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This is a custom in other mediterranian cultures, because of the mid-day heat, most shops will close down between 2 and 5ish in the afternoon, even in winter! I visited in January. I found that tourist shops tended to stay open, because they knew that uninformed tourists would still be out in the streets, and it is worth it to make the money, but much of the city quieted down during these times. There is even, technically, quiet hour laws! Keep in mind that while this might seem like a waste of your valuable travel time, you can take advantage of it and live like a local. Take a break during these times, or just take the time when the city is quieter to explore, grab some food, pick up some souvineers, or hang out in one of the squares. The Athenians tend to eat dinner late (compared to U.S. standards at least), around 8, even 9 pm! And if they are going out for the night (the best nights are thursday - saturday), they won't go out til a few hours later than we would in the US. The times when we went out, we planned to go out around midnight. And just because you go out late, don't be tempted to sleep in the next day! The mid-day siesta time is great for making up for a bit of lost sleep, or just giving your legs a rest!
Written Feb 3, 2010
The Greek passion is alive in the culinary delights as well. Fruit plays an important part of anyone's diet, and the Greeks have fruit stands almost on every corner, at least it seemed that way. Great varieties of fruit and vegetables seem to always be available.
Updated Apr 13, 2009
>Shake hands with everyone you meet. Don’t be surprised if -once they get to know you a little bit better- they kiss you on both cheeks. It means they feel comfortable with you.
>Make sure you dress modestly when visiting a church or monastery, which basically means keeping your chest and thighs covered. It’s also customary to drop a coin in the donation box and light a candle.
>When invited over to a house, it’s advisable to bring a gift to the host, be it flowers, a bottle of wine or some desert. Arriving empty handed makes you look kinda cheap!
>We know it’s said that Greeks don’t mind being asked personal questions -as we ask some ourselves- but don’t overdo it.
Asking someone you just met how much money they make is plain rude. You might be asked about your marital status.
>Another myth buster: If you want a second serving from what you’ve been eating, just say so. If you’re a guest you’ll probably be asked once, so don’t be shy. If you don’t want more, say that too. In a restaurant, feel free to serve yourself and it’s also nice to ask others if they want any.
>Its customary for people to arrive 30 minutes late for a dinner party.
>Bars, clubs and bouzoukia require formal dress, so keep your flip-flops for the beach! Cheap eateries like tavernas and smaller bars are casual.
>It is customary when eating in taverns, mezedopolia or oinomageiria to buy plates for everyone to share, rather than one plate for each person. However, if you still want a main course for yourself, feel free to get it.
>A 16% gratuity is included in some bills, but you’re expected to leave something extra to round off the amount.
>Greeks often -not always- don’t respect queues, so stay alert for queue jumpers
Written Oct 23, 2008
For those Americans on their first time out of the U.S., a big difference you will find when dining is the waiters will not be rushing you away from their tables by giving you the check immediately -- or ever, until you ask for it. You will be sitting forever if you don't request the check. And for Europeans coming to the U.S., expect the check to be shoved at you any time from when your food first arrives till you say you've had enough, depending on the quality of the restaurant, but don't feel like you have to leave -- just a difference in the custom.
Written Sep 19, 2008
Cake in Greece are very good but some are also VERY sweet as they are made with a lot of honey. Keep this in mind if you dont have a so called "sweet tooth"....
I like baklava that is one of these made with honey but I like best Kalitsounia, a Crete specialty made with a shortcrust pastry and kind of ricotta cheese inside with cinnamon on it.... to die for.
Look at my Crete Local custom tips for Kalitsounia recipe.
Updated Sep 4, 2008
Everybody in Greece seems to be a smoker! I saw many many men and women smoking there, a lot of them smoke hand made cigarettes.
If you are not a smoker I suggest you to ask your hotel to reserve you a no-smoking room or you will be very disappointed by your room's smell....
Written Sep 2, 2008
Backgammon is a very popular game in Greece, everywhere you can see people playing. In the bar, sat outside their home or also working, while waiting for a customer.
In my photos you can see some streets seller enjoying their game.
Written Sep 2, 2008
You may also see the changing of the Guard (Evzones) in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Evzones is the name of several historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Today, it refers to the members of the Proedriki Froura (Presidential Guard), an elite ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion.
Their proven valour and peculiar dress turned them into a popular image for the Greek soldier, especially among foreigners.
Written Jul 11, 2008
i have been to greece just to see the easter's spirit, traditionally and religiously. i just enjoy the festive atmosphere and folk culture. i have been to tinos island, a non-touristy island known for its strong expression of the orthodox religion.
i joined the church service from 8pm to 12pm just standing and watching people mourning and hoping. a greek lady pointed and handed me one those brown candles that the church provided them at the entrance. she spoke no english. instead, she found me an english-speaking lady just to explain to me what was going on and why they were holding candles. there was a stream of greek orthodox prayers or psalms, so i guessed. senior, young and even children were pouring in and outside the church of Virgin Mary with no smile on their faces. they seemed to have taken the death of christ seriously, so i remained silent joining the mourning crowd. when the bell hit the midnight hour, the senior priests started to leave the church hall and to lead the symbol body of christ. it looked like a decorated throne with a body picture laid down. hunderds joined the procession and were channelled to go into every direction of tinos town, until all groups met downtown at tinos square by the harbour. all churches carrying different thrones of the same symbol have met at that point, continuing to recite the verses that i couldnt understand but admired to hear their poetic rhythm.
the saturday night, it was the same. i heared a police siren; the eldest priest was being dropped off alongside the town mayor by the church entrance. they were received with burning scents and dressed-up priests and a huge crowd awaiting their blessings inside.
that was a religious experience
my landlady gave me a white candle for the resurrection evening, greek sweets and red-painted eggs for smashing. these all took over the next day by both the religious and non including me. and that was the fun part of experiencing the essence of greece.
Updated May 8, 2008
Street Peddlers selling designer knock-off purses (I believe). Common sense tells me so. If you think you're buying the real thing, it probably isn't. Lots of vendors in the early hours are selling fruit for the day!
Updated Oct 16, 2007
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