- Greece for Beginners
Greece for Beginners
See our Greece at a Glance page for basic information on Currency, Language, Health Requirements, Weather and so on.
And read our Quick Guide to Greece for advice on which destination might be right for you when choosing where to go.
Photo by Donna Dailey
The Greeks have a word for it, and the word is ‘xenos’. It means both stranger and guest. Not one or the other, but both at the same time – so a stranger is automatically a guest.
As a teenager I made my first visit to Greece (writes Mike Gerrard) on a group camping holiday: 14 strangers in a van driving down through Europe. Half a mile over the Greek border, the van broke down. We were towed into a village where we had a meal while the only mechanic worked overtime to fix the problem. A friendly young man joined the table. Hearing the problem, he immediately offered to put us all up – all 14 of us – in his apartment for the night. In our sleeping bags we filled his floor, men in one room women in another.
True Greek Kindness
In the morning he cooked us breakfast and waved us all on our way. That was the true Greek spirit, a kindness to strangers, and it still exists. Even in busy tourist areas you will find a bar or restaurant that, when they’re busy but you want to leave, will tell you to come back and pay the bill in the morning. Get out into the countryside and you might find yourself given some fruit from a tree. On one of our visits to Crete we bought some wooden spoons from an old man who sits outside his house carving them to sell to passing tourists. As we left he told us to wait, and gave us a bag of fresh figs from a tree in his garden.
Pleasures are Simple
In Greece pleasures tend to be simple, but it is this simplicity that keeps many people returning year after year. There’s nothing to beat sitting outdoors in a taverna by the sea as the sun goes down, tucking into a grilled fish that was caught that day.
The Greek motto is ‘no problem’. If the taverna is full when you arrive: ‘no problem’. A table will be brought out from behind the scenes. In some places this will happen again and again, the tables spreading down the street or across the sand till they’re in danger of disappearing over the horizon.
Greeks have a healthy disregard for rules. They are all free spirits,
like Zorba the Greek. One taverna owner I know was told by inspectors
that his tables must all be numbered. He bought a set of numbers from a
restaurant that was closing down and put them out on his tables each
morning… but totally at random, different every day. This did confuse
his elderly father, though, who helped out as a waiter when the place
was busy. He would appear in his shorts and string vest, carrying a
plate of chips, wandering round till he discovered where Table 24 was
Greece is crazy, sometimes maddening, but beautiful,
relaxing, entertaining and addictive. Since that first visit I have been
back to visit Greece almost every year, and sometimes several times a
year. Go there yourself and you could be embarking on a similar love
affair. You have been warned.
Other general Greece pages
How to choose which Greek island from six of the most popular, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Kefalonia and Zakynthos.
The ten biggest cities in Greece start with Athens and Thessaloniki, followed by Patras and several suburbs of Athens which are Greek cities in their own right.
This beginner's guide to Greek architecture explains how to tell your Ionic from your Doric columns, and what to look for in temples and Byzantine churches.
Weddings in Greece and the Greek islands can be luxury or cheap, are easy to arrange from the UK or USA in Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes.
Practical information on travelling around Greece by plane, by ferry, by bus, by train and by driving, including car rental, parking and other driving advice.
Top Ten Things to Do in Greece include seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon, visiting the National Archaeological Museum and ancient sites like Knossos on Crete.
The Top Ten Biggest Greek Islands, the largest in size, are listed by Greece Travel Secrets and include Crete, Evia, Lesbos and Rhodes.
The Greece Travel Secrets guide to tipping in Greece from two Greece travel experts, including when to tip, what to tip and when not to tip.
The nomads of Greece are the Vlachs, nomadic shepherds whose capital is Metsovo in the Pindus Mountains, and the Sarakatsani, shepherds in Macedonia and Thrace.
The home of the Greek Gods was the top of Mount Olympus, and among the better-known Gods and Goddesses in the Greek pantheon were Zeus, Poseidon and Aphrodite.
The ten best places to visit in Greece include Athens, Thessaloniki, the Greek islands of Crete, Mykonos and Santorini, and sites like Epidavros and Delphi.
Greece Travel Secrets chooses six of the best beaches in Greece including beaches on Corfu, Santorini, Crete, Lefkas, Kefalonia and on the Peloponnese.
Greece Travel Secrets lists four of the best destinations if you want to go sailing in the Greek islands.
This quick guide to Greece gives advice on choosing the best Greek destination for your holiday, whether in the Greek islands or the mainland.
Luxury Weddings in Greece, including venues such as a boutique hotel with deluxe spa on Santorini, can be booked through Ionian Weddings.
Greek music is the sound of the bouzouki and tunes like Zorba the Greek and Never on Sunday are heard everywhere, while rembetika is called the blues of Greece.
Greece Travel Secrets Greek Ferry Guide page uses an extract from the Aferry Greece website with advice on island-hopping, buying tickets online and timetables.
Greece at a glance is a potted guide to the Greek currency, language, weather, health requirements and other information to help you plan a trip to Greece.
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