It’s tourist time in Greece again and you might find it difficult to understand some of the cultural etiquette to follow during your stay in this beautiful country. In order to help you avoid embarrassing conversations and awkward situations, here is a list of the top six things you should never say to a Greek.
1. “Can I have some Turkish coffee?”
No, you may not. Really, you never want to ask this question – not in a Greek’s home or in a cafeteria. Two reasons: first of all, it is Greek coffee and you will be told entire story back story so be sure to get comfy. Secondly, you’re in Greece, so again, it’s Greek coffee!
2. “Which way is the ocean?”
Greece is not located in the ocean! We have the Mediterranean Sea and it is divided into the other seas – the Ionian, Aegean and Cretan. If you have ever been to an island in the ocean you know there are huge waves. In Greece we are very proud of our beautiful, calm blue seas that are perfect for swimming, sailing and water sports.
3. “Where is the Pantheon”?
Wrong country. You mean the Parthenon. For Greeks, our history and historical ruins are an interwoven part of our culture and society. So before you come to Greece looking for the Pantheon — an Ancient Roman building located in Rome — do a Google search!
4. “Can you teach me something to say in Greek?”
This is a bad question to ask as many Greeks get a kick out of telling foreigners to try out the almost impossible to say, tongue-twisting word describing an ancient Greek festival dish invented by Aristophanes. Go on, try it and see how you do! It’s ‘Lopathotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimipotrimmatosiliphiokaravomelitokatakechimenokichlepikossiphophttoperisteralektruonoptokefalliokiglopeleiolagoosiraiovafitraganopterugon’.
5. “Here’s my address, look me up if you come to my country.”
Don’t say this unless you actually mean it! If you give your address to a Greek it is pretty much a given that if they are ever visiting your country, they will look you up. Greeks are known for their hospitality and after having welcomed you into their country, or island, or village, they will assume that you wish to do the same.
Greeks still call this city Konstantinopoli. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you call it Istanbul, but it’s a really sensitive subject for many Greeks for several reasons. In fact, if you buy a plane ticket from Greece to go to Istanbul, you will find that it says Konstantinopoli in Greek. Even the on the news reporters refer to Istanbul as Konstantinopoli. Here’s why: The city is not only seeped in Greek history, it is also because of its religious ties. Konstantinopoli means ‘City of Constantin’, and was named after the Byzantine emperor who established the city as the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire. It wasn’t until the Ottomans took over the city in 1453 that the name was changed to Istanbul.