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Greek Coffee Shops

Most Britons and foreigners love the cafe culture of the Greek coffee shops in the Greek Islands, which has been evolving for more than 300 years and is more vibrant even than that of France. Greek coffee shops reflect the vast multicultural society and rich history. They are cauldrons of a mixture of different people, all age groups, myriads of discussions from politics to mundanities, havens for creative people and a great break if you just want to sit and people-watch or gaze out over the sea.

We forget all about taking time during our hectic schedules to just sit back with coffee and a sweet pastry as well as meet with friends, yet this is a time-honoured tradition in Greece. Part of enjoying the Greek Islands is to do as the locals do - sit with a coffee and chill.

Greek coffeee shops establishments come in all shape and sizes, from the formal, through stylish, to small and local. The old style local cafe is usually plain inside and often full of local men but new modern cafes have sprung up with trendy interiors, comfy sofas and plenty of swish furnishings.

In any town square or near to the harbour are the most popular cafes full of tourists and chic Greeks. They tend to be more expensive than their rustic counterparts but are the place to be seen and to people-watch. Get rid of the shorts and bikini top so that you mix in with the locals and opt for dressing up a bit.

Off the well trodden tourist areas in the back streets, you'll find the more traditional cafe with just a couple of tables and usually next to a patisserie. These are super places to watch every day life.

Greeks of all ages haunt the coffee shops to play the favourite game of backgammon and to simply enjoy their free moments with great conversation - as if it were their second home. Whether it is a simple trip to the Greek Islands, or whether you live there, the whole experience of Greece would be lacking without experiencing this facet of life, which makes up an important part of every day life. Just sitting in one of the quaint Greek coffee shops you get the impression that you have moved into a different pace of life, one which is much more unhurried and relaxed, whiling away the time as if you don't have a care in the world.

Mainland Europeans tend to take a different approach to life from the very rushed Britons and Americans. In particular, the Greeks have a much more balanced approach to work and life, taking time to slow down and enjoy. There is no reason why, as a tourist or an expat, you too cannot join in this way of life - lounge around, chat, sip and eat.

During the summer months Greek coffee shops are packed by 10 in the morning, whilst the sun is out but it is not too hot. Greek coffee takes time to prepare and should be drunk slowly. It's strong and concentrated in a small cup and usually comes with a glass of water. Don’t be tempted to knock it back down to the bottom of the cup or your mouth will end up full of fine grounds! In the afternoons, most people drink a 'frappe', made usually with Nescafe, surgar, water and milk whipped up - and you'll see tables piled full of this wonderful refreshing drink in tall glasses with straws.

You'll even find 'ouzeries', a kind of mix between a cafe and a tavern, where at midnight and beyond people gather together and take the national drink, straight or with water.

Throughout the entire day from morning to midnight, the Greek coffee shops serve as meeting points for friends to catch up with plans for day and the evening, a bit of gossip, idly chatting the time away, debates about politics and philosophy, discretely watching all around.

Learn to live like the locals, linger for a few hours and stop rushing. The Greeks are a patient people and understand that life is for moments like these, content to enjoy the pleasure of simply doing nothing. Greek coffee shops - the cafe culture - try it - you'll find it's infectious.