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Austrians dream of Aegean retirement

Every September, «they come back from Greek beaches tanned and full of interest,» says Alkisti Foti, who has been teaching Modern Greek since 2004 at the Elleniko Steki in Salzburg. «Ancient Greek civilization doesn’t seem to enthuse Austrians nowadays. Many of them plan to retire on an Aegean island.» Her students also point out the shortcomings of Greece: «They keep telling me about dysfunctional hospitals, inadequate public transport and high prices.» She is disappointed that their questions about Greece are restricted to food and dance. Despite the structural similarities between Greek and German, her students find the language difficult. «For many of them, it’s the first foreign language they’ve leaned but their diligence is exemplary.» One of the stars of her class is Dr Gerhard Rettenegger, 48. «I like traveling in countries whose language I can speak,» he explained. «I’m a journalist and quite curious: I can’t bear it when I can’t understand what people are saying to me.» «Your language is very musical; that’s why I love your music. I’ve got 300 CDs of Greek music, from Theodorakis to Dalaras and Ploutarchos.»