Soda Is Soda Water
This is an excellent example of how something can mean one thing in one culture, and something completely different in another culture.
I was on a boat, and the captain's father sort of took a liking to us, and was giving us free food and drinks. He called one of his crewmen over, and told me to order something to drink. The crewman didn't speak a word of English, and I didn't speak a word of Greek. I told him, "Soda", expecting him to bring me a Coke. Instead, he brought me a can of carbonated water, called, "Soda Water". I didn't say anything, as it was kind of my fault, and just drank it. The captain's father was laughing, and making burping gestures. My aunt said to me, "You should've said Coke-a Cola." Yes, I probably should have, but it didn't even cross my mind, as I didn't think there was such a thing as, "Soda Water". So if you want to order a "soda" in Greece, just say the name of the brand, like "Coke-a Cola" or "Sprite", or you might end up getting "soda water." At least it was free.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Every Beach Is A Topless Beach
There are only certain beaches in Greece that permit full nudity, but there is no law against being topless. In Greece, it is legal for a woman to go topless on the beach, if she chooses. And I don't mean just lying on her stomach topless. I saw topless women on every beach I visited in Greece, even the one next to my hotel. They even sell post cards of topless women. Women might be reluctant to take their top off, on a beach in a big city, but it is not illegal. Nudity isn't such a big deal in Greece, as it is in America. So if you wish, feel free to take your top off. You won't get fined, or harassed by police. And don't worry about being harassed by perverts. You might get the occasional curious tourist, but they are harmless. Most people don't even pay attention to you.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Ouzo power to answer Greek crisis
Is a must to drink some ouzo when you visit Greece. At the summer any square around the city has a kafeneion or mezedopoleion with plates of taste fishes and more of the local recipes.
Drink wine beer or soft drinks, but i recomment Ouzo as a strong memory of our country.
Enjoy! These are friends that take the time in a summer square. Real people behind the places !Related to:
- Food and Dining
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
This pyramid, representing a healthy, traditional Mediterranean diet, is based on the dietary traditions of Crete, much of the rest of Greece and southern Italy, structured in light of current nutrition research.
On most of the Greek islands, it is still possible to observe some of the old ways of Greek life, especially traditional fishing as it has been done for centuries. In the evening, traditional wooden fishing boats pull into harbor to unload their catch, and fishermen sit along the waterfront mending their nets after a day's fishing.
Unfortunately, the traditional ways of fishing are quickly disappearing, and are mainly being carried out now by older people. Modernization of the Greek fishing fleet and young people being lured away from the old ways by better paying jobs in the cities are the main reasons.
The waters around Greece are rich in marine life. Fishermen regularly catch red mullet, sea bream, gilt-head bream, sea bass, squid, octopus, small prawns, and shellfish. Needless to say, seafood forms a large part of Greek cuisine.
Ouzo, commonly of aniseed flavour (although variations are available like mint, hazelnut) is an excellent appetiser, mixed with water it turns milky, and that's how you drink it. Best had in a local ouzeri, as a quart before your snack/meal.
Retsina is wine made from resin of pine trees, also popular, especially with seafood.
Tsipuro is made from fermented grape skins left over from winemaking. They are fermented to produce a highly potent spirit, also called raki.
Local beers: Mythos (pilsner type brew in a distinctive green bottle), and Alfa.
Enjoy Greece (kali tihi = good luck)Related to:
- Wine Tasting
- Beer Tasting
- Historical Travel
Halva is a very popular dessert, not only in Greece but around Balkan region and middle East. Although there are different types of it. It also called “halvas” in Greece, “helva” in Turkey, probably because of the Arabian word halwa that means sweet.
In greece we have two completely different types of halva, the semolina-based halva which is gelatinous and translucent, and the sesame-based halva which is drier and crumbly. The roots of sesame-based halva in Greece go back to Ancient Greece. Although it’s one very fatting dessert if you can control yourself halvas is very healthy too, don’t forget that sesame has many vitamins anyway.
This type of Halva is based on tahini. To create tahini you need sesame seeds, we don’t procuce them in Greece anymore so we import them from Soudan (for good quality) but some companies import it from other countries (lower quality though). The seeds are placed in huge pans with hot steam and they are smashed from big stone discs so the ground natural paste –the tahini- comes out. When it gets cold they have to add the mix of caramel, sugar and glucose in huge blenders, to have the caramel you need the bitter liquer of the halvadoriza (I think it comes from Russia). The normal procedure wants the blending made by hand, a difficult job but the only way for a good halva. Just before the end they can add some flavors like chocolate of vanillia. While it is still warm they can cut it in big pieces (pic 1) or put it in forms (that's the only way you will find it out of greece).
For the orthodox is very popular 40 days before the Easter (just the Holy Week in our days for the majority) when you cant eat meat so it gives all the energy you need. Makedonikos Halvas is very popular you can find it in many markets but my favorite is Halvas Drapetsonas.
Semolina based Halvas (pic 2)
Halva from semolina is usually made at home because its easier to make it. Some restaurants also offer it as a dessert after lunch.
The recipe includes:
2 cups of wheat semolina (1 hard, 1 soft), 2 cups of sugar (you can use honey too), 1 cup of olive oil, 4 cups of hot water, cinnamon and dried fruits (I prefer almonds and some pine nuts).
Warm the oil and add the semolina, mix them carefully, put down the fire (from 3 to 2) until the semolina goes brown. Add the roasted almonds and the pine nuts and some cinnamon. Mix again and take it off the fire. Add slowly the syrup (bolied water+sugar+some cinnamon+half lemon) and you keep mixing. Put it on fire again for just two minutes. It’s ready! :)Related to:
- Food and Dining
Mid Morning Business Meeting
To those of us who live in a less sunny climate, business meetings are always carried out indoors, maybe a pub, a hotel or a restaurant. We find it quite amusing to see Greek business men dressed in their suits carrying out business meetings at an outdoor taverna. Undoubtedly, these meetings become rather rowdy, the more the ouzo and wine is consumed. For example, a mid morning coffee break to us in England is a quick cup of coffee probably sat at our desk. Not so for a Greek, he will be in his favourite taverna surrounded by plates of food and drink and it could take some time before he resumes work.
Whilst in Koroni, we enjoyed watching the work party at a nearby table.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Business Travel
Cubes of pork - as we would call on a kebab stick or skewer, alternately with chunks of vegetable - grilled - a very typical Greek dish that you see advertised pretty much everywhere.
and actually rather tender and delicious!
Signs in Greece/Greek/Greek English
Interesting translations that in english would be sort of like 'a slip of the tongue' - like views of the sea around the backside....we understand what is meant but its quite humorous the ambiguous connotations that the colloquial slants could be taken as
Dates of Easter Celebrations in Greece
Greece being overwhelmingly a "Christian Orthodox" country, presents some particularities concerning the dates of Easter celebrations.
Perspective visitors of Greece, kindly retain the following dates in your agenda for 2009:
Catholic Easter: 12 April 2009
Greek Orthodox Easter: 19 April 2009
Please note: thanks to a special permission from the Vatican, the Catholics living in Greece celebrate Easter with their fellow Orthodox brothers.So, even if you are a Catholic, Easter in Greece will be celebrated on 19 April!
Check the days of your holidays!Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
let's go for a coffee...
Greeks are addicted to coffee, that’s why you see so many cafes in every city. They like to go there and spend hours socializing, talking about sex, football and politics. Its almost impossible to see a greek to drink a coffee in a hurry. In the old days the greek/Turkish coffee was very popular, a typical coffee in Balkan countries, in middle east and north Africa. The preparation is to boil some finely powdered roast coffee beans in a small pot, sometimes with sugar, and serving it into a small cup (like espresso in Italy), where the dregs settle. Unfortunately, they don’t make it like this in most of the cafes so you cant really taste the real one. Watch out! Don’t drink it all! The thick layer of sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup is left behind.
Since the 80s the Nescafe conquered all. Hot in the winter and cold in the summer (we call it frappe) the cafes were selling millions of them and always in higher prices than in other European countries! (something that a lot of tourist cant understand when they just need a coffee and go) The last years, after the arrival of Starbucks the greeks started to taste the new trend of coffees with chocolate and other tastes while at the same time many people started to ask for espresso, freddo and other coffees. Traditionally all the coffees are served with cold water and a small cookie (it used to be lokum in the past).
In the summer you will see some funny street scenes like policemen holding a frappe in the middle of the street.
This was part of my reply to a forum question re. Greek Easter
I'd suggest heading for one of the islands. I spent 2 happy holidays during Greek Easter - once in the village of Plakka on Crete, where I stayed with a family, and joined in all of the celebrations.
This included a parade around the village with the villagers carrying a flower strewn altar, and the priest blessing each house and business,church services, lots of firecrackers and fireworks.
My second was on Symi, where I stayed in Pedi, and again I joined in with the celebrations. (If you check out my Symi page, I have written quite a bit about the customs of Greek Easter and my experience of the festivities)
Greek Easter Traditions and Customs
The high light is Easter Saturday night, as families head to their local church just before midnight, everyone carrying a candle - a single bell rings out. A minute before midnight the church lights are dimmed (signifying the death of Christ) then the priest lights a holy flame, which he passes out to the congregation, who in turn light their candles, then that of their neighbour.
Church bells ring out, accompanied by even more fireworks, fire crackers (and dynamite on Symi!!)
There is much kissing, shaking hands and greetings of "Christos anesti" (Christ is Risen) with the reply "Alithos anesti" (Truly He is Risen). Everyone then hurries home, carrying their candles , hopefully with the flame intact. A sign of the cross is made with the sooty wick, over the door to bring Good Luck for the year. Their period of fasting is also broken - a special soup made from the intestines of a sacrificed lamb,lemons, egg, dill and rice is eaten.(It tastes much better than it sounds!) Red eggs are cracked, for luck.
Easter Sunday is a time for families, meeting up to eat Roast Lamb. Sunday night, a figure of Judas Iscariot (similar to those of Guy Fawkes in the UK) is burnt on a huge bonfire. In Crete, this was outside the church, and in Symi it was in the harbour area, where there was a stunning firework display too.
At both my visits there was still transport running, restaurants and tavernas were open - some serving 'Special Easter Menus' There were also boat trips with a roast lamb spit or barbeque on Symi.
Television channels relay services and show families celebrating.
I'm not particularly religious, but I enjoyed joining in the celebrations and attending the church services.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Budget Travel
Education in Greece
The Greeks have always valued EDUCATION. Once Greece became independent of Turkish rule, elementary school for all children became the law. Today, Greek law says all children "must attend school from the ages of 6 to 15."
Greek children start school at age 6. In state schools, education is free, but some children go to private school, especially if they want to learn foreign languages. However, English is the second language for most Greeks, & students begin studying English in grade school.
Since English is the language used for tourism & technology [2 areas that produce jobs], the young Greeks want to master English. Note: Most University-educated Greeks speak English, French, & some German.
After 6 years of grade school, the children go to the gymnasium [high school]. High schools specialize in different subjects. Some schools focus on Greek history, language, culture, & literature. Others focus on science & math. Still others are really vocational schools, which teach technical or commercial skills.
Students who continue their studies after gymnasium attend "lykeio", and after 3 years, students may graduate.
Following "lykeio", some students go on to the University. They must write a university entrance examination. The oldest & most important universities in Greece are located in Athens & Thessalonika. Competition is keen to enter the university so many Greek students travel abroad for University.
Children either ride the school bus or public bus to go to school. In grade school, children begin at about 8 in the morning and finish about 2 in the afternoon. In gymnasium, students start at 8 and finish at 3 or 3:30.
Some Greek parents feel that the Greek public schools are not as competitive as other European schools so they pay large amounts of money to send their children to private school after regular classes end for the day!Related to:
- Historical Travel
Before I visited GREECE, I knew a good deal about Greek Families and some of the traditions because many of the students that I taught were Greek. However, I learned so much more once I was finally in Greece; thus, I want to share some of this information.
As an in American Greek families, "Family life" is very important to the people of Greece. They maintain many traditions, especially in the smaller villages. Mothers have a special position of honor, but some Greeks still consider women inferior to men. Women are expected to have children, and sons are wanted to pass on the family name to the following generation. Older people are respected and often live with and are also cared for by their children and grandchildren.
Greeks tend to live close to their extended family [grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins]. Cousins play together; sometimes cousins are as close as brothers and sisters.
I learned a knew word while in Greece, and it is "parea". Children grow up as part of a "parea" [a group of tightly knit friends who usually go through life together].
The most interesting tidbit that I learned was about NAMES. Greek children celebrate both their birthday and their nameday. In Greek Orthodox communities, every day is dedicated to a saint! For instance, if a girl is named HELEN, then on May 21, St. Helen's Day, every girl named Helen celebrates her nameday with a party, cards, and gifts.
Also, Greek parents name their 1st son after his grandfather on his father's side, and on mainland Greece, 1st daughters are given her father's mother's name. More and more today, the girls are usually given a first name and it's the MIDDLE NAME that comes from a grandmother.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Every visitor to Athens cannot fail to notice this huge hotel. It's right on Syntagma Square,...more
Adamas village, Milos Island, Cyclades
Good for: Solo
My husband and I finished off our honeymoon at the Astra Apartments, an all-suite hotel. The website...more
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