Among the shops trumpeting the famous local fistiki Aeginis (pistachio of Aegina), two traditional cafés, (kafeneia in Greek, plural for kafeneio) located right in front of the beautiful historic City Hall (1886) of Aegina, right next to Aegina’s Municipal Fish Market, can be spotted at a glance.
Even though the old joints at Aegina’s harbour, such as “Karagiannis”, “Aktaion”, “Sakiotis”, “Kalokentis” were mostly frequented by the crème de la crème of the local society, namely lawyers, army officers, doctors, civil servants, rentiers, the traditional café of Anastasia Galari and the kafeneio of Kostas Miras have always been a must stop spot for ouzo or coffee, the veterans’ meeting point, the little parliaments of locals.
Beautiful mosaic tiles adorning the floor, aubergine chairs placed around the tables and walls painted in blue and yellow decorated with framed old photographs lend the kafeneio of Anastasia Galari its unique character. Everything here bears witness of a woman’s touch elegantly brought to the traditional kafeneio once owned by her father. Tasia, this dashing woman, claims being the one that imposed the trend of enjoying a glass of ouzo when sitting at the cafés of the harbour!
“The kafeneio has been open since the beginning of the 20th century. My father bought it in 1961 from a woman; it was really unusual for a woman to own a kafeneio at that time, you know. I used to spend my summers here. I remember the clients; the seamen, the fishermen and the building contractors who used to meet up here with the workers to pay them their day wage. When I got at the helm of this place back in 1988, I was hardly eighteen years old. Little by little, the character of the kafeneio changed. Young people were added to its elderly clientele. At some point, the kafeneio turned into a night-out joint where groups of friends would come here to philosophize over raki”.
Tasia has lots of stories to tell about the devotees of this kafeneio, since many of those who cherish the quietness of Aegina are pretty famous and chose to have their coffee at Tasia’s. Tasia remembers the great Greek poet Odysseas Elytis coming here. Lately, the kafeneio is the favourite joint of the so-called “Aegina group”, i.e. friends of the Prime Minister of Greece (Y. Varoufakis, former Minister of Finance of Greece, Flambouraris, Kouloglou, etc.).