In which we discover some Greek hospitality in a hill village…..

The country walks have been many, the temperature has been high, but our days left in Greece are getting less. 

Or should that be fewer? I have never fully understood when to use “less” or “fewer”.  The former always sounds more correct.  Please explain.

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We are currently in the little harbour at Petriti, on the east coast of Corfu, a short distance south of Corfu town and the airport.  We have been here many times before.  It is a small harbour village with a fleet of large fishing boats which go out at sunset.  There are 3 or 4 tavernas, a small hotel with a pool bar, a couple of supermarkets. A scruffy beach.  It’s quite rustic.

The quay holds up to a dozen yachts, but there is no water or electricity available.  No British tourists would come here, unless by yacht, or if they were brave enough to leave their luxury villas near the resorts and drive their hire cars out for a trip.  But it’s really a very pleasant place and we always enjoy our visits here.

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This morning we went for another of our legendary Greek country walks.  We took the westerly road out of the harbour and headed uphill for some distance towards the Greek hill village of Kouspades.  Last time we were here, we walked all the way up to Chlomos, some distance away, but it was far too hot for such a trek today so we took a shorter route. 

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There were some fabulous views from the village, and some lovely old buildings to look at.  You can never tell if a village has any inhabitants as most of them seem to stay indoors the minute the sun comes out.   We reached a square with a shady tree and a very old man appeared from a doorway.  “Poli zesti” I said, wiping my brow.  He beckoned to us, and asked in Greek whether we would like limoni, portakali, biera, greek coffee.  We thought we must be near a coffee shop or taverna and decided to have a cold drink.

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The doorway to the shop….

He led us through a low doorway into a building with no clue that it was a cafe.  We entered a dim room where three other old men were sitting.  Oh my goodness, he’s led us into some sort of private room!  It looked like a kitchen, without any appliances except for a battered fridge. In one corner there was a huge pile of cardboard boxes, rolls of kitchen paper, brooms and buckets. 

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Behind one of the men were some open shelves with barely anything on them.  Crates of bottled water were stacked in a corner, and one shelf by the window appeared to hold a range of cleaning equipment.  In the middle of the room was a small square wooden table, and four wooden chairs.  On one wall was a faded sepia photograph which could have been taken a hundred years ago.

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“My shop, my shop. Please sit”.  We took a seat and looked around.  It turned out to be the village shop after all!  Another equally old man had his arm in a sling with a plaster cast covering his arm and elbow.  Another old man was perched on a stool by the window. Maybe they were customers waiting to be served.

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“You like lemoni, orange, ice tea, beer, greek coffee?”  We both chose lemon. He went to the battered fridge and gave us both a can of orangeade.   Apparently it was colder than the lemon, so we gladly took it.  He gave me a pile of paper napkins as he saw that I was sweating.  He told us how old he was, by drawing the numbers with his finger on the tabletop.  He was 82, and the guy with the broken elbow was his 80 year old brother.  The man by the window turned out to be his cousin, aged 78.   

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Village church, Kouspades, Corfu

We managed to converse in the way that people of different nationalities seem to be able to do, involving lots of mime, smiling, head nodding and repetition. They asked where we had come from and where we were going.  One of the old men asked what the road up to the village had been like – was it narrow, winding? – he made it sound like he didn’t know!  Maybe he had never left the village!

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Luckily there was one other person in the room, who spoke quite good English as he was a 73 year old American-Greek, born in Kefalonia but lived in Miami before retiring to live in this tiny hill village on Corfu.   This walk up to this little village had been a very strange experience but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 

On our walk back to the harbour, we found something quite amazing in the road.  I’ll tell you about that next time…….

8 thoughts on “In which we discover some Greek hospitality in a hill village…..

  1. Most Greeks believe that helping strangers is an honor and an obligation. For in helping strangers you may be helping angels unaware. Maybe you were these gentlemen’s angels that day.

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