Things you Should be Prepared for Before Coming to Greece

By: Bex

A headache might not be just a headache

You may have been ‘evil eyed’—someone passing jealousy onto you.  There is a cure for this, but it usually involving an old Greek woman muttering a lot and spitting occasionally in your direction, three times.  If you’re not superstitious then take a paracetamol instead.  But the longer I live here, the more I’m starting to believe in the evil eye and appreciate being spat at.  When in Rome (or Athens)…

People will shout at you—a lot

They’ll shout when they’re happy, they’ll embrace you, they’ll go apocalyptic when they’re angry.  And yet, to the untrained and uninitiated eye—there’s not a lot of difference between the two.  Stay here long enough and you’ll soon learn that the butcher chopping up your meat doesn’t necessarily want to use his cleaver on you—he’s just making conversation and the man honking his horn at the traffic lights behind you isn’t giving you a friendly wave, particularly if it’s palm first.

Which brings me onto…

Greek drivers

I’m sorry, but Greeks seem to take pride in deliberately flouting any type of traffic law: wearing crash helmets, seat belts, keeping to the speed limit, hell—even stopping at a red light.  Don’t assume a zebra crossing means a car’ll stop for you…in Greece, the pedestrian is always wrong.  This goes for the green ‘walk’ man as well—take an extra few seconds to make sure that the approaching Mercedes will actually stop.  Oh, and it’s the only country I know of where cars on a roundabout must give way to traffic approaching—go figure.  But as with most laws in Greece, it’s pretty much a free for all anyway.

Greek hospitality

You’ve been invited to someone’s home for a quick coffee—an oxymoron by the way—and they live with their parents.  My advice; don’t eat anything beforehand.  The ‘coffee’ usually means at best a full blown buffet of cheeses, home fried potatoes, spanikopida (spinach pie), small sausages or at worst some baklava or other pastry dish.  It sure beats the UK version of a PG teabag dunked into a mug of hot water.   And did I say ‘quick’ coffee?  I think ‘quick’ must be absent from the Greek vocabulary.  Allow two, maybe three hours to be on the safe side.


Shame on you!  Greek food—fast food as well—is delicious: souvlaki, gyros—chicken or pork on a stick or wrapped in pitta with homemade fries, salad and tzatziki.  No vegetable oil, no battery reared cattle…just good, wholesome food.

So if you can excuse—or at least accept—the bad driving, master the art of knowing when someone wants to offer you friendship or kill you, handle occasionally being spat at and accept it graciously by an old woman in black—come to this glorious land: where sky and sea meet and ‘coffee’ and good company is in abundance.  It’s the closest you’ll get to ‘civilised anarchy’ (if such a thing exists). 

Fall under Greece’s spell—she won’t disappoint.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingBex is a British expat living in Greece. Blog description: An unconventional British gal with a degree in International Relations, the wrong side of 35 who finds herself living in the unconventional country of Greece.
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Contest Comments » There are 14 comments

A Mum In London wrote 10 years ago:

This is so well written, accurate and true, Bex. It really reflects life in Greece. Great entry :)

Sue wrote 10 years ago:

This made me smile-it is so true and so perfectly put.Greece is indeed an entrancing place....prepare to be bewitched!

Dave B wrote 10 years ago:

That's all so very true, Bex! One correction, however: you don't need to be within spitting distance of an old lady to get cured of the 'evil eye'. A few years ago (before I moved to gorgeous Greece) I mentioned on Facebook that I was suffering from very painful sinusitis. Most friends said "Oh, that's difficult to cure". One Greek friend, however, said "Se matiasane" [you've been given the evil eye] and promised that he'd arrange for the 'evil eye' to be removed. Half an hour later - and completely spit-free - I noticed that the sinus pain (which British medical practitioners had failed to relieve) had gone completely. So, don't mock little Greek ladies: they can remove the evil eye. But conducting the procedure via her grandson on Facebook means you can avoid the spit (I don't care if his laptop screen was covered in spittle: I was de-evil-eyed and free of pain...and dry!)

Cathy wrote 10 years ago:

Great article Bex. Sounds like a very interesting place to visit and live in. Super entry.

Alex wrote 10 years ago:

Brilliant article Bex. You've hit the nail on the head there. Very similar to what I've experienced. Can't wait to go back.

Tara wrote 10 years ago:

Hit the nail on the head, a short summary of life here in Greece in a nutshell, very sweet and witty, showing despite the little things you come up against, Greece is a lovely hospitable country, even when they're shouting at you!

Sarah Bennett wrote 10 years ago:

I have always wanted to get to Greece and all your stories, Bex, make me want to go even more!

Trish Gaffney wrote 10 years ago:

I've lived in Greece over 20 years but still see Greece in a refreshing & positive new way through Beccy's wonderful posts..They really brighten up my day & are something to look forward to..good job Becci...

Zosia Brown wrote 10 years ago:

I love this and have found it to be so true during my all of my Greek visits. And many of the Greek quirks are also true north of the border in Albania.

Kim wrote 10 years ago:

Awesome article, Bex! It's funny how reading these entries has had me move certain place on my bucket list up! Greece has now for sure moved up!

Megan Claire wrote 10 years ago:

I kind of can't wait to come to Greece just for the driving!! Will definitely pack a crash helmet and extra padding though :D Great article Bex!

Maria wrote 10 years ago:

I was born in Greece and lived there for my first...20 years and I still really enjoyed your post and brought me some nostalgia since I am mostly travelling for the last 5 years!I should also confirm most of what you say..!Keep enjoying my lovely country!

Beth wrote 10 years ago:

Just reading the word "gyros" made me so hungry! It's something I've been craving for a while now in Hong Kong. Can't wait to finally visit Greece this summer!

Michael wrote 10 years ago:

Yes, living in Greece is definitely a mixed bag. Another example of the fundamental rule that to accomplish great things one must overcome great obstacles. Cheers,

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