Tips If You're Visiting Greece

1. Learning to Love a Malaka.
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Athens, Greece - June 30, 2011: A Greek woman holds a flag in front of the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Greece.
Athens, Greece - June 30, 2011: A Greek woman holds a flag in front of the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Greece.

1. Learning to Love a Malaka
Although the word Malaka isn't "nice" sometimes it's meant to be friendly. Malaka means "jerkoff" but in Greece we use it as a term of endearment. People might say, "Hey jerkoff," but don't worry. You'll be able to tell if they mean it by their tone of voice. Use your better judgment and go with the flow.

2. Most everything closes at noon for a few hours. No soup for you.
In Spain its called "siesta" and they have it in Greece too. In some of the more touristy areas you'll find everything stays open but if your visit takes you off the beaten path they will most likely be closed in the afternoon. Make sure you make that trip to the market and get your errands done in the morning and spend your "siesta" down at the beach.

3. Dramamine Taxis
Greece has over 6,000 islands but only 250 of them are inhabited. Although some of the islands have airports most don't and you'll have to take a ferry to visit them. Ferries will range in cost from 10 to 75 EUR with travel out of Athens being more expensive. Airfare will range between 100 - 300 EUR depending on where you're visiting, what time of year it is, and possibly how much you slip the guy booking your tickets.

4. Avoid Mykonos if you're on a budget.
The clubs stay open till the morning, the beaches are gorgeous, and the bar is always pumping out music. Along with the great nightlife and romantic scenery comes a very hefty price point. Mykonos is not the island to visit if you're on a budget. Drinks on this island are just as overpriced as they are in New York City, 12 -15 EUR a pop. Dinner will run you at least 50 EUR and hotel rooms start at around $250 EUR a night. One of your suitcases should probably just be filled with cash.

5. Hypochondriacs rejoice! Antibiotics can be purchased over the counter.
If you're like my mom you'll want to stock up on over the counter antibiotics while you're in Greece. You don't need a prescription in Greece to buy them and they're stronger then the stuff the pharmacist gives you here (America for me, I'm not sure where in the world you are). I would like to say that you shouldn't take medicine if you don't need it. Antibiotics should only be taken if you have an infection so please consult with your doctor before self medicating. And for the love of all that is holy take the entire cycle even if you start to feel better, finish the cycle! Otherwise we're just building antibacterial resistant superbugs that are going to wipe us all out. But no, really, enjoy your trip.

6. Food in Greece is amazing on any budget
Greece is known for its seafood, olives, honey, feta cheese, and healthy veggies. Even if you're traveling on a budget and can't afford to eat at restaurants (which usually run anywhere between 15 - 50 EUR a meal) you can grab Gyro and Suvlaki on the street. They'll usually run 2 - 3 EUR each and they're just as filling. Vegetarians: just learn to pronounce the word "spanakopita" before you leave and the cheese and spinach pies will get you right at about the same price point.

7. No one in Greece tips. But if you do you will be treated like a god (lowercase god that is).
In general people do not tip in Greece as wait staff gets paid a living wage, but they will treat you like a king if you do. At the beach bar I usually give them 3 to 5 euros throughout the day and they make sure my drink is always full. A EUR or two goes a long way. If you're looking for hospitality in Greece, throw in a smile and you are golden.

8. Visit before or after the peak season
End of summer in Greece (end of July to end of August) is very expensive. During that time in Greece the tourists outnumber the citizens! Because of this prices on hotel accommodations, flights, and ferries are inflated. Visiting before or after peak season can save you a lot of money. Consider visiting in June or September so you can still enjoy the beach.

9. McDonalds in the Athens airport serves a McGyro
Okay so this is a silly tip but if you're in the Athens airport and you have an hour or two during a layover stop into the McDonalds and try the McGyro. I was floored the first time I saw it and it's actually pretty good! No confirmation yet on whether or not Greece has a Gyroburgler.

10. Find the Bouzoukia for the real Greek night life experience.
Most of Greece's nightlife is now very mainstream. Top 40 billboard tracks and dance music dominate but if you want the real Greek experience you need to find the Bouzoukia. The Bouzoukia is where you will experience live Greek music, dancing, and flower throwing. There is usually a headliner like Anna Vissi (think the Greek equivalent to Madonna) if you are in Athens but you can find a cheap alternative in some of the smaller towns and islands with unknown singers.

I hope these 10 tips were helpful in your planning of your next visit to Greece! Check out my channel on YouTube: Greek in the City I upload videos every Tuesday and Thursday.

Filakia (that means kisses in Greek)
Chris Semertzidis

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