If we went back in time a few years, we’d find that Greece was once a great deal more popular as a tourist destination than it is right now. The last decade hasn’t been a happy one for Greece when it comes to how it’s perceived on the global stage – a sharp recession followed by an internationally-funded bailout has generated a lot of unwanted press. That’s taken some of the shine off it as a vacation destination, which is a shame because it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
If you’re considering a vacation to Greece – and you really should – then you’ll find the Greeks will be very happy to see you. Tourism is a huge part of their economy, and as the country rebuilds itself it’s going to extra mile to make sure visitors feel welcome, and then go home and tell all their friends about how great it is. That way, they’ll want to come as well! It’s also a little cheaper to go than it may have been in the past – lower demand has meant lower prices, and so right now is a good time to take advantage before they shoot up again.
Before you set off to Greece and its enchanting islands, though, there are a few things you ought to know about the country. We’ve condensed them into five fast facts, so consider this a handy reference guide!
History And Modernity Are Fused Together
Greece is famous all around the world for its ancient myths and legends. We’ve all heard about Mount Olympus, and the great Greek god Zeus. Many people will have fond memories of Ancient Greece being their favorite subject when they were at school. That fascination has evidently followed people into adulthood; if you go to a mobile slots website or the related casinos, you’ll find various mobile slots based on Greek myth. Zeus has several mobile slots named in his honor. There’s even a mobile slots game based on Pandora! Just like with the mobile slots, though, modern Greece has fused the old and the new together.
Many of the structures of Ancient Greece are still standing – the Parthenon being the best-known and most mysterious (did you know it contains no straight lines or right angles?) but in many cases, the modern towns and cities have grown up around the old monuments. Don’t expect them to be standing alone in an open field – there’s probably a McDonald’s around the corner!
It’s A Bit Smoky
If you’re a smoker, firstly you should quit. Secondly, you’ll probably love Greece. If you’re a non-smoker, you might be in for a bit of throat irritation. There are more smokers in Greece than there are anywhere else in the European Union (and possibly the world). There have been various government initiatives aimed at reducing the smoking rate, but the issue is that Greeks don’t seem all that interested in giving up.
Smoking is theoretically banned in all indoor spaces, although in rural areas you’ll likely find nobody enforces or pays any attention to that ban. In busy outdoor spaces, you’ll probably be followed by the smell of smoke wherever you go. Make sure you take plenty of changes of clothes, and consider a face mask if it particularly bothers you.
Greek Retailers Prefer Cash
In the major Greek cities (for example Athens, which we’ll go ahead and assume is one of your planned destinations), you won’t have to look very far for an ATM. Almost everywhere else, you will. Some of the islands you might want to visit won’t have an ATM at all. Even if they did, they wouldn’t be much use to you; many traders and retailers only accept cash. You’re unlikely to have a problem with large, global brands, but if you want to get a taste of Greek culture and shop at authentic Greek stores, you’ll need to carry cash on you at all times.
If it’s not clear whether a shop or venue accepts card payments, make sure you get clarification on the matter before you attempt to make any purchases. If you waste a merchant’s time by trying to proceed with a purchase you can’t pay for, you may find out that the stereotypes of Mediterranean temper are well-founded!
Drive At Your Own Risk
You might find that the driving style of Greeks is a little more aggressive than you’re accustomed to. If they think you’re moving too slowly, they’ll have no qualms about overtaking you. That overtake might happen on either the right or left side. Motorcycles seem to operate according to their own rules, and weave in and out of traffic without warning (and there are a lot of them). If you’re not accustomed to it, it can be very stressful.
Because of the stress of driving, you might prefer to take a taxi, but you should also be aware of taxi etiquette, too. It’s not unknown for a taxi driver to pick up a fare while your ride is already underway. If the driver can figure out a way to drop you and your new friend off along the same route, they’ll do it. If this happens, don’t worry – you’re not expected to split the fare. Your driver will have a separate tab running for each of you. In a lot of ways, it’s a more efficient way of running taxis than is the norm in the USA!
They Don’t Get Drunk
Greece is the nation that gave the world ouzo. Because of that, you might think they drink ouzo like the Russians drink vodka, and that a Greek bar is, therefore, an exceptionally rowdy place. The Greeks do love a drink, but they’re especially good at knowing their limits. You will rarely see a drunk Greek anywhere. They’ll eat, drink, and be merry, but merry is as far as the majority of them go.
As you’re in their country, you’ll be expected to conduct yourself in a similar manner. The Greeks don’t take kindly to public drunkenness. Years of exposure to British and American bachelor parties on the islands have made them even more wary of this than they used to be. Enjoy a drink on your vacation, but do so in moderation. You’ll be more likely to remember your spectacular trip that way!
To read more on topics like this, check out the travel category.