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Helpful Greek Phrases

By Heather Brown, Intern Extraordinaire

Have you seen the trailers for Mamma Mia with Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried dancing up and down Mediterranean beaches? In honor of last week’s premiere of the ABBA-inspired movie (and its biggest fan, Justyna), today’s selection, Take Off In…Greek, will come in handy if you plan on visiting the beautiful setting of this summer blockbuster.

Greece is most famous for its ancient architecture, beautiful beaches, and expansive olive orchards. Right now, this Mediterranean country is in the middle of its peak tourist season, when travelers arrive to take advantage of its gorgeous islands. Crete is the largest and most popular, since it offers bustling cities, breathtaking mountains, and picturesque villages, in addition its magnificent beaches. But if you’re planning on visiting soon, keep in mind that Greece is in the middle of its hottest season, and most native Greeks try their best to stay inside during the afternoons. The evenings are cooler, and natives and visitors alike enjoy experiencing Greece’s nightlife. If you stop by a taverna, try the “barrel wine,” which is usually local (and a bargain), or retsina, a traditional wine flavored with pine resin.

True seaside connoisseurs should consider visiting the island of Santorini. Once you get comfortable with the idea of spending time around an active volcano, you can enjoy the multi-colored beaches made out of volcanic rock—Santorini has white, red, and black beaches to choose from. This island is also Greece’s most popular honeymoon destination, so if you’re just married, hotels here will be more than happy to give you a suite.

Of course, Greece’s history is what makes it truly unique. The Acropolis in Athens has a host of famous examples of Ancient Greek architecture, such as the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. Another popular destination is Delphi, where visitors flock to see the site of the famous Delphic Oracle, the most important oracle of Ancient Greece. And if you love the Olympics but can’t get to Beijing, stop by the city of Olympia, where the games originated in 776 B.C.

With all this traveling, you’ll need to know some basic words and phrases to help you get around. Understanding Greek can be difficult, since this 4000 year old language uses a completely different alphabet than ours. Luckily, Take Off In…Greek has a useful alphabet guide to help you begin to read signs, menus, and maps on your own. One handy tip; in Greek, questions end with a semi-colon (“;”) instead of a question mark (“?”),

Here are a few helpful phrases from Take Off In…Greek that you might find helpful when traveling in Greece:

An all-purpose hello/goodbye (the Greek version of ciao, it literally means “Your health.”):
Γειά σας!
(YAH sahss)


How are you?
Τι κάνετε;
(tee KAH-neh-teh?)




Thank you .


How much is it?
Πόσο άνει;
(poh-soh kah’-nee)


Where is the Thanassis Hotel?
Που είναι το ξενοδοχείο “Ο Θανάσης”;
(oo’ ee’-neh to xenodocheio Thanassis)


And another helpful phrase:

I lost my bag.
Έχασα την τσάντα μου.
(EH-hah-sah teen TSAHN-dah mooh)

And if you had the role of Sophie in Mamma Mia, here are some things you could say:

Which of the three is my father?
Ποιο από τα τρεις είναι ο πατέρας μου;
(Poio apo ta treis einai o pateras mou)

I’m getting married!
Θα είμαι παντρεμένος!
(Tha eimai pantremenos)

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