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Practical A to Z


Churches and monasteries

Churches are only open in the mornings (and sometimes in the late afternoon). Small churches are often closed, but you can ask for the key. Some monasteries are not open to women at all. Greeks are particularly conservative in terms of clothing in religious establishments.


Eating out

Opening hours

The Greeks rarely eat lunch before 1pm or dine before 9pm. Some restaurants do open earlier to suit tourists, but don’t be surprised if they aren’t open at midday or 7pm. Alternatively, no one will be surprised if you walk in at 3pm or 10.30pm expecting a meal!

Tips and bills

Tipping is not customary in Greece, but no one will prevent you from leaving a coin or two should you so wish. Bread is extra.

Where to eat

Taverns are widespread. An estiatorio is in theory a superior category of restaurant, although the difference may not be obvious. An ouzeria, also known as a mezedopoleia or rakadiko, is a tavern specialising in mezze (Greek equivalent of Spanish tapas). If you fancy roast meat, look for a psistaria, while psarotaverna are specialised in fish.


Electricity

The voltage in Greece is 220V, but plugs are standard two-pin continental plugs, so you will probably need an adaptor.


Embassies and consulates

British Embassy –1 Ploutarchou Street, 106 75 Athens – t 210 7272 600 – http://ukingreece.fco.gov.uk/en/

Irish Embassy – 7 Leoforos Vasileos Konstantinou, 106 74 Athens – t 210-723-2771 – http:// www.embassyofireland.gr


Health

Also see Know before you go.

Emergencies

Universal European emergency number: t 112.

Police: t 100. Emergency medical assistance: t 166. Tourist police: t 171.

Chemists

Chemists are open daily except Sundays (closed Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturday afternoon) from 8am-2pm and from 5-7pm.


Money

Currency

The currency of Greece is the Euro.

Bnaks / exchange

Banks are open Monday-Thursday from 8am-2.30pm (2pm on Fridays) and are closed at weekends.

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques

Many shops and hotels and some restaurants accept major international credit cards. This is however rarely the case in guesthouses and taverns. When filling up with petrol, make sure you can pay by credit card beforehand. Euro zone residents should note that bank charges for withdrawals and payments are identical to those in their country of origin.

Traveller’s cheques are generally only accepted in the more tourist areas and in large towns; they can however be easily changed in all banks.

Budget / cost of living

The cost of living is cheaper in Greece than in the rest of Western Europe.

Those travelling on a small budget should plan on spending between €50-70/day per person for a night in a guesthouse, two simple meals and bus or ferry transport between islands.

Those on a medium budget can expect to spend between €80-110/day per person for a night in a comfortable hotel, light lunch, good dinner and a car rental.

If you have a larger budget, for €130-160/day per person, you can expect a good hotel, simple lunch, gourmet dinner and a car rental.

Add around €3 for entrance tickets to sites and museums.

When travelling around, remember that trains are less expensive than buses and that ferries are cheaper than hydrofoils or express services.


Post

Post offices are open Monday-Friday from 7.30am-2pm. In some large towns, the main post office branches are open in the afternoon.


Public holidays

1 January

6 January – Epiphany

Ash MondayKatathari Deftera, 49 days after Orthodox Easter

25 March – National Holiday

Good Friday

Easter Monday

1 May

Whit Monday

15 August – Assumption Day.

28 October – National Holiday

25 and 26 December


Shopping

Opening hours

The opening hours of shops are complicated and vary from one place to another.

In towns, they are open daily from 9am-9pm, except Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9am-3pm.

In tourist villages on the islands, opening hours are haphazard. In summer, some shops stay open daily continuously from 10am-10pm (occasionally 11pm).

Bartering

Prices are, as a general rule, fixed. Bartering is however always possible for accommodation, particularly if you are travelling out of season and intend to stay for several nights in the same spot.


Telephone

Calling Greece from abroad

00 + 30 (country code for Greece) + area code + number of the person.

Calling home from Greece

00 + country code. For the United Kingdom: 44; for Ireland: 353.

Karta Tilefoniki for international calls can be purchased from €5 for 15-40 minutes depending on the country called.

National calls

Telephone numbers in Greece have 10 digits and landlines always start with a 2 (6 for mobile phones). Area codes are included in the telephone number. To make a call, always dial the whole number, wherever you happen to be in Greece.

Dial a 0 before the area code if you are calling from another region of Greece. Within the same region, it is not necessary to dial the area code.


Traditions and customs

The café remains a predominantly male bastion, particularly in the provinces and women travellers, even when accompanied by a man, would probably be happier taking a seat on the terrace if they want to avoid an awkward silence.

Slightly raising the head or just the eyes means “no” in Greece, while nodding the head once indicates “yes”.

Foreigners should be aware that a raised hand with outspread fingers and a visible palm may be perceived as a serious insult.

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