What do you know actually about Greece? They eat Greek salad. Herecules was from there? I heard they take a lot of naps. Their yogurt is bomb. The country is broke. Can you name anything else? As Americans, we’re often very uninformed about what life is like abroad. I’m the first to admit it! I really had no idea what to expect when I was headed to Greece.
TBH, when I booked my first trip to Greece I thought I’d be on islands surrounded by salty air and white buildings with blue roofs. Yeah… turns out Athens is nowhere near Santorini. (Do your research Erin, god!) My general knowledge on Greece was tiny before I actually set foot there. If you’re headed to Greece, or just are looking for some info on the beautiful country, here are some little known things about Greece.
25 Little Known Things About Greece
- Greeks invented the saying OK. It stands for ola kola, meaning “everything okay?”
- There are some olive trees that are over a thousand years old.
- A lot of olive oil is labelled Italian, but the olives are actually from Greece. The label reflects where the oil was produced.
- When you see pictures of Greece, you normally see the islands. However, 80% of Greece is covered in mountains.
- The plumbing is really old, so they ask you not to flush the toilet paper. The garbages in the stalls of public restrooms are filled with used toilet paper.
- Greece produces a lot of marble. In fact, 7% of the world’s marble comes from Greece.
- Greeks do not wave with open hands – that is an insult. They wave with the palms closed.
- Buildings in Athens, Greece cannot be higher than the Acropolis.
- Most names end with an “s,” but you only say the “s” when referring to the person. You drop it when actually talking to them. For example, my driver’s name was Pericles, but we’d say “Hi, Pericle!” when speaking to him but “Is Pericles here yet?” when talking about him.
- There’s a town outside of Athens completely up in the mountains named Metsovo that has such an old-time vibe, you’ll experience tons of rich culture here.
- There are stray cats everywhere and most are very nice.
- Greece has the largest number of archaeological museums in the world.
- Greeks have their own concept of time. Don’t expect them to be early! And if you’re in a rush at a restaurant, make sure they know.
- As Greece is now a tourist destination, “nap times” where everything closes for a few hours an afternoon are more scarce.
- Smoking is very common throughout Europe, but especially in Greece.
- Greece has over 2,000 islands.
- The evil eye is all over keychains and gift shops. The evil eye charm is supposed to ward off the bad fortune associated with it. Some make a “spitting” noise (more like exhaling sharply with a “pft” sound) to ward it off.
- Most streets signs are in both Greek and English, so no need to panic about getting (too) lost.
- There is no standard tipping in Greece. Some places add tip to the bill and others don’t. Depending on where you are, waiters at restaurants don’t expect tips, but are certainly please with them. Typically 5-10% is standard. (But again, this varies on location, venue and service).
- Even if you don’t ask for bread, the waiter will likely bring it and you will be charged for it. It’s very standard for Greeks to have bread with their meals.
- Pharmacies are typically closed on weekends.
- Greek salad is just as good as you think it is. In fact, some Greeks eat it once a day (no wonder they are one of the healthiest countries)
- If you order “a coffee” in Greece, it will be a very small, very strong, and very bitter coffee. Their standard coffee is a Turkish coffee. People in Greece love Frappes – Nescafe shaken over ice with the option to add milk and sugar.
- The alcoholic drink in Greece is Ouzo, a liqueur that tastes like black licorice. You drink it in a small glass on the rocks.
- Greece is one of the sunniest places in the world – with about 250 sunny days a year.
What surprised you about Greece?