So you’ve booked your flights to Athens and are on your way to embark on a Mediterranean adventure…Here are some of my recollections that might ease the culture shock a little for you.
Greek coffee is served much like what we call Turkish coffee in Australia – with the coffee still in the cup. It is strong and hot and thus served with an accompanying glass of cold water. Just let it sit for a bit and enjoy – it is best to try things the way the locals do them while you’re here. And you will be grateful for the cold water, too.
Restaurants and “kafeions” are everywhere, and Greek salad tastes so much better than at home it’s not funny – maybe it’s the special local feta cheese or the sun ripened tomatoes and olives, so indulge as much as you can. Also do try the seafood dishes, like marides – small local fish deep fried in batter whole, as well as calamari rings, grilled octopus and anything else that looks strange but strikes your fancy – be adventurous! An additional attraction while dining in this part of the world are the cats: Athens is the feline capital of the world and each little joint has at least one or two hangers on waiting for treats. It is also fun to watch them sunbaking on the roofs by the dozens while you are strolling around the winding streets.
Depending what time of year you’re going, and of course European summertime is probably a good time to enjoy the swimming , you may find some of the touristy streets, especially on the way up to the stunning ruins of Acropolis, covered in non-descript black goo – this is just part of life here, so it’s best not to dwell on it and not to wear super-flat shoes either. Do beware of the dangers of sliding!
Amongst the plethora of souvenir shops you’ll find lots of greeting cards of various kinds and some among them will be of a decidedly non-politically correct variety, so if travelling with children be mindful or prepared to explain the more open and non-prudish European approach to sexuality and the human body. The same goes for the lovely traditional pottery, so examine the pattern closely before purchasing a plate or a vase for your grandma.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the Greeks love their siestas or afternoon naps. So relax about things while you’re here and prepare for the bank to be closed in the afternoon, precisely when you need it most. Also when you’ve booked for a ferry to one of the many islands that are such a delight to visit, it may be cancelled due to the capricious nature of the Mediterranean sea and the weather. Flexibility of travelling schedule and being able to take your time to enjoy the local culture and rhythm of life is strongly recommended, as is bringing your sense of humour!
Author Bio: Patricia Bieszk is a freelance writer and writes for Flight Centre with great deals on flights to Athens. When not writing about her adventures, which usually keeps her on the move, you can find her at the local coffee shop, documenting arts events, penning film and restaurant reviews and planning her next big globe-trotting conquest.