Showing posts with label George Chalkoutsakis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George Chalkoutsakis. Show all posts

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.

GreecePt12013 041

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.)

Pt1Crete2013 110

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.) 

Sfakia2Amster2013 364

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.

Pelop2013 204

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. . .

Pt1Crete2013 242

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,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Colors of the Sea

That-- the colors of the sea -- is what I told him when he said he wanted to make me a gift.  But you see the real story here is that the time I spent with Georgios Chalkoutsakis on that warm Cretan afternoon was the real gift.  'George' as we were to call him before the day was over ( we couldn't master the Greek pronunciation), is a glass bead artist. And lucky for me his home/studio was only two doors down from Poppy's,where we stayed in Kastri on Crete's southern coast.

My neighbor, a fellow tourist from Germany, had told me about George and apparently had told George about me because he was expecting me. He knew I was from America but had no idea where Seattle was located.  He spoke excellent English and told me it was self-taught by watching television - Extreme Makeover is his very favorite show and he only wishes he could tell its star, Ty, how much he likes him.

George would be described by some as 'handicapped', but I would call him gifted..  He is wheelchair bound as result of a premature birth.  His hand movement is also just a bit limited but that hasn't kept him from perfecting his art of glass bead making.

"If you have the time I will make a pearl for you," he said of the glass beads he creates. "What colors do you like?"  It was then we agreed on the colors of the sea.

After watching the bead being created and placed in the cooling sand, George and I settled in for a vist.  We talked about philosophies of life, politics, both Greek and American, the difficult and sad times he had growing up as a child who wasn't the same as normal boys, and about what my life is like.  Joel joined us sometime later and he also was treated to a pearl-making demonstration.

We returned much later - after dinner - for my gift and decided that other pearls should be added to it and a necklace made.  I became George's assistant:  I held the glue.

And it didn't take long until the artist had completed my necklace; I indeed had the colors of the sea.  The price of the finished piece a mere 20E, but ias far as I am concerned, it is priceless!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...