Were you thinking of going to Greece for your next vacation? If so, you’re not alone. The nation might have had a few financial difficulties in recent years, but it’s over the worst of them now, and it’s once again open to tourists.
In fact, it’s more open to tourists than ever before. Tourism plays a massive role in the Greek economy, and with the country fighting to get its economy back up and running, it’s going out of its way to make visitors feel welcome and valued.
Greek hospitality is great at the best of times. Right now, though, it’s fantastic. Were you thinking of going to Greece for your next vacation? Here is 5 important Things You Should Know About Traveling To Greece.
As with any country you might want to jump on a plane and go to see in person, there are a few essential tips you’d benefit from knowing in advance. There’s far more to Greece than you might first imagine.
Greece is a country of great culture and history, but that’s not even half of its story. The ancient myths and legends of Greece have been played out everywhere
From the truth behind those tales to the stunning scenery and excellent cuisine, the best way to experience Greece is in the flesh.
We’ve talked the country up a lot already, but before you book yourself a ticket and check your passport, here are five fast facts you need to know.
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Things to Know About Traveling To Greece
It Can Get A Bit Smoky
As a percentage of the population, there are more smokers in Greece than anywhere else in the world. It can get a little smoky indoors, and it can even get a bit smoky outdoors if enough people are gathered to generate a cloud.
Greece is the world’s tobacco capital, and although this is something that the government is trying to change, that change is happening very slowly. It took nine years for Greek politicians to start obeying the anti-smoking laws they agreed in 2010, and with politicians failing to lead the way, it can hardly be classed as a surprise that the public has followed their example.
In theory, it’s illegal to smoke in a public space in Greece. In practice, the law isn’t enforced, and it happens everywhere. Maybe consider bringing a mask.
Taxis Can Get A Little Weird
The experience of getting a taxi is mostly the same everywhere in the world, but Greece thinks differently. Flagging a cab down isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be able to get in it.
The driver will ask you where you’d like to go, and if they don’t like the sound of it, they won’t take you. To make things even stranger, they’ll also sometimes pick up a second passenger while you’re already in the car.
As odd as this might sound to the rest of us, the way that taxis operate in Greece is so deeply entrenched that when Uber started operating in the country, its drivers were met with violent protests. This can all be confusing to an outsider, and so to avoid that confusion, you’d be best served to book taxis through your hotel.
They’ll be able to procure you a taxi that works in a similar manner to what you’re accustomed to.
Greeks Don’t Get Drunk
Most countries in Europe enjoy alcohol more than Americans do, but each of them treats the substance differently. The British, Irish, and Germans are notoriously heavy drinkers, and public inebriation is common in all three countries.
The French and the Italians are a little more reserved. The Greeks, by contrast, can sometimes seem almost immune to the drinks they consume, They’ll offer wine and ouzo with every meal, but they never appear to get drunk, and being drunk in public is heavily frowned upon.
Party as much as you like while you’re there, but stick to your limit and take yourself out of public places if you feel like you’re under the influence.
Change Your Toilet Habits
This is a tip that might make your nose wrinkle. In every public toilet you’ll see in Greece, you’ll find a warning – often written in English – that toilet paper isn’t to be flushed down the toilet. All toilet paper should be put in the bin next to the toilet no matter what it’s been used for, as counter-intuitive as that might seem. Try not to let this worry you too much – the bins are cleaned and emptied regularly, and a lid contains the odor.
The reason for this is the pipes below most Greek cities are very narrow and very old. They weren’t designed to cope with the demands of modern sanitation, and indeed they can’t do so. A build-up of toilet paper could easily block them, and then the whole city has an issue. You don’t want to be responsible for that issue!
Expect To See Old And New Together
Most non-Greeks romanticize Greek history. Because of that – and also because of some expertly-taken and cropped pictures of famous Greek landmarks – we tend to have unrealistic expectations about what certain places in Greece look like.
This is doubly true in Athens. If you think you’re going to see a famous ancient temple or monument in Greece without a crowd around it, or without the noise of a busy city in the background, forget about it.
Athens has evolved organically over thousands of years. The modern city hasn’t grown apart from the ancient one – it’s grown around it. Many ancient structures are still there, but modern apartment blocks and shops are sitting next to them or between them.
If you’ve ever been to Egypt to see the pyramids in Cairo, you’ll know what we mean. This is the same situation. You’ll still get to see the things you expected to see; you might just find them to be a little noisier and less unspoiled by 21st century living than you might have been hoping for.