One thing you need to know about Greece is that while it is a great vacation spot, it is also one that encompasses many different cultures. That being the case, you are going to find that there are number of different factors that will ultimately play into your visit and determine just how it turns out. First of all, let’s talk a bit about the Greek culture in general.
Greeks are extremely proud of their culture, and with that being the case they will generally speak of their country with passion. They have a sense of what you would call ethnic belonging, and with that being the case, you will want to tread carefully. Greek tradition includes, their music, customs, and even food.
There are many Greeks who might be considered superstitious, and they go so far as to believe in the supernatural. It’s hard to tell what type of culture you might run into when you visit Greece, but you can be sure that it will be quite interesting.
Believe it or not, 97% of Greeks are Orthodox Christians. The rest of them will be either Roman Catholic, Jewish, or even Muslim.
The Greek culture consists of a number of different influences, mostly assimilated from other cultures. That being the case, the music found in Greece can be traced back to the ancient world quite easily, and many of the modern influences are also quite prevalent throughout the country.
As with any culture, tipping is most definitely appreciated by those who work in service oriented jobs. Something to note is that when sitting down at a table in a restaurant, you will be charged a cover fee for the table which will include bread and non-bottled water. It would be unwise to argue this bill as it is standard across the country.
As far as actual tipping goes, a waiter should be tipped 10 to 20 percent of the total. In addition to that, you can tip taxi drivers if you wish, but they do not expect tips. There is however a charge for a taxi driver handling your luggage. Keep this in mind! The final tipping procedure we will address here is that of toilet attendants. These are found in public bathrooms and they will ensure that there is both toilet paper and soap present in the bathroom.
As far as internet goes, you will find that there are a few broadband providers, among them Otnet, Forthnet, Vivodi Telecom, Hellas On Line, and Tellas. Vodaphone Greece offers mobile broadband for those who would much rather spend their time on the go.
These are just a few of the things you will need to know before taking a vacation in Greece, and soon enough you will have all of the information you need to make your vacation a memorable one. That being said, it’s time for you to continue your information gathering quest and prepare for a vacation you will never forget. After all, anytime is a great time for a Greek vacation!
Greece is an amazing place to visit, and as you can imagine, it actually has quite the history. That being said, let’s talk a bit about that history so that you will have some background information before you start out on your journey. After all, a little knowledge goes a long way!
First of all, the original settlements in Greece too place during the Paleolithic era which happens to be 11,000 – 3,000 BC. For those who don’t know the dates actually moved in reverse at that time in contrast to the dates recorded after AD.
On another note, BC stands for “Before Christ”, and AD stands for “Anno Domini” as opposed to “After Death” like so many tend to believe. Anno Domini is translated as “In the year of our Lord”. This of course has nothing to do with Greek culture, but it is important to know nonetheless.
During the second millennium BC the Minoans, the Mycenaeans, and the Cycladic civilizations settled in Greece, paving the way for the next generation. Moving into the sixth century BC, the Classical period was in full swing, and this is where Greece finally began to assimilate different cultures.
As you know, Greece today consists of a number of different cultures which makes it difficult to differentiate. In any case, the 6th and 4th centuries saw something rather amazing from Greece, which was of course a new government structure: democracy. This would begin to form the roots of the western world long before America was even an idea.
Though Greece did form the first democracy, it wasn’t all development and fun. The history of Greece is dotted with a plethora of invasions, regime changes, and domination. For instance, Alexander the Great invaded Persia and continue to conquer through to India in 334 BC. Like so many other great armies however, his was destroyed the moment he died.
In 1453, as was to be expected, the Ottoman empire managed to conquer Greece, taking it from the Venetians. During the Ottoman occupation rebel groups were formed and the people did attempt to fight back, but the majority of these groups were quashed, and finally, the Greek War of Independence started in 1821. In 1829, nine years after the start of the war, the country of Greece won it’s freedom.
Some freedoms are short lived however, as Hitler and his Nazi regime conquered the eastern world and implemented their own government. Greece resisted during this time, but like many other countries of that era, they did fall, and they would have to endure until the Allies finally made their way through, destroying the Nazi war machine once and for all.
As you can plainly see, Greece is an amazing country, and one that has endured much throughout the years. That being the case, this is an amazing staple o the ancient world that you will most definitely want to visit and experience the next time you choose to take a vacation to the other side of the world.
Best of Greece
There are many different vacation spots that one might take advantage of in the world, but one of the most popular happens to be Greece. As one of the hotspots of the ancient world, it is no surprise that so many people want to have a look at it, and even see these great landmarks for themselves:
The Acropolis and the Parthenon
The Acropolis is without a doubt one of the most famous monuments in the ancient world, and each year thousands of visitors from across the globe gather to bask in it’s magnificence. There are quite a few monuments upon the Acropolis, many of them having been built during the age of Pericles, which took place in the 5th century BC.
Parthenon is one of the most famous and beautiful monuments of the Acropolis, and this temple was dedicated to the Goddess Athena who guarded the city of Athens. Believe it or not, the design of the Parthenon has actually inspired a number of different western world universities and continues to have an incredible effect on the world in general.
Temple of Zeus
Zeus, the king of the Gods was obviously very important in Greek mythology, and as a result, he did indeed have his own temple in Olympia. This was a beautiful, fully developed Greek temple that was built sometime between 472 and 456 BC. The temple housed the status of Zeus, and it is in fact one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. This statue was one of the most famous artistic works in all of Greece, and the temple of Zeus complimented it well.
There are many speculations as to what the Temple of Zeus might have looked like in the ancient world, but in 426 AD, Theodosius II ordered the temple burnt to the ground. Though the fire did not completely destroy it, earthquakes in 551 AD did finish the job. This was not a complete loss as pieces of the sculpture and temple have been excavated to be put on public display.
Olympia is yet another amazing place in Greece, and it’s name likely gives it away. Yes, the Olympic games were held here, and the first set of games were held in honor of Zeus. The most famous area, Altis, consisted of a number of different buildings such as the Temple of Hera, Temple of Zeus, the Pelopion, and of course the stadium. In the ancient times, Olympia was considered to be sacred ground. Today, it is one of the most important historical sites in the world.
Greece has a number of different islands, more than six thousand actually, though only two hundred and twenty seven of the six thousand are actually inhabited. In addition to that, only seventy-eight of the two hundred and twenty seven have more than one hundred inhabitants which makes for a very sparse, very spread out population. Many of these islands can be seen from various parts of the mainland, though some of them are simply too far out to sea.
In ancient Greek, Meteora mans “suspended rocks”, perhaps suggesting something a bit supernatural at one point in time. These are six monasteries constructed on natural sandstone rock pillars near the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly. Having been featured in many different movies and song, the Meteora is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist sites in the world.
Being both a modern city, and an archaeological dig site in Greece, Delphi was actually the site of the Delphi oracle, and a site of worship for the god Apollo. Not only is this an important place in Greek mythology, it is also the site of the Pythian games, which were the precursor to the Olympic games. Everything has to start somewhere, right?
Mycenae is yet another archaeological site in Greece, and it is located just south-west of Athens. It is estimated that in the second millennium, Mycenae was among some of the largest centers for Greek Civilizations. This is of course comparable to capital cities of today, though we doubt that ours are quite as fun.
Santorini architecture is unique from most other Greek architecture, and as with anything else, these alterations were inspired by necessity. During thee era of the Venetian and Turkish occupation, there was a severe pirate problem, and for this reason it was found necessary to create winding roads leading from the castles that masked the departure of horse and rider.
In addition to that, there were frequent earthquakes and volcanoes which called for higher buildings. This also led to a common use of arches throughout the city. While Santorini architecture might be used creatively today, it was a necessity in those days.
Beaches of Crete
Crete is the largest island off the coast of Greece, and as a result it is one of the biggest tourist destinations. That being the case there are a number of different beaches that you might visit. From modern beaches, to the more primitive, all the way to nude beaches if you so desire. There is something for everyone on the beaches of Crete.
Things to Do in Greece
You know that Greece is an incredible country to visit, and you are probably well aware of the historical impact the country has had on the world, but the question still remains as to whether or not there is anything to do in Greece.
The answer of course is a resounding YES! There are plenty of things to do in Greece, things that will not only broaden your horizons, but also serve to provide you with a high level of entertainment. That being said, let’s talk a bit about the different attractions within Greece that will undoubtedly leave you with pleasant memories.
First of all, you might try visiting the Acropolis Museum. Unlike many museums around the world, the Acropolis museum actually features exhibits with a museum archaeologist on site to answer any questions you might have.
From the second floor balcony you will be able to see the Archaic Gallery, and the Parthenon Gallery is located on the third floor for those who are interested. Another interesting thing about the museum is the fact that visitors can watch conservators clean the Caryatids using highly sophisticated laser technology.
The Acropolis Museum is a family venture and you can actually check out a family backpack by leaving an ID at the counter. In addition to that you will find that the museum actually features various refreshments and meals on the second floor, and that floor provides some amazing views of the Acropolis.
Greek Island cruises are yet another way that you can pass the time effectively while you are staying in this incredible country. There are a number of islands surrounding Greece, some of which can be easily seen form the shoreline. A decent cruise ship will carry you to each island, giving you the chance to explore Greece like never before. Ask your travel agent, or check online for different cruise options. You might just be surprised at what you can find out there!
For those interested in the landscape that Greece has to offer, there is always Mount Athos, and it will undoubtedly provide you with a beautiful view of the country. Atop the mountain you will find that it is home to twenty Eastern Orthodox monasteries, which creates a self-governed monastic state.
Interested in caves? Why not have a look at Melissani cave? This is a beautiful cave northwest of Sami, and you can find a number of parking lots near the cave interest. In other words, access is available to virtually anyone that has the desire to visit.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Greece if you know where to look, and with that being said, you will undoubtedly find just what you’re looking for in this ancient cradle of civilization. Look around, see what else you can find, and enjoy your stay in Greece!
Food in Greece
Before you make your exodus to Greece, you will undoubtedly want to know just what type of food is available. Believe it or not the food in Greece is quite diverse, and the available cuisines are generally based on those from Italy, the Balkans, the Levant, and even Turkey.
Today, quite a bit of Greek cookery that uses olive oil, vegetables, herbs, bread, wine, and of course fish. In addition to that you will find that there are a number of different meats that utilized, and what any people are interested in when they visit Greece are the various meat dishes available.
To visitors, one of the more exotic dishes is actually the Chtapodi sti schara which consists of grilled octopus in vinegar oil and oregano. This is definitely not a common western combination though it is served in some Greek restaurants stateside.
For a more familiar dish (to a point), Giouvesti is available, it it happens to be lamb or veal baked in a clay pot with Kritharaki and tomatoes. It’s still far from home, but what better reason to go to Greece than to experience the unique cuisine?
The last meat dish we will discuss is Kleftiko. This word can be literally translated into: “In the style of the Klephts”. In order to understand this, you will need to remember that at one point there were gangs of bandits roaming the hills in Greece, and one of them happened to be the Klephts. This band did not have their own herds, so they would simply steal sheep from different farmers.
When they were cooking their loot, they would cook it in a sealed pit so that the smoke would not alert nearby farmers or even law enforcement to their presence. This sealed in cooking method created a unique taste, and a number of different foods can be cooked in this manner.
There are also quite a few vegetarian dishes to speak of in Greece, one of which happens to be Domatokeftedes. These are tomato fritters fried in olive oil, usually served with split pea paste, otherwise known as fava. If you’re more of a bean fan, then you’ll be glad to know that the Gigantes dish consists of baked beans in tomato sauce along with different herbs. This is definitely a favorite among some of the locals!
These are just a few of the dishes that you might experience in Greece. Remember that there are plenty more dishes available, and each of them will have an interesting story behind them! This primer will help you to prepare for your trip to Greece, and soon enough you will be knee deep in their culture, enjoying the spoils and looking for more.
Weather in Greece
When one is planning a trip to Greece they will undoubtedly want to know a few things regarding the weather, particularly how it will affect them. Like any other country it is affected by the changing of the seasons, but there are quite a few differences between Greece and North America. That being said, let’s explore a few of those differences.
Winter: Mediterranean winters, unlike winters in the western world are typically cool and damp. It does snow quite a bit in Northern Greece, but you will find that the south of Greece is generally devoid of snow save for a few days out of the year.
Fall: At the right elevation during the fall, you will discover an unusual amount of snow, but for the most part there is an excess of rain.
Summer: You will find that hot and dry conditions prevail in the summer, and the temperature will in fact be somewhere around twenty-seven degrees Celsius in July.
Spring: This season which usually falls in April and May will be warm, comfortable, and you will witness a number of beautiful sights as the flowers bloom, the sky presents some wonderful scenes, and various festivities take place throughout the country. It is important to note that boat travel during the spring can be significantly interrupted by the harsh winds, though this is not always a sure thing.
As you can see, the weather changes significantly throughout the year, and you can expect various celebrations to occur in the majority of those months. For instance, the Carnival season begins in February during some years, and in March, the celebrations will actually start.
No matter which month you decide to visit in, you will more than likely find that the countryside is beautiful, the locals are friendly, and that there are plenty of sights to see. After all, Greece is an amazing country that is the seat of many historic events including harsh battles, technological advances, and even incredible romances that have stood the test of time.
The only question remaining is what you’re waiting for! International travel isn’t terribly expensive, and if you look closely you will surely find plenty of inexpensive activities within Greece. No matter which month you choose to visit Greece in, you can be assured that it will be tourist friendly, though the low season will undoubtedly be a great time to visit if you want to experience the country of Greece without the massive tourist rush.
Either way, you’re certain to have a great time experiencing an incredible country that has existed since the founding of the ancient world and has surpassed expectations for it’s very existence. That being said, it’s time for you to start planning.
Getting Around in Greece
If you’re thinking of visiting Greece then you may be wondering just how you would get around. Luckily there are quite a few ways to navigate this amazing destination, and to begin we will discuss the option of car rentals. There are plenty of other options of course, and we will get to those in due time.
Renting a Car in Greece
Let’s just say that a car rental in Greece is not going to break the bank. If you can afford to fly to Greece then you can most likely afford to pay the $150-$200 for an economy car. While gas an insurance will cost extra, the low base price on the vehicle will allow you to travel virtually anywhere in the country, and if you want to pay even less, then you might take a look at the available ‘Mini’ cars that can be rented for about $100 per week. If you’re unsure about rental locations you can always check online and see which car rental agencies are available in the area you will be visiting.
Traveling in Style
If you’re not interested in public transportation then you certainly have plenty of other options, even if a car does not appeal to you. Believe it or not, you can rent a moped for about ten Euros per day, and you can use it to tour the city for as long as you want so long as you pay the fee and leave a passport behind to ensure that you will eventually return the motorbike.
Taking the Bus
The intercity bus system in Greece is fairly efficient, at least on the mainland. These busses are part of the city of course, and they were not intended for tourists, and as such the bus drivers will speak Greek in most cases. That being the case, you will want to learn at least a little bit of Greek so that you can find your way around the city. The Greek Interstate Bus System is dubbed (KTEL) and routes can be obtained from the AUTO.
You do of course have the option of using taxis, though this will be considerably more expensive than some of the self transportation you could avail of. Keep in mind that there are a number of inhabited islands around the country of Greece and you will need to take advantage of boats and ferries in order to get to them.
The country of Greece is one full of mystery and excitement, and before you know it you’ll find yourself engrossed in the culture, food, and the incredible vistas. Just remember that you’ll need a good transportation system to get you from here to there.