Z for Zesti: How to Outsmart the Heat

Greece might be blessed with great weather compared to countries that rarely see the sun, but in the summer, when temperatures reach as high as 41°C, it's ok to complain.


This text is part of the article “And the Living is A-Z”, published in Greece-Is Athens, Summer 2018 Edition. By Paulina Björk Kapsalis, Maria Coveou, Nena Dimitriou, Alex King, Maria Korachai, Pagona Lipsati & Alexandra Tzavella.

If you thought that the British held a monopoly on complaining about the weather, keep an ear out for the word “zesti” during your vacation in Greece. It means “heat” and we complain about it on a daily basis during the summer. You may hear “treli zesti” or “aforiti zesti” or even “den iparchei afti i zesti;” all of them variations on the same theme, that the heat on a given day is unbearable.

According to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service, the mean maximum temperatures in July and August are 33°C and 32°C with an average relative humidity of 48% and 49% respectively. In August, however, heat waves with temperatures reaching as high as 41°C are not unusual; when these are expected, weather warnings are issued by the media. To protect yourself against the heat, you should wear light-colored clothes, a hat and sunglasses. During heat waves, try to avoid crowded places and excessive exercise, including walking. Keep your meals light, take regular lukewarm showers, drink lots of water, and pray for one of the northern winds, known as meltemia (etesians), to blow in from the Aegean Sea and cool things off a little.


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