can say that using a lawyer isn't a necessity but certainly isn't useless either! especially if you aren't EU or US citizen ;)
    Greek civil servants are difficult to deal with ;)and if you don't have enough patience,time or don't speak Greek, you better get a lawyer:) a competent one;)
    Lilalo, I understand your point of view, and all you wrote is true :D ;)
    Good luck with your permit...rather patience :)