Things No One Warned Us About Before Visiting Greece

You can’t flush the toilet paper!

This is not an incredibly uncommon request from countries with older plumbing, but we were caught off guard that Greece was one of them! There are usually signs above the toilets asking you to throw your papers in the bin, but only by asking was I able to clarify that those signs were referring to toilet papers in addition to paper towels. All the bins we’d come across were cleaned regularly and the bathrooms weren’t at all unusually smelly, but we never quite got the hang of tossing out the paper without awkwardly waddling over to the trash bin.

All transportation is paid in cash

With major cities becoming almost entirely cashless over the past few years, we were surprised to find that all of the transportation we took was cash only. To be fair, we were limited in terms of trains and metros in the locations we visited, but taxis and busses exclusively took cash. Make sure to confirm the price of a taxi before getting in!

Splurge for a better location

Islands in Greece are small, and the tourist towns are even smaller, limiting the options for accommodations and therefore raising the prices. It may be tempting to chose a hotel or Airbnb close by for a better price, but we found that we’d typically end up paying the difference on transportation. Unlike other cities we’d visited, these islands were mostly unwalkable and had fairly limited public transportation. We’d often find ourselves paying for an expensive taxi ride or renting a car to get around.

Seat yourself at restaurants

Some countries require that you are seated by a host at restaurants, while in others you are able to seat yourself. In Greece it is the latter- we’d repeatedly go up to a waiter and ask to be sat, only to get a confused look and instructions to pick a table ourselves.

Pastries are weighed by kilogram

When I first arrived in Greece, I was confused to see a relatively high price tag next to a small sweet. “Is this a very expensive pastry”, I would wonder. As it turns out, smaller treats are typically priced out by 100kg. Customers select the amount of goods that they would like and they pay based on the weight. Since I’m not very familiar with the metric system, it can be a little difficult to gauge how much I’m about to pay for my treat, but I haven’t had any issues with sticker shock yet! I’ve made note of this several times in Europe since my trip to Greece, I’ve since realized that this method of paying by weight is actually much more common than I’d initially realized.

Give the language a try

This isn’t a surprise, but it’s polite to at least attempt to learn a few basic phrases in the local language.Locals seemed to be very pleased with our attempts at learning and we bonded with a local shopkeeper near our apartment by wishing each other a friendly ‘kalimera’ every morning. Greetings and a sincere ‘thank you’ in the local language will get you everywhere.

Closed on Sunday’s

This is not uncommon for Europe, but be aware that it’s going to be difficult to get gifts and groceries on a Sunday in Greece. We usually tried to schedule tours or travel days on Sundays to give ourselves something to do.

How kind the people are

Stay with me here- people have been kind in every country I’ve visited, but the people in Greece were on another level. Every single Airbnb host we had in Greece provided us with breakfast supplies and the occasional bottle of alcohol. Sometimes, they’d pick us up from the airport or help us with car rentals or taxi services. Not once, but twice did we have a restaurant offer us a complimentary dessert completely unprompted. This level of care and the consistency of going the extra mile is something that I’ll continue to remember about this country and the people who live here.

10 thoughts on “Things No One Warned Us About Before Visiting Greece

  1. Mexican plumbing use to be notorious for being too small, so people put toilet paper in a bin by the toilet. It’s been years, but when I worked in housekeeping, some Mexican immigrants would put the toilet paper on the floor next to the toilet, because there was no bin in the stall. When we lived in Spain, if we forgot to get basics on Saturday night, we had to get whatever the bars had on Sunday, because the bars were the only places open on Sundays. Excellent photos.

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