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GREECE: Travel Tips

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TRAVEL TIPS



-ATM's are everywhere. Use your credit card to get money but for restaurants and shops it is better to use cash. In fact when you buy from a shop ask if there is a difference in price if you pay in cash instead of with your credit cards.

-When booking on-line a travel agency will usually ask you for proof that the credit card is yours by having you fax a signed photo-copy. This is to prove that you made the purchase and not someone who has your card number. It is standard procedure.

-Beware of hustlers. If you are booking as you go and someone approaches you on the street or in your hotel and takes you or sends you to a travel agency to buy ferry tickets to Amorgos and you walk out of the agency with five days on Mykonos and a cruise because they told you the Amorgos ferry was cancelled, then you were just hustled. That does not mean you won't have a good time. It just means someone took advantage of you.

-You can take the metro or a taxi from your hotel to the port. The hotel concierge can arrange the taxi or point the way to the metro.

-You can take the metro from the port back to the hotel. But chances are unless you have pre-arranged for a taxi to pick you up at the boat you won't find one. Usually several hundred people disembark and the three or four taxis there are waiting for customers who phoned them in advance.

-If you have an early morning flight you don't have to stay at the airport or near the airport because the roads are clear of traffic in the morning and you can be at the airport in less than half an hour by taxi.

-Don't try to see too much. Five islands in ten days is a lot of traveling and waiting around for ferries and flights. Two islands in ten days is sensible. If you want to see a lot of islands take a cruise.

-Packages and Programs on travel agency websites serve two purposes. They make it easy for the customer and the agent to create the itinerary because all the pieces of the puzzle are already in place. But a good travel agency excels at putting together custom itineraries that suit the individual so don't be afraid to give the agent a list of islands, a time-frame and a budget and ask them to come up with something and then don't be embarrassed if you want to fine-tune it. This is what they do. At the same time don't put an agent through hours of work and then take the itinerary to someone else and ask for a better price. This is bad karma.

-Taxi drivers are not criminals. They are generally some of the most interesting people you will meet. There are some low-lifes among them but this is true of any profession. If you like a taxi driver tip him 10%. If you really liked him take his card.

-A pre-arranged taxi transfer from the airport usually costs twice as much as a regular street taxi. This is because the transfer taxi is going empty to the airport to pick you up and waiting as long as it takes for you to arrive. A regular taxi is at the airport because someone paid for him to be there and someone will pay for him to go back. Plus when you have a pre-arranged taxi it is usually an English speaking, non-smoking, informative driver in a new Mercedes.

-Greece is the safest country in Europe, Athens the safest city and women should not be worried about traveling alone. Chances are also good you will meet someone else who is also traveling alone. As for terrorism there is more of a chance that you will drown or have a heart attack in the shower than be killed by a terrorist. Not that the showers are dangerous either.

-Travel agencies book flights and ferries as a service to their customers since there is no profit in them. If you book with an automated system or the hotel trying to save money you are pretty much on your own. You can buy deck tickets in the port usually on the day of departure unless there is a big holiday. If you want a cabin, have a car or are going by highspeed it is best to book at least a week in advance.

-Most people you will come in contact with will speak English since most people you come in contact with will be waiters, hotel employees, travel agents, shop owners and people involved in the tourist trade. But even in non-touristy places the number of people who speak English is remarkable.

-Anti-Bush or Anti-US Government is not the same as Anti-American. The Greeks are anti-Bush and anti-US Government but are quite fond of the Americans who come to visit their country. Unless your name is George Bush, Colin Powell or Donald Rumsfield you are in no more danger than you would be in your home town and maybe less.

-Many people who come to Greece have a profound experience, like coming home or feeling like themselves for the first time in years If this happens to you don't be surprised. It is normal and when you go home you may see life differently. Many people want to return to Greece as soon as possible.

-Do get an Greece cell phone rental so you can stay in touch and coveniently get important information during your stay.

 
 
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