Living in another country can be exciting and full of new opportunities and fun adventures.
I’ve lived in Corfu on and off for nearly 3 years now. It has become my home and it has completely changed my outlook on life.
Culture, way of living and tonnes of good food makes it only some of the reasons I live here.
Greece is known for many things but these are 11 important things I learned over the past few years:
1. Talk to the people
Be friendly! Greek people are very sociable and love it when you smile and laugh with them. You’ll find most people speak very good English and if they don’t, they’ll have a good go at it!
It’s also nice to make the effort with them too. A few simple words in Greek will certainly make you a new friend. Check out my post basic Greek for beginners!
📸 This is me looking like an absolute tit at work last summer.
2. Embrace the culture
Everything is celebrated in Greece, especially name days. As most children are named after their grandparents, it’s not uncommon to have several ‘Kostas’ or several ‘Spyros’ in the same family. Many people will be out celebrating!
Easter is also a seriously celebrated event with everyone visiting their local church at midnight with candles (tie your hair up to avoid disaster) and vases being smashed at 11am Easter morning. As it is Greek Orthodox Easter, it’s celebrated on a different day to other celebrated versions of Easter (most of the time) and this year it lands on the 28th April 2019.
If you want to look extra funky if you’re travelling during the weekend of Easter, you can always say καλό Πάσχα (Kalo Pasca) which is the equivalent of Happy Easter!
3. Wear your flipping seatbelt
Just wear your seat belt. Greeks are known for their ‘enthusiastic’ driving skills and some of the elderly locals should definitely not be on the road.
Whether you’re a safe driver or not, the roads can be a bit dicey in Greece so it’s best to be on the safe side!
4. Appreciate work ethic
Working during the summer months in Greece is exhausting. Trust me, I’ve been there and the hours are long and the weeks are even longer. Energy is a must when working in tourism in Greece so be extra kind to the waiter/bar staff/cleaning staff etc. They do this for the tourists!
Work on the islands during the winter months is also pretty thinly spread so staff are working to ensure a comfortable winter too. Always tip. Although there probably is a set rate for tipping, always just give what you can.
5. Don’t beat around the bush
Just say what you want to say, you’ll get a better response this way. Greeks like you to be direct and straightforward, no frilly in between!
6. Always turn up hungry
Now I say this from countless experiences with my boyfriends parents. Be hungry. Even if you’re not. Just be hungry.
Many Greek people show their love through their food. Portion sizes in restaurants are more often than not poli megalos (very big) and it’s impossible to order just the right amount.
I try to avoid drinking beer with my food as it’s overly filling. Always get a big bottle of water to share as it helps the food go down!
The positive side to food in Greece is it’s almost always homemade or fresh!
7. Greece has some of the best wine ever
Before I went to Greece for the first time, I had many middle aged people tell me ‘don’t drink the wine!’ and so I went out to Greece with the attitude that Retsina was the only available option.
I soon realised that many people who are now middle aged went out in the 80’s and 90’s and drank a lot of Retsina because it was cheap as chips!
This is absolutely not the case these days. Always order a Caraf as more often than not it’s local, it’s got little to no additives and you can drink a skinfull and feel fine the next day (don’t quote me on that) – always opt for local if you’re a wine perosn. It’s the best wine I’ve ever had and I cannot drink wine from a bottle any more.
A glass of local wine will usually cost 3€. Half a caraf is around 5 or 6€ and a full caraf usually 10-12€. These prices are based on my experience in Corfu and some areas of mainland Greece. Prices may vary depending on the area.
However I’m not complaining at all, you can pay double this for just a glass in the UK!
I’m very lucky that my boyfriends grandparents have their own wine readily available! Red in winter and white in summer.
8. Support the local businesses
I have a love/hate relationship with All Inclusive hotels. They’re convenient and often cheaper, I understand that.
Although by going to an AI, you miss out on small businesses who bring fantastic homemade food to you, they look after you and make you feel at home.
Quite often their businesses were booming before an All Inclusive hotel was built and their custom has deteriorated more than half since full-board become an option.
Always support local businesses.
9. They don’t smash plates a lot
It’s a myth that Greek people walk around smashing plates (not intentionally anyway) – it’s often done at weddings but these days it’s usually tongue in cheek and a bit of entertainment for tourists.
As mentioned above, smashing vases on Easter morning is a much more widely celebrated tradition believing that by smashing a vase you are cleansing yourself, your family and your home of bad spirits.
10. Everybody is a ‘Malaka’
Malaka. A word you may hear as two old friends have a chat with each other.
‘Ela Malaka!’ one might say. Now, the literally translation would be ‘Come, Wanker’ but in fact it does not mean that at all.
It can mean many things however it generally means ‘hi, friend’ or ‘oh, come on!’ (this also depends on the tone of voice also. Ela, Malaka can really mean ‘oi, wanker’ sometimes)
But generally it is used in a positive manner.
The closest comparison I can give is when you suddenly see your mate in the pub and shout ‘Orite Dick ‘ed!’
Again, different areas may have a different perception.
But please, please do not start calling the locals Malaka. Some really would not thank you for it, even in jest. I purely share this with you for your own entertainment. Listen out to two locals having a chat and see if you think it’s friendly or not by the way they use the word ‘malaka’!
P.s we all learn the naughty words first, it’s a right of passage. Don’t judge.
11. There’s something for everyone
Greece has a little bit of something for everybody.
It has a fantastic history for a little country and many people come to enjoy the archaeological side of Greece. The beaches vary from pebbled to sandy and in some cases even marble! There are family friendly places, quiet and quaint and a lot of party centrals for those who want a good piss up.
Greece welcomes everyone and anyone and to me, it’s the safest and most wonderful country I’ve had the pleasure of living in.