Greece is a country in Southern Europe with Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, Lybian Sea, and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Its surrounding countries are Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east.
Greece has an ancient culture that has had a significant influence on western society. The country has a number of famous archeological sites with contemporary documented histories. It is also the birthplace of the Olympic games.
Major cities include:
North of the gulf of Korinth ancient Delphi can be found.
In Central Greece you can visit the monasteries of Meteora, Volos (ancient Iolkos, beginning of the Argonautic Expedition) and the mountain villages in Pelion (Land of the Centaurs, popular greek summer and winter tourist resort).
Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992).
Greece enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate.
The latest weather and climatic information for Greece can be accessed via the Hellenic National Meteorological Service website.
As Greece is a member of the European Union, most European and North American nationals do not need a visa. Citizens of the European Union may also enter with a valid identity card. Entering via ferryboat from Italy or by air from countries that are members of the Schengen Agreement, too, you won't need to show any document of identity under normal circumstances.
Prior to Cyprus's accession to the European Union persons carrying a passport with a stamp from the internationally not recognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus were denied entry. After Cyprus formally in full became part of the European Union such a denial of entry is according to European Union officials not to be expected any more.
In summer charter flights to most islands arrive weekly from many European cities. Scheduled flights all the year round fly to Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete, with Athens being the main destination. The national airline is Olympic Airlines; domestic flights are also operated by Aegean.
Driving to Greece from Western Europe usually involves driving to Venice or Brindisi and catching a ferry. Routes via the former Yugoslavia aren't dangerous any more if you keep away from Kosovo, but condition of roads can be worse than you're used to. On the other hand, driving through the Balkans is still a kind of adventure as you have to show your passport quite often which has become unusual in Western and Central Europe. You will also face another culture and another kind of living as for example Serbia and Montenegro's standard of living is still not as high as Western European countries'.
ΚΤΕΛ -- Κοινό Ταμείο Είσπραξης Λεωφορείων: Confederation of Motorbus Operators -- is the principal inter-urban bus service of Greece. Tickets may be purchased at their website, or at bus stations in Greece. If you can't find the bus station, just ask Πού είναι ο σταθμός ΚΤΕΛ; : Poo EE-nay o stat-MOS KTEL?
Ferries to Igominitsa and Patra leave throughout the year from the Italian ports of Venice, Trieste, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi. For the Ferry form Ancona to partra you will pay for a single person about 40€ winter/ 60€ summer. See also http://www.greekferries.gr/, http://www.ferriesingreece.com/ and http://www.ferries.gr. There are also ferries from Egypt and Cyprus.
Trains are in inexpensive way to get around. To get to the island you will mostly have to take a ferry. In some cases, domestic flights are both a cheaper, faster and more comfortable alternative (eg. Santorini).
See also Continental Greece in ten days
The official language is Greek; English and French are widely spoken. Basic knowledge of English can be expected from most personnel in cafes and hotels; exceptions happen only in distant villages.
Since 2001, Greece's official currency has been the euro (€). Euro notes and coins were introduced in 2002. Although Greece is in the EU you will hardly find any ATMs excepting EC carts (except Athens). Visa- an Mastercard is widely excepted.
Try gyros (γύρος), tzatziki (τζατζίκι) which is a combination of a kind of yoghurt and then various things mixed in, such as finely chopped vegetables (like cucumbers), and skordaya (σκορδαλιά), which is a garlic mashed potato sauce that's usually served cold (but very good, particularly if you like garlic).
It's normal to charge cover fee in cafes, like €0.4 to €1.5 per person.
Greece produces a rich variety of local wines, including table and fortified varieties.
With regard to alcohol, Greeks principally drink wine (krasi: κρασί), sometimes in the special form of retsina (ρετσίνα), and water (nero: νερό). Retsina is a 'resinated wine' with a unique, strong taste that can take some getting used to.... The flavour comes from pine resin, which was once employed as a sealant for wine flasks and bottles.
Beer (bira: μπύρα) is less popular as a drink, but excellent local varieties like Mythos and Alpha, as well as Western European imports like Heineken and Amstel, are readily available mostly everywhere (North American beers generally are not).
Liquor is known generically as oinobira οινόπνευμα, from the ancient Greek words for "wine" and "spirit." A speciality is ouzo (ούζο) an anise-based liqueur; another is Metaxa (Μεταξά), a variety of brandy. The quality of Metaxa is rated with stars, and as with hotels and restaurants, "you get what you pay for". Metaxa Ephta (seven stars) is considered superb.
Quality scotches, bourbons, gins, etc. are usually available in bars and kapheneia, especially in urban areas or places frequented by tourists. The Greek name for your favorite spirit is often close to its native name: ουίσκι is whiskey, τζιν is gin, etc.
Coffee (kafes: καφές) is an important part of Greek culture. Kafeneia (coffee houses) are ubiquitous, found even in the smallest village (where they traditionally served a function similar to that of the village pub in Ireland). There are also many cafes that offer coffee, beer, wine, spirits - at night most of them function as bars. Coffee is prepared in the traditional manner with the grounds left in - but don't dare call this coffee 'Turkish' unless you want to start a heated political discussion! It is also made espresso-style, French press (mainly at hotels), and with modern filter technology (the latter is sometimes known as Γαλλικός: Gallikos - French - which can lead to some confusion with the press method. It is best to ask for φίλτρου: filtrou, which refers unambiguously to filter coffee).
In the summer especially, most people (Greeks and foreigners) consume Frappe: Iced Greek Coffee (Φραπέ) . Recently in the summer Espresso or cappuccino freddo are also very popular. Espresso Fredo is simply espresso + ice (no milk or foam); Capuccino Fredo may be served from mousse containers, not prepared just-in-time -- be careful to check it.
A glass of water is normally served with any drink you order; one glass for each drink. Some cafes charge extra fee for water, especially if it's served in a bottle--even if you didn't ask for it. This is not included into cover fee, which normally goes a separate line.
Students from countries constituting the European Union may enter many sites for free. Students from other countries have their entrance fees reduced. So take your International Student Identity Card with you.
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Most public phones are quite modern and there are many of them - but they only accept prepaidcard which can easily be bought at any Kiosk.
Internet Five years ago, the internet infrastructure was only in the fledgling stages. But in the last 2 years an internet boom has taken place, so that even in the small cities you can nowadays find Internetcafes - sometimes three or four side by side. Prices vary from 2 to 6 €/hour.