Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens


Greece KalimeraΚαλημέρα/Kalimera!*

That’s the 2010 tourism motto for Greece, backed with a budget of €12 million.

The deputy minister of tourism and culture said they chose a simple, widely known Greek word that symbolically encapsulates Greece and tourism, which will be the focus of 10 TV commercials set to the music of Manos Hadjidakis.

Good job on saving letters due to the country’s debt crisis and making no false claims. Points off for choosing a motto that must first be translated for anyone who can’t understand Greek, which is pretty much everyone who isn’t Greek or has never been to Greece, the very audience being targeted by a tourism campaign. Ironic.

Assuming the motto was tested properly tested on a panel and experts were consulted, Greece wasted their time and money.

The Greek National Tourist Organisation website still advertised Greece with the 2009 tagline, “A Masterpiece You Can Afford” at the time it announced its new motto, while a plethora of new taxes took effect on everything.

In launching the new website, the EOT/GNTO has chosen to reorganize all pages, causing former links to be broken; and the map and destination list are presented by municipality, which of course makes no sense to a foreigner or visitor.  Ironic.

*Kalimera means good day or good morning.


Kalimera is country’s new tourism motto” – Kathimerini
«Καλημέρα» από Ελλάδα” — Ta Nea

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  dora wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 16:26

You know, the Turks run a great TV spot every spring/summer here in NY. It’s so exciting, fresh, with hot music, bringing together ancient and new, sometimes I forget and think they’re advertising Greece, but no, it’s Turkey. Great. Why can’t the Greeks tap into that.? No, they want to say Kalimera…

Kat Reply:

I tried the new motto on a few people, and they just looked at me like I was crazy. Their reaction was: “Ti les;” Exactly, how does one get a picture of Greece from that? And since when is Kalimera is a widely known Greek word? Most people can’t pronounce gyro correctly, even though they’ve eaten one.

  FMS wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 17:37

It should have been “Kalamari”, which many foreigners think means G’day anyway. LOL

Kat Reply:

I’d have to agree that kalamari is a more widely known Greek word than kalimera. I was going to say that calling someone a squid isn’t really the best way to greet someone, but I realized that making someone laugh is probably better than getting a blank stare.

  Val wrote @ March 13th, 2010 at 10:06

It was the only word my dad learned while he was here. Unfortunately he’d ask for Kalimera and chips every time we went to the taverna…

Great blog by the way Kat. You manage to stay balanced and humorous without ever sounding petty! I have passed your site address on to loads of friends!

Kat Reply:

LOL! Ah well, at least he tried.

I’m glad you ‘get me.’ All I do is observe and say things that others are probably thinking also. Anyone who is a thinking type person and exposed to everyday Greek life really needs a sense of humor to maintain sanity. The alternative is being angry, crying and slapping people. LOL.

Thank you for being a longtime reader and deeming my domain worthy of recommendation.

  Paul wrote @ March 13th, 2010 at 16:19

What’s the betting next year’s slogan will be “Opa!” (set to this year’s Eurovision entry)?

Kat Reply:

A very good possibility. I’m a bit shocked that “Opa!” won because of all the grunting.

  Melina wrote @ March 14th, 2010 at 04:21

Αγαπητό site, αρχικά ήταν πολύ ενδιαφέρον να βρω ένα τόσο ενημερωμένο ηλεκτρονικό πεδίο στο διαδύκτιο σχετικά με τη χώρα μου την Ελλάδα. Επί του παρόντος ζω στις ΗΠΑ (τη χώρα σου) εδώ και πέντε χρόνια και εργάζομαι ως ιατρός. Όμως έχω να κάνω κάποια σχόλια σχετικά με το ύφος της σελίδας σας. Εάν κάποιος που δεν είναι Έλληνας, και δεν ξέρει την Ελληνική κουλτούρα και φιλοσοφία, σας διαβάσει, μάλλον απογοητεύεται από την Ελληνική κατάσταση και μειώνεται το όποιο ενδιαφέρον του να ζήσει στην Ελλάδα. Πρέπει να σημειώσω ότι τα κάποια αρνητικά σας σχόλια περί της Ελληνικής κατάστασης πηγάζουν αναπόφευκτα από τη σύγκριση που κάνετε με τη χώρα σας (ΗΠΑ). Η σύγκριση αυτή όμως είναι πλάνη, διότι οι δύο χώρες δεν έχουν σχεδόν καμία κοινή βάση πάνω στην οποία να συγκριθούν. Είναι σαν να συγκρίνουμε μήλα με πορτοκάλια. Εάν πραγματικά θέλετε να βοηθήσετε στην καλύτερη εικόνα της Ελλάδας θα έπρεπε να τονίζετε το πόσα ταιράστια βήματα έχει κάνει αυτή η μικρή χώρα, μέσα σε μόνο περίπου τριάντα χρόνια ελεύθερης δημοκρατικής διακυβέρνησης. Ναι συμφωνώ ότι περιμένεις στην ουρά επί πολύ χρόνο στις δημόσιες υπηρεσίες. Όμως πριν από πέντε ή δέκα χρόνια, η κατάσταση ήταν πολύ χειρότερη. Εκεί πρέπει να εστιάσετε. Μην είστε το σίγουρη ότι ξέρετε τα Ελληνικά πράγματα, επειδή απλώς ζήτε στην πατρίδα μου κάμποσο. Τουναντίον, θα περίμενε κανείς ότι θα είσασταν πιο ευγνώμων προς αυτή τη χώρα που όπως εσείς η ίδια παραδέχεστε σας γλυκαίνει την ψυχή πιο πολύ από ό,τι η ίδια σας η πατρίδα (ΗΠΑ). Ο νόσοτς είναι Ελληνική λέξη άλλωστε. Ευχαριστώ για την ευκαιρία να σχολιάσω, τυχών απάντησή σας είναι αποδεχτή.

Note to readers: Melina is a repeat visitor to my website/blog, who composed her comment offline, came back to post it and leave. I know this because it says she only stayed 21 seconds. I didn’t translate her comment because her choice to write in Greek was intentional, and I don’t want to be accused of changing her words.

Kat Reply:

There is a huge difference between Greece and the USA, I agree. For you to be living in the USA only 5 years and be a doctor as someone who was not born American shows what’s possible. Someone who is American and of no Greek/EU origin could almost never be a doctor in Greece in any amount of time.

You criticize me for not being fair to “your home,” while acknowledging what I say is true and your country was worse 5-10 years ago but has made progress. First, how would you know what’s it’s like to be an immigrant in Greece, then or now, if you have never been one? Second, your overall mentality and attitude toward me is an indicator of why your country cannot move forward — you refuse to acknowledge that this is also my home and my country for 12 years, and your problem isn’t that I’m saying the truth; your problem is that I’m saying it as someone who is not Greek (your words). So when you say something, it’s your right as a Greek; and when I say the same thing, you call me negative, disrespectful and ungrateful. That’s chauvinism.

There is good and bad in all countries. As a psychiatrist, you should know It is not ethical to lie to people about what they may face in Greece, so I won’t change anything I wrote just as newspapers don’t change facts because a few readers complain. I assure everyone that I have not told my worst stories. This website gives all nationalities (even Greeks) the tools, resources and practical knowledge to make their lives easier because Greek authorities have failed to provide transparent information in a democratic way.

Why don’t you come back to Greece and show everyone why it’s a great place to live instead of criticizing people who do live here and are trying to help others? Your choice to live and work in the USA — notice that I didn’t say “my country” — is the biggest negative statement about Greece, paling in comparison to anything I could ever do or say.

P.S. I think you mean νόστος, since there’s no such thing as νόσοτς.

  Tauros wrote @ March 15th, 2010 at 00:27

Hi Kat,

Although I could dissect the previous comment point-by-point, I’ll keep it short.

Always interesting when someone chooses to attack the messenger, and pays only lip-service to the message since they are unable to disagree with it in substance. I think many of us “who have a choice” are in full agreement that there are many things about Greece that make it a great place to live. But we also know that in many ways it’s not. And the most frustrating part is that it could be a lot better. Many Greeks outside of Greece are abroad for exactly that reason, and for the greater opportunities they find there among other things.

It’s somewhat ironic that I can have a frank discussion with most Greeks in Greece (in English or Greek) about the situation here, and my Greek friends abroad don’t want to hear about it. Yes, νόστος (a root of nostalgia) is definitely a Greek word.

Kat Reply:

My favorite response to a story I tell from my life or the news is: “That’s not really the way it is in Greece.” Really?!? For some reason, it requires a Greek witness to testify on my behalf in order for my reality to be true. I find that ridiculous, since I have no time or motivation to lie.

  Brain Drain wrote @ March 15th, 2010 at 09:02

Poor Dr. Melina. Homesick for Greece but earning a fat salary in the USA. Her post sounds more like “Ellinikoures” than anything else.

Kat Reply:

Don’t feel sorry for her; feel sorry for the parents and children who seek her counsel.

  FMS wrote @ March 15th, 2010 at 14:18

Well, the usual Greek nationalism and chauvinism are appearing, and hilariously from Greeks who left the place in despair and now reside in better-managed countries!

I don’t know what that comment is doing here, anyway, on a post about the tourism motto. Maybe she thinks that she is somehow aiding tourism in Greece by attacking “foreigners” who live here. Yet, she wrote in Greek, meaning that the intended audience is other Greeks and not tourists. Many doctor friends tell me that psychiatrists generally are rather screwed up people, so i guess we can put it down to that.

Kat Reply:

Commentators who leave comments in Greek, even when it’s obvious the entire site/blog is in English, are either testing me (the stupid foreigner) to see if I know Greek and/or, for some reason, wishing to not reveal their level of English.

I continuously promote Greece by informing people of solutions, discounts and news not otherwise published in English, so attacking me can only reflect poorly on her and her country. Sad.

  Karen wrote @ March 15th, 2010 at 18:23

Good Morning,

I have never seen such a wonderful and informative website. I am hoping you could assist me. I live in Chicago and will be visiting Methoni in June. I have sent 3 emails and a fax to the Methoni Beach Hotel with no reply. I finally called them, but their machine is in Greek and although I am Greek I cannot understand what it says. 3027230 28720 is the number if you have a minute to provide a translation. I’m not sure who in the states I could ask to do this for me and I know this is an imposition. Since Methoni does not have all that many hotel choices I would like to know if they are no longer in business.

Thanks ever so much Kat,

Karen who is very excited to visit Greece

Kat Reply:

The hotel is still in business and open, so I don’t know why they haven’t answered your fax and emails. The message welcomes you and then asks you to press a selection to be redirected. However, if you press nothing and stay connected, someone is supposed to come on the line to assist you.

It cost me nothing to call and was no trouble. Have a nice trip!

  Vasileios wrote @ March 18th, 2010 at 05:48

I have not commented on your site in a long time, but I have been trying to keep a close eye on it, not to mention the number of people that I have recommended it to for all the rich information that you managed to collect throughout time.

Following this short prologue, I felt the need to respond to our “compatriot” Melina, even though I usually avoid direct responses because I am a true believer that confrontations of this type lead nowhere.

For those who may question the initiative of my post, allow me to say that I was born and raised in Greece, where I studied, received all the necessary high level degrees, served the military, opened a professional Engineering business, without having or chasing any political ties and partly succeeded.

A couple of years later though, I decided to move to the US for reasons that are far from the point of this conversation. What is not far from the point though, is that I consider it home just like the UK, France and Spain because I feel that every place that earns you a living is home and after having lived in all of the countries mentioned above, they all deserve a place in my heart. People who see it any different are just plain selfish and cannot see beyond their nose. In that sense I hope you feel the same way about the US, Melina.

It’s totally pointless getting into comparisons between countries, because as she correctly mentioned it’s like comparing apples with oranges. What’s not comparing different type of fruits though is the people. People can always make the biggest difference above all and that is the very reason why Greece has the same backward mentality in terms of professionalism and productivity for the past 30 years, whilst the society and the nation has advanced due to the technological innovation of other nations and the monetary funds of the same nations that Greece blames for its current financial troubles today. How ironic!

The same type of mentality is sustained and has been highly rewarded by the governmental bodies during the past 30 years, who have done very little to promote the biggest source of income that Greece has, which is tourism. I can only imagine the people who are responsible for this huge responsibility and it makes me sick to my stomach knowing how they have been possibly hired or assigned for this huge task. Therefore, it leads back to the people and the decisions made for good or for bad. I love Greece and I love everything that it has offered me to stand up to my feet, but from a neutral point of view I am afraid we lost our path a long time ago, and advertisements of this type show signs of desperation and unintelligence I am afraid. It is without a say to talk about the competitiveness of our products and how efficient and affordable it is for newcomers to visit Greece.

I used to hear stories about how much cheaper Turkey, Croatia and other countries around that region have been compared to Greece, but in the end of the day it is us, the people again who allowed this to happen or is it not? It is us who became greedier, who had no financial plans to attract tourists; it is us who unanimously decided to enter the path of a strong currency without being equally responsible and at the end of the day Greece becomes less attractive to others. If only we could see things beyond our nepotism, we could be so much better and that is the frustrating part of the story.

As for Greece today, it has become so uncompetitive that on a personal level if my ties with mother land, family and friends have not been kept alive, even with my fat yet hard earned salary, Greece would not have been at the top of my list for any vacation plans of any kind. Inevitably people want to visit the place that they keep the closest in their heart and that is Greece for Greeks, France for French, Germany for Germans and so on, so it is beyond the point of discussion how much myself or other several millions of Greeks may complain about how unattractive Greece has become. The whole idea is how Greece can become the light of inspiration and uniqueness that will lead people from other nations to come visit, enjoy our beautiful sun, the breath-taking scenery and the amazing artifacts that we inherited from ancestors.

We have long ways to go until that day.

Kat Reply:

Your comments touch me because of the intelligence, eloquence and honesty they convey; and your support, recommendations and contributions are always welcome and appreciated. It’s people like you who keep me going and give me the courage to fight another day.

  Eli wrote @ March 18th, 2010 at 08:18

Just been passed onto your site..after 25 years in Crete what a breath of fresh air to read everything I have thought, said, fought over, cried over about Greece, the people, and my right to an opinion here!
Congratulations and I look forward to reading a lot more…

Kat Reply:

Thank you for saying so. Wow, 25 years! Nice to see you here and hope to hear from you again if you feel compelled to share. All best 🙂

  Νικ wrote @ March 20th, 2010 at 00:32

Melina’s post is typical of the mentality of many Greeks. It is the mentality responsible for the disaster we are living right now.

We behave like children and we want others to treat us like children, to praise and caress us all the time.

We do not accept sound and fair criticism (like Kat’s), because, ehm, everybody should love us ’cause we are cute or I don’t know what.

Melina seems to require that Kat should advertise Greece. But, hello, Kat is a private person, not the greek ministry of tourism – why should she want to “advertise” Greece?

And to be honest, she doesn’t want Kat to advertise Greece but to hide facts, which is something totally different.

We cannot stand the honest opinion of a honest person, we just want a “wicked messenger” whose tongue cannot speak but only flatter (that’s a Dylan song).

Congratulations on the site and sorry for the broken English!

Kat Reply:

The funny thing is, if I gush and advertise Greece as the best country in the world after living here for 12 years, I’m called a clueless tourist who doesn’t know how Greece works. When I tell the truth, I am called anti-Greek and told to ‘go home.’ I just can’t win.

Your English is perfect, and your words beautiful. Thank you, Nik, apo tin kardia mou.

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