BEWARE OF GREEK
Today my paycheck arrived from writing the Thomas Cook Greek Phraseguide last autumn.
No, I don't speak that language with any nuance. But I can order ouzo and tiropita: vocab enough, apparently.
At £3.99, this slender-yet-elegant volume is about as cheap as a pint.
Beer goggles can't help you like Thomas Cook can...
- Evil eye
Don't praise anything excessively; some Greeks believe this could draw evil spirits. Superstitious types spit or say ftou, ftou, ftou. Cobalt charms, usually a flat staring eye, ward away the bad luck.
- Greek blues
Rembetika is a wildly popular mix of underworld ballads and Turkish orchestrations that developed in the 1920s hash dens of Piraeus. Stoa Athanaton hosts two performances daily in Athen's Central Market.
- No bottoms up
Draining your wine glass is gauche. A considerate host refills smoothly, long before you scrape bottom. Light drinkers should mix in water or leave the glass over half full to show they're done.
- Mob mentality
Strikes and demonstrations frequently choke Athens' centre. Avoid getting swept up in these marches, which sometimes end with a rain of Molotov cocktails on the American Embassy.
Unfortunately, the Phraseguide doesn't reveal critical info, like how to survive an 8.5-year relationship tanking in Athens.
For top tips on Big Fat Greek divorce, turn to Greece, A Love Story (delicious irony, I know), forthcoming from Seal Press any freakin' day now.