CULTURE CLUB SERIES: Gregori’s bookstore. A rare gem of history, knowledge, patience and passion.

Gregori’s bookstore @ El. Venizelou 48, Chania 731 32, Greece

On my daily morning walk to the bakery, I stumbled across a tiny, old but inviting bookstore with Greek books filled all the way up to the ceiling. Every inch of shelves, tables and even the floor had stacks of books about philosophy, Greece, the world and fiction. The book that got my attention, nicely propped up in the middle of a table was a John Lennon book with a 1 inch dust layer on top. Although it was written in Greek I couldn’t resist to buy this treasure for Tony, a huge Beatles fan. He will honor the photos at least. Gregori, who is probably in his 80s is the soul of this beautiful book store. He has a warm smile and is very happy about me entering his store. Immediately we are involved in a conversation although neither of us speaks the other persons language with the exception of a few English words on his part. Thank God for body language. I learned that he owns his store 53 years. He is not doing it for the money, he tells me. Gregori admits that ‘business is little’ but he does it for the love of books. He says he sleeps and reads. That’s pretty much it. When he finds out that I write his face lights up, although he is disappointed it’s not a philosophical book. I was trying to explain to him that I would like to write about him but I don’t think he understood.

Still holding the John Lennon book in my hand, I gesture that I would like pay for it. I hand him 15 Euros and Gregori embraces me in a long sincere hug and a pat on the shoulder. He asks me if I like coffee and with a big question mark on my face I say: “yes, I love coffee”. Before I could figure out what’s happening, Gregori squeezed himself between me and the book shelf and quickly walked down the sidewalk giving me some time alone in his store to explore his repertoire. A couple from Australia peaked their head in being equally as amazed as me to find such a quaint and rare store. I encouraged them to stay to meet Gregori although I didn’t know where he went. After a few minutes, Gregori comes back with a delicious and strong Greek coffee for me and another hug was exchanged. The Australian couple asked if they could take a picture and he was surprised they wanted him in the photograph and not only his books. 

Gregori and I continued our conversation about Greece. He showed me a beautiful picture book about Crete and told me some special places to visit. When I was trying to show him my travel blog, I had no service and he of course does not have a computer. I got another hug when he found out that I have a baby (sorry Hendrix to use the word ‘baby’ but child he didn’t understand). I somehow understood that he has 3 grown up boys, one of them works at the airport. Every morning I went to the bakery, I stopped at El. Venezuela 48 to see my new friend Gregori to continue our philosophical talks about life. Almost only with gestures. It’s so refreshing to find somebody who is very happy with very basic things in life. His beautiful spirit is proof of his philosophy, even though business is little, his life is pretty good. All he needs is a room full of books to be happy. Nice to see that Gerogori found his true destiny. Very inspiring.