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Greece: Just home and a message about smoking

Greece: Just home and a message about smoking

Sep 30th, 2006, 12:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 119
Greece: Just home and a message about smoking

Hi everyone

Arrived home yesterday from our third trip to Greece. A report will follow.

We spent some time on Mykonos again (thank you thanos) and then 6 days in Athens.

All in all the holiday, as those before, was fantastic until our last day (in Athens).

I'm on insulin so usually find a taverna or coffee shop close to the hotel (we always usually book room only) where I can get food quickly without waiting, after having taken my insulin.

We were lucky enough to find a great place right next to the hotel and for the first four mornings the food was served quickly and always with a smile. I had explained to the young waiter why I needed to eat quickly and he made sure I did each and every morning.

In Greek restaurants smoking is allowed. I don't smoke but my husband does although outside and never anywhere where food is served.

There were about twenty tables in the the taverna and I'd noticed that, on our last morning, at three of them were some smokers.

Not long after we started breakfast another American couple we had spoken to at our hotel came in. As they walked to our table Gillian started to wave her arms around as if trying to wave the smoke away and made a face towards the tables where the smokers were. Next thing her husband announced loudly that it was about time Greece banned smoking in restaurants.

Oh my goodness, all hell broke loose. This is my third time in that beautiful country but I have never seen a reaction like that.

From one table where there was one smoker he was told, loudly, that in Greece they smoke at breakfast time in restaurants and if he didnt like it then leave, now!. That was bad enough but from a smoker on one of the other tables came the response 'we should ban cigarette smoking? Where are you from?'. Our friend replied NYC and the response was immediate and in very good English. 'Personally I'd ban Americans from visiting Greece. If you don't like us smoking then don't come back, you won't be missed.'

Nobody came near the table to take their order and as we were about to finish we all left together and then seperated as they walked off to find somewhere to eat. I could feel the bad atmosphere as we left.

Ok, perhaps faults on both sides but this was something I hadn't encountered before and it made me very uneasy.

Neither condeming or condoning with this message but folks please be careful what you say in public places in Greece. You may just get the response that we witnessed and it wasn't nice at all.

Now to start writing the trip report.

milley_5 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:33 PM
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We were told wehn we arrived in Greece that a Greek breakfast consisted of a cigarette and coffee.
SuQue is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:37 PM
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I prefer a large chunk of Baklava and some strong coffee myself!!
annesherrod is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:39 PM
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Not so much a message about smoking as a message about travel etiquette.

taggie is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:42 PM
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Hi M,

>...please be careful what you say in public places ....<

Good advice wherever you are.

Not to mention that these people were guests in someone else's home. I find it hard to sympathize with their chutzpah, as the French would say.

ira is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:49 PM
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Oh milley, what an uproar. I guess this American couple will be telling everyone that will listen how rude and terrible the Greeks are?

Am glad you had a fantastic trip..and aren't you glad this couple weren't your travelling companions, lol. Take care.

LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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I really empathize! We visited some of my husband's friends in Greece this July, and were shocked at how much they smoked. It made the rest of Europe look like health nuts. But we never would have said anything, since it's a fact of life in Greece. You know it's bad when you're happy to get back on the plane because it's smoke-free!
Weadles is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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I felt healthier in Greece than anywhere I have ever traveled with their wonderful diet of seafood and fresh salads. The smoking is a part of their culture too.Travelers need to accept it or at least not say or do anything rude.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:23 PM
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Hi, milley
Just recently came back from Greece myself. Loved the country. People were so wonderfully nice.

I think the lesson to be learned from your account is respect the culture of others. Unfortunately many Americans assume what goes on/is acceptable in the US is what should also be the case elsewhere. And proceed to loudly exclaim annoyance with others for their customs in THEIR country.
Had this happen once with a travel companion. Had to explain to her that the rules in our country are not the same as in others. So she shouldn't get upset when things are different.

That couple explains why there is the "ugly American" stereotype.
nibblette is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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It's always a good rule, wherever you go: Don't pick a fight at the breakfast table.
nessundorma is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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A classic. Some people just shouldn't travel.
unaS is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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I'm sorry that you had to get mixed up with these rude and obnoxious travelers. What they did is outrageous.

Frankly I don't think it works to let people know not to do that. Anyone who would do it in the first place isn't about to be taught anything about manners. They are beyond help. And yes, they will return to the US with the firm "knowledge" that the Greeks are a bunch of rude and obnoxious people. Alas, what they really need is a mirror.
Sep 30th, 2006, 03:29 PM
Original Poster
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Thanks guys. I so love Greece. It was my first ever trip abroad and that was only a few years ago. We chose Greece only because my husband was ex-navy and spent a few years stationed off Piraeus. I was selfish and just wanted to be Shirley Valentine.

I have found nothing but courtesy and friendliness from all Greek people we have met and thanos (and his family) on Mykonos who helps us all here is quite special. This was the 2nd time we met him (he helped us last time as my husband had difficulty walking and thanos arranged a wheel chair in advance of our visit). That helpfulness and friendliness, for me, kind of sums up Greek people as whole.

Sadly though that episode frightened me. Of course, it won't stop me going back but it so spoiled such a happy vacation and on our last day too.

milley_5 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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Milley, I understand, I truly do, how that couple from the hotel caused a problem in the cafe.

But it had nothing to do with you or your husband as you know. You said that the waiter at the cafe was so good about getting your breakfast right away as he understood about your just taking your insulin shot. And your husband has been helped when needing a wheelchair.

Please, it might take time, but do try to forget about the awful scene those people that you are not related to and were not travelling with caused. You will never see them again. Just know it was one of those "oh no!" moments, that had nothing to do with you and your husband. Best regards with wishes that you two have many more wonderful trips.

LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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My husband and I smoke the occasional cigarette when we are on holiday although not at home. We were in a large restaurant for breakfast in Fussen, Germany with only one other table in use by a North American couple who were finished eating and getting ready to pay their bill. My husband lit a cigarette and if looks could kill, he would have melted on the spot. The couple, especially the woman, stared openly at us and started raving about smoking and in a loud voice said "they would never do that at home." Exactly, but we weren't at home. I was embarrassed and a little flustered but we did not respond until they got up to leave staring at us as they went out the door and I then yelled in absolute irritation "oh buzz off" much to my husband's delight.
Lily is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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That was an OK response, Lily, but a much better one to "they wouldn't do that at home" would be "then why don't you go home?"
Sep 30th, 2006, 06:45 PM
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You're right Neopolitan!
Lily is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 01:47 AM
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Hello milley

I are pleased you and your husband arrived safely at home. My family enjoyed meetign you again.

I am very sorry about what happened in Athens, but please it must not spoil memories of your trip. It was perhaps rude of the hotel people to speak like that in a public restaurant. I know of a few island tavernas here on Mykonos where people who make comments like that especially to local persons would be put from place immediately.

Also, do you rememeber the story about the goddess Artemis and the island of Delos I tell you about when we took you back to Agios Ioannis. You know what she would have done so therefore you must smile and forget.

thanos_GR is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 02:03 AM
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It seems as though you are coming away with a negative impression of Greece and Greeks because of their response, and that's a shame.

They were sitting there innocently enjoying their breakfast when a complete stranger was very rude to them. Why shouldn't they defend themselves? I'd have said something along those lines too. It doesn't mean that Greeks unfriendly or hostile towards visitors. It means they stick up for themselves when they are rudely attacked, same as the rest of us.
nona1 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2006, 02:16 AM
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Hi nona1

I don't read Millie's message like that.

She very obviously loves Greece and its people and that comes across strongly in all her messages on this board since her first visit some years ago. In a way, I get the feeling she is almost trying to apologise for her fellow Americans' appalling behaviour to any Greek folks who contribute here.

Ok thanos. I'll bite. Would artemis have simply slapped him or turned him to stone.....or what other horrible thing had you in mind?

joe4212 is offline  

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