What role did the Greek language have in the development of English?

The famous saying “It’s all Greek to me” might be the most wrongfully chosen expression there is. Because each of us speaks a little Greek every day. There are over 150.000 English words that originate from the Ancient Greek language. Architect, base, and chaos are just a few examples.

How has the Greek language influenced language?

The Greek language has had a profound and lasting impact on the development of many languages throughout history, including English. Here is an overview of how the ancient Greek language is secretly the most spoken in the world.  

The alphabet

The Greek language has contributed to the development of the English alphabet. The ancient Greeks were the first to establish a true alphabet, around the 8th century B.C.. Later, this alphabet was adopted by the Romans who, in turn, passed it on to Western Europe. The modern English alphabet is based on the Roman alphabet and contains many of the same letters as the ancient Greek alphabet did. Moreover, even the name alphabet shows the Greek influence, as the first two letters of the Greek alphabet are Alpha and Bet(a).

Greek words in English

One of the most obvious ways in which Greek has influenced English is through the many words that have been borrowed from the Greek language. These words (often passed on through Latin) have become an integral part of the English vocabulary. For example, words such as “philosophy,” “democracy,” “telephone,” and “typhoon” are all of Greek origin. Greek has also contributed to the technical vocabulary of English, with words such as “mathematics,” “biology,” “geography,” and “psychology” being derived from Greek roots.

Grammar

In addition to the borrowed words, Greek has also had a significant impact on the grammar and syntax of English. The Greek language has an inflected structure. This means that the grammatical function of a word is indicated by its ending rather than by its position in the sentence. This structure has influenced the way in which English forms its verb tenses and noun declensions.

Mythology

Furthermore, Greek mythology and literature have had a major influence on Western culture. Many words and phrases from Greek mythology have become part of the English language. For example, words such as “nemesis,” “hubris,” and “eureka” come from Greek mythology and are used in English to convey specific meanings. Also, the Greek epic poem “Iliad” and “Odyssey” were considered the foundation of Western literature, and many phrases and idioms from these works, such as “Achilles heel” and “Trojan horse,” have been passed down through the generations and are still in use today.

Science and medicine

Moreover, Greek has also played a crucial role in the field of science and medicine. Many scientific and medical terms in English have derived from Greek roots. For instance, words such as “anatomy,” “physiology,” and “pathology” come from Greek roots and are commonly used in the medical field. Additionally, the Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine,” has had a profound impact on the development of the medical field. His teachings are still widely studied today.

English words you probably didn’t think were Greek

Did you ever watch the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? In this movie, there are multiple scenes in which a Greek father explains how every English word derives from a Greek word. Although these scenes add to the level of comedy of the movie, there is actually some truth in it as well. Here is an overview of English words secretly derived from the Greek language.

  • Cemetery
    The word cemetery seems far from Greek. However, it originates from the Greek word koimitirion, which you pronounce as kee-mee-tee-rion. This Greek word describes the place you sleep, and as death is seen as an endless sleep, the cemetery is this place.
  • Dynasty
    The word dynasty comes from the Greek word dinami which means strength or power.
  • Enthusiasm
    In ancient Greece, there was a word made up of en, (in), heós (god), and usía (essence). Enthousiasmós meant something like possed by a god or inspired by the divine. This word then went through Latin and French until it entered the English language with the meaning of excitement.
  • Jealous
    The word jealous comes from the Greek word zêlos.
  • Dinosaur
    Dinosaur comes from a combination of two Greek words. The first is dinos, meaning terrible or fearful. Saûros means lizard. Put these two together and you have the fearful creatures that used to wander our world.

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

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Fast food in Greece

Whenever I travel to an unfamiliar destination, I am always happy to spot a McDonald’s right after I land. I can eat my beloved BigMac, without immediately having to learn about the country’s culture and food. It is convenient for me after a long and tiring day of traveling. However, upon landing in Greece, I have to break with my McDonald’s tradition and immediately dive into the Greek culture. Fast food in Greece does not come in the shape of a BigMac.

Why fast food in Greece is different

McDonald’s in Greece

Greece, unlike other European countries, has very few famous fast-food chains. McDonald’s, for example, is pretty common throughout the European Union. Where the USA has 45.1 stores per million people, the Netherlands has 14.6, Germany 17,8, and Austria is the European winner with 22.31 McDonalds’s per million people. Greece, however, only has 2.1. Less than 5% of the amount in the USA!

Besides, McDonald’s in Greece is not spread evenly around the country. Stores are located in Athens and the most famous Greek islands like Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini. They are mostly used by tourists visiting the country instead of by the locals themselves. So what fast food can you expect when you travel to the less popular destinations in Greece?

The history of fast food in Greece

Fast food in Greece has a long history, dating back to ancient times. In ancient Greece, street vendors sold a variety of foods, including cooked meats, bread, and fruits. These foods were often sold at markets and were considered a convenient and affordable option for people who needed to eat quickly. Like our McDonald’s burgers, ancient Greek fast food was consumed quickly and on the go.

Ancient Greece was also the birthplace (or time) of the pita Gyros. Street vendors, known as gyrostands, would often sell meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, similar to modern-day gyros.

After ancient times, however, Gyros disappeared from the country for centuries. Until the Ottoman Empire invented döner in the 19th century. When the Greeks changed the döner meat from lamb to pork and added tzatziki, the famous pita Gyros was reborn. It became (again) popular throughout Greece and later even in the rest of the world.

Pita Gyros

In the 1970s, the electric vertical rotisserie was introduced. As a result, the popular pita Gyros were now easy to prepare and became a staple of Greek fast food. The dish was cheap, fast, easy to eat, and even local. Every region in Greece has its own variation of this famous dish with different sauces or vegetables. 

The pita gyros is the reason famous fast food chains like McDonald’s, struggle to survive in Greece. The network of gyrostands was well-developed by the time they came. While it was a new and convenient way of eating in the rest of Europe, in Greece, there was no need for another quick dining opportunity. 

The best Greek fast food

Gyros, souvlaki or bifteki

The most delicious and well-known Greek fast food is the pita Gyros. A pita bread stuffed with meat, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki, and potatoes. However, often these places also offer various types of meat. Souvlaki, skewers, or bifteki, hamburgers, are among the options worth trying. After you ordered your pita, the cook will ask you: Ap’ola? With everything? And for the best Greek experience, you reply with Nai!

Savory pita’s

Kotopitaspanakopita, and tiropita are the second most famous fast foods in Greece. These are savory pies made from phyllo dough stuffed with chicken, spinach, or cheese. You can find these pies in bakeries all around the country, and there are even small shops specializing in these pitas. The benefit of these is that you can buy them in the morning and take them with you on the road to eat whenever you get hungry. The perfect snack for a road trip to Greece

Crepes

My favorite fast food in Greece is Greek crepes. The pancakes from France, with a twist. There are crepe stands all around Greece, and they are nothing more than a counter with countless ingredients. You take a crepe and choose what you want to have it filled with. There are different kinds of meat, cheese, sauce, vegetables, and potatoes. But there are also fruits, biscuits, ice cream, and sweet sauce. The result is something that looks similar to a pita gyro. The taste, however, can have countless possibilities and you can make this food as heavy or light as you want it to be.

Goody’s

When you are in Greece and crave McDonald’s or Burger King, there is an alternative you are more likely to find. Goody’s! Goody’s Burger House is a Greek fast food company with a menu close to the more famous chains. They serve burgers and fries, as you would expect from a fast-food chain. However, club sandwiches, pasta, and even something that looks like traditional Greek dakos, reveal that you are still in Greece.  

Moussaka and dolmades

While fast food in Greece is popular and widely available, it is important to note that the traditional Mediterranean diet, characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, is still considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. Many Greeks continue to follow this diet. It is not uncommon to see people eating traditional Greek meals such as moussaka and dolmades in fast food restaurants.

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

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The Meltemi winds of Greece

Whoever has visited Greece during the summer months might have noticed a recurring, daily pattern in the weather. On many Aegean islands, the mornings start warm and calm. However, the later it gets during the day, the stronger the wind gets. Until the sun goes down, and slowly the peace returns. If you have noticed this pattern, you have experienced the Meltemi winds of Greece.

What is the Meltemi wind?

The Meltemi wind is a strong, dry wind that blows in the Aegean Sea and the northern parts of the eastern Mediterranean. They are most common in the summer months, from May to September. The wind can be strong enough to reach speeds of up to 8-9 on the Beaufort scale. The Meltemi winds typically blow from the northwest towards the south.

Mythology

In Greek mythology, the Meltemi winds have a different name than they have today. Etesian (also spelled Etesias or Etesian) winds. Two stories explain Etesian’s existence.

The Etesian winds were believed to be sent by the god Zeus to provide relief from the hot summer temperatures. According to the myth, Zeus was upset that the island of Rhodes was experiencing a severe drought. In order help, he sent the Etesian winds to bring much-needed rain to the island. The winds blew for 40 days and 40 nights. When they finally subsided, the island was covered in a blanket of flowers.

In another myth, the Etesian winds were associated with the story of the Argonauts. A group of heroes who sailed with Jason in search of the Golden Fleece. The Etesian winds were said to blow with such force that they could stop ships in their tracks. In this story they where no help, but instead a challenge that the Argonauts had to overcome in order to complete their journey.

Where do the Meltemi winds come from?

The Meltemi winds are created by the pressure gradient between high pressure over the Balkans and low pressure over the eastern Mediterranean. During the summer months, the land heats up more quickly than the sea. This causes the air over the land to rise and the air over the water to sink. This creates a pressure gradient, with high pressure over the land and low pressure over the sea.

Wind is basically the movement of air. And as soon as there is a difference in air pressure, there will be wind. The Meltemi winds blow through Greece from the northwest. From the high-pressure area over the Balkans, towards the low-pressure area over the eastern Mediterranean. As the winds blow over the sea, they pick up moisture, which can help to cool the air and reduce the intensity of the winds.

How do you notice the winds?

The Meltemi winds are particularly strong on the islands of the Aegean Sea, such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes. They can also be felt on the Greek mainland, especially in the northern regions. The winds can cause rough seas and make sailing and water sports challenging. However, they are also a welcome relief from the hot summer temperatures.

Dangers that come with the strong wind

In some areas, the Meltemi winds can cause brush fires, as they can dry out the vegetation and make it more susceptible to ignition. They can also cause dust storms, mainly in the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese islands.

The Meltemi winds are part of the Greek culture

Despite the challenges that the Meltemi winds can bring to Greece, they are an important part of life in Greece and are celebrated in many local festivals. In some areas, the winds are even considered to have healing properties. Here, people will intentionally expose themselves to the winds in order to benefit from their supposed health benefits.

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

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Cooking with Yiayia : Greek Potato Piroshki

I was in quarantine in Greece, during the COVID pandemic, at an isolated beach house last year. Yiayia had left enough food in front of the door to survive for a month if I needed to. Amongst her many dishes was a bag full of small savory pastries I had never seen before, Greek potato Piroshki. With just one bite, I fell in love. It turned out the be the most delicious snack I had ever tasted, and within a day, I finished all of them.

In the following year, I cooked the dish together with Yiayia to learn how to recreate this incredible vegan dish. Today, I am ready to share her delicious recipe with you!

How did Piroshki end up in Greece?

Piroshki is traditionally not a Greek but a Russian dish. However, a part of the Greek population did not live in Greece for more than three thousand years, the Pontic Greeks, or Pondians. These people are Greek and have always called themselves Greek. However, they lived in the Pontus region, located in modern-day Turkey, South of the Black Sea.

Due to the remote location of the Pontus, the Pontians have a unique culture, identity, and diverse cuisine that differs from the Greeks. When the Pontic Greeks had to leave their region in the early 20th century, many returned to Greece and took their cuisine with them. Piroshki is just one of the many delicious recipes of Pontic Cuisine. 

What is Piroshki?

Piroshki is a fried dough with a savory or sweet filling inside. The dough is made with yeast to provide a fluffy texture around the filling. The outside, however, becomes crunchy when the dough is fried. Famous Pontian Piroshki fillings are minced beef, mushrooms, cheese, and apricot. But my favorite, and fully vegan, Pirsohki, is with potatoes.

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Yiayia’s secrets

  • There is a vast variety of Piroshki recipes out there. Some include milk, others eggs, and some only water. I believe you can not find two people who follow the same recipe or have the same result. Piroshki is personal, handed over in a family every generation. Each Piroshki is unique.
  • Unless you’re making potato Piroshki on a Greek summer day, you must give your dough some special love. Yeast works best at a higher temperature, so keep your dough warm! Wrap the dough in a blanket and put it next to a heater when it’s rising. This way, you will get the best texture in the end.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 glass of medium-warm water, around 350 ml
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 package of active yeast
  • 450 – 500 grams (around 1 pound) of flour 
  • sunflower oil for frying the Piroshki

For the filling:

  • 1 kilo (2,2 pounds) of potatoes
  • 2 big white onions
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Tools

  • a bowl
  • two saucepans
  • a blanket 
  • a towel
  • optional rolling pin

Yiayia’s Greek potato Piroshki:

Time needed: 2 hours and 30 minutes.

  1. Make the dough

    Mix the warm water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the yeast and mix in. Wait till the mixture starts bubbling a bit. Then, you can start adding the flour. Tablespoon by tablespoon, while mixing it in by hand.Greek potato Piroshki making the dough

  2. Knead the dough and let it rise

    When the dough feels dry but still sticks slightly, it is time to knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes.
    Cover it with a towel and leave it to rise for 1 to 3 hours. If you live in a colder climate, wrap the bowl in a blanket and put it close to a heater to activate the yeast.Greek potato Piroshki dough ready to leave to rise after kneading

  3. Make the filling

    While the dough rises, it is time to prepare the filling. Cut the onions and peel the potatoes. Add olive oil to a saucepan and fry the onions till they are soft. Then, add the potatoes, cover them with water, and bring them to a boil. Leave until the potatoes are soft, around 20 to 30 minutes.Greek potato Piroshki boiling the onions and potatoes in a pan with water

  4. Season the filling

    Strain and mash the vegetables. Add fresh parsley, salt, and a lot of black pepper. Don’t be afraid to add too much. You want the filling to taste like you have put slightly too much pepper to have the best result when putting everything together.Greek potato Piroshki filling seasoning parsely and pepper on mashed potatoes and onions

  5. Make a sheet of dough

    Once the dough has risen, it is time to prepare the Piroshki. Sprinkle flour on your counter. Take a small piece of dough and open it with your hand or a rolling pin.making Greek potato Piroshki size of dough you need for one Piroshki

  6. Assemble the Piroshki

    You make a small sheet of dough, and in the middle, you place about a tablespoon of the potato mixture. Then, wrap the filling inside the dough.
    I usually make a triangular sheet, fold the top and sides of this sheet over the filling, and use the bottom to roll everything inside. making Greek potato Piroshki opening the dough and adding the filling

  7. Repeat

    Repeat step 5 and 6 until you have used up all the dough and filling.making Greek potato Piroshki assemble the Pirsohki and let them settle

  8. Fry the Piroshki


    You fry the Piroshki for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until they are golden brown. You want them to float in the sunflower oil, so use around a liter of it in a saucepan. The oil needs to be hot enough so that when you place a piece inside, it starts sizzling immediately.
    When the Piroshki is nicely fried place it on a plate with a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. Let it cool down, and enjoy!making Greek potato Piroshki fry in oil in pan

Tips:

  • You shouldn’t immediately fry a Piroshki after assembling one. Leave them on the counter to settle a bit. Once you have around 10 of them, you can start frying the first one. Or wait till you have assembled all of them.
  • The time a potato needs to boil depends on the type as well as the size. Test if the potatoes are ready by trying to lift one with a fork. If they fall off they are ready.
  • It takes some practice until you find your way with the dough while assembling the Greek potato Piroshki. Don’t expect a good-looking first batch and remember that the taste is more important than the appearance. The most important thing is to find a way that works for you.
  • If you have left-over potato filling in the end, you could use it to make a nice potato salad or just eat it as a side-dish later in the week.

Visit the snow in Greece!

Greece is known as the perfect destination for a summer holiday. However, this unique and diverse country has much more to offer than just the perfect beach. Greece has gorgeous mountains for hiking, and many cultural festivals all around the country, but also a holiday in the snow is part of the possibilities. Although ski resorts in Greece can not compete with the more popular European countries because of their smaller size. For those who like to combine white slopes with more than just apres-ski, a winter holiday in Greece is a great option!

When is there snow in Greece?

Like any holiday in the snow, you have to visit Greece during the right time of the year for a winter break. On average, Greek ski resorts are open from December to March. On a good year, November and April can be white as well, but do not have any certainty. January and February are best when you book in advance.

Unfortunately, due to climate change, even winter sports in France nowadays can end up in a non-white disappointment. The weather becomes more and more unpredictable all over the world. In Greece, winter sports used to be a big thing years ago. Nowadays, the number of open pistes is limited, and we should all try to keep them open for the years to come. 

Slopes in Greece

Greek has 200 kilometers of slopes with 117 lifts. Although this is only 1/5 of the number in France, it is enough to count as a winter holiday destination. Most of the ski resorts in Greece are located in the North of the mainland. Examples of these are Kaimaktsalan, Falakro, Vasilitsa, and Metsovo. 

The exception, and at the same time the biggest ski resort in Greece, is Mount Parnassos. This mountain is only 3 hours away from Athens, towards the Nort-East. 

Why visit the snow in Greece?

In Europe, France, Austria, and Switzerland are the countries to visit for snow in the winter. In fact, not many Europeans know that there are more countries to choose from when booking a winter sports holiday. But there are, and Greece is one of them. 

Prices

In Greece, a day in the snow can be as cheap as €15,-. This price includes unlimited access to ski lifts and equipment rental. Although Mount Parnassos is slightly more expensive, Greece is much cheaper than other European countries. In France for example, a budget-friendly resort will cost at least 50 euros per day. Of course, there is a difference in quality related to the difference in price. French resorts are much bigger, with a larger variety of routes and difficulties. However, this is not needed for everyone. 

As a beginner, or year-long amateur, you will spend a lot of money in France, only to stay on the practice slope and fall on your butt continuously. I am an amateur in snowboarding myself and would choose Greece over a more famous country each year. I don’t need more than a couple descends on an easy slope. I enjoy those but know that I will physically never be able to do more. Why pay a premium price if I will never use the premium functions? 

For me, Greece is the perfect country to keep my clumsy snowboard skills intact while being able to enjoy the things I like even more. Greece is also the perfect place to discover if winter sports are something for you without immediately spending a lot of money to try.

Mountain villages, nature, and interesting sites

In Greece, many ski resorts are close to other interesting sites you often miss during your summer holidays because they are too far inland. When you’re tired of going down the slopes, there are many things you can do in the area around. Traditional villages, religious buildings, and archeological sites are a few examples of things you can combine with your winter holiday. Here is an overview of the most interesting sites you can reach within 1 hour from the piste.

Kaimaktsalan
  • From Kaimaktsalan, you can reach Agios Athanasios in 40 minutes. This is a traditional Greek mountain village in which every building is built from the same stone. Cars are not allowed inside, making this the perfect quiet and relaxing getaway.
Falakro
  • Falakro is close to the archeological site of Phillipi. At the site, there is a well-preserved theatre, built in the 4th century B.C., as well as various ruins that date back to Roman times. Phillipi is a great place to explore the history of Greece.
Metsovo
  • The Metsovo ski resort is in the Zachori region. Zagori is a mountainous region in the North West of Greece with many traditional villages and stone bridges, all surrounded by breathtaking views. If you’re looking for a more active but off-piste experience, a hike to Dragon Lake might be something for you.
  • Metsovo is also very close to the city of Ioannina. Ioannina is a beautiful city, located around a lake and surrounded by mountains. The city has a rich history and amazing places to eat. The city is just one hour away from Metsovo.
  • Driving one hour from Mesovo, you can also reach the incredible site of Meteora. Meteora offers a combination of a unique natural phenomenon with spectacular religious buildings. A must-visit!
Mount Parnassos
  • Within 40 minutes from Parnassos lies Arachova. This mountain village is the holiday destination for the rich and famous Greeks. It is a traditional village that offers tasty food and a luxurious stay.
  • The archeological site of Delphi is also close to mount Parnassos. This site has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1987. Delphi was considered to be the center of the world in ancient times, and the Oracle of Delphi was the most important shrine throughout Greece. 
Good weather

Although the Greek winters have enough snow for winter sports, they are still Greek and full of sun. What usually happens is that at night or early in the morning, it will snow on top of the mountain. However, during the day, the sun will come through. You can ski or snowboard without being cold, underneath a clear blue sky, and with a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape. 

Even better is the big difference in temperature between the high mountains and the coastline, villages, or cities below. It is very well possible to have a day in Greece on which you can ski in the morning, and have fresh fish by the sea in a shirt in the afternoon. This is a unique and incredible experience. 

Falakro is the biggest ski resort that can offer this experience. At Pelion, close to Volos, you can ski overlooking the blue Aegean sea.

Hotsprings

At Kaimaktsalan an even more unique experience of hot and cold awaits. In Pozar, a small village close by, there are hot springs you can visit after a day in the snow. Next to a freezing waterfall, warm water surfaces from deep underneath the earth. This water is believed to have healing power and be extremely good for your skin and hair. But even if you do not take the potential health benefits into account, the 37-degree (99 F) warm water is a blessing in the cold winter months. 

Close to mount Parnassos you can find a similar experience. At Kamena Vourla and Thermopylae, there are thermal baths as well. Thermopylae is known from the movie 300, as it was the battleground in the Greco-Persian Wars the movie is based on. 

Tips:

  • When the real Greeks go on a winter break in their own country, they will never stick to one mountain for an entire week. Instead, they will choose different resorts that are close together. An example. Instead of just visiting Kaimaktsalan, you can combine this piste with Seli and 3-5 (TriaPente) Pigadia.
  • Many of the Greek ski resorts require quite a ride up the mountain. Unlike the more famous winter destinations, there is often no Gondola that can take you to the resort. Before starting your way up the mountain, it is good to ask the hotel or the ski resort how you will be able to get to the resort that day. Sometimes snow can block the passage, and they will open just one particular road.
  • To stay warm the Greeks combine their winter break with a lot of traditional, heavy, but tasty food. Fried cheese or meat stew are on the local and seasonal menus. Try them!

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

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Traveling with your period

In the past ten years, I always ensured I would not have my period during any of my holidays. I was using birth control pills, and when abroad, I just continued taking them until I returned. However, in the past years, I decided to get rid of any form of medication. And although this made me feel better, it also came with uncontrollable and heavy flows, even when I’m abroad.

In Greece, I want to continuously explore the country’s beauty, swim daily, and never stop being on the road. But besides the cramps and back pain that come with my periods, I also regularly had to find a proper toilet and carry a bag of sanitary products with me. The freedom that I should feel while traveling got limited. I was living on a timer set by my tampon. Just because of the nature of being a woman. And I hated it!

Menstrual cups

A year ago, I discovered the menstrual cup. A funnel-shaped silicone cup that is inserted like a tampon but can hold the blood for 8 to 12 hours.

The menstrual cup gave me a new kind of freedom during my periods abroad. Twice a day, I have a shower to empty, clean, and re-insert it. In the meantime, however, I am completely free and don’t have to think about my period. There is no longer a continuous clock ticking if I don’t want to walk around with a red stain or smell. The cup holds long enough for me to live and travel as I would on any other day of the month. Besides, the menstrual cup takes up much less space in my luggage compared to non-reusable sanitary products. Easy to fit in a backpack, even when I’m planning to leave for a year. 

I am personally a huge fan of the former OrganiCup, now AllMatters Cup. They are available in different sizes, and if you pick the wrong one at the beginning, you can simple contact the store and they will send you a new size, or a refund.

If you order through this link, you will support me to keep writing!

Tips for using a menstrual cup

Don’t buy a menstrual cup to just put in your suitcase and use it abroad. I can almost guarantee that the first time you use one will feel strange and messy. The first time, I was afraid I had lost the cup, and when I finally found it again, my entire shower was red. 

It takes some time to get used to a menstrual cup, and it is better to practice using it at home. Youtube videos and the website of the product you choose, can be of great help and are necessary. However, when you find you’re way, it will be worth the effort! And it won’t take long until you get there.

Sanitary products in Greece

For women who use more traditional ways of feminine hygiene, there are a couple of things to consider when going to Greece. Although Greece is part of the European Union, when it comes to periods, the country knows big differences with, for example, the Netherlands or France. When looking for female hygiene products in Greece, the options are limited. You can find aisles and shelves full of sanitary napkins at pharmacies and supermarkets. But where are the other products?

Menstrual panties and cups are unknown to Greek women. But even stranger is that tampons are scarce in this country. Some shops will offer 1 or 2 boxes. However, throughout the whole country, you will not find a proper selection of tampons. Kind of like you’re going 50 years back in time. 

Greek women and their periods

Greek women mostly use sanitary pads during their periods. The young ones as well as the old. Greek friends of mine, for example, will not swim for a week when getting their period during a holiday. They uses sanitary napkins, as they learned from their mothers and grandmothers. And for them, a period means that they are limited in what they can do.

I once heard the Greek belief that tampons are less hygienic than sanitary pads. Supposedly because the menstrual blood stays inside when using a tampon. Causing infections or other problems. The fact that the rest of the world proves that no bad things happen when using a tampon doesn’t matter in Greece. The Greeks are stubborn and traditional, and this is what you notice in their stores.

Bring your own products

Unless you are a big fan of sanitary pads, I advise you to bring your own period products when traveling to Greece. Chances you will find your favorite (or any) tampon are just too small. And menstrual cups and panties are nowhere in the country.

Painkillers

If you want to keep exploring Greece during your period, you might need painkillers on the first heavy days. Although it is a good idea to take the product you usually use with you, Greece has some pretty good products available as well. However, many medicines in Greece are named by brand names instead of by active ingredients. Here is a quick overview of some painkillers that can help you to get through your period in Greece.

  • Algofren – this is an ibuprofen
  • Depon – a paracetamol
  • Salospir – an aspirin 

These painkillers are available at Greek pharmacies. Usually, you will not need a prescription to get them.

How travel can affect your period

The final tip on traveling in Greece and your period is to not worry if you notice a change in your menstrual cycle. Life changes can affect your period, and traveling is a big change. Jet lags, less sleep, a change in diet, stress, or exercise can all affect your cycle. So when you’re late (or early) during your stay in Greece, don’t worry too much. There is a big chance that it is just your body’s reaction to the change in your daily schedule. However, when you’re two weeks late or notice any other severe change you might want to contact a gynecologist. 

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I say period and tampon in Greek?
    In Greek, a period is called períodos, which you pronounce like per-ee-o-dos. A tampon is just a tampon in Greek. 
  • Where can you buy sanitary products in Greece?
    You can buy sanitary products in Greece at pharmacies, supermarkets, and mini-markets. For more options, there are big warehouses with make-up and other hygiene products you can go to. However, these are only available in the cities.
  • Can I talk about my period in Greece?
    Greek women are extremely helpful when you have your period. It is not taboo to talk about the female call of nature, and when you need help, they will openly discuss things with you. Men, however, can be slightly uncomfortable, but they will never refuse to help you either.
  • Do I need a shower for my menstrual cup?
    When using a menstrual cup, it might be a good idea to pack cleaning wipes for the cup. This way, you do not need a shower or sink to be able to clean up. Providing even more flexibility while traveling off the beaten track.

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

Sustainable holidays in Greece

Now, more than ever, we must be aware of how we use our planet. Wildfires, droughts, storms, and floods worldwide show how real climate change is these days. Electric cars, paper straws, and recycling have become a part of our everyday lives. But why only care about the environment at home? More and more holiday destinations in Greece claim to be sustainable. But what does a real eco-accommodation look like?

Sustainability is a trend

Sustainability has become a trend nowadays. More and more of us want to protect our planet and its resources for the next generations. We tend to feel better spending our money on something labeled as eco-friendly than things that are not good for our environment. As a result, eco-labels have become well-selling advertisements. But sometimes, they are just that, a way to attract customers. 

Unfortunately, claims of being sustainable are not under governmental supervision. It is up to us, the customers, to decide if a claim meets our own expectations on sustainability. Unfortunately, this is what many companies use to their advantage. This deception is called greenwashing.

Greenwashed holidays

In the Netherlands, it has become a trend to offer eco-friendly holidays to big resorts in Africa and Asia. Travel agencies use supporting the local economy and water-saving shower heads as advertisements. Great! But what about one kilo ( 2.2 pounds ) of meat the resort will prepare for each guest daily? Or the hours you will spend on the plane to get to your destination?

A holiday far away will never be truly sustainable. The average US household produces 7.5 tonnes of CO2 per year. Flying from Amsterdam to Bangkok, Thailand, produces 2.1 tonnes per person! How can this be eco-friendly? The water you save with those shower heads will not make up for your flight. Greenwashing companies point out the things they do sustainably and forget to mention the rest. 

Curious to find out how much CO2 you produce flying to your dream holiday destination? Check out this article from the Guardian. It does not only show you the amount of CO2 a flight produces. It also gives the number meaning by showing the countries in which the average household produces less than your flight, in a year.

Did Greece become eco-friendly in 2022?

This summer, I noticed greenwashing reached the Greek hotels and apartments. Freshly printed and laminated papers, pointing out that I had found myself an eco-friendly stay, appeared everywhere. Great! But what did Greece change this year and suddenly became sustainable?

It turns out many of the Greeks did not change anything. Most hotels and apartments claim to be good for the future of our planet because they use a Solar Water Heater, or SWH. And although this is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of a holiday stay. In Greece, it is the ultimate way to greenwash an accommodation.

Solar Water Heating in Greece

The use of SWH in Greece is not something of the previous years, nor is it the result of improving sustainability. Instead, it is the result of the oil crisis in 1973. High prices forced Greece (together with other sun-rich countries) to rethink hot water production. Solar Water Heating was the solution, and Greece became one of the pioneers. Not for ecological reasons. Instead, the economy was their motive.

In Greece, installing an SWH will result in free hot water within 5 to 10 years. Because of this, 30 to 40 percent of Greek homes use this system. This number might sound low. But 2/3 of Greek people live in urban areas. Here, the architecture of apartment buildings makes the use of SWH nearly impossible. Meaning SWH is the norm in remote areas and has been for decades.

Can something usual be sustainable?

When I am looking for an eco-friendly stay in Greece and find out sustainability is only through an SWH, I feel slightly betrayed. Solar Water Heating is good for the environment. This is true. However, it is also very profitable for the owner, especially when he has had this installation for years. And shouldn’t an eco-label show some more active steps toward sustainability?

What if this accommodation offers plastic straws and a fridge full of small water bottles? Uses chemicals to kill insects and clean the pool? Has a rain shower and needs to be airconditioned? This accommodation might have a Solar Water Heater but does not take any other active steps to protect our planet. Is this sustainable? No, it’s greenwashing. The Greek accommodations found out that tourists like sustainable holidays. The installation they already had on their roof turned out to be eco-friendly, so they now claim to be so too.

Sustainability is a new topic

Greece does two things very well when it comes to sustainability. The use of renewable energy, with the SWHs, solar farms, and windmills. And the big percentage of untouched nature in the country. Of which many areas are protected by NATURA 2000. 

However, Greece is below the average of the European Union regarding sustainability. This has to do with the crisis that started in 2010. Since then, the country has been preoccupied with economic and social issues. The Greeks had to find a way to survive, making sustainability an unaffordable luxury.

Recently change started. With the worst part of the crisis being in the past, there is finally room to think about improvement. New goals include digitalization and sustainable tourism, but Greece also started working on its first plans for becoming a more eco-friendly country.

What is sustainable in Greece?

Transportation

Sustainable means of transportation are hard to find in Greece. Train and metro networks are scarce and limited to Athens. Outside the capital, fossil fuel buses are often the only option, and even these are often no trustful way to get around.

There are car rental companies that offer electric vehicles to explore the country. However, charging stations are rare. Many large areas of the mainland and islands are inaccessible for electric cars due to a lack of chargers. The good thing is that Greece is on the way to changing this. The Greeks are offered tax reductions and subsidies when they choose to go electric, and municipalities will install new charging stations.

Until this time, check this map to find out if an electric vehicle is an option for your holiday. If not, the next best thing is a rental company that at least offers an airport transfer in an electric van.

Food

When in Greece, choose local and traditional delicacies to make your stay not only more sustainable, but tastier as well. Greek cooks learn that delicious food is seasonal and adaptable to the available products. Traditional Greek food is not imported from far away nor produced in greenhouses that fake seasons. It is straight from the land and grown by the sun. Here is an overview of what fruits and vegetables Greece has to offer during the different seasons:

  • Spring. Asparagus, beans, berries, carrots, parsnips, green onions, rutabaga, and zucchini.
  • Summer. Cucumber, eggplant, garlic, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, and peas.
  • Autumn. Apples, figs, grapes, olives, root onions, and romaine.
  • Winter. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, herbs, nuts, and citrus fruits.
Accommodation

What does an eco-accommodation in Greece look like? Here are a couple of points you can consider when booking your holiday!

SHW and solar panels

Although I said before that Solar Water Heating is not enough to make a Greek accommodation sustainable, you should find accommodation that has one. I believe it has to be the minimum requirement for an eco-friendly stay in Greece. 

Many apartments have solar panels for electricity on the roof or in a closeby field. Although, in Greece, solar power is not for individual use but is sold to the electricity grid, it does help the environment. 

Drinkable tap water

In many places in Greece, water from the tap is not drinkable. As a result, the use of plastic water bottles is extreme in Greece. Especially in summer, when temperatures are high. However, some accommodations invest in drinkable tap water, and those are the ones you should look for. Don’t forget to take a reusable bottle with you!

Water-saving showerheads and toilets

Did you ever wonder why many Greek accommodations do not have a way to hang the shower head? Greece is a dry country in summer, and the Real Greeks know you should not spill any water during summer. Showers in Greece should be quick. However, more and more accommodations want to offer a luxury with rain showers, for example. This goes completely against the country’s climate! Water in Greece in summer is, in many areas, produced in coal-fired power plants. So if you want to be sustainable, use as less water as possible, and pick a place to stay that keeps water-saving in mind.

Well-insulated and designed rooms

Air conditioning is your best friend in a Greek summer. However, when a house or room is well-designed, you do not need one! In our beach house, we do not have an AC since the temperature inside stays pleasant in summer. As a result, we save a lot of energy. Things to look for are:

  • Openable windows on multiple sides.
  • Big balconies shadowing the south facade.
  • Proper insulation.
  • A half-underground apartment
A beach bag and chargers

When I go on a holiday, I always forget at least something that I then have to buy and never use again when I get home. Chargers are a great example of this. But also air-mattresses, beach rackets, balls, and umbrellas are among the things we buy, just to use for a week or two.

An eco-friendly accommodation in Greece provides the things tourists often forget. This way, they are used by many people and don’t become waste immediately after a holiday. It might sound like a small step toward sustainability, but with over 30 million tourists in Greece each year, the amount of wasted plastic is extremely high.

No daily linen change or small shampoo bottles

You might want the best service in your hotel, but did you ever wonder about the plastic and water a hotel wastes with a daily linen change or shampoo bottles? You can reuse your towels for multiple days and either bring your shampoo or use a bottle shared with the previous guests. 

No swimming pool

Greece has crystal clear seas and perfect beaches all around the country. There is simply no reason to have a swimming pool in this country in summer. So pick an accommodation without one! Swimming pools need chemicals and energy to be maintained, while the sea is provided by nature. Curious about more benefits of the sea? Continue reading!

How important is sustainability for you when you’re on vacation? And what are the things you would like to see in your holiday accommodation regarding sustainability? Leave a comment below!

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

Fall in love with Greece in Autumn

We said goodbye to our sunglasses and shorts. Now we wear jackets and don’t leave the house without an umbrella. Days have become shorter and grey. Summer is over, and we look forward to Christmas or spring next year. However, the fall doesn’t have to be rainy and cold, not when you treat yourself to a getaway in Greece!

Fall is perfect in Greece

Although Greece is the place to be in summer, the country is a perfect destination through all seasons. Autumn in particular. While temperatures are still more than pleasant, tourists are rare, and prices are much more budget-friendly. Besides, the mountainous landscape of Greece turns into a beautiful painting when trees change the color of their leaves.

Temperature

Autumn’s temperatures are perfect for those who don’t like the heat of Greece’s summers. In September, temperatures reach between 25-30 degrees(77 – 86 F). October averages 20-25 degrees ( 68 – 77 F), with mostly sunny days. In November, the chance of rain increases, and temperatures drop to 15 – 20 (59 – 68 F). But still, most days are more than pleasant. Just pack a jacket for the nights and early mornings.

Benefits of visiting Greece in the fall

Lower temperatures

The lower temperatures in autumn in Greece, especially in September and October are a huge benefit compared to the summer. Summers are great for the perfect beach holiday, but often prevent you from many other activities Greece has to offer. During the fall however, you can fully explore this beautiful country.

The view

High temperatures and dust tend to obstruct the views of the Greek landscape during summer. It is continuously hazy in July and August. Close-by islands and mountains look vague, making landscape photography or even a good view difficult. However, as soon as the temperature drops and the chance of rain increases, the sky clears. You can see further away while the landscape adapts to its beautiful autumn colors. The result? Magnificent views, perfect for both landscape photographers and nature lovers.

Lower prices

Prices are always a result of the combination of supply and demand. Since many tourists want to visit Greece in the hot summer months, prices increase, and a holiday can become extremely expensive. During the fall, demand drops, and with it, the prices decrease. This results in cheaper accommodation, food, drinks, car rental, and plane tickets. 

Less crowded

Greece is full in summer. There are about three times more tourists than there are locals and a cue for every popular tourist attraction. Fall, however, is the time you can enjoy Greece without these crowds. Perfect beaches can be private, lines at archeological sites disappear, and you can explore the idyllic traditional villages at your own pace.

Culture

Fall in Greece is magical, giving the most precious fruits: olives (olive oil), grapes, chestnuts and more. And people express their love for those product in famous agricultural festivals, small or big, all around Greece. From a family harvesting and pressing the grapes to a whole village celebrating their precious product. Attending one of these festivals is the most authentic experience you can have.

What to do in Greece in Autumn?

September is the time the real Greeks go on holiday in their country. The Greek islands and sea still have a pleasant temperature this month, while accommodations are much more affordable.

From October, a beach holiday might not be the best option anymore. The sea-water temperatures are still ok, but many beach bars are closed, and an entire day in beach-wear can get chilly. However, this is the perfect time to discover everything else Greece has to offer. The mountains, the cities, and the culture.

Archeological sites

Greece is famous for its rich amount of archeological sites all over the country. However, visiting these sites on a summer day is far from pleasant in my experience. Days are too hot, and the sites often lack a shadow or a cooling breeze. Autumn, however, provides a great climate to discover Greece’s history. Plan a visit to Delphi. Or combine Epidaurus, Mykines, and Mystras with the colorful landscape of Peloponnese. 

Agricultural festivals

During September you can join the harvesting and pressing of grapes in many areas around Greece, especially around Thessaly. You can also join the famous festival of pistachios in Aegina.

October is the month of the distillation of tsikoudia in Crete or tsipouro in the mainland. Be prepared to be invited to a family’s celebration, which includes a lot of food, alcohol, music, and dancing. Chestnuts also have their special moment during October. You can find those festivals all over Greece, especially in mountainous areas.

Finally, end of October and November the most famous Greek product, our beloved olives, are getting picked. Peloponnese, Crete & Lesbos are the biggest producers. There you can see locals picking the olives and in many agro-tourism guesthouses, you can see and even join the process of olive oil production.

City trips

Athens and Thessaloniki are the two largest cities in Greece. Both have a lot to provide, from historical sites to amazing food. And with the beautiful urban atmosphere at night, there is something for everyone. During the Autumn months, the temperature in Athens is still pleasant. So don’t be surprised if you enjoy your Greek coffee under the rock of the Acropolis wearing only your t-shirt.

On the other hand, the weather in Thessaloniki can be unpredictable, but still, the temperature is pleasant. The gastronomical experience the city has to offer deserves your visit. And don’t forget to visit the many historical sites that are hidden throughout the whole city.

Another Greek city that is not well known but perfect for an Autumn getaway is Ioannina. Ioannina is surrounded by mountains and is located around a huge lake. Visit the old castle, enjoy local food, or go hiking in the mountains around.

Hiking

Greece is over 80% mountainous and perfect for hiking and climbing. Since the summers are often too hot for these activities, the Greek mountains are the perfect destination during the fall. Wonderful locations for an active autumn getaway are:

  • Zagorohoria and Tzoumerka in the Epirus region.
  • Crete, where you can hike along multiple beautiful gorges
  • The Corfu trail, the whole length of the island from North to South. 
  • Conquer Mount Olympus, the highest mountain of the gods.

Tips:

  • What to do on a rainy day?
    Although most days in the fall have plenty of sunshine, you might get unlucky and encounter a rainy day in Greece. But don’t worry, there is still plenty to do in Greece. Visit one of the many indoor museums, go shopping in the giant indoor shopping malls around the big cities, or go to one of the many religious sites. Besides, a rainy day is perfect to get in touch with your inner real Greek. Go for a coffee in one of the many kafeneio’s to wait till it gets dry. I am sure you will meet many locals who join you to do the same.
  • Check what is open. 
    Although Autumn is perfect for a trip to Greece, many touristic places are only open during the summer months. When you plan on visiting one of the smaller islands, it is a good idea to check what is still open during the fall. Beach bars, boat rentals, or even taverns might have adjusted opening hours, or might close completely.
  • Pack a jacket
    Although temperatures in Autumn in Greece can be more than pleasant during the days, the night can get chilly. When you’re traveling outside the months of July and August, it is always a good idea to bring a jacket for the nights!

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

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Beyond crosswords : Greek gods

Ancient Greek mythology influences modern life around the world. Video games, comic books, movies, and modern brands refer to the stories that where told over 2.000 years ago. Did you know that the name cereals, for example, comes from Ceres, the god of grain? Or that the Olympic games started as a way to honor Zeus? The Greek gods are everywhere, also in our crosswords.

If you are a crosswords lover but wonder what the Greek gods you keep fitting into your puzzles actually stand for, keep reading below! To help you with you puzzle, they are ordered by the amount of letters their names have.

3 letters

  • NYX
    Nyx is the goddess of the night. Mother to sleep (Hypnos), death (Thanatos), and darkness (Erebus). She can control the movement and rotation of the planets. End the day, and start the night. Nyx might sound like an evil and dark goddess, but she is far from that. Although other gods feared her, she is seen as a motherly and warm goddess by her family.
  • PAN
    Pan’s homeland is Arcadia, in Peloponnese. He is the God of the wild, the shepherds, and rustic music. That is why he is part goat and part man. Like Peter Pan, he enjoyed playing the pan flute. Which he invented. However, the word panic also derives from this God. Who could make us, humans, flee in uncontrollable fear.

4 letters

  • GAIA
    Gaia is the personification of earth. Mother earth. Gaia and Ouranos (sky or heaven) are the beginning of all Greek gods. She is the mother of the Titans, and grandmother to the Olympian Gods. Gaia in modern Greek still means earth.
  • ZEUS
    Zeus is not only one of the Greek gods that is most used in modern crosswords. Zeus is the Greek god, the king, the father of all gods and humans. He is technically the youngest son of the Titans Rhea and Cronos. However, his siblings ended up in their father’s stomach not long after birth. Because Cronos was afraid to be defeated by one of his children. Zeus, however, escaped this faith. He was brought up by a nymph and a goat in Crete. When he was strong enough, he defeated his father, after which his siblings were born again, this time from their father’s belly. Zeus became the king of the Greek gods.
  • ARES
    Ares is one of Zeus’ children. He is the god of war, the despicable characteristics of brutal warfare and slaughter. However, Ares is also known for his numerous love affairs. His main love was war, but he also fell for the married Aphrodite. Supposedly due to an arrow of the next man on this list.
  • EROS
    Eros is the god of love and appreciation. He was much like (the Roman) Cupid and used an arrow to the heart to make people fall in love. Eros’ origin is unknown. He is either the son of Aphrodite and Aros, the child of Nyx, or simply the fourth God. His name, however, is the origin of the terms erotic and erogenous.

5 letters

  • CHAOS
    We all know the word chaos, but do we know the God as well? Chaos is the personification of absolute nothingness. She was the first God, before the creation of the earth. Chaos is a void, but also a powerful energy from which everything is created.
  • HADES
    The oldest brother of Zeus (or youngest after Zeus freed his siblings from his father’s belly) is Hades, the god of the underworld. Hades likes to live in the dark and shadowed land of death. He owns a guard dog, with not two, but three heads. This dog helped Hades with his main tasks, protecting and keeping the souls of the dead.

6 letters

  • TITANS
    A Titan is not one god but instead the name of all the first-generation gods that came after Gaia (earth) and Ouranos (heaven or sky). However, together with the Olympics they are often the answers in crosswords on Greek gods. There are a total of twelve Titans in Greek mythology, six female and six male. Two siblings, Rhea and Cronos, are the parents of the Olympian Gods.
  • APOLLO
    Apollo is the god of light, music, poetry, healing, and prophecy. He is the only god that has the same name in Greek and Roman mythology. Visiting Greece today, you can visit no less than five temples dedicated to Apollo, all around the country.
  • HERMES
    A half-brother of Apollo is Hermes. The god of wealth, trade, thieves, and travelers. Hermes is often described as the messenger of the gods and the guide of the souls of the newly deceased. Hermes’ head was commonly used in a strange sculpture, a herm. A head on a tall square pillar, with male genitals at a height that fits human proportions. 

7 letters

  • DEMETER
    The first sister of Zeus in this list is Demeter. The goddess of agriculture and protector of trees, plants, and grains. She is one of the few Olympian gods that survived Roman times. She evolved into Saint Dimitria, the saint of agriculture. Today the name Demetrius still means devoted to Demeter. 
  • ARTEMIS
    Artemis is the goddess of hunting, wild animals, wilderness, and the twin sister of Apollo. Her father, Zeus, gave her eternal virginity. This allowed her to live without the disturbance of love, men, and marriage. Instead, she had sixty nymphs for friends, who all needed to remain virgins as well. Although Artemis did not have any children of her own, she protected women during pregnancy and childbirth.

8 letters

  • OLYMPIAN
    The twelve Titans, where followed by the next generation of Greek gods, the Olympians. Again this category contains 12 gods, of which the most powerful are Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. Their home was Mount Olympus.
  • POSEIDON
    Poseidon is the god of the sea, horses, and earthquakes. His nickname is the earth-shaker and his Roman alter-ego is Neptune. Poseidon created the island of Paxoi with his trident. Although Poseidon himself is human, his offspring is interesting. From a half-fish to a flying horse.
  • DIONYSUS
    Dionysus is a demi-god, someone half-human (his princess mother), and part god (his father is Zeus). Dionysus is the god of wine, viticulture ritual madness, and religious ecstasy. However, it is believed that this was his second self. In mythology, Dionysus is born twice, the first time he was a bearded old man. The second time as a youthful boy who loves to get drunk. 

9 letters

  • APHRODITE
    Aphrodite is the beautiful goddess of sexual love and beauty. She had many lovers and many children. The name Aphrodite means risen from the foam. Why? According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite was created from the foam that arose from the genitals of Uranus after he was thrown into the sea.

10 letters

  • HEPHAESTUS
    Where Aphrodite was created by her father’s genitals, Hephaestus has only a mother, Hera. This made him so ugly and deformed that he was banned from mount Olympus. Hephaestus grew up with mortals on the island of Lemnos. He became the god of fire and blacksmiths after he trapped his mother on a self-built golden throne for revanche.

Want to know more about Greek mythology

The English comedian Stephan Fry wrote a book about ancient Greek mythology. Mythos is a hilarious, understandable, and easy to read retelling of a selection of Greek myths.

I can recommend this book to anyone. Whether you’re interested in mythology or just want to enjoy a good story. And if you decide to buy this book through the link on the left, you support me to keep writing!

Do you want to prepare yourself for a visit to Greece? Or do you simply want to learn all there is to known about this beautiful country? Leave your email below and get the answer to all your questions!

Cooking with Yiayia : Kotopita

Greek pitas, or pies, come in various shapes and tastes. From a quick snack that fits in your hands, to an oven dish that feeds the whole family. As a sweet dessert or a savory lunch. The most famous Greek pitas are Spanakopita, spinach pie, and Tiropita, cheese pie. But the tastiest is Kotopita.

What is Kotopita?

Kota in Greek means chicken. Kotopita is nothing more than a Greek pie, stuffed with chicken. The pie is made with a phyllo dough that gives this pita a crunchy outside. While the chicken filling is creamy, due to the milk, cheese, and eggs that are added. Onions, olive oil, cumin, pepper, and salt give this pie the perfect taste.

Why is Kotopita not well-known?

Entering a traditional Greek bakery in search of a savory snack, you will always find Tiropita and Spanakopita. But where is the chicken pie?

The process of making Kotopita is more complicated and time-consuming compared to the famous pitas. Besides, the ingredients are more expensive and more difficult to store. But what I learned from Yiayia, is to never be afraid of spending time on good food. The result is worth it.

Yiayia’s secrets

  • The first secret to grandma’s Kotopita is, of course, her homemade traditional phyllo dough, Check out her recipe and prepare the dough before starting the Kotopita
  • Yiayia’s Kotopita is simple. The main ingredient is chicken, and everything else is there to add flavor and texture to it. Many other recipes add bechamel and vegetables to create a more complex taste. But for a good chicken pie, all you need is a good chicken.
  • Although Yiayia uses more butter and oil in her phyllo dough, she does the opposite in the kotopita’s filling. The chicken in this pita is dry but tasteful. Perfect with her crispy and buttery phyllo.

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Ingredients

For a large pie of 40 centimeters in diameter.
If you own a smaller oven dish, I would recommend still using a whole chicken because the bones really add to the taste of the pie. If you have too much, you can store part of the chicken meat in the freezer. Continue the recipe with the amount of chicken you need for one pie.

  • Phyllo dough
  • Chicken filling
    Olive oil
    1 whole chicken, about 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds)
    3 big red onions
    300 grams of salted hard cheese
    1 glass of milk
    1 tablespoon of pepper
    1 teaspoon of cumin
    Salt for taste (around 1 – 2 tablespoons, depending on the cheese and your preference)
    3 eggs
    Sunflower oil (to sprinkle on top of the pie)

Tools

  • pan
  • oven dish
  • bowl
  • baking paper

Preparation

Before you can start with the Kotopita, you have to prepare your phyllo and the chicken. You can do this the night before, or just before preparing the pita. Just know that both these things are time-consuming and with long hours of waiting in between.

You will have to put the whole chicken in a large pan and cover it with water. Add about a tablespoon of salt and put to a boil. The chicken needs to boil for 30 to 40 minutes (60 if it is frozen). When the chicken is ready, take it out of the water and let it cool down. Don’t throw away the chicken broth, you can use this to make a tasty homemade chicken soup.

When the chicken has cooled down, you will first have to remove the skin. Then it is time to take it apart and collect the meat in small pieces. Cut bigger parts with scissors or a knife. You don’t want big pieces in your chicken pie.

Yiayia’s Kotopita

Time needed: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

45 minutes cooking time and 1 hour in the oven

  1. Fry the onions

    Cut the red onions into big pieces. Add a generous amount of olive oil to a heated pan on a high fire. Cook the onions till they are soft.

  2. Add the chicken

    When the onions are soft, it is time to add the chicken. Stir regularly but don’t be afraid to overcook it. The pieces should get brown. In the meantime, you can grind the cheese for the next step.

  3. Add cheese and milk

    When the chicken is brown, it is time to add the cheese and a glass of milk. Add slowly and keep stirring regularly. Leave to cook until the chicken mixture is dry.

  4. Add the spices

    Start with a rich amount of pepper and cumin. Mix everything together and taste the filling. You’re looking for a taste that seems slightly too salty. Add salt till you feel like you have reached this. Don’t be afraid of making it too salty, the taste of salt will disappear in the complete pie. If you don’t taste the salt, you have to add a bit more

  5. Let it cool down

    When the mixture has the proper taste, it is time to turn off the stove and let the mixture cool down for 10 to 15 minutes. The reason for this is that you are about to add eggs, and you don’t want them to solidify immediately. The eggs should remain uncooked until you put the pie in the oven.
    Use the waiting time to put the bottom layer of phyllo dough in your oven dish. Use baking paper to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.

  6. Finish the chicken filling

    Break the eggs in a bowl and hit them with a fork. Mix them into the cooled-down chicken filling. Add the chicken filling on top of the bottom layer of phyllo. Add the top layer of dough and tuck it in on the bottom.

  7. Finish the pita

    Carefully slice the top layer of the pie into smaller pieces. You want some part of the dough to be open, so the oven can cook the individual layers, while at the same time you do not want a pie that falls apart. This requires some practice.

  8. Cook in the oven and enjoy!

    Sprinkle sunflower oil over the pita and place it in the oven. The pie should be cooked at 180 degrees (350 F) for an hour. Keep checking in between if the phyllo does not get too dark or stays too light and adjust the temperature according to what you see.pie of traditional greek phyllo dough before it enters the oven

Tips:

  • When working with baking paper to prevent a pie from sticking to your oven dish, Yiayia has a tip. If you wrinkle the paper before use, it is much easier to shape into your dish. Before use, make a ball of the paper in your hand and squeeze. When you open it, it is much more user friendly!
  • You might feel like it is much easier to use chicken breasts for this recipe. Although this will save you time and dirty hands, it also reduces the taste of the pie. If you really don’t use a whole chicken, it is better to choose legs instead of breasts. But best is to follow the recipe.
  • I usually use the ingredients for the 40 cm pies, but make two smaller ones out of them. When making the phyllo, I create 4 packages, of which I store two in the freezer, and use two immediately for the pie. I boil the chicken and use half of the meat to make the filling and again store the other half in the freezer. This way, I save a lot of time making the second pie.