Cultural intelligence (CQ) is defined as
a person’s capability to function effectively
in situations characterized by cultural diversity.
In other words, a traveler’s adaptability.

When traveling, we think part of the fun is meeting people of different cultures and learning about
their everyday lives. But the thing is, you can’t really do that as a “tourist;” instead, you need to be a “traveler.”

At Inspiration Ventures, we help our travelers go beyond staged tourist spaces –
beyond just monuments, commercialized restaurants and recipes, and cheap touristy souvenirs.
(Although they can certainly be fun, under the right circumstances!)

If you’re seeking authentic cultural experiences, you’re looking to immerse yourself in Greek culture.
If you are inquisitive and friendly, you’d like to mingle with Greeks and indulge in a hands-on kind of experiences.

We’ll help you dig deeper.
We’ll introduce you to local traditions and social mores.
We’ll treat you to the best of the best insider’s trips to Greece.

Greece is thoroughly European, so you’ll find that local culture is similar to other parts of the Western world.
That said, there are some differences you should probably know in advance, so you can travel with cultural intelligence,
seek out meaningful interactions, and enjoy your time with us.

So, here’s what to do when…

Interacting with the Greeks

Generally speaking, Greeks are very friendly and outgoing. We’re also quite curious.
Once we meet you and like you, we’ll probably ask questions about your life, your family,
and what it’s like back home. Be aware that, true to our Mediterranean reputation, Greeks
are also rather animated. So if someone raises their voice, they’re probably having an
interesting conversation, not a fight. Thus, when in Greece…

– Do shake hands, kiss two times, or even hug someone in greeting.
– Do smile. (We’ll smile back!)
– Do use eye contact; it’s a form of communication!
– Do try to use the local language for simple words such as “thank you” (efharisto) or
“good morning” (kalimera). It will be very much appreciated!

– Do not use your high-school Spanish or French in an effort to communicate. Greek is
very different from other European languages, and throwing in non-English vocabulary
will probably confuse any Greek who’s trying to help you.
– Don’t speak English quickly.
– Do not raise your hand with an open palm. This is an extremely rude gesture called
“mountza,” and is usually followed by harsh words. In Greece, it is a gesture of intentional offense.

Questions you would like to ask
but you don’t want to sound like a tourist

Of course, the above is just the tip of the iceberg.
We know that culturally intelligent travelers often have lots of questions –
questions they hesitate to ask because they don’t want to sound like tourists.
We’ll spare you the agony:

Why are all these dogs at the Acropolis?

Greeks have big hearts (and plenty of rescue organizations) for stray animals. The dogs you see at the Acropolis are taken care of by local organizations; after they’ve been spay/neutered and vaccinated, they’re allowed to mingle. They’re friendly to visitors and at night, they help guard our heritage sites from possible intruders.

What are those small shrines by the road?

Small, roadside churches or shrines represent memorial sites for people who have had a car accident. They are a way for survivors to express their thankfulness for being saved, or for relatives to pray for the deceased’s soul. If you open the small door, you’ll find an icon, a photo of the deceased, an oil lamp and some matches. You are welcome to light a candle in memory. Interestingly enough, those miniature churches (iconostasi) serve a dual function: in addition to religious tradition, they are also warning signs for drivers – slow down and be careful when passing by this specific spot…

How do I drink Greek coffee?

Greek coffee is almost identical to Turkish coffee, in that they are both ground, Arabic coffee. You may order your coffee plain (sketos), with medium sugar (metrios) or sweet (glikos); do not stir after it is served! (The sugar is added during the preparation, so it is already well incorporated.)We Greeks consider our coffee foam an art form – the thicker, the better! Once the foam is gone and the coffee drunk, you’ll find coffee grounds on the bottom of your cup. You’re not expected to drink them. You can, however, go Greek and turn your cup upside-down! Wait a bit, and an experienced “coffee reader” will read your fortune.

What are those solar panels on top of houses?

In Greece we have over 300 days of sunshine, therefore we try to take advantage of it! Solar panels capture the rays of the sun and turn them to electricity. For over two decades we have this solar panel devices on the roof of buildings that can provide the household with hot water. Each one of them corresponds to a different condominium and the hot water provided is used to do the dishes, take a shower etc. Sunlight is free therefore the use of solar panels is cost saving. Plus this kind of electricity is green and does not release harmful substances to the environment.

What are those blue beads we see everywhere?

Although Greeks are very religious, they are also superstitious! If someone has sudden strong headaches, weakness or nausea but cannot find a reasonable explanation for this weird and uncomfortable state – then it is highly likely that he has been “evil eyed” or “matiasmenos” in Greek! In order to prevent from the evil eye’s effects and protect ourselves,we wear blue beads in the form of jewelry or we place a larger version of them in cars, stores, door handles, on a coffee table as well as in the cradle of a baby –as children are considered to be more vulnerable than adults. If all those do not work and still someone gets “evil eyed”, then the remedy would be “xematiagma”- a spell that can exorcize bad energy. Usually grandparents know how to execute this ritual by using a bowl of water and olive oil.

(Interesting fact: Even the Greek church recognizes officially this superstition as “vaskania” and has a special prayer for the occasion)

Can Greek Orthodox priests get married?

Yes, priests in the Greek Orthodox Church can get married and have children. However, the marriage should take place before being ordained as priests. Interesting fact: priests in Greece are active members of the community and wear their religious outfit at all times, not only when performing the liturgy.

Does it ever snow in Greece?

Surprisingly, yes! We have snow-capped mountains every winter and in some places, including Athens, we see snow about once every five years.

How long are “10 Greek minutes”?

Short story: Greeks are not strict about punctuality. If someone promises to meet you at 11 a.m., plan on 11:15. If a waiter promises to bring dessert “now,” you’ll likely be waiting for 5 minutes. Don’t be offended; this is simply the Greek way. (Insider tip: The only exception to the Greek punctuality rule?

Travel companies! We act on professional time (e.g. 11 a.m. sharp!), not Greek time.)

What is a “name day”?

In Greece, a Name Day, or Saint’s Day, is as important as a birthday.
Stemming from religious belief (but now more of a Greek custom), your Name Day is held on the day of your namesake saint’s feast day.

How do I eat dried bread?

Paximadi, or dried bread, is a Greek delicacy. Pair it with feta cheese, olives and tomatoes. And don’t be afraid to soak it in water before eating, as paximadi can be hard on the teeth!