Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, has been the crossroads of three continents since the dawn of civilization. As a historic hub for trade and population migrations, Greece has always been considered a strategic port of call. The metric system is used for weights and measures and standard automobiles are left-hand drive with manual transmissions (meaning that traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road, and it helps to know how to drive a stick shift!) In 2002 one of the world’s most historic monetary units, the Drachma, was replaced by the Euro currency. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euro. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euro. The time zone is GMT +2 and “daylight savings time” is implemented near every spring and fall equinox.
Important Holidays Observed:
New Year’s Day, 1st January; Epiphany 6th January; Carnival Period (late winter/early spring – the three weeks prior to the 1st day of Orthodox Lent “Clean Monday”) Independence Day, 25th March (commemorating the revolution against Turkish occupation); Orthodox Easter (spring break - movable); Pentecost (second weekend in June); The Assumption of The Holy Mother, 15th August; “NO” Day, 28th October (commemorating Greece’s refusal to surrender to Mussolini’s invasion forces in 1940); Christmas Day, 25th December.
There are actually many more Greeks living in satellite communities around the world than there are living within the physical borders of Greece itself. UN estimates place the current population of Greece a little over 11 million and the capital city of Athens hosts more than half of the nation’s population. Other major population centers include Thessaloniki –the “co-capital” as many call it, Patras in the Peloponese, Heraklion on the island of Crete and Ioannina in northwest Epirus. All of these cities host University campuses, a fact which contributes to their population density as well as the diversity of cultural activities, events and nightlife available there.
Greece, along with its native population, has historically attracted ex-pats from many ethnic backgrounds. This trend has become ever more evident over the last two decades. A large number of political and economic refugees have been added to the Europeans who have chosen to take up permanent residence in Greece. This has transformed all of the population centers as well as many resort areas into melting pots of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Modern Greek is the country’s official language, however in most areas English is commonly spoken as a second language having been officially included in the primary and secondary school curriculum. Other languages such as French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian and Spanish are also taught in private language schools throughout the country and their popularity directly reflects the ethnicities of the visitors most prevalent in any given area. Greek slang is also being influenced by the internet and the large number of Albanian, Bulgarian and former USSR immigrants who have been absorbed into local communities.
Hotel suggestions in Greece
Location: Hersonissos, Crete
Open: May - October... The Albatros Spa & Resort Hotel offers a combination of good standards of a deluxe category hotel and a friendly atmosphere as it is runned by the owner’s family Tamiolakis.
Location: Agios Nikolaos, Crete
Open: April - October... Iberostar Mirabello Hotel & Village offers the tranquillity of a Resort Hotel, while being just 2 kms. away from the center of Agios Nikolaos, it allows guests to enjoy t
Open: April - October... Chora Resort & Spa is located in the city center - known as ‘Chora’ - of Folegandros island, just 3 km away from the port of Karavostasis.
Location: Hersonissos, 700 14
Open: April - October... At the Knossos Royal, time moves in a different space and the pleasure and relaxation never end.
Location: Gouves Pediados, Heraklion, Crete
Open: April - October... Grecotel Amirandes. Each summer this lively club hotel attracts a diverse international crowd - young singles, couples, families and the young-at-heart will find the ideal ble
Location: Platis Gialos, Mykonos
Open: April - October... A warm welcome from the cosmopolitan Island of Mykonos takes a new meaning at the Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Centre, where the island's traditional hospitality is co