People who live in a country take a lot for granted, but being an expat like me, there are several things to learn about the country you are living in. Tourists and travelers have even more things to learn in a shorter time period, so here are some basics that you might find useful.
Peripteros or Kiosks are Open All Hours
The Greek periptero is the equivalent of a corner shop in Britain, a shop which stays open until late. Peripteros usually close sometime around midnight although some are open twenty-four hours. You can find most of the items you require on a daily basis at a periptero; postcards, stamps (perhaps), foreign newspapers, cold drinks including beer and the Greek wine, retsina, which is disguised in a clear glass bottle with a cap that makes it look as though it’s a soft drink (it’s also confusing because it’s the size of a beer bottle), chocolate, chewing gum and a whole range of other things, from combs, to batteries and alarm clocks.
Most periptero owners speak English in tourist areas, but as the wares are on display and the peripteros are tiny, you can easily point to the item you want. They will usually have a bottle opener hanging on the large fridge door so you can take the top off any bottle you but without disturbing them. Especially in the winter they are ensconced in their little cabins watching a football match on a miniscule TV, and Greeks are passionate about football.
Phone Cards are often a Necessity
Phone cards for use in a public phone booth may be purchased at a periptero and these are easy to use as you just slot them into the phone and dial the number you want to reach. There are other phone cards for use with landlines, which make your phone calls much cheaper from either a landline or a mobile phone, but you need to explain which country you want to call and whether you want a phone card for the landline or a mobile. These cards make international calls much cheaper than normal. You simply dial a number and tap in the number on the scratch card. There are easy to follow instructions and you can use a phone in your hotel without having to pay for an international call when you pay your bill.
Newspapers are Usually Easy to Find
Foreign newspapers can be bought at peripteros or some bookshops but Sunday newspapers are usually a day late, and you have to wait until the afternoon normally to get a foreign newspaper, sometimes this drags on until evening, so be prepared and wait and savour each newspaper- don’t devour them at a sitting. There is a newspaper in English, published weekly on a Friday, “The Athens News” which can be found all over Greece. It has Greek and international news and gives information about what’s on and ferry timetables, as well as useful numbers you might need. It’s cheaper than foreign newspapers too. Be prepared to pay more than you would at home or a newspaper. Prices are usually printed on the front pages of newspapers and magazines.
Te most common ‘news’ magazines in Greece are “The Economist”, “Time” and “Newsweek”, but you might be lucky enough to find others.
Shopping for Food and Greek Products
The cheapest supermarket chains in Greece are Bazaar and Dia and you can buy olive oil to take home cheaply in these supermarkets. It will be much the same quality as you can get in the up-market delicatessens which are to be found in tourist areas such as Plaka in Athens. You won’t get the same packaging as these are ‘no frills’ supermarkets, so there’ll be less rubbish to throw away. They usually stock halva (a dessert made from sesame seeds), nuts, wines and even mastica, although you can also find this in mini markets, if you don’t happen to be on the island of Chios. You can even buy red eggs in these supermarkets at Easter time, both cooked and uncooked, so you can have your own eggs to crack during the celebrations.