Working in Finland is very different, says Greek bartender: ”I no longer want to work in Greece”

Cheers from Greece! This article kicks off an all-new series about bartenders, waiters and other professionals who have relocated to Finland. Navigate between articles using the Cheers tag.

How did you end up in your current job?

I arrived in Finland last year. A friend of mine from Greece had already been working in Saariselkä for some years, and since I was looking for something new in my life, I decided to come to Finland. I had never been outside Greece before, so I took a leap of faith ending up in Lapland. It has been worth it although I haven’t learned much Finnish since colleagues and customers speak English. I know some Finnish words, such as kiitos, ole hyvä and miten menee.

I left Greece because I wanted to broaden my horizons within the hospitality business and I was tired of the local work culture, where I had been working in bars as a bartender and barista. Negative attitudes and the suppression of dreams seem to be prevalent, discouraging many people from working. Quality started to suffer in various aspects of life as the hospitality sector struggled to find workers, leading to hotels closing during peak seasons and rising unemployment rates.

What surprised you about working in a bar in Finland?

Since coming to Finland, I no longer want to work in Greece. The primary reason is the overall work environment. I feel that here workers are treated better, and people are genuinely cared for, a sentiment not common in Greece or many other European countries. People here, both colleagues and customers, are generally more polite. Working in a bar is easier due to alcohol regulations and rules being respected. In Greece, I found it challenging to work professionally because alcohol rules were often ignored, and we had to serve alcohol to underage teens, which I disliked.

What inspires you in your work?

The friendly and positive work environment inspires me. I enjoy working with drinks and constantly come up with new ideas for cocktails when I encounter interesting ingredients or concepts. I love the nature in Saariselkä, the northern lights and the pure, white snow. Living close to nature has improved my overall quality of life, influencing everything. Choosing to come to Saariselkä helped me rediscover myself, dream again, have clear goals, and find inner peace and hope, regardless of what happens. It felt like breaking free from a mental prison.

Any practical tips for colleagues?

Firstly, if I met someone thinking of coming to Finland, I would say, just do it – especially if you want to be surrounded by people who respect you. On top of that, you can witness unique things, such as the Aurora Borealis and the clear sky. If you love the sky like I do, it’s amazing.

What drink from Greece would you like to offer to customers?

Rakomelo – Raki made with honey. This drink originates from Crete and is not as widely known as Ouzo.

Where do you go for an after-work drink in Saariselkä?

We mostly go to the local pubs Teerenpesä or Panimo.

Rakomelo. KUVA Istock / Stratos Giannikos

Aleksandros Skamnakis

  • Bartender and waiter
  • Northern Lights Village, Saariselkä
  • Born in Greece

  • Tilaa Lehti

    Ideoita ja tarinoita tiskin takaa anniskelualan ammattilaisille.

    Tilaa Shaker