Sunday, 16 July 2017

My Top 5 Tips When Visiting: Greece


I have been travelling to Greece for quite a few years now (since I was 10 years old) and feel I have a bit of experience when travelling to this wonderful country. So I thought I would put together a few of my tips that may help you get the best experience if you get the chance to visit Greece


Now I am writing this post as a lead up to my summer holidays to Greece...which is just under a month away...eek! I am thinking of doing a few more blog posts on the lead up to my holidays about how I get prepared for my trips and a look at what I pack and take on my holidays, so keep your eyes peeled for these.

Greece is a big country with lots of beautiful places to visit so here are my top tips to get the most out of your trip.

1. Speak the Lingo... 

 You don't have to be fluent in the language, as the majority of Greeks will be able to converse in English, however it is always a nice touch and courtesy (in my opinion) to attempt to learn a bit of Greek. In my experience when I have attempted to converse in a bit of Greek, it is always welcomed and can take people by surprise (in a good way).
Here are a few phrases that may come in useful:

Greek
Pronunciation
English
γεια σας  /σου
ya sas /sou 
Hello
καλημέρα
kalimera
Good Morning
καλησπέρα
kalispera
Good afternoon/evening
καληνύχτα
kalinikta  
Goodnight
ευχαριστώ
efharisto
Thank you
παρακαλώ
parakalo
You're welcome / Please
ναι
nai
Yes
οχι
ohi 
No
μιλάτε Αγγλικά  
Mil-a-te Aglika 
Do you speak English?
δεν μιλάω Ελληνικά
then mil-ao Ellinika 
I do not speak Greek
δεν καταλαβαινω  
then kata-la-ven-o 
I don't understand
το λογαριασμό παρακαλώ  
to loga-ri-asmo parakalo 
Can I have the bill, please?


2. Embrace the Greek way of Life...

Like most places around the Mediterranean, the pace of life is slowed and usually relaxed. This is no different in Greece. "Avrio" translated to tomorrow is a common phrase you may hear, this means unimportant things can always wait until tomorrow, a bit like the Spanish "mañana"
In some places you may find that the shops close for a few hours in the afternoon, opening again late afternoon until later into the night. Generally though, in more tourist areas shops are open from morning until night.
If you are looking to use local public transport don't always expect these to turn up on time, and be warned your journey may take even longer if the bus driver spots a friend to have a coffee with mid bus ride.
So take the time to relax and unwind during your trip and don't expect everything to run with a schedule, it will all be one big adventure!
The way of life may be slow paced, however, the roads are not. Be careful when crossing, as drivers often will not slow down to let you cross. Also if you hire a car or moped, be aware of the winding roads in and around Greece, some drivers do not alter their speed and take the hairpin bends fast. Greece (and a lot of countries) drive on the right-hand side, as opposed to the UK who drive on the left, just keep this in mind if you are not familiar with this.

Bus stop in Koukounaries, Skiathos

3. Experience Greek Food...

Greek food is one of my all time favourite foods. It can be rich, it can be light, but all in all very tasty! From the simplicity of the variety of salads on offer to the vast array of seafood dishes and of course the grilled meats, there is something for everyone. If you are vegetarian there are also lots of dishes that would be suitable.
If you are after something more on the go, then you must try the 'Gyros' - warm pitta filled with a meat, salad, chips with the lovely tzatziki dip or souvlaki- skewers of meat, often with a lemon sauce. Mmm Delicious!
Oh! and we mustn't leave out the bakeries...pastries, fresh bread, cakes and biscuits. They usually have lots on offer with a variety of savoury and sweet snacks. You will find them hard to resist once you step through the bakery door. My mouth is watering just thinking about all the food!

Now to go with all this yummy food... onto tip number 4.

Grill House Koziakas, Skiathos Town

Gyros Pita

Tranquilo Salad, Perissa, Santorini 
                                                   

4. Experience Greek Drinks...

Greece may not have the reputation of the top wines in the world, and you would be hard pushed to find a variety of their wines on supermarket shelves over here in the UK, but trust me you won't regret sampling a few glasses of the local wine. You can get the likes of Retsina (not a favourite of mine) but there are so much more available for you to enjoy when visiting Greece. If you are lucky you can also find plastic bottles of wine in the mini-markets which usually cost 2-3 euros, and generally, these are quite pleasant on the palate.
If you are a beer drinking, then there are several options of Greek beers available, probably the most famous 'Mythos', but there are other brands such as 'Fix' and 'Alfa' and most are available as draught or in the bottle. There are many others available too, depending on your taste.

Of course, there are the famous traditional drinks of Ouzo and Tsipouro, which some people love and others hate, and not forgetting the Greek brandy 'Metaxa'. Often you can be offered a shot of any of these when finishing a meal, but they are available in bars /kafenions and are usually one of the cheaper options on the menu. I say give them a try...you never know you may like them!

Now if you would prefer to have something non-alcoholic, there are lots of options - most of which can be found anywhere in the world (Coke, Fanta etc). For something with a bit more of a cooling effect, there is the ever famous and favourite amongst locals...Frappe. This is a cold foamed coffee which is fab when the temperatures are climbing. These can be made to your liking, with or without sugar, with or without milk (usually evaporated milk) and I absolutely love them! You can see on my post from my recent trip to Parga how much I loved them.
Greece also has its own way of doing coffee, known as Greek coffee. The coffee grinds are boiled rather than filtered in a pot called a 'briki' and comes in a variety of bitter or sweetness levels depending on your taste. Greek coffee can be of an acquired taste, but you will never know if you like it or not if you don't give it a try!

     
Wine at Molyvos Castle, Lesvos

Mythos

Frappe


5. Explore...

So, you have spoken a bit of the language, relaxed into the way of life, had a decent meal and drink and now it is time to explore! Greece is full of wonderful ancient places to visit, whether this is an organised excursion or of your own accord, you will never be disappointed with exploring the vast archaeological sites the country has to offer. If history isn't your thing there are still little villages that can be visited, or even hopping onto a ferry or day boat to another island. Don't just stay in the 'tourist' parts, be brave and explore the 'real Greece'...you will not regret it! Who knows what you will come across! I try to pack as much as I can into one trip, there is so much of Greece to see that they say it can't be done in one's lifetime...well I would like to attempt to.
If you are looking to visit any of the many churches and/or monasteries around Greece, make sure you are suitably attired. Shoulders should be covered, and shorts or miniskirts are not permitted, women may also be required to wear a skirt. Usually, there are shawls or wraps if you need to cover up. It is also worth noting that women are not permitted to visit Mount Athos, and have been forbidden to do so for over 1000 years.

Boat Trip

Beaches of Skiathos

Street in Molyvos

Entrance to Spinalonga Island off the coast of Crete

Church in Piskopiano Village, Crete

Phew, you have reached the end of my tips when travelling to Greece... I haven't included this in one of the tips, but it is a little bit of advice for what you might observe when visiting the country:

Greek Cats

Greece is famous for its cats, they are on postcards, and you will see an abundance on the streets. Most of these cats will be stray, and you can expect to find a few around your feet when you are eating in a tavern. Now it is up to you whether you offer them some of your scraps from your plate, just be aware that the taverna owners may not be as pleased of this as the cats are.




Thanks for reading! Do you have any tips when travelling to Greece?

4 comments:

  1. I would love to go the Greece, it looks so beautiful.
    A Sparkle Of Grace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is one of my favourite countries! Maybe one day you will be able to visit!
      Thanks for your comment ☺
      Aimsy xoxo

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  2. Greece has been at the top of my travel list for years. I still haven't got there. This post just makes me want to go even more! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked the post! I hope you get to go to Greece one day...you will not regret it!
      Aimsy xoxo

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