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10 Packing Tips for the Mediterranean
When packing for the Mediterranean, it’s important to consider the region’s climate and culture. Here we offer 10 tips for packing the attire you’ll need to make the most of your Mediterranean adventure.
Mix and match: Call it the Garanimals approach, but you should bring clothing that works together as a system. Pick a color palette and pare down your picks to pieces that coordinate in multiple ways.
Aim for versatility: Choose clothes that transition well from day to evening. That includes shoes that look nice with a dress or suit but are also comfortable and supportive.
Keep it neutral: Sticking to light-colored clothing will help you stay cool in the hot sun. You should also avoid clothing with words or graphics, which could possibly offend people from other cultures. Light-colored solids and subtle patterns are your best bet.
Stick to Synthetics: 100% cotton garments will hold in moisture, which could lead to chafing. Instead, choose pieces that are made of synthetic materials or blends that wick moisture away from your body. Sint Maarten . Synthetic fabrics are also less likely to wrinkle, and they dry more quickly if you need to hand-wash your clothing mid-trip.
Layer up: If you’re traveling during a time of year when the temperatures fluctuate, or planning to go from air-conditioned conference rooms to the hot outdoors, take clothing that works in layers. Tank tops, thin T-shirts, and lightweight jackets or sweaters are great layering essentials.
Protect Your Feet: You’ll probably be walking a lot, so pack a few pairs of shoes, sandals and moisture-wicking socks—and make sure they’re all broken in. Changing your shoes mid-day can bring relief and reduce the risk of blisters.
Mind the sun—and rain: Even if you’re traveling to the Mediterranean to soak up the sun, you’ll need to stay protected from overexposure and harmful ray. Be sure to take along a few light-colored long-sleeved shirts. Hats, scarves, sunglasses and lip balm are also essential. And a light umbrella or poncho will save the day during a pop-up shower.
Get beach-ready: Bring along at least two bathing suits so they have adequate time to dry. A wet bag may come in handy if you plan to move from place to place with wet clothing. You may also want to pack some lightweight swim shoes to protect your feet from rocks and sea urchins.
Wear your bulkiest clothing on the plane: Wear your heaviest shoes along with any bulky jackets or sweaters during transit. This will save room in your suitcase for other essentials.
Don’t overpack: If you follow these tips, you should be equipped with all the essentials you need for a safe and comfortable Mediterranean trip. So don’t be tempted to throw in extras if you have unused space in your suitcase. You’ll want to leave a little room for souvenirs!
Destined to Wed: 15 Destination-Wedding Planning Tips
“Will you marry me?”
It may be the first question leading you down the path to blissful matrimony, but it certainly won’t be the last. Once the question has been popped (and answered affirmatively) and rounds of calls have been made, the next query, without fail, is, “When and where will you wed?”
Today, more and more couples are bucking tradition — or simply taking it on the road — and choosing a destination wedding. While you may be opting out of the hometown-church-and-reception-hall combo, you’ll still be inundated with ideas and choices — which can prove even more overwhelming than a traditional wedding if you’re not familiar with your destination wedding locale.
You don’t have to be a professional planner to pull off your dream wedding, but you still have to do your research and entrust an “outsider” who should be an “insider” to the process and location. Consider the following tips and plan well in advance to ensure your walk down the aisle is everything you’ve dreamed of.
1. Set a budget. You need something to work with and work around throughout the planning process.
2. Picture your dream locales: Will you wed nationally or internationally? A remote location? A resort?
3. Consider destinations where you’d like to honeymoon and guests can vacation before/after.
4. If possible, take a trip to the destination at least once before deciding it’s “the one.”
5. Determine whether children are invited. If so, you may want to choose a family-friendly resort with kids clubs/activities. Otherwise, a remote location may work well with a small, intimate group of your closest family and friends.
6. Research the costs to travel to the destination for both you and your guests.
7. Once you settle on a destination, be mindful of the weather during the time of year of your event.
8. Determine the number of people you will invite (you never know who might say yes).
9. Create a wedding website to update your guests about arrangements and schedules. Hint: This can help keep you organized, too.
10. Provide pertinent information for guests about currency exchange and passports, if applicable; costs of transportation and accommodations (airfare, airport transfers, hotel accommodations); and common traditions and etiquette of the host country, if applicable.
11. Be mindful of your guests’ itineraries. Have pre- and post-celebratory activities/food gatherings, and provide transportation for any events held away from the wedding location.
12. Have a backup plan, even if your heart is set on an outdoor celebration.
13. Work with an experienced company to help with pre- and post-wedding arrangements. They should be open with communicating what is and isn’t possible, depending on your budget and preferences.
14. Use reputable/recommended vendors for flowers, photography, music, entertainment, etc. An experienced agency should be able to provide you with a list of preferred vendors and should have experience working with each one.
15. Create a list of “musts” to make sure you do not miss what is most important to you and your significant other. Be sure to share this list with your planning experts.
Need-to-Know Greek Customs & Etiquette
Meeting & Greeting
Greeks are warm and hospitable. When meeting someone for the first time, shake hands firmly, smile and maintain direct eye contact. Good friends often embrace and may also kiss each other on each cheek.
Good Guest Manners
If you are invited to a Greek home:
- Arrive up to 30 minutes late. This is, surprisingly, considered punctual in Greece.
- Dress well. This demonstrates respect for your hosts.
- Offer to help the hostess with the meal prep or cleanup.
- Compliment the house.
- Expect to be treated like royalty.
Churches and cloisters have a strict dress and behavior code:
- Women’s clothing should cover their knees and shoulders.
- Men should wear long trousers and cover their shoulders.
- Photography is typically forbidden. If you don’t see a sign prohibiting photos or video, you should photograph only without using your flash.
- The hands should not be fold on the back during the visit of a church and you should not show the backside to the icons, when you are direct standing before.
Need-to-Know Greek Dining & Taverna Etiquette
- Remain standing until invited to sit down.
- The oldest person is generally served first.
- Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
- The host gives the first toast and says “Stin Igia Mas,” which means “To Our Health.”
- Expect a great deal of discussion. Meals are a time for socializing.
- People often share food from their plate, so expect to share yours.
- It is considered polite to soak up sauce with a piece of bread.
- Finish everything on your plate.
- Accepting a second helping compliments the host.
- Put your napkin next to your plate when you’ve finished eating.
- Indicate that you’re done eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate with the handles facing to the right.
- If you’re ready to pay the bill, don’t shout it through the whole tavern or snap your fingers. Instead, get the waiter’s attention with an in-the-air writing gesture or by saying, “Logariasmó parakalló” (“Please the bill”).
- Many taverns offer a glass ouzo as an aperitif or digestion aid. It is not polite to refuse this complementary item.
- When tipping, 10-15% is sufficient.
Other Customs & Guidelines
- When an elderly person is riding the train with you, you must offer them your seat.
- Greeks use the formal plural pronoun (sas) when addressing older people or strangers.
- Avoid raising an outstretched palm to a person; this is an offensive gesture known as the “moutza.”
- Many Greeks still take a midday siesta, so don’t phone friends or play loud music between 2-5 p.m.
- Greeks are very tactile. They greet people they know with a kiss on both cheeks and frequently make physical contact.
Do’s & Don’ts for Traveling Abroad
When traveling abroad, it’s easy to make mistakes that can offend locals or leave you susceptible to problems or danger. Remember: U.S. cultural norms are more relaxed than those of some other countries, so you may have to embrace a more conservative approach while traveling abroad. Keep these tips in mind for a worry-free trip.
- Travel in small groups — three to five people with both genders present is best.
- Make a copy of your passport and credit card numbers and keep them separate from your passport and credit cards — give a copy to your family.
- Notify a foreign contact of any medical issues including food allergies.
- Carry some identification — a tag, bracelet or card — if you have a medical condition that might require emergency care.
- Understand completely what your health insurance covers and does not cover while you are traveling.
- Find out the phone numbers for fire, police and medical emergencies.
- Mark all your bags inside and out with your name and both your home address and your foreign address.
- Make a photocopy of your airline tickets and keep it separate from the original.
- Store important numbers in your smartphone, but also keep a wallet-sized card with you that lists emergency phone numbers, U. S. Embassy phone numbers and other contact information in the U.S. and the countries in which you will be traveling. Leave copies of the card with a contact in the U.S. and abroad. You never know when your smartphone will fail you or become lost or stolen.
- Avoid protest groups’ activities and potential volatile situations.
- Learn as much as possible about each country you plan to visit, including its history, religion, geography and government.
- Ask permission before photographing strangers whom you find “interesting.”
- Even if you’re lost or flustered, try to remain friendly, courteous, polite and dignified.
- Use common sense.
- Don’t wear any clothing with writing that could offend people.
- Avoid political conversations.
- Don’t become a negative stereotype. Some positive and negative traits associated include:
- Outgoing and friendly
- Loud, rude, boorish
- Disrespectful of authority
- Avoid attracting attention to yourself by traveling alone or in a large group of a dozen or more.
- Don’t make eye contact on the streets in certain countries as it may result in unexpected or unwanted invitations.
- Women are sometimes targets of harassment. To avoid unwelcome attention, travel with men, dress conservatively and do not agree to meet strangers in non-public places.
- Don’t draw attention to yourself when you are returning to your residence late at night.
- Never, ever leave your residence unlocked.
- Never carry large amounts of cash.
- Don’t bring expensive jewelry with you.
- Most places are safe in most countries, but don’t wander down dark alleys or into areas that are known to be high-risk. Avoid restaurants and entertainment venues where Americans are known to congregate.
- Don’t impair your judgment by excessively consuming alcohol.
- Don’t let your “natural friendliness” be mistaken for flirtations.
Can’t-Miss Greek Drinks
Greeks celebrate and socialize with a variety of alcoholic beverages. In Greece you must be 18 or older to drink in public or to purchase alcohol. Due to its Mediterranean climate, Greece has a long and rich history of producing wines. The country also has a respectable selection of craft beers to choose from. And any visitor to Greece would be remiss not to sample the unique varieties of hard liquor popular with the natives. Following are a few of our recommendations in each of these categories:
Ovilos White from Biblia Chora Estate: The distinctive aroma of apricot and honey — a characteristic of Semillon grapes — blends perfectly with the notes of citron and lemon from the north-Aegean Assyrtiko grape. You’ll taste hints of vanilla and dry nuts.
Gerovassiliou Chardonnay from the Gerovassiliou Domaine: Featuring a honeyed texture and citrusy scents on the palate, as well as nuances of dried nuts and vanilla, this chardonnay pairs well with white fish, grilled seafood, oysters, clams, and entrées prepared with caviar and sauces.
Chateau Nico Lazaridi: This dry red blend is comprised of 60 percent Merlot and 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Its pleasant nose of red berries and aromas of mocha and violet is attributed to the biodiversity of Drama, the town in which it’s produced. This fruity and spicy blend is well-structured with elegant and delicious tannins and a long aftertaste of sugared fruits and mint. It’s the perfect complement to grilled meats, red meats and game cooked with intricate sauces.
Ovilos Cabernet Sauvignon: This full-bodied cab features caramel, cedar wood and chocolate aromas with nut and spice notes. You can drink it as an aperitif, or throughout your meal. It’s a good match with cheese, roasted lamb or beef, poultry, chili and curry dishes.
Santorini Volkan Beers: Made on the island of Santorini, Volkan beer is inspired and made from ingredients indigenous to the Cycladic islands. Santorini is one of the most remarkable islands in Greece, and Volkan beer brings the rare and delicate flavours of its birthplace to the whole world to enjoy. Choose from Santorini Blonde or Santorini Black.
FIX Hellenic Beers: FIX was the first brand of beer to be brewed in Greece. In 1850, when Greece was recovering after its liberation from the Turks, Ioannis Fix came back to Greece from Munich and started producing beer since many Bavarian officers had moved to Greece during that period. Today, FIX Hellas is a still a soft-flavored lager with a balanced bitterness and aromas of apple and banana. It contains five percent alcohol per volume.
Can’t-Miss Greek Foods
One of the most exciting adventures you’ll undertake when visiting Greece is sampling the country’s unique style of Mediterranean cuisine. In Greece, the recipes change with the seasons, incorporating fresh ingredients like olive oil, vegetables and herbs, grains, wine, fish and meat — especially lamb. Greek diets also include an abundance of cheese, olives and yogurt, and Greek desserts are characterized by the dominant use of nuts and honey.
When traveling to Greece, be sure to try a variety of local recipes — after all, they are some of the country’s greatest treasures. Here is a short list of can’t-miss dishes.
Xoriatiki: This rustic salad consists of a simple mix of tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese, and sometimes Kalamata olives. It’s typically seasoned with salt and oregano, and dressed with olive oil.
Grilled Octopus & Grilled Calamari: If you’re fan of calamari, you won’t find a fresher version of this popular dish anywhere else.
Astakomakaronada: This simple pasta dish features fresh lobster in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, white wine and olive oil, served over spaghetti.
Cretan Dako: Often referred to as “Greek bruschetta,” this mix of tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, pepper and oregano is best served atop a barley rusk.
Pastitsio: This rich baked pasta dish includes layers of seasoned ground beef and béchamel sauce.
Gemista: Stuffed vegetables are popular year-round in Greece. The most common include tomatoes and bell peppers, packed with rice, cheese, seasonings and other diced veggies.
Gyro: Perhaps the most well-known Greek food, gyros are made from pita bread stuffed with roasted meat (usually lamb), tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce, and are best served with hand-cut French fries.
Kataifi Pastry: This versatile pastry is made with a special form of shredded phyllo dough. Most recipes made with kataifi include nuts, honey and a sugary syrup, which make them crunchy and very sweet.
Bougatsa: This breakfast pastry can consist of semolina custard, cheese or minced meat filling sandwiched between layers of phyllo dough.