Investing in Precious Metals 101 Ad

field report from Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia

Login or register to post comments Last Post 13728 reads   105 posts
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 105 total)
  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 12:45am

    #1
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 883

    count placeholder

    field report from Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia

 

Just got back from a wonderful two week  vacation in which I took my wife, son, and daughter on a Mediterranean cruise.  As I had posted elsewhere, one can easily get caught up in all the doom and gloom and I decided to do something about it.  With my daughter moving on to another phase in her life and my son also soon to do the same, I figured this might be the last year we could all get together as a family for a vacation so we might as well spend the money on a great experience and create a lasting memory that no one or nothing can take away from us. 
 
We visited Italy (3 ports), Greece (5 ports), Turkey, and Croatia.  We wanted a relaxing vacation in which we would immerse ourselves in the experience so we decided on no TV, no radio, no newspaper, no Internet, no phone.  And we didn't miss any of it.  In fact, it was profoundly relaxing and soothing not to be constantly bombared by the MSM and alternative media messages which are regularly pounded into our psyches.  I think it was Andrew Weil who promoted the idea of a "news fast" and I would concur that it is an excellent idea to periodically indulge in this practice.  Also, with it being a vacation, although I was personally curious about the economic , political, and social situations in each of these countries, I decided I wouldn't make investigation of these issues a priority.  I would, however, keep my eyes open and, if the opportunity presented itself, ask someone (at least in Greece) about their situations. 
 
Our perpsective was obviously skewed since we were on a cruise ship with probably an 85% geriatric population in which every effort is made to detach you from the real world so that you can thoroughly enjoy your experience (and, of course, return for a future cruise because of your positive memories of this wonderful experience).  In Naples, however, our tour guide of Pompeii, a delightful middle aged female archaeologist, did go on a rant about the bankers, corrupt politicians, and poor leadership.  Since a lot of Italian buildings are obviously old and look more worn and run down than the architecture in Germany, for example, it was hard to tell how much of appearances were due to the culture of the country as compared to economic stress.  Italy, however, did not appear as prosperous as Germany did when we saw it last year but seemed about on par with France.  From the way the tour guide was going on, however, it was obvious that the economy was experiencing its struggles and so were the people.  In Rome, Naples, and Venice, however, the people were, on average, vibrant, friendly, seemingly happy, well dressed, and well fed.  There were the normal street hustlers and beggars but not to an excessive extent. 
 
Greece was my real interest, however.  In Santorini, I had an opportunity to speak with our waiter at lunch about the economy.  He said on that island, they were doing well because of the tourism but much of Greece was struggling.  Indeed, the touristy islands of Santorini, Mykonos, and Corfu seemed prosperous and well maintained.  Athens was a bit different, however.  From what I read though, I expected it to be worse.  There were numerous vacant storefronts, more than one would normally expect, but not to an excessive degree.  Infrastructure was not as well maintained with unmowed grass in parks and squares, fountains that were shut off, poorly maintained and supplied public restrooms, and other signs of cutbacks in government spending.  One thing that did strike me, however, were the cars.  In Germany last year, there were many large cars (more like America) and they were very clean and shiny.  In Italy, smaller cars on average (but then again, city areas are older with narrower and more winding streets) and almost all were a bit grimey.  In Greece, the cars were filthy.  I asked the guide about it and she explained rain with dust from the African deserts as causing the problem but virtually all of them were filthy.  In America, however, there'd be folks who'd have their cars clean the next day.  Not so in Athens.   The situation makes me wonder if car cleanliness might be an economic indicator of sorts.  Overall, from our brief and limited exposure, Greece did not seem to be as much of a basket case as has been depicted in the alternative media but then again, poverty, hunger, unemployment, etc. are often hidden.  A general impression I got from Greece though (and also, Italy) was that water (and especially clean water) could be at a premium.  Especially in Greece, there aren't many bodies of fresh water.  I could see how water could be or become a signficant issue there. 
 
I hit the jackpot with our tourguide to Olympia.  She was a young (28 year old) woman who laughed easily and had a happy-go-lucky attitude.  She talked a bit about "The Crisis", as she termed it (and as it is referred to on T-shirts for sale in the tourist areas).  When I asked her a direct question about the economy, it was the first time I saw her expression change and she became very serious, perhaps even a bit angry.  She started out by saying that, overnight, with no vote and no say in the matter, they had their salaries cut by 50%.  This number caught my attention since my daughter has a Greek Cypriot friend in France whose parents are both school teachers.  This friend said both her parents' salaries in Cyprus were cut by 50% and they completely lost their government pensions … nothing … all gone.  Getting back to the tour guide in Olympia, she also said that overnight (again with no input from the populace), their service tax was increased from 13% to 23% while their product tax was increased from 9% to 13%.  Taxes were also levied so that the more children now, the more taxes.  At the same time, it was discovered that the Minister of Defense, in just one of his many bank accounts, had $800 million (yes, that's the figure she said).  He was being investigated by the courts but she did not think much would come of it.  After checking on the facts, I found that she had exaggerated a bit with the amount being 80 million drachmas and with him having it in a suitcase, not a bank account (at least according to one source I read).  She also clearly understood that this situation was not unique to Greece but was occurring throughout the Western world and Greece was just the vanguard.  She also said that most of her friends did not have a job and although she did, she couldn't afford a car.  She said she didn't care, that she could take public transportation or walk.  She also said she wasn't worried because she knew, in her area (which is a heavily agricultural area) they would be able to grow enough food to eat and survive.  My sense is that there is a significant underground economy in Greece, Italy, and the other countries experiencing increasing economic stress.  Obviously, from reading the news, we know that the Greeks aren't very good a bout paying their taxes and I would guess that situation is getting even worse but that's pure speculation on my part. 
 
In Turkey, the situation seemed better.  The tour guide said their economy was doing well and indeed, when we visited Kusadasi and Ephesus, the area seemed to be vital.  There was even a large water park we passed on our way inland.  Turkey tends to have a stricter government that does not tolerate its citizens speaking out against it or its leaders, however, so dissent is probably not freely expressed.  I can understand how the Turkish stock market has been doing well the past couple of years, however, and from what I saw (as well as considering information from folks like George Friedman who predicts it will become a world class power in the next 50 years), I would not bet against Turkey. 
 
Croatia, according to an Austrian friend, has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for Europeans and after visiting there, I can see why.  Most people on the cruise ship were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was.  My daughter remarked that the people there seemed to be the most attractive of the 4 countries we visited.  The old walled town of Dubrovnik had been hit hard during the Yugoslavian civil war in the early 1990s with about 650 artillery shell hits (and more than 50% of the buildings damages in that walled area which was about a mile across).  Being a UNESCO World Heritage suite, however, it has been well restored and was quite charming.  Food was excellent and many Croatians spoke good English.  The economy seemed to be doing well but again, this is a tourist town visited by many cruise ships so it may not be representative of the rest of the country. 
 
With regards to NWO developments, I was amazed how lax customs were in many areas.  We only perfunctorily had our passports checked coming into Rome and into Turkey and Croatia.  We were not checked at the other two Italian ports or at the five Greek ports except for our cruise cards.  On the way home, however, my son was detained and questioned for about five minutes in Amsterdam because his passport had not been stamped.  They claimed he had come into the EU illegally but finally understood that we didn't have ANY of our passports stamped in any of the four countries or 10 ports.  U.S. Customs was significantly friendlier and less intrusive than last year but there was one event that stood out.  A very attractive young woman was detained and questioned by one particular ICE officer and it was quite obvious why.  No one else was stopped but he questioned her at length.  Then, farther along in customs, before  going through the body scanner, she was frisked by another officer.  Again, she was the only one and the reason was quite obvious. 
 
With regards to the climate change folks, while I know there can be flooding there, we were surprised to find that St. Mark's Square and many of the streets in Venice are regularly flooded at high tide.  Our first night there, we unexpected ran into the situation of water up to our upper shins.  Of course, every crisis presents an opportunity and entrepreneurs were hawking plastic bags to put over your legs as well as rubber boots. 
 
One more situation occurred that I thought was of interest.  When I went to exchange U.S. dollars for Croatian kunas, any bills that were wrinkled, torn, or had any kind of stain or writing on them were refused.  Also, although we informed our credit card company where we were going, we ran into situations twice where the credit card company refused to allow the purchase to go through.  The second time occurred after we called them AGAIN from the ship's satellite phone to make sure everything was OK.  The message here was that cash is king but it better be pristine cash. 
 
Overall, tourism seemed to be strong.  These ports were all packed with tourists and our cruise ship seemed to be fully booked.  There was no obvious evidence of economic recession (but then again, how obvious would such a situation be in that venue).  All in all, it was a most fascinating, enjoyable, and relaxing experience seeing a different part of the world and getting away from it all for a couple of weeks.  I'm realizing at this stage that what's going to happen is going to happen and nothing I say or do is going to change it.  Also, if people haven't caught on by now, they probably never will until it smacks them in the face.  I'm done with "evangelizing" about what's coming and have settled in to enjoy life as much as possible while still being prepared as much as possible for any eventuality.  Also, I've lost interest in keeping up on every little news development.  It makes for too much crazyiness and, at this stage, I've got better things to do with my time.  This is going to be a LONG course of events so pacing oneself will be important.  Ciao. 
 
  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 09:29am

    #2

    thc0655

    Status Platinum Member (Online)

    Joined: Apr 27 2010

    Posts: 1467

    count placeholder

    Wise move, AO

AO:

Your family vacation at your particular stage of life seems to me a wise move.  I'm happy for you that it turned out just as you had hoped.

And thanks for sharing your impressions.  "Raw data" is very important to me considering how "everybody" is trying to convince me that they have the right view of things.  As you stated, though, your particular ports of call might not have been the most representative of the whole situation.  I could take you on a very pleasant 3 day tour of Philadelphia and you might have equally positive impressions, and then in 8 hours I could show you some other stuff that would scare your socks off.

I'm moving in the direction you concluded with, but I'm not as far along as you are:

"I'm realizing at this stage that what's going to happen is going to happen and nothing I say or do is going to change it.  Also, if people haven't caught on by now, they probably never will until it smacks them in the face.  I'm done with "evangelizing" about what's coming and have settled in to enjoy life as much as possible while still being prepared as much as possible for any eventuality.  Also, I've lost interest in keeping up on every little news development.  It makes for too much crazyiness and, at this stage, I've got better things to do with my time.  This is going to be a LONG course of events so pacing oneself will be important."

Tom

  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 11:17am

    #3
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1369

    count placeholder

    Thanks AO

Thanks for sharing.  Like Tom and you, I am doing less evangelizing and more enjoying our ongoing preps, principally incorporating permaculture features into our land planning.  

Your cruise struck a cord with me because I had my own Med cruise along with visits to many other ports through the Mideast, Africa, the Caribbean and South America 40 some years ago compliments of Uncle Sam.  At the time the USD was king and there was an active black market everywhere we visited.  I  came to believe an alternative economy is valuable if not essential to keep the dominant system 'honest.'

Congrats on taking the opportunity to share a formative experience with the kids.  You and they will never forget it.

Doug

  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 11:21am

    #4
    robie robinson

    robie robinson

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 869

    count placeholder

    Thanks AO

apologetics will produce longer lasting converts than evangelism, it works. it is good to have you back. i thought you might have "gone galt".

robie

  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 12:17pm

    #5

    Oliveoilguy

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 29 2012

    Posts: 521

    count placeholder

    Brings Back Memories

Thanks for the detailed report. Reminds me of my travels.

In 1970 I went overland to India. Started in Switzerland. Train to Italy, boat to Greece, Boat to Turkey, then followed the trade route through Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan, and finally to India. 

Still have impressions of the people and the cultures to this day. It's fun to connect with people as you did with the tourguide to Olympia.

BY the way……regarding your vacation from the news. Nancy and I have given up TV. Our life is better than ever.     Thanks again.

  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 01:47pm

    #6

    Nervous Nelly

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 24 2011

    Posts: 179

    count placeholder

    Welcome back ao.

I'm realizing at this stage that what's going to happen is going to happen and nothing I say or do is going to change it.  Also, if people haven't caught on by now, they probably never will until it smacks them in the face.  I'm done with "evangelizing" about what's coming and have settled in to enjoy life as much as possible while still being prepared as much as possible for any eventuality.  Also, I've lost interest in keeping up on every little news development.  It makes for too much crazyiness and, at this stage, I've got better things to do with my time.  This is going to be a LONG course of events so pacing oneself will be important.  Ciao. 
ao what's a paragraph of wisdom! There comes a point of over saturation where enough is enough.
Take a vacation the problem will still be there when we get back. You and your family know what's going on and take measures to protect yourselves to best of your knowledge and so do I. We can see the train wreak coming and if others are in denial that's their problem. I've given up wasting my precious energy. Anyway why should I try to impose my way of thinking on others. 
Seems that ignorance is bliss. 
 
One sentence you wrote caught my attention. Are you sure about that?

        Taxes were also levied so that the more children now, the more taxes. 

           Population control ?
 
Sonya
 
Oh Lord can't seem to block just one paragraph !!!  Sorry.
  • Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - 03:26pm

    #7
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 31 2017

    Posts: 1612

    count placeholder

    seconding many of the thoughts here

Thanks for the great insights as well as sharing your experience for us. Like the others who posted, I found your last paragraph to be especially good. It resonates strongly with me. Perhaps some of us are having "aha" moments where we realize that one can immerse themselves too much in reading and preparing, to the point of oversaturation. That is kind of where I have been lately. Enjoyment of life need not be sacrificed at the alter of learning and preparing.

Perhaps a fourth "E" to supplement the 3E's is required. It would primarily be Emotional resilience, with a strong emphasis on Enjoyment of life. In order for us to be on an even keel as much as possible, we must also give priority to downtime to enjoy whatever it is that brings happiness.

I am glad you wrote this as it has given me a little wake up call. Time is precious, and there is no time like the present.

Cheers,

Jan

 

  • Mon, Jun 03, 2013 - 01:41am

    #8
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 883

    count placeholder

    thanks

Thanks for your comments folks.

A few other things come to mind.  For the Definitive Firearms followers, this is amusing (and concerning at the same time).  There were many carabieniri (Italian national military police) in Rome, a number of whom were armed with Beretta submachine guns.  We spotted one particular carabieneri cradling his Beretta with … get this … his hand OVER the muzzle of the gun.  As I pointed this out to my wife and we both stared and chuckled, the carabieneri realized what we were looking at and quickly moved his hand, looking a little embarassed in the process.

Also, there was a huge March for Life demonstration by the Coliseum in Rome with probably 15,000 marchers (all very peaceful), roads closed all around the area, a huge police presence, and helicopters hovering overhead.  Speaking to friends in this country who are Catholic though, no one heard anything about it and there was almost nothing mentioned in the media about it, either in the US or in Europe, according to my daughter who lives there.  Whatever one's belief system or political orientation, it's just another example of highly selective MSM coverage.

Another thing that struck me is that in an a pre-industrial, pre-petroleum, pre-electronic era, the degree of sophistication of architecture and construction in Italy, Greece, and Turkey was simply astounding.  It was one thing for me to know about these things previously on a cognitive basis but another completely to witness it first hand.  I know slave labor was a significant factor but I can't envision slaves nowadays doing what they did then.  Plus, it takes someone with the know-how to supervise the slaves.    For the granite columns in front of the Pantheon for example, from Wikipedia, here's what it took:

 

"The grey granite columns that were actually used in the Pantheon's pronaos were quarried in Egypt at Mons Claudianus in the eastern mountains. Each was 39 feet (12 m) tall, five feet (1.5 m) in diameter, and 60 tons in weight.[30] These were dragged more than 100 km from the quarry to the river on wooden sledges. They were floated by barge down theNile River when the water level was high during the spring floods, and then transferred to vessels to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Roman port ofOstia. There, they were transferred back onto barges and pulled up the Tiber River to Rome.[31]  After being unloaded near the Mausoleum of Augustus, the site of the Pantheon was still about 700 meters away.[32] Thus, it was necessary to either drag them or to move them on rollers to the construction site."

Amazing!  It's almost as if we've lost something with our modern technology rather than gaining something.  It also helps me realize how adaptable human beings are and how enormous our potential is.

 

  • Mon, Jun 03, 2013 - 01:43am

    #9
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 883

    count placeholder

    Nervous Nelly wrote:One

[quote=Nervous Nelly]

One sentence you wrote caught my attention. Are you sure about that?

        Taxes were also levied so that the more children now, the more taxes. 

           Population control ?
 
[/quote]
Sonya,
I'm sure what she said but I'm not sure of the accuracy of the statement.  But yes, it does sound like indirect population control, doesn't it?
  • Mon, Jun 03, 2013 - 08:24am

    #10

    Poet

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 20 2009

    Posts: 976

    count placeholder

    Thanks For The Reminder…

Thank you for the eye-witness report, Ao. Reminds me to see if I can get a few small vacations in – even if it means taking some out of savings. Experiences are so important…

Poet

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 105 total)

Login or Register to post comments