Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Greek post

This is a mini post from the Ionian islands in Greece.  We have to make a little exception here to the term "staff" since on the islands in the tavernas in particular, nearly all the people who work are family. Of course there are exceptions but.... 

My first thumbs up and thank you goes to Yianna in her family cafe in Sivota on Lefkada (Λευκάδα - also known as Lefkas and a few other English variations).

Sivota has a big boating fraternity where sailing flotillas come in for one night and leave the next morning added to a few luxury motor yachts and the day to day yachties who spend their summers sailing around the beautiful Ionian.  However, because people come in, want serving and most of the time will never, ever come back this way, service can sometimes be a little perfunctory to get the numbers served without investing too much of one self.  Imagine, no one in a cafe one minute, then fifty English, Italian, German et al of all ages, wanting serving at the same time and then three hours later, no one again.  

Anyway, Yianna and her family were most definitely an exception.  We went in for a light lunch and had a lovely homemade beetroot dip followed by egg and chips with a chilled white wine, (okay, the lunch grew).  Yianna was funny and helpful to both us and in particular a table of Italians nearby who didn't have any Greek or English to understand the menus.  

Then, a rather unpleasant Belgium man came in off his footballer style motor boat; middle aged with paunch but still wearing a crop top with hot pant style shorts, a red bandanna tied on his head pirate fashion and dripping in jewellery.  You get the picture.  Whereas the Italians hadn't had the language to communicate, they made an effort and Yianna of course understood.  This "gentleman" used the method of saying the same word over and over, louder and louder within Yianna's personal space.  Yianna maintained her smile, and together with the whole cafe worked out what he wanted, (which she didn't have), and with a flourish she produced something alternative that she thought would please him, (it did), and the status quo was resumed.

So Yianna, thank you and a thumbs up  from us.

Staying in Sivota and next door, I would also like to give a thumbs up to the lovely guys in the Sivota Bakery but, my apologies,  I failed to get their names or photos).

Another person I failed to get a name or photograph for was the lovely lady cooking in one of our favourite tavernas, Trehantiri, in Vathi on Ithaka (Ιθάκη - aka Ithaki, Ithaca etc).  It was a very hot night and she handled an enormous influx of patrons brilliantly and I had one of the best pieces of chicken on a grill I can remember, and, all with such a warm smile.  So thank you and a thumbs up .

My last Greek post about service with a smile doesn't include a photograph or any names after some consideration, even though I did get lovely smiles on film, it just doesn't feel right and I hope you'll understand when I explain; we are now on Paxos, (Παξοί - Paxi), and we're sitting at a taverna at night, it's very hot again, still in the 30°s, (about 90°F), while the temperatures in the kitchens, which we can see must well be above 40°(about 104°F).
We could see this young woman in the kitchens doing all the washing up above the steaming hot water, and our companion, an Austrian yachtsman that lives in Greece, went and picked some bourgainvelia, and went over and gave them to her.  The smile he was rewarded with, and that she had on for the rest of the meal was truly a sight to behold.  Our decision to not use names or photographs was after consideration of the gossip that can occur in a small village and we wouldn't want any misunderstanding or a belief that there was more between this man and woman than this simple gesture.
Therefore a thumbs up both to the Austrian and the washer-up and in place of their smiles, a pretty picture of Paxos.  
Don't forget, if you have someone to thank or a smile to comment on, just send in a post and share it with the rest of us.   Look forward to hearing from you.

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