I have spent more than a week driving around Greece, meeting people and their culture and enjoying their beautiful landscapes. Here are just some of the things I have seen and learned that can help you on your (next) trip to Greece. Let me know how many of them are news to you in the comment section below!
1. Greece lies on a junction of Eurasian and African tectonic plates.
2. For the reason above, earthquakes in Greece are every day’s phenomenon. The last big one with the magnitude 5,0 was on the 29th of April 2019 (exactly on the day that I arrived in Athens). There were 97 earthquakes in the last 7 days. Track the latest earthquakes in Greece here.
3. For the reason above, you will not find a skyscraper in Greece. They build low buildings for the sake of safety.
4. Everything is cheaper in Greece if you order it as a takeaway. You may sit down and drink it at the bar when you have already paid for it but you will have to enjoy it from a paper cup.
5. Greeks are known as being lazy but they prefer to call themselves hedonists. With such an amazing view of the seaside all around the country, who can blame them.
6. They are tourist-friendly. If you need a toilet, do not be shy. Just enter the first bar or a hotel you see and kindly ask them to go. Nobody is going to look at you funny or tell you that you need to order something first.
7. According to locals, the cleanest toilets in Athens are at the entrance to the Acropolis.
8. Every (historic) building is made out of marble. Marble is the cheapest building material in Greece.
9. Greek temples used to have wooden roofs because the marble ones were too heavy. At some point, all of them were destroyed except one that is still preserved – it is made out of marble.
10. Nobody ever told you this but going to the Acropolis is very slippery and exhausting because of the marble and the heat.
11. Students (with a valid student card) can enter every museum and the Acropolis in Athens free of charge.
12. All historical sites in Greece are still standing at their original location. All that is new is a fence around them and the point where the entrance tickets are being sold.
13. Greece is the motherland of democracy and elections. Even nowadays they have more than 80% of electoral participation (which is really a lot in my opinion).
14. Greeks prefer the name “Hellenic Republic” over “Greece”.
15. Parking is free in almost every city but only on streets that are not reserved for locals (and there are many of them). The reserved streets have something written in the Greek language under the parking sign. Find a street with no such sign and you are good to go.
16. Nobody cares about what you do. Unless you block someone from minding their business, nobody is going to call the police on you.
17. The only policemen we saw were at the coffee shops or parked in a street with a coffee in their hands.
18. If you are in Europe on your touristic visa and you stay longer than you have should, go to Greece first and fly out of Europe from it. Nobody will care (or that is what I have heard).
19. Ferries are not worth it. You really do not need a car on a small crowded island. 2 plane tickets can be cheaper than a ferry ride for only one passenger.
20. If you have to choose between going by ferry or crossing the bridge, always take a ferry. The price depends on your vehicle, passengers get to travel for free. For example, the price per car crossing the Rion-Antirion bridge is 13,50€ but a ferry costs only 6,50€.
21. You do not need to go to Santorini to catch some amazing white’n’blue views. These two are the colours of Greece and you can find them on the flag and on every other building across the country.
22. A bottle of water on Santorini costs around 10€.
23. The blue on Greek’s flag represents the sea and the white symbolises heaven or freedom.
24. When Germans occupied Greece in the WW2, the flag keeper in Athens has wrapped himself in the flag and jump down the hill to death.
25. Greek’s highways are one of the most expensive ones in Europe.
26. You can easily avoid paying the toll if you leave the highway one exit before the pay toll stops. There is no entrance so you do not get a ticket and pay how much you have actually used the road.
27. Greek’s gas is one of the most expensive ones in Europe. You cannot find it cheaper than 1,60€ per litre although the average cost per litre is around 1,67€. The most expensive price I have seen was 1,79€ per litre.
28. The cheapest gas stations can be found in the cities which are not on the islands and not on the main roads that lead to the centre.
29. Although Turks say that the word Istanbul has no meaning at all and that it comes from the word Estanbul which meant ‘East of Europe’, Greeks say that Istanbul comes from a Greek word and means ‘The City’.
30. A scoop of ice cream in Athens costs 3€.
31. More than 90% of Greeks are Orthodox Christians and go to church every Sunday.
32. There are small Orthodox chapels along any road you take in Greece every few metres. Locals often stop to pray and kiss the picture in the chapel for good luck. A local told me, the chapels were built on places where a car or motorbike accident had happened so they are mostly visited by a family of a deceased.
33. Stopping at the red light outside of a city can be dangerous. The whole country is flooded by homeless starving dogs that often attack cars and people in hope to get some food. The government does not take care of them.
34. There are more than 6000 islands in Greece.
35. Lefkada is the only island in western Greece that is connected to the mainland with a bridge which makes it very accessible for the crowds (even locals especially on public holidays).
36. More than 90% of Greece is hilly.
37. For the reason above, driving around the country is very gas consuming.
38. One would think that because of all of those mountains, the air above Greece is very fresh. Wrong! There are many factories and refineries in the country so driving around can be really smelly at times.
39. Athens in Greek is actually Athina. No plural there.
40. There are MANY pickpockets in Athens. Be careful! The most dangerous zone is at the metro stations.
41. In a week of driving around, 1 frog, 2 turtles, 2 lizards, many cats and countless dogs crossed my way (even the highway!). So please drive very carefully and slowly because I have never seen more dead animals along the road before.
42. Crossing the road on a green light is more like a recommendation than a rule. You can do it anytime as long as you do not jump in front of a moving car.
43. “Greek” is a Turkish word and means “a thief”.
44. It is obligatory to serve the army for every Greek man above the age of 19 for at least 9 months. They are paid less than 10€ per each month of serving and have zero expenses on their own.
45. Most of them start smoking cigarettes during that time because of the boredom and their cheap price without a tax – 50 cents. Usually, they never quit.
46. You have probably heard about a Greek yoghurt… Well, they have not heard of regular yoghurt. All around Greece, 1 litre of drinking yoghurt is nowhere to be found.
47. Good morning is pronounced “kalimera” and “no” means yes.
48. If a Greek says that they do not speak English, they are just pretending and probably simply just do not want to talk to you. They start learning English in the 1st grade of elementary school and they all should know how to speak it very well. Sidenote: it has happened to me.
How do you feel about Greeks and Greece after reading all of these facts? Have you already been there or are you planning on going? Which island would you visit first? Tell me all in the comment section below.
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