Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Standard" Operating Hours in Greece


I've noticed that Greek women appear to be thinner since last I was there. The food hasn't changed. Every single dish is still both cooked and served swathed in gallons of the local olive oil which pools at the base and seductively stares at you. Just try not dipping your bread in one of these many pools when the lovely, eggy, thick, white slices sit dry in the basket next to you.

During our last visit (which lasted 2 months), The Chef and I realized our bodies could not afford to eat 3 squares a day without becoming exponential. We began going out for a large, late lunch as our main meal and skipping dinner (or snacking in the evenings on the local, divine, dark breadsticks covered in sunflower seeds).

The operating hours in Greece make this a perfect schedule. Greece still holds to the old European tradition of long lunches in the afternoon complete with siesta and most businesses reflect this. Shops close at 2:00 or so and don't reopen until 5 at which point most everybody keeps their doors open until at least 8pm. Recently though, one small business owner we needed to interact with could only be found in her office in the mornings (and by that I mean between 9-11). One cannot count on strict rules for operating hours in Europe. It's different strokes of the clock for different folks.

Some of the smaller bakeries stay open longer in the afternoon as they know this is when business owners and employees do their shopping. We discovered, however, the coveted breadstick bakery does not so these must be picked up during specific hours. And the restaurants serve all afternoon to accomodate the Greek's long "lunch hour" between 2-5.

We noticed on this visit that there appears to be a health consciousness sweeping the culture as the young women look to be 20 to 30 pounds lighter these days. They are beginning to sport that long leggy, tiny torso physique of French women. During the afternoon siesta hours, many more young men and women jog the beach-walk path in their sweats. The middle-aged and elderly can also be seen walking in small groups of 2 or 3, chatting as they go. Increasingly among the crowd are even a couple of business women walking the rocky path in their dress clothes and shoes before returning to work.

A couple of years ago a friend came to visit, took a look around and declared, "I've found my people!" But at the trend of things, in a few years, one may feel as uncomfortable in Greece wearing a Size 8 as one does in Paris.

Where will we find our peeps then?

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