Who could imagine in March 2020, that the whole world would go to „lockdown“ due to the Corona Covid-19 virus, and when traveling many times a „quarantine“ is requested? All this belonged to history, most of us thought… or the younger generation probably never heard of the word „quarantine“ before. S0 let’s see how the quarantine was organized on the Greek island of Syros, in the previous century.

Since 2005, during the summer months, Omilo is organizing its Greek Language and Culture courses on the island of Syros. The Omilo students usually fly to Athens or Mykonos, and from there travel by boat to Hermoupolis, the harbor of Syros island, and the capital of all Cycladic islands.

When you are about to arrive and face the harbor, you have a magnificent view over the hills of Hermoupolis and Ano Syros.  When you look to the left, on the southern extremity of the port, you also see a stone building, which once was the island’s quarantine, the “Lazaretto”. Nowadays, the building is beautifully lit at night, so it is easy to spot.


On the first day of the New Year, in many Greek homes,  the new year is welcomed by opening a pomegranate for good luck. It is also common  to receive  a pomegranate (‚ρόδι‘, made of metal, glass or other materials) as a gift in Greece,  to bring good luck ( ‘γούρι“) for the new year.

Do you love Greece? You are not Greek, but you feel Greek? If you ask the question: “Why Greeks can be proud to be Greek?”, we can come up with many answers!
Take a look at the answers below and let us know what else is missing… In the meantime, do not forget to learn some useful Greek vocabulary!

Thessaloniki, or often called “Salonika”, is the second largest city in Greece, after Athens.
As we have written already many times about Athens, it is now time to introduce you to some secrets of Thessaloniki!


Do you like riding your bicycle? In the last 10 years, biking became steadily more popular in Athens and Greece. It is healthy, cheap and many times quicker than using public transport, to reach your destination! Even better, every year more biking roads are becoming part of the city and biking shops are popping up in every neighborhood of the capital.

Mastiha is a product that comes from the mastic tree. The sticky secretion, the resin, has the color of old wax and might not seem very special, but it has become a product that is known and wanted all over the world. Mastic has not only a unique taste but it has also been shown by scientific research that it is beneficial for the health. When a mastiha tree produces the resin, locals often refer to it as “tears”, or the “crying mastiha tree”!


The village of Nemea is situated in a valley, southwest of Corinth and around 10km north of Mycenae. If you come from Athens, it is a scenic drive of two hours.

Whether you are living in Greece or just visiting, you will quickly notice that food has an important role in Greek society. Greeks consider a meal as quality time with friends and family. It is their way to socialize, to discuss various topics and concerns, to make fun and to offer hospitality. 

We all have heard about “waiting customers”, but did you ever hear about a “waiting coffee”? Well, it actually exists already for many years. The “waiting coffee” («suspended coffee» is the term in English and «caffé sospeso» in Italian) is a prepaid coffee by a customer in a coffee shop or a cafeteria, anonymously, and will be consumed afterwards by a citizen who cannot afford to pay himself.

I knew I wanted to take some Greek lessons in Athens, since I was planning my walking trip in Greece. Only,  I wasn’t sure where. Someone I knew suggested The Atens Center, and I looked closely at this school on the web. It was appealing in certain ways, but I decided to keep looking. My Google search took me to Omilo.

So I studied at Omilo, in Athens, for two weeks before heading for the hills. I took private lessons the first week, and a group class the second.

Although Omilo says—quite correctly—that they do not provide a homestay option, my experience was in fact very close to a homestay. The school arranged for me to stay with a very welcoming older woman in her large apartment, less than a ten-minute walk to the school. Kyria Ioanna made me breakfast every morning, and we chatted a little in my rudimentary Greek as I ate—and she was usually home in the evenings, so I would exchange a few words with her again then.

Another thing I loved about this arrangement was the proximity to Syngrou—the very large park in Marousi. This was a 10-minute walk from the Omilo school.  What I usually did was walk there for an hour before class in the morning, and an hour after class (just before sunset) in the evening. (I love to walk!) When I needed to buy a special something, I walked through Syngrou to Kifissia, one of the wealthiest suburbs of Athens, where there are plenty of boutiques and high-end cafes. The walk to Kifissia from where I lived, through Syngrou, took about 45 minutes. Or sometimes I took the metro—just one stop.

My Greek lessons in Athens came to an end, and I said goodbye to my classmates and thanked the Omilo-team.
(take a look at the video of the last day, with Thomas and his classmates)

My walking holiday now started.
One evening in the mountains, we were at a café in a small village. Everyone there was very simply dressed, but suddenly a man in expensive outdoor gear came in. He immediately came to our table and asked us, in fluent English, if he could help us in any way. We chatted for a bit, and—as we were chatting—I ordered something to eat. He then excused himself, and said, “You don’t need me! Manolis called because he thought you needed a translator—but your Greek is fine.”

I felt I had graduated! Thank you, everyone at Omilo—I’ll be back!

Peter Thomas, USA