Athens is the capital of Greece and home to nearly 5 million Greeks. Athens is also the home of the Acropolis, where the Parthenon is located, with visitors from all around the world coming to get a glimpse of this architectural wonder. Athens is a city that has a little bit of everything; history, near-by beaches, restaurants (tavernas), bars and a serious night-life. Upon arrival, most visitors are convinced they’ll only spend a day in Athens before making their way to the Greek Islands, but most will find themselves spending a little more time in this enchanting city.
After becoming familiar with Athens, and some of the mainland outside of the capital, it’s off to the Greek Islands! With over 6000 islands it can be difficult for one to decide which is the right island for them. Every island in Greece has its own beauty and pleasures, from the 24 hour non-stop party, to the serenity of beaches caressed by crystal clear waters, the Greek Islands have something for everyone.
In Greece they have a popular saying, “siga-siga”, which means, “slowly-slowly”. Unfortunately, sometimes “siga-siga” is not only a way of life but a work ethic, but if one takes the time to reflect upon this way of life one can easily see why this works best for nearly 13 million Greeks.
Wherever you decide to travel it’s always best to know a little of the language, culture and customs of the country your planning to visit. If you’re traveling with a Yo! Tours Representative, have no fear as all our reps live and work in Greece full-time. Having an in-depth knowledge of the cultures and customs they will be able to fill you in, and give you helpful hints about what is, and is not, accepted by the local inhabitants.
If you’re traveling alone here are some useful tips:
- In Greece nearly everyone speaks English, if they don’t; the locals are always friendly and ready to help.
- The Greeks have a super relaxed and casual attitude towards life. Time means very little and most of the country operates on ‘Greek Time’ (this includes public transportation and customer service).
- Tipping, although not expected, should be around 5-10%.
- Strikes, Manifestations and Protest can be frequent, especially in Athens, but they are usually peaceful and confined to a small area.
- The temperature in Athens ranges from 55F in January to 92F in July and August. Seasonal breezes called meltemia moderate the summer heat.The country averages more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.
- Dress tends to be casual, but there are limits. Sleeveless dresses and shorts may not be worn in monasteries and churches, and women should be sure that arms and shoulders are covered. Jackets for men and cocktail dresses for women are required in the posher of restaurants and in the casinos.
- Visiting the Greek ruins often means traversing over irregular stony terrain that can present a double hazard. Thus, shoes worn on such excursions should be sturdy and absolutely comfortable. Do not wear high heel shoes on these excursions.
- The standard electrical current throughout Greece is 220AC and the outlets are made for 2 round poles.
- All major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and cosmopolitan boutiques. However, they are not used as extensively as they are in the U.S. Traveler’s checks are widely accepted throughout Greece. They can be exchanged easily at almost all banks and post offices.
Greece has made many contributions to Western society and has been the symbol of democracy, philosophical thought, and architecture. The Greek language is also a rich, contributing over 50,000 words to the English language. Greeks are very proud of their ancestor’s accomplishments.
It has been said that the Greek diet is one of the healthiest and freshest in the world. A fine example of this is the ever so popular Greek Salad which consists of: tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers and olives, all of which is topped with olive oil, oregano and feta cheese. Other popular dishes include: souvliki, moussaka, cheese and spinach pies, and least we forget Gyros. Other delights are tzatziki (a sauce of cucumbers, garlic and yogurt) and the sweet baklava.
For beverages, Greece is known for its Ouzo, a clear liquor that is sipped and accompanied with mezes, or tapas (small plates of various delicacies). Other drinks include Retsina (wine fortified with sap), or local beers such as, Alpha, Mythos, and Fix.
Other than alcoholic drinks one will easily find the locals sipping on cold caffeinated drinks such as, frappes, freddo espressos or freddo cappuccinos.
Greece is a land of legends, myths and hero’s. From the Olympic Gods to the hero’s of the Trojan War, it’s no wonder why many come to visit the land where men and gods often clashed and were at odds with one another. Millions of visitors every year flock to Greece to see the great monuments, temples, stadiums and theatres that were built in honor, or to appease, these great gods and deities.
With the rule of the Ottoman Turks for nearly 500 years (until 1829) and a coup to over throw a military dictator in 1975, Greece is considered to be a relatively “new” country in regards to its government. However, everywhere you look there are constant reminders of the invaluable contributions Greeks have made in the past.
With Athens being continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years one will easily discover why Greece, is a treasure to the world.