Basics of living like a local in Greece
As my homeland Greece has already started welcoming the big wave of tourists for this season, I browse out of curiosity through the net in search of recommendations that foreign portals make to their people visiting my country. To be more specific I search under the phrase “how to live like a local in Greece” as local culture seems to be of rising interest to travelers nowadays. To my surprise all I find is proposals for souvlaki, bouzoukia and mousaka mingled with a suggestion for strolling around the ancient Agora in Athens downtown. Ok I think, that too! But is our local culture exhausted to these things? I know for sure that official institutions like the ministry or tourists boards have done little to zero in promoting anything more than the obvious but I also know there are still soulful Greeks left in this country that put great effort in preserving the true spirit of Greek culture, Greek philoxenia (=hospitality) and Greek philotimo (=the desire to do the honorable thing | definition beautifully given by my fellow travel blogger Amber of Provocolate) for both locals and foreigners to savor.
So what would be the one thing that would help the foreigner really feel the quintessence of Greek living?
From my experience living like a local starts from living inside a real Greek home located in a lively Greek geitonia (=neighborhood) that will allow you to mingle with the locals. That’s all! Just that and being open…
This choice that we opt for in our own travels is the one that has given us some of the most amazing experiences in our trips like being invited to an invitation-only live concert to a remote spot of the island by the sea in Sifnos or finding peaceful refuge for a couple of days in a neighborhood of London when our country was in political chaos, or given a tour in the artistic side of Paris by locals. But I do know this is not an option for every traveler.
Who is this choice not suitable for:
- Those who love to feel a bit spoilt in vacations and appreciate room service, clean sheets every day and a breakfast lounge with a big buffet.
- Those who enjoy the hustle and liveliness of hotels.
- Those who mainly seek nothing more than a comfy place to crash with their book and a Piña colada at hand.
What to expect when choosing to book a Greek home:
- Personalized service. Forget the canned politeness of hotel personnel and be prepared for real life interaction.
- Spaces with a story to share. As we do in our interactions with other people we Greeks tend to be very expressive with our spaces. Forget the monochromatic, simple spaces of northern Europe and come prepared for patterns, colors and family antiques.
Our latest experience
In our latest trip to Hydra we were hosted in a historical home of 1780 called Keresbino and words can make no justice to what a beautiful experience that was. Before arriving to the place we had read a bit about the home’s history and it was so touching to be a small part of it’s story. The architecture of the house itself talked a lot about what life used to be back in the time when homes had no electricity or tap water. Tall ceilings, a mezzanine, wooden beams and thick stone walls that kept the island heat outside. A back comfy patio saving us from prying eyes, a fridge from the past where they used to place ice inside to keep everything cool and a rusty coal iron where still in the house as decorative items. Breakfast and a full fridge was waiting for us in the kitchen along with all the amenities of espresso machine, kettle and toaster. Moreover, having a whole house for ourselves meant that the kids had the freedom to bring over new friends to play something that would never have happened in a hotel room. They loved the experience so much that asked if we could buy this house that was overflowing with love.
We kindly thank Keresbino Hydra and Mr. Dimitris for welcoming us as their guests and giving us the freedom to write our personal and unbiased opinion for our audience and we leave you with the images we made in this beautiful space.