GREEK TRAVELERS TOOLKIT
Got your passport or visa? Your Servas Letter of Introduction? And a handy suitcase?
COME TO SERVAS GREECE for a unique travel experience!
Greece is a land of sea and sun, a country in flux, and the birth place for everything important (just ask any Greek!). Situated between Italy and Turkey, and just below Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, a visit to Greece allows you to easily add Rome, Istanbul or Bucharest to your itinerary.
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Reminders for travelers:
Contact possible Servas Hosts early and often. Emails are sometimes only checked every couple of weeks! Be sure to check the entry requirements for your country at your local Greek embassy/consul. A member of the European Union, Greece's currency is the euro and as one of "The Schengan Countries"
travel between Greece and other member countries is easy.
Greece is also prone to strikes, demonstrations and transportaion delays so it's always a good idea to keep up on the news of what's going both prior to and during your travel. Check with your country's embassy for up-to-date travel info. Plan for the unexpected!
And, don't forget to bring that little gift from your home country to share with your host.
Get the "Servas Greece Host List". Click the button for instructions.
Where are the Servas Hosts in Greece?
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GREECE TRAVEL TIPS
Notes from Terry Stone, National Secretary for Greece.
I've been a Servas Host since 2005 and I am full of random advice for travelers to Greece.
Here are some notes about Greek realities:
Only have a week in Greece?
- Driving can be a death defying act. If you decide to rent a car (or bring your own), be VERY defensive (you'll see trucks passing buses, up hill, across a double white, on a curve, at night - all at the same time).
- Toilet seats are a hit and miss kind of thing - especially in small roadside stands, cafes and petrol stations.
- Headlights flashed by on-coming cars probably means a police check point ahead. Emergency lights on a car parked in the middle of street means "I've just popped into the nearest store and should be back soon."
- You are generally very safe in Greece (but do beware of gypsies, as they have a slightly different take on ownership rules).
- You can sit at a restaurant or cafe table all day on one drink (but not in the larger cities). As they say, you don't buy a coffee, you rent the table.
- "Bah" in Greek means "I don't think so!"?
- "Athens" and "Everywhere else in Greece" are two different worlds.
- Once you're served waiters will generally not ask if you want anything else, so be aggressive - it's expected. Many times an unasked for dessert is served, for free. Also, you almost always have to ask for the bill.
- Greece is one of the most mountainous countries in the EU.
- Don't drive a car in Athens, ever!!
- ATTENTION: Electrical is 220, not 110.
- Most Greeks, and I mean most, will not cheat you.
- Stay away from Omonia Square.
- Spring is the best time to come to Greece.
- ATMs are all over. Credit cards are all but unusable outside of the 3 big cities (Athens, Thessaloniki, and Patra) and the major islands.
- If you have a chance, study some Greek. A little will go a long way.
- Get taxi fares BEFORE you get into the taxi!
- Greeks are a passionate people. Don't let yelling and screaming bother you.
- Bottled water is usually not necessary in the winter.
- Emergency medical care is free for tourists.
- Summers can be hideously hot.
- Talk, talk, talk to everyone. Don't do anything by yourself. Ask for help and advice. It might be the wrong advice, but well worth the experience. Ask, ask, ask.
Here are my suggestions for travelers who have just seven days in Greece. This is taylored for an American visiting Galaxidi (my town), but it is really for staying with any Servas Host (outside of Athens).
After 1,000 hours on a plane (we're not as young as we think we are!) I would suggest:
- Day 1. One day to recoup, seriously. Sleep, eat, walk about a bit, but be easy on yourself.
- Day 2. One day for the Acropolis and the Beneki Museum, and the Plaka by starlight.
- Day 3. One day for the daytime Plaka, other Athenian monuments, maybe a day trip to Sounion for the sunset.
- Day 4. One day travel to Galaxidi (4 hour trip by bus). If you get up really early, you might stop in Delphi, see the ruins and then take the last bus to Galaxidi (but check the times carefully, they can change and I wouldn't dare advise on bus times. And check museum open times too, they also change. We think all museums are free on Sunday, but double check.)
- Day 5: Kick back in Galaxidi. Live one day like a Greek!
- Day 6. Either continue to absorb actual Greek life (talk and eat/drink and take long naps) or take another crack at Delphi.
- Day 7: Hot foot it back to Athens to continue on to your next destination.
I would not suggest trying to see two different places AND Athens in one week, or you will spend all your time on buses, trains and taxis. Greece is an experience, not a trip. Transportation can be hellish, so be very, very flexible. And on top of everything else, they are having strikes willy nilly now and that can really mess things up!
By the way, if you have the time, and haven't been there, I highly recommend Istanbul!!! Both the day-time and overnight trains from Thessaloniki are a wonderful way to get there. Istanbul is an amazing adventure! (NOTE: As of March 3, 2011 the overnight train to Istanbul has been cancelled due to economic set-backs.)
Spend any additional time seeing some lesser known places: Nafpatkos (originally Lepanto of naval fame), Vernia (a new archealogical site), Parga (another smallish beautiful seaside town), or get to an island (flying is cheaper and faster): I like Rhodes, and the little town of Lindos. The funicular up to Kalavryta on the northern Peloponesse, is amazing.
That's it. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by email at: email@example.com