Peripteros and clarinets

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OK, what’s a ‘periptero?’ I hear you ask.  It’s a small kiosk, found in the streets throughout Greece where one can purchase cigarettes, newspapers, drinks and sweets – like a newsagents.

Why am I writing about Periptero’s?  Well, I had an interesting ‘experience’ the other night at my local one:

It’s half eleven at night – I need a Mars bar (well, I don’t NEED it, I WANT it but those who know me also know about my relationship with chocolate).  So, off I trot up to the periptero in my PJ’s and trainers.
As I draw close, I hear a lovely melodic sound of a clarinet playing.  “Damn!” I mutter.  “The coffee shop opposite clearly has some live music playing tonight – I should have got dressed and gone to sit there for half and hour or so.”

But no!  I get to the periptero, and it’s the man inside – playing his clarinet!  I let him finish, give him a round of applause (as do two or three other customers) and I look at him questioningly (IE: “Why are you playing your clarinet in the periptero?”)

“I’m from Ioannina” he shrugs, as if that’s some sort of explanation.  And it’s clearly all I’m going to get as he says no more, merely smiles and sits down.
“Ahhhhh” I suitably respond, acting like I understand EVERYTHING now!


My friends later tell me Ioannina is in North Western Greece and they have a lot of mountain music.  I surmise he was playing a ‘mountain’ tune, hence his rather nonchalant, flippant reply (contrary to popular belief, Greeks are incredibly nonchalant at times, despite also being inflamed and passionate  too).

WHAT a nice surprise – I doubt many people could say that, in the middle of their capital city (say, London) they pop to their newsagents and have the owner playing a musical instrument.  I go there quite frequently now, just to hear him play – a free concert.

Oh!  As if my day can’t get any better – I’ve just been told my friend is coming to pick me up and take me to the beach for a seafood lunch, so I better go and get dressed.  Bye!!

Featured Photo by KYRIAKOPOULOS


  1. What a lovely experience and the only instrument he cóuld play in a crammed space like that would be a clarinet or something like it ;-). I have heard that the jobs running these very practical little shops are for disabled or otherwise (job)handicapped folks?

    The sea must have been beautiful….

    • Hi Jessica,

      I’m not sure about the specifics, but many people – able or disabled run peripteros. They are part of the Greek spending 3 hours over a coffee. They’re great, and handy. I was just amused to compare with newsagents in London, who I doubt play a musical instrument in them! Unless anyone can tell me otherwise??

    • Hi Sue,

      Yes, I agree. Such randomness is one of the reasons I choose to stay – it makes for a lovely, interesting lifestyle and means I always have a plethora of material to write about :0)

  2. Hi Sue,

    I had an experience like this in Mykonos, strolling around shopping (of course) and heard a beautiful melody coming from a store in one of the gazillion alleyways weaving through Mykonos Town. It took me awhile to track it down but I finally did, and like you, gave an applause. Quite a treat that morning, but then again, any morning I find myself in Greece, is always a treat! Btw, where did you go for your seafood lunch on the beach, you left us hanging there for more info! Thanks, Christy

  3. Hi Christy – this is Bex, the author of this blog. Thanks for your comment and it’s lovely to see so many people appreciating the little things that make this country so special.
    It was me (Bex) that then had to dash out for a seafood meal. In typical Greek fashion, I received a phone call last minute from a friend of a friend of a friend who asked me to join her in Voula (Attica Southern Beaches) for a stroll and some food. I plan to do a post later about it, so look out for it!
    Ahhhh, yes – Greece has her problems but I’d much rather be here.

  4. The truth is that peripteros was an occupation that was funded from govermental sources as far as for the handicapped is concerned. Now as for the amusement part of the experience, it is a dna culture deep rooted in our civilasation :), unfortunatlly lost withing the past few years. it is really a wonder that someone brought it back to life just in the center of Athens

    • Yes Joanna,
      Peripteros are part of the Greek culture – and hopefully here to stay.
      I never knew they were originally funded by the government for the handicapped. I doubt that happens now!

  5. Well, I learned something. Had never heard of a peripteros. Estimates are that Greece is home to 46,000 periptera. And had never heard of Ionnina. Was familiar with Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns in classic Greek architecture, but not the town of Ionnina. You seem to have a way, Beccy, of finding these interesting human-interest stories in Greece (and elsewhere). Thanks for sharing this experience with us, some of whom (not by choice) are currently not travelling as much as we would wish, so we can enjoy it vicariously with you. Nice to find a business where the proprietor is personal, and not simply interested in making a sale to a stranger.

    • I’m glad there are readers such as you, Russ, who can appreciate the human angle I try to weave into my tales here, thus showing others the TRUE representation of Greece and the Greeks, not just what the media (often wrongly) portrays.
      And actually, I have to say that most businesses find a personal touch. Keep your eyes peeled throughout the month of April – I will be joining the 2012 A-Z Blogging Challenge and blogging about a new subject every day of the week in April. One of those posts will be about the Farmer’s Markets.
      Keep reading and thanks for the lovely endorsements.

  6. It was my impression that the government licensing monopoly on the sale of tobacco was used after WWII as a way of supporting wounded veterans.


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