I’ve recently come back from a holiday on the Greek island of Lefkas. It was hot, sunny and very, very relaxing. In fact, I think the whole approach to life out there is ‘Manana, Manana….’. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. No one’s in a hurry, and everything happens in its own sweet time.
This is an enviable way to live; at least, in some respects. Nobody I met looked stressed or harried. The general approach to life itself was so relaxed I’d go as far as to say it was, in fact, hazardous. Nobody bothered with motorbike helmets. Driving whilst using a mobile on treacherous single-track mountain roads was standard. Hitching a ride on the back of a bin lorry wasn’t cause to be flagged down by the police.
This laid-back approach was apparent in every walk of life and every small business that I came into contact with. Maybe because the resorts were so chock-full of visitors during the summer period, there were enough customers to fill the myriad of restaurants every single day without anyone really trying. There was simply enough business to go round and therefore trying to exceed (or even meet) a customer’s expectations was simply not a priorotiy. Delivering food to all members of a party in a timely manner without leaving one guest waiting? Offering a drink whilst you waited? Really not important when you firmly believe that all things happen in the fullness of time.
We were staying in a tiny village high up on a mountainside. It was beautiful: picturesque and peaceful. Our nearest restaurant was 2 km away, down a very steep and winding, single-track road. It was packed out every night of the week. A real example of a traditional, family-run Greek Taverna. Tasty food and a very rustic setting. To enjoy your evening, you really had to leave all expectations at the door. Watch carefully and it was clear to see that there wasn’t actually any kind of consistent system to the ‘organised’ chaos. There was definitely a method (or, rather, multiple methods, dependent upon who served you), but it was subject to change and inconsistency at every turn. Ask for the bill at the end of the night, and only the Taverna owner could issue it to you: at your table, whilst at the same time asking you what you’d ordered. For someone like me who likes a clear, lean and obvious process for everything, this drove me absolutely crazy. Over-dinner discussions often centred around: how many more covers could they do if they had a proper system? How many items are missed off the bill because orders aren’t being recorded after the food had left the kitchen? WHAT ON EARTH IS IT DOING TO THEIR BOTTOM LINE?! One evening whilst having this debate (again) we were visited by a Praying Mantis. That definitely changed our topic of conversation, but it did seem to demonstrate that even the insects of Lefkas have that same relaxed and un-ruffled approach to life! It was an amazing creature, and I’ve uploaded a video of him here as a reminder of how we should all just take in the moment and live a little more slowly from time to time.
It’s safe to say that the culture and approach to life and business in Greece is very different. Admirable in lots of ways, but definitely different. I’d have loved to have got stuck in with implementing some processes in almost every business I visited, but I have a feeling that the staff and business owners wouldn’t have had a clue of what I was on about, and would probably have been quite offended! How refreshing to take time out and see life from a different perspective, though. That said, I can’t see this slow pace of life catching on in the UK. Can you?
Thanks for reading!
Michelle, InLet Management
PS: I can definitely recommend Lefkas for a truly relaxing break!