Cafes in Greece are a mixture of the lively and indifferent like anywhere else but occasionally we discover a little gem, a safe haven, where we know the welcome will be genuine and the coffee pretty good.
Two such favourites share the same name ‘Remezzo’.
The first discovery came at the start of our Rope Sole adventure when our habit was to meet Salty Dog and various others for a drink on the quay.
Instantly we were captivated by the comfortable chairs set casually around two sides of the tiny cafe and on the edge of a scruffy square across the road from the boats. Our slightly stooped and unhurried host approached us with all the grace and charm of a perfect Greek gentleman. After memorising our order he smoothed his way into the dim mystery of the bar and reappeared with tin trays of meze, freshly squeezed orange juice, thick Greek coffees and generous glasses of ouzo. His effortless and genuine smiles came straight from a big heart,
As our confidence grew we ventured through the door, to pay or to order in our fledgling Greek. Behind a tiny cluttered counter lay the source of all our hero’s endeavours. A kettle, single flame on which the coffee pots balanced, sandwich toaster and manual orange squeezer. How Stavros produced occasional plates of bacon and eggs will remain a puzzle but his breakfasts were the best on the island.
The whole space is painted dark reddish brown and lined with dining chairs upon which sat varying numbers of cronies and frequently his wife. I always was reminded of a small town French bar and never tire of stepping inside.
Each new summer Stavros greeted us with increased ease and we heard some of his history and understood the decline of his health. His husky greetings became an almost whisper and the Rupert Bear protective neck scarf remained in place for longer every year.
Compare and contrast with our second destination sixty miles across The Aegean. Our host this time is a gregarious party loving Greek name ‘Angel ‘ His Remezzo is set on the beach of a tiny fishing village whose quay has provided us with much appreciated shelter on many occasions.
Angel has the effervescent polish to be expected from Greek hospitality but he always gives us more. Once assured that other guests are seated and served he usually brings his tumbler of water and joins us for some real chat.
With unassuming charm Angel has uncovered his hopes and dreams and told of the real family values in his life. Such naughty grins and gentle hugs, afternoon naps and late nights but also a genuine softness which we rarely see in Greek men. Angel always manages to employ beautiful and personable staff… as if there is a waiting list of eligible lovelies longing to act in his daily cafe dramas.
Stavros shared the same casting skill and his lovely daughter graciously zig-zags her way between tables, serving, only afraid of one thing… Kezzie!
Can you imagine our dismay when we arrived this year to find the Poros Rwmezzo firmly closed. News from Thanasis in the local shop was about a broken hip and poor healing. We were so sad when, some weeks later, whilst anchored a few hours South, Salty Dog called us to say that our dear Stavros had died and the funeral would be later that day.
What a loss to the precious island of Poros and to all his regular guests. Remezzo has reopened and is gently staffed by family members. For me I shall never forget receiving from Stavros the most tender and considered piece of advice ever whispered in my ear.