Athens: What No One Told You About Greece

Posted on May 16, 2006

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125004-338448-thumbnail.jpg by melissa elliott

If you want to hail a cab, you must first know where you’re going since you have to stand on the side of the road in the direction you intend to go. Cabs don’t stop for you on opposite sides of the street.

The gesture that most westerners use for "Stop" (open palm facing outwards) is a supreme insult when used in Greece. It’s called the moutza and if you don’t want to hear obscenities shouted at you, then you best figure out a better gesture for it.

You don’t have to take your shoes off when entering someone’s house. I was told off once by someone I visited for doing this. She asked me "You don’t think my floors are clean enough for your shoes?" Several times I was told that this isn’t Japan and you don’t have to leave your shoes at the door.

When you give out your phone number, separate the digits differently from North America. So if your phone number is 555-1234, in Greece, you have to say 55-51-234. I still have to think twice when saying my phone number here and it’s been 8 years.

When you go out to eat at a taverna, many dishes are shared by everyone present. Especially salads. It took awhile for me to get accustomed to not being insulted every time I gave my order to the waiter and to have it literally disappear in front of my eyes once everyone at the table took a bite.

To be called ‘baby’, ‘darling’, ‘sweetie’ by both Greek men and women doesn’t automatically mean people are condescending towards you. Most of the time it just means that they like you and truly do mean it as a term of endearment.

There is no such thing as a No Questions Asked Refund Policy at stores. There is no such thing as a refund. I don’t know anyone who’s ever gotten their money back from a faulty product they’ve bought. The most a store will do is offer an exchange or they will tell you to return the non-functioning item to the distributor which will often takes weeks for them to repair and that’s if they don’t have to send it out of the country. I devoted a blogto this entire issue a few months ago.

An engagement ring is not a requirement when getting married. You wear wedding ring on your LEFT ring finger when you’re engaged and on your RIGHT ring finger when you get married.

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Photo via Feuillu