Tips for a happy holiday

If this is your first visit to Greece do regard it as an adventure and relax into the Greek way of life. One of the things about Greek life that we all have to adapt to is a certain unpredictability! The guide books may say, and indeed last year 'twas so, that a site or museum is open on such a day at such a time. But! it is not always the way and we have been known to arrive at a site and find it now closes on that day. (One famous year one of the hotels was closed!) So, please bear with us if such things happen, we've always been able to sort things out!.

Arriving in Athens can be a cultural shock - it is in some ways a middle eastern city; in spite of the ugliness of some of the modern buildings and the noise and fumes from the traffic it is alive and fascinating as well as full of treasures.

The Greeks are a very friendly and kind people who are interested in meeting foreigners. Their word for foreigner and guest is the same. Most of those we meet in hotels and tavernas (restaurants) speak some English. They will warm to you enormously if you try a word or two of Greek. Try: 'Kali mera' Good morning, good day, and 'parakalo' please for a start!


The hotels we stay in are mostly B Class, that is, few frills but clean. All have en-suite facilities with a shower, nowadays there is usually, but not always, a shower curtain! Most rooms are twin bedded, double beds are a rarity, (not very friendly!) Some hotels have hairdryers, but not all and you may find a mini-bar (watch the prices) but never a kettle.

Continental breakfast of a Greek sort will be provided; yoghurt and honey, hard boiled eggs (useful for picnics!), bread or rolls, sometimes cake, cheese and cold meat. Orange juice, often freshly squeezed oranges, tea and coffee are available.

Some days we have a very tight schedule and as sites often close at 1500 there isn't time for a proper lunch break at a taverna. Many sites have sandwich/soft drink stalls (Kanteens). We often have a picnic lunch while visiting a site. It is a good idea to bring emergency rations from home (biscuits, chocolate, fruit, etc.) or to buy some in Athens on the first day.

Evening meals

In the evenings we usually find a local taverna, often going back to favourites of previous years. Some people like to join a group, others prefer to have a quiet time.
Choice of food may be limited and you will see the same things turning up in most restaurants, but it is mostly delicious, particularly the meat; vegetables need to be ordered separately.
Starters and main courses may come together unless you ask otherwise. Mezedes are a mixture of delicious starters. Food is often served warm rather than hot (Greeks believe hot food is bad for the digestion, if you want it hot ask.)
An evening meal with local wine commonly costs €7 to €10.

Vegetarian food is rare in Greece but there is a vegetarian restaurant in Athens that has a very good reputation: The Eden at 12 Lissou & Mnissikleous in the Plaka


Non Greek wines are not particularly cheap, Greek wines are reasonably priced. Retsina , wine flavoured with pine resin, is an acquired taste but can get addictive; it goes well with Greek food, seldom causes a hangover, and is cheap; traditionally from the barrel at room temperature. Ouzo is like a Greek version of Pernod, usually drink it cold, with water or Sprite. It packs a punch. Amstel, Heineken and Greek beers such as Mythos are good and widely available; always cooled although seldom on draft.


Clothing: the weather is usually good, warm and sunny, although October is the beginning of autumn and can do anything! A sun hat may be sensible also a lightweight waterproof or small umbrella (against the rain or sun)! It can be chilly in the evenings (especially if eating outdoors) so bring something warm. If warm enough we will have the chance to swim at Nauplio and at the hotel at Olympia.
When we visit churches and monasteries bear in mind that shorts are not acceptable for men or women.
Do bring comfortable shoes with good grippy soles
as you can do a lot of walking on rock strewn paths, steep slippery stone or just uneven ground when going round the sites.


Athens: The Plaka, a bustling lively area at the foot of the Acropolis is, is full of tourist shops selling souvenirs of varying quality. Here you will see hundreds of replica statues and vases. The shop assistants can be very persistant and sometimes try to physically pull you into their shops. Jewellery, especially silver, is superb and not expensive and leather is also good. A reliable jewellery shop in Athens is Kosmima at 51 Adrianou St.
Credit cards are fairly widely accepted but in the flea market particularly, cash enables a little gentle haggling.
Dried fruit and nuts in Athenas Street are wonderful (get some in for your Christmas cake).
Whisky, gin etc. are as cheap in super markets at little more than half UK prices. Single malt will be rather more than this but still a good buy. (However much you liked Retsina and Ouzo in Greece, they rarely taste as nice with UK food & weather, so may not be worth lugging home).

Corinth, Olympia, Delphi and especially Nauplio also have good shops.

Tavernas will not always take credit cards but cash machines are available in most towns, and hotels will usually give a fair price for traveller's cheques.


Crime has increased in Athens, it is now nearly as bad as at home! So leave that Rolex behind, and make a habit of counting your change. Although nearly everyone will be completely honest, the occasional taxi driver or ticket office has been known to 'mistake' your €50. note for a €5. one !
Greek standards of Health and Safety are somewhat old fashioned; when roads and pavements are under repair they are seldom shut off and you need to watch your step carefully to avoid a twisted ankle or worse.
Also, particularly when in the Plaka, the flea market, in Omonia Square or other crowded areas, do keep your wallet/purse out of sight and secure.

The water is safe and good to drink; tummy trouble is rare.

Christos our coach driver is very very safe and careful; generally Greek drivers are not; so you should be careful when sharing space with traffic.
We have the same coach all week and it is secure when parked so it is possible to leave bulky items there if you want.


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