How to (not) speak Greek on Crete… a report.


As I’m sitting on the balcony in the “Petrino Horio” Hotel in Bali, Crete on our last evening here, I’m pondering  how I fared speaking the little bit of Greek I learned on the daily commute to work using the “Michel Thomas” method to learn languages over the last year or so.

To begin with, and lest I forget, when travelling to Crete and the friendly locals ask you “Ti Kanis / kanete? Isse kala?”, if you reply with a confident “kala bre, essis?” this will usually buy you an evening’s  (or at least a mia meghali ;)) worth of the famous Mythos beer. Small vowel, large gain.


Once you finish your dinner or lunch at the Taverna and you’re asked “are you finished?”, another confident “pero farame” will add a lot of Raki to the already explosive mix.


Yes, Cretan is an entirely different language, as you may have guessed by now.

To me as a German with a very basic knowledge of Greek, it feels like travelling to the deep south of Germany, getting intricately mixed up and entangled in the local dialect and after a week or two, I tend to get the general gist of what people are talking about. On Crete, it’s worse. 😉


The word I probably used the most often was “Sich-nomi” (“Excuse me”), followed as a close second by “milao mono ligo illinika, alla then katalaweno tipota” (“I speak only a bit of Greek, but I don’t understand anything”). What makes it all really worse is the general helpfulness of the people here at the Stone Village hotel in Bali, they really bend over backwards trying to explain stuff but at times it seems they find it hard to understand their own language. Depending on who you ask, “I go” will either be “Pao” or “Pejimo”, much like the german terms “Ich gehe” und “Ich laufe”, “Ich schlendere” and so on.

What really helps is their good grasp of English which usually allows one to sort out the more difficult situations most of the time.


I’d still recommend learning Greek by the “Michel Thomas” Course (that’s what they speak over in land-locked Athens, as the owner Dimitri confirmed ;)), just the fact you know a couple of phrases beyond “parakalo”, “efcharisto” and “mia meghali mythos” opens the doors wide open and you’ll be smiled at at more or less every occasion henceforth. If you take on the opportunity, you’ll have a chance to improve your knowledge of Greek and, having returned home, surprise the folks at your local greek restaurant with a bit of Cretan dialect. What could be better?  It might even add a free Ouzo or two.


We had a great time here at the Petrino Horio Hotel, and I want to thank (in no particular order) o Theodris, i Sophia (a true fountain of patience and knowledge), i Athina, o Dimitros, o Georgos, o Kostas, i Maria, i Maja   kie i Elleni for the great and interesting two weeks we spent here.


I Hannah (i kory mas) matheni ta klingonia tora, and yes, Theodris will test it the next time around ;), kie ego tha matheno sta kinesika, that should be fun too and “poles evkoles” than Greek, at least this is my hope.



Kalo taxidi & ta leme 😉



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *