Time | Clocks to a Different Beat in Crete

This weekend (March 25) the whole of Europe put the clocks forward one hour for summer time. Brits in Crete included. For the next seven months we are officially on Eastern European Summer Time (EEST). That makes us 2 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich mean Time) also known as Universal Time (UT). It is the same time zone as Egypt, South Africa and our neighbours, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, but not Albania, FYROM, Serbia or Montenegro.

It always seems to confuse some of my friends in the United Kingdom, this putting the clocks forward or in the case of winter - one hour back. What is consistent is that Crete/Greece is always 2 hours ahead of whatever time it is in the British Isles.

Ironically in Crete, time has a very different meaning. I join the watchless club when on the island. The watch comes off the wrist and is stored until I have to leave again. Many of the Cretans themselves do not wear a watch, and those that do, you rarely find them watching the time. Why should they, if they can drop everything and spend the whole day discussing politics at the local kafeneio.

In fact, you rarely see clocks in public places in Crete.

One that does come to mind is of recent origin. That is the Garden Clock Tower in central Chania adjacent to Dimokratias Street built between 1924-1927.

The other is in central Heraklion. This time it is courtesy of the Astoria Hotel right on the main Eleftherias Square. The facade of the Capsis group Hotel has clocks that show five cities: from left to right in the picture - New York, London, Athens, Paris and Tokyo. Last time I visited the square the clocks were not working.

With Cretan mindset being on Cretan time, perhaps nobody is too bothered when "tomorrow" can mean up to a week later. If someone tells you they will do it 10 days later, in my experience, that usually means "never". It can be a rather subtle and clever way to say "no".

Of course you could end up totally shocked by someone turning up and doing that job you had forgotten about a couple of months later. Still the guy was being true to his word. He said he would do it.

Being such a sunny place, I think I would like to see the return of sun dials in Crete. They are good to judge real time, if needed to the nearest quarter of an hour. Within the Mediterranean and Crete context surely that is good enough.

It is probably one of the hardest aspects of Brits and Irish relocating to Crete is the adjustment to Crete time where watches are almost redundant.

But at least we are consistent in the two hour time difference with Britain. Just remember it is always 2 hours ahead so if friends decide they wish to phone you they know that fact. They just have to be reminded that it is not a good idea to ring between 2 and 6pm. That is 12 noon and 4 time in UK and Ireland! That is your lunch and siesta time.

**Summer Time officially ends on Sunday October 25, this year.