This post was originally written in April 2012 as part of a blogging challenge, and only two years into my time in the country. It has been revised and updated in JUN 2019 – a full 7 years after I came here!
We’ve looked at some odd Greek superstitions such as why Greeks might spit at you when you visit (truly! But don’t worry, it’s a compliment). There are also some really helpful tips about Do’s and Don’t in Greece – Greek Customs and Etiquette that’ll help you when you plan your visit (what’s right in one culture isn’t necessarily so in another, right?) Now let’s take a look at some Greek phrases you’re sure to hear when you visit this beautiful country. It’s always good to understand a little, right?
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So in summary, the koukla translation is ‘doll’ and koukla mou meaning in English is ‘my doll’. It’s not considered sleazy, it is a term of endearment.
Kalimera (pronounced as it is literally spelt: Kali mera) means Good morning and is heartily bestowed upon anybody who is walking past (obviously at the correct time of day). Even in the centre of Athens, you can leave your flat and be Kalimera’d at least 3 or 4 times by strangers – so imagine how many times you have to repeat it as you walk past your neighbourhood bakery, hairdressers, man at the bottom of the street selling flowers, the people sitting outside the kafenion, etc.
Personally, I love this start to the day. It makes such a change from the unspoken no eye contact rule in bigger cities. It doesn’t mean people will stop and have a full blown conversation with you, so if you’re not a morning person, don’t worry, you don’t have to avoid all human contact in Greece in the mornings, just know that people will smile and probably wish you a “kalimera”.
Visiting Athens and want to know some alternative places to visit beyond the tourist traps? Read my Insiders Guide to Visiting Athens to help you, my Greek Island all round packing list (also suitable for Athens) to help you decide what to pack for visiting any time of the year – and if you’re heading off to the islands and want some advice as to which ones to visit, my Insider’s Guide to the Greek Islands will help.
- Koritzi mou (My Sweetheart)
- Kopela mou (My Girl)
What phrases have you heard when visiting a foreign country that stick in your mind? Anything memorable? Share in the comments.
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