After spending 2 weeks, all over Greece, it’s fair to say I’ve learned a lot about the culture and the country. I’ve eaten all the Greek salads in the world, tried so many different feta cheese, got to see a lot of world famous historical sights and walked the amazing white streets and buildings with the blue doors and windows.
Yet If I can give you a bit of advice I will tell you this, spending 2 weeks in Greece is a long time for such a small country. I liked the islands a lot more than the mainland. If you love history then the mainland like Athens is perfect for you. If you’re looking for more of a relaxed vacation and to really feel the culture, it’s better to plan an island only vacation, in my opinion. I was let down in some aspects and happily surprised with other things. Here are 19 Things You Should Know About Greece.
False Advertisement- I will try my best to explain this well. When thinking and imaging Greece, most people think of the famous white buildings, with blue windows and doors and white pavement floors. Dinning at restaurants on the Mediterranean coastline and spending most of the day drinking exotic cocktails at the beach or being sky high looking over the famous blue top churches. The truth of the matter of fact, is that it’s false. You see, the only real place you can do that is on the island of Mykonos, which is why it was my favorite place in Greece. It’s the only place I felt like I was walking in my ideal Greek dream! The rest of the island and the country makes it seem through photos on postcards and wallpapers, like that’s what you’re gonna get everywhere you go but in fact, it’s all just an illusion. No one really tells you that the dreamy Santorini is just 2 main streets that are probably a mile long each and that the rest of the island doesn’t really have much on it, including easy beach access. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time, but I was let down at the illusion that is being advertised throughout the world. So for the people who do plan to take a trip to Greece, keep this in mind.
You will eat healthier than you ever ate in your life- The Greek are known for being one of the healthiest people on earth and many live till the age of 90! That’s because they only eat health food, they have a Greek salad at least once a day if not twice, they love their seafood and they don’t really eat anything that’s fried. When visiting Greece you will definitely eat healthier than you have anywhere else. Not even by choice but because that’s all there really is.
The taxis parked in a line, will over charge you- if you ever see taxis parked in a line waiting for customers to get in them, think again. Anywhere you see these parked taxis, be aware that they will make up a price on the spot that they think is appropriate. For example, a cab ride that should have cost you 4€, will cost you 10€. So the best thing to do is to stop one of them on the street. In general taxis are pretty cheap, compared to other places I’ve been to around the world. The meter goes up by a few cents, not by 0.50€ or 1.00€ for just standing in traffic like in NYC or London.
Greece is over all pretty cheap- Especially Athens. As far as food goes and transportation, you can have a big salad for about 5€ or an entree for 7€ and buses are 1,20€-2,20€ for far distances. Coffee is fairly cheap depending on where you’re having it, but you can easily find it for 1€-2€. You will also find great deals on shopping, in comparison to Paris, Italy or London.
Street Dogs- I found this to be extremely odd and disturbing, but all over Greece there are big dogs living on the streets. At first I thought they probably have diseases, but it turns out that the government actually takes good care of them! They make sure they have all of their shots and are being fed. These dogs are very people friendly, but I personally still think it’s sad.
Greece is a safe country- Athens is a pretty safe city to visit, I do know that there is one area that at night isn’t “as” safe because of drugs and such, but there are cops always walking around and making sure everyone is always safe. As for the islands, they are very safe and in fact don’t really have many police officers or stations because of such a low crime rate. It’s very rare for a crime related action to take place. I felt very safe in my entire time visiting Greece.
There is nothing to eat but Greek food- I have been all over the world and of course, being in a foreign country you are more likely to find many restaurants with their homeland food. Like going to Italy you will probably find many Italian places, but you can also find other types of food. In Greece it’s very hard to find other types of food like, Italian food, Asian food and such. Your kinda stuck eating the same things no matter where you go. So it really doesn’t matter where you eat, all you should base it on is price and location, because all the food is the same.
Greeks love ice cappuccino– it’s actually called Frappé Cappuccino and its basically a cappuccino, with no milk and has ice. It’s very strong, but they usually ask you if you want to add milk and sugar. They have a special machine that makes it and that’s all you’ll basically see people drinking at cafes and throughout the day.
Renting a motorbike- is a must while in Greece! It’s fairly cheap, about 15€-25€ a day, depending on how fast you want it. Everyone rents them while in Greece. The Greek island isn’t too big that you must have a car, but they’re also not too small that you can walk everywhere, that’s why a motorbike is perfect. Crazy enough most people ride them without a helmet. All you need is your normal driver license and cash. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend it! Just be safe!
Mykonos is one of the most beautiful places on earth- I vouch for that! It took me by complete surprise, but Mykonos is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in the world. It will fulfill your Greek dreams of what a Mediterranean islands would look like. I highly recommend this island and if you only have at choose of one island to go to in Greece, this should definitely be it!
Ouzo- is an alcoholic drink by the Greeks and is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Greece. It’s made out of grape skins, different kinds of herbs like coriander, cloves and cinnamon. It tastes almost like licorice and is very strong, usually taken as a shot! Definitely something to try while visiting Greece! Although just be aware not to mix it with other alcoholic beverages, especially not wine or beer because it will make you sick. FYI, its also pretty cheap.
The Evil Eye- just as the middle eastern cultures believe strongly in the evil eye, so do the Greeks. For those of you who don’t know what the evil eye is, it’s supposed to keep bad energy away and protect you from harms way. People in Greece sell many accessories featuring the evil eye, such as key chains, magnets, bracelets, home decoration and more.
No one checks your bus or train tickets- before entering a train or a bus, you would need to purchase a ticket from the ticket booth or a machine. After doing that, you would enter your transportation choice and validated your ticket through a machine on the bus or train. The only thing is, is that no one really ever checks if you paid or didn’t. They just trust your characteristic to do the right thing 😉
Most people speak English- This I found to my surprise because after my shocking trip to Barcelona, where no one speaks a word in English it was kind of a relief to know you can communicate with the Greeks. Almost every single person, no matter what age group, speaks English! Which is very helpful and makes your trip a little more enjoyable.
Donkey Ride- Santorini is an island where the entire city is placed at the top of the mountain, there are 3 ways of getting up there and one is by a donkey ride just like they used to do in the olden days. These donkeys will also carry your suitcase up or down the mountain. While in Santorini, you must try it out!
*Bonus Fact- Slowest WIFI out of any country I have ever been to! I warned ya 😉