Summer is here, and for some who are planning their summer escapes, that is pretty exciting news. In case you choose to visit Greece this summer and it is your first time to the country, here are some things/questions we advise you to never do if you want to experience the country like a local!
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Greeks are very hospitable and welcoming people, but there are some things that you should avoid doing in order to steal their hearts. Try to keep up with the advice below and you'll have the chance to mingle with locals and experience your trip to Greece to its fullest.
Wanna have a quick coffee-break?
Frappe coffee; the Greek innovation for the summertime - credits: Tomas Mehes/Shutterstock.com
The concept of having a 'quick coffee-break' does not exist in Greece. Drinking coffee is a cornerstone of Greek culture and Greeks love to take their time when they are having one. Going out for a coffee is their chance to socialize, meet and catch up with their friends and do what Greeks love to do the most - talk to each other. Therefore, you should not expect to spend just a few minutes at a cafe with a local, but most probably you should invest quite some time in it. A typical conversation with a Greek could start from a simple "How are you?" and after a while end up to their favorite topic, politics. Hence, if you get an invitation for a cold summer coffee from a Greek, cancel your evening plans; after your coffee, you will probably round up your night with a typical late-night Greek dinner as well!
Could you teach me something in Greek?
Greek inscription - credits: abdelsalam/Shutterstock.com
This is the question you should be worried about. If you do not have a clue about the Greek language and you ask from a local to teach you something in Greek, you'd better be really cautious. There is a chance that your friend will grab the opportunity to mess with you a bit and teach you something that you should never say to another person! Of course, he will assure you that he is teaching you a typical Greek expression, but most probably, you will start insulting people in the most imaginative ways. Things could get even worse if you ask them to teach you something in ancient Greek; that's when Greeks like to go all out in creativity, something you will soon realize by the looks you will receive.
Do the 'moutza'
Screenshot from an old Greek movie scene - credits: topontiki.grScreenshot from an old Greek movie scene - Image credits: topontiki.gr
Moutza is a typical offensive Greek gesture that if you don't know about, it will definitely put you in a rough spot. The way to do the moutza is by extending your fingers of one or both your palms towards a person, it's much like showing the number five, but with the palm of your hand facing the person across from you. Moutza is almost equal to giving the finger to someone. The origins of this gesture could be traced back to antiquity and it is a habit deeply inscribed on Greek mentality. Usually, this gesture is accompanied by the expression 'parta!' (meaning: 'take that!') and if you are feeling really passionate, you can always use both your hands on top of each other -as seen in the picture above-, which is called a double or royal (!) moutza.
Are there any sharks in the ocean?
Dolphins in the Aegean Sea - credits: GEORGE RIGOUTSOS/Shutterstock.com
To begin with, Greece has no ocean. The country is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, therefore you'll have the chance to swim in different open seas, such as the Aegean Sea or the Ionian Sea. Even though the Mediterranean and especially Greece has diverse marine wildlife with whale and dolphin species crossing the seas, sharks are not common in this ecosystem. The shark species that exist in Greece are really small and typically live in really deep waters away from the coast. Therefore, there is no fear of encountering a shark in Greece, so feel safe to enjoy swimming or even scuba-diving in the bright blue seas of the Greek islands.
Do not touch!
Historical exhibits in the Acropolis Museum - credits: serkan senturk/Shutterstock.com
Greece has a vast history extending from prehistory up until today, which is apparent in the numerous museums in the country. Wander around some important archaeological sites and see artifacts that profoundly influenced and shaped Western civilization. When looking at a marvelous statue of some 2500 years old, you might feel the impulse of touching the exhibited artifact or the ruins you are surrounded by. Never, ever do that! Most of the artifacts on display in museums are unique and ancient, therefore, they need much attention and protection. Touch deteriorates or even corrodes the surfaces of artifacts, hence, always follow the signs telling you not to touch or not to use flash photography. If you‘re not sure what to do, you can always ask a staff member to help you.
Why are you so angry with me?
Friends chatting and eating in a Greek tavern - credits: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos.com
In case you are having a conversation with a Greek, there is a chance to deal with a person speaking loudly close to your face making gestures. Don't be afraid, your friend is not angry with you, they are just in the heat of the moment, growing really passionate about your conversation. As mentioned before, Greeks love to talk and exchange arguments with each other, especially when it comes to politics. Therefore, they might get loud and start yelling. These are some of the most profound signs for you to realize that you have a Greek friend. Although it might be amusing and interesting to find yourselves in this situation, you'd better avoid questions like "How do you deal with the economic crisis?" or "What's your opinion for the EU?", unless you have some time to spare and a spare pair of earplugs!
Greece is a beautiful country with lots to offer but its greatest asset is its warm-hearted, hospitable people. Try to keep our advice in mind and try to get to know locals in order to make your trip to Greece a memorable experience. Plan your own trip to Greece or check one of our Greece tours.