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Greek Coffee Shop With No Staff Serves up a Side of History (video)


Greece’s Peloponnesian countryside is truly mesmerizing in its beauty and diversity. It varies from gorgeous wild, craggy mountains to long sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Arcadia, in the very center of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, is especially famous for its mountainous terrain, with Vytina and its surrounding area being one of the most beautiful places anywhere in the region.
Seventeen kilometers (about 10 miles) from Vytina, in the small mountainous village of Lasta, one can also find the only coffee shop in Greece where the customer is not really a customer — but a guest.
The “Kafeneio Ai Giorgis” (the St. George coffee shop) is a cafe like no other in Greece. Anyone can go in, make their own coffee, have a drink of water or another beverage, rest for a while, then clean up themselves and go on their merry way.
This is what the sign on the door says, and it is absolutely true. There is no staff in the Ai Giorgis coffee shop, nor even an owner. The self-service cafe is clean and well-kept and looks more like a museum of folk art than a cafe.
Old sepia-toned photographs, portraits of heroes of Greece’s War of Independence, books about the 1821 Revolution, weapons from that era, tapestries and other items from days long gone form the decor of the cafe, giving it a completely unique ambiance.
The sign on the door welcomes guests and invites them to feel at home, as long as they respect this special place. Everyone is free to make themselves a coffee, or pour a glass of ouzo or wine, or just have a drink of water — just make sure you wash your glasses before you leave, and put everything back in its place.
The sign also invites visitors to talk to a local person and discover more about the history of Lasta. The village, which prides itself on being traditional and unmodernized, is also close to the town of Agridaki.
This lovely and inviting cafe reminds older Greeks of times when people didn’t even think of  locking their doors and society functioned on the concepts of filotimo and ancient, traditional Hellenic hospitality.
The next time you travel through the beautiful and historic Arcadia region of Greece, be sure to visit the Ai Giorgios cafe and take a step back in time.

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