How to assimilate into Greek culture.
I wrote something (slightly) humorous about how to pretend to be Greek.
Day 1: You will inevitably visit the Acropolis. While riding the metro, do not consult a map. True Greek people do not need a map. If they get lost, their location becomes where they wanted to be. They will cancel meetings with you because of this. Do not speak English on the metro. If you don’t speak it, they can’t prove anything. Act like a suspicious person trying to blend in all day. Keep your head down, avoid eye contact, and use the two Greek phrases you memorized- “nai,” when something is good, and “ohee” when something is bad.
Hike up to the Acropolis. Accept that for two hours you cannot hide your American quirks. Stand in awe of 2500 year old stones. Then, open your backpack. Walk behind the Acropolis to the edge of the cliff. Discard- any plaid shirts you may have packed, boating shoes, and, most importantly, your hair straightener. Watch them bounce down the mountain. Greek women do not style their hair, but let it dry naturally with the sea breeze and scent it with the smell of cigarette smoke. Resolve to air dry from now on.
Day 2: Today you will try to go to the Athens flea market. There will be Jamaican men in the square. Do not fist bump them when they offer and do not accept their free bracelets. True Athenians know that this is a scam. “Ohee, ohee,” you will say, trying to push through the crowd. The more mean you look, the more Greek you look. Visit the flea market. Scan over all the porn with odd American titles. Select a pair of fake Ray Bans or a Louis Vuitton purse. Stop in the store selling Converse- every good Greek person has a pair. Wear them out of the store after purchasing.
Day 3: If you have a sunburn by now, you are doomed to be branded as a tourist. This is probably your free day, so use it to actually be Greek. Wake up at 11 am. Order Bougatsa from a bakery. Pretend to understand what they are saying when they tell you how much you owe. Cheat, look at the register, say “nai, nai,” and pay it. Don’t get confused by the Euro coins. Feel proud as you sit on a cheap plastic chair outside of the bakery and eat the piping hot apple pastry. Spill powdered sugar all over your pants.
Day 4: You didn’t pack any extra pants. Take the opportunity to go into Plaka. Walk through the ancient, winding roads. Realize you are doing your shopping next to abandoned ruins. Pick out a very Nirvana, grunge-like pair of pants. The more faded and acid-washed, the more Greek you appear. Roll up the cuffs to show off your Converse. Layer with a large t-shirt or oversized sweater. If you look like you just rolled out of bed, you’re doing it right.
Day 5: Take a day trip to Hydra, the island the Athenians flea to during their lunch breaks. The boat ride takes one and a half hours. Recall that Greek lunch breaks last from 1l-3 and siesta time is from 3-6. Arrive on the island and try not to let out a tourist squeal as you walk the streets surrounded by brightly colored buildings. There are no cars in sight. The man at the souvenir shop tells you they aren’t allowed. Give up on being Greek, just for an hour, to take a donkey ride around the island.
Day 6: Too sunburnt to move. Use this to your advantage. Sit at a Greek cafe from 2 pm-6 pm. Do not ask for the check. Silently judge everyone from your table. The people sitting next to you will stare back. Two police officers across the street are smoking cigarettes together. They wave them around in the air, flinging ash at each other. One of them laughs while the other gestures and yells. Decide that being a judgmental Greek does not look like as much fun as being a gregarious Greek. Finally get up and pay around 6 pm. Remember 8 am flight the next morning. Consider returning to the hotel.
Day 6-7: Head out from the hotel around 11 pm. Get dinner from the gyro stand on the corner. This is true “Greek Time.” Sit in a bar from 1 am-3 am. Try to sip some Ouzo. It tastes like black licorice and burns all the way down your throat, which is okay, because your scowl when you taste it fits right in. At 3 am, head to a club. Sit in a booth and become hypnotized by the laser light show. The deejay blasts music, but no one is dancing. Stare at other people. They will stare back. Is this what it means to be Greek? Realize that if you compete in any more staring contests you may fall asleep. Stand up. Walk to dance floor, crowded with Greeks that are loitering around. Resolve to be a tourist for the next three hours. Dance until the sun rises.