Monday, May 27, 2013

Greece: Coffee and Computer Culture

Po Po Po!!!*  There’s been a cultural revolution (the good kind) taking place in Greece the last few years and so focused has mainstream media been on the country’s economic crisis, they’ve failed to tell us about it.

Perhaps coffee and computers are so common-place in newsrooms that reporters didn’t recognize it, however, the change has been dramatic in areas we recently revisited.

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So let us -- who hail from Seattle (The Land of Starbucks) and Microsoft (Bill Gates and Gang) –  tell you:

Greeks are wired (the state of being resulting from ingestion of large amounts of caffeine) and at the same time unwired (by Wi-Fi.)

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Based on our previous trip’s experiences, we arrived with our pound of coffee and filters, prepared to use the hot pots provided in our rooms to ‘brew’ our java. Being of the Starbucks habit, we weren’t fond their mild, instant Nescafe – served everywhere as coffee three years ago. (Okay, it is still popular and used in drinks such as chilled Frappe's.) 

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Lattes and cappuccinos had been rather exotic and hard to find.  That's all changed as coffee shops now line the streets. In Iraklion, Crete, for example, (above) we found so many chic, upbeat coffee shops (including Starbucks) that was hard to choose between them.

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The same was true in city after city we visited.  On a Sunday at the Ministry Music Bar in Sparti, the heart of the Peloponnese, tables were packed long into the night with caffeine-consuming patrons – all of whom seemed to be checking their computers and mobile devices because. . .

Wi-Fi has come to Greece.  Signals sometimes can’t compete with centuries old stone walls of which many structures are made, but generally it is available everywhere.   Our jewelry-making friend George Chalkoutsis, living in the tiny hamlet of Kastri on Crete’s southern coast exemplifies the change.  At the time we met, he didn't have a computer because. . .

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Three years ago there was no computer access in Kastri. We traveled up a  looping road to a village perched high on a hill above and then sought out its sole internet café to check our emails.

I expressed surprise during this visit to see that George had a laptop in his studio.  “But, of course,” he replied. “Computers have come. I am on Facebook – and Skype. Are you on Skype? We could chat after you get home.”

Po Po Po! I had to admit we don’t yet have Skype – nor the skills to use it if we did.
*Po Po Po!  The phrase is a popular one in Greek.  It is a multi-purpose sort of exclamation covering surprise, wariness, disapproval or approval – depending on the tone, the accompanying look and the situation in which it is used.

Hope to see you back again later this week when we take you to one of Greece’s most beautiful beaches.  To receive our posts in your inbox, just sign up on our home page,


  1. Such a wonderful post, Jackie. It is amazing what stays the same and what moves on...

  2. Technology has certainly changed the world; whether it is good or bad, I guess still remains to be seen. Thanks for stopping by - I've missed your comments~


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