Greece

General information   


Official name: Hellenic Republic

Location: Greece is located at the southeast end of Europe and it is the southernmost country of the Balkan Peninsula, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Its neighboring countries are Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey.

Area:131,957 sq km or 50,949 sq mi

Population:10,775,557 (July 2014 est.)

Capital: ATHENS (3,074,160 inhabitants)

Landscape: mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

State Government:: Greece is a Parliamentary Republic. The President, elected by Parliament every five years, is Head of State. The Prime Minister is Head of Government.

President: Karolos Papoulias

The official language: Greek Language   

Religions: Greek Orthodox (official) 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%   

Time Difference: Greece is in the Eastern European Time Zone. Eastern

European Standard Time (EET) is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). Like most states in Europe, Summer (Daylight-Saving) Time is observed in Greece, where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour (3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3)).

After the Summer months the time in Greece is shifted back by 1 hour to Eastern European Time (GMT+2)

Country dialing code: +30      

Emergency numbers: General Emergency number in Greece is 112. It can be called when faced with any emergency situation is toll-free and operator independent.   

Other emergency numbers are:

  • Police 100
  • Ambulance Service 166
  • Fire Department 199

Measure units: degree Celsius (ºC), meter (m.), Kilogram (kg), liter (l.).

Language   


Greek belongs to the Hellenic branch of the Indo-European language family, and is spoken by about 13 million people mainly in Greece and Republic of Cyprus, where it is official language. The Greek alphabet has been in continuous use since about 750 BC. It was developed from the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet and the order and names of the letters are derived from Phoenician.

Letter Name Sound
Ancient[4] Modern[5]
Α α alpha [ [ aː] [a]
Β β beta [ b] [ v]
Γ γ gamma [ ɡ] [ ɣ] ~ [ʝ]
Δ δ delta [ d] [ ð]
Ε ε epsilon [ e] [e]
Ζ ζ zeta [zd] A [ z]
Η η eta [ ɛː] [ i]
Θ θ theta [ tʰ] [ θ]
Ι ι iota [ i] [iː] [ i]
Κ κ kappa [ k] [ k] ~ [c]
Λ λ lambda [ l] [ l]
Μ μ mu [ m] [ m]
Letter Name Sound
Ancient Modern
Ν ν nu [ n] [ n]
Ξ ξ xi [ks] [ks]
Ο ο omicron [ o] [o]
Π π pi [ p] [ p]
Ρ ρ rho [ r] [ r]
Σ σ/ς [7] sigma [ s] [ s]
Τ τ tau [ t] [ t]
Υ υ upsilon [ y] [yː] [ i]
Φ φ phi [ pʰ] [ f]
Χ χ chi [ kʰ] [ x] ~ [ç]
Ψ ψ psi [ps] [ps]
Ω ω omega [ ɔː] [o]

   

Yes Nai'
No O'hi
Thank you Efharisto'
Thank you very much Efharisto' poli'
You're welcome Parakalo'
Please Parakalo'
Excuse me signo'mi
Hello gia'sou
Goodbye andi'o sas
So long gia' hara'
Good morning kalime'ra
Good afternoon kalo' mesime'ri
Good evening kalispe'ra
Good night kalini'hta
I do not understand Den katalave'no
What is your name? Pos se le'ne?
Nice to meet you. He'ro poli'
How are you? Ti ka'nete?
Good kala'
Bad a'shima

    

So soe'tsi ke e'tsi
Where is ...?pou i'ne
How much is the fare?Po'so ka'ni to isiti'rio
Ticketesiti'rio
One ticket to ..., please.E'na isiti'rio gia _, parakalo'
Where are you going?Pou' pa'te
Where do you live?Pou' me'nis
Traintre'no
Busleofori'o
Subway, Undergroundmetro'
Airportaerodro'mio
Train stationo stathmo's tou tre'nou
Bus stationo stathmo's tou leofori'ou
Subway station, Underground station o stathmo's tou metro'
Departureanaho'rsis
Arrivala'fixis
Car rental agencygrafi'o enikia'seos aftokini'ton
Parkingpa'rking
Hotelksenodohi'o
Roomdoma'tio

Travel Basics   


Weather

Despite its relative small area size, the weather in Greece varies widely between the different areas. The northern, more mountainous regions, experience winter cold in its extreme -ice and snow become a permanent feature of the landscape and the temperatures settle on lower numbers. The coastal areas and Greek islands experience a milder winter in terms of ice and snow, but high humidity and strong coastal winds during the winter make the cold seem much bitter. The summer is very hot and dry what makes Greece one of the favorite vacation spots for sun and sea lovers.

Food & Drinks

Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine. Being at the crossroads between east and west, Greek cuisine has been infused with the best of both worlds. Some of the most eclectic tastes from the west balance against some of the more raw and upbeat tastes from the east on Greek tables. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of olive oil, vegetables and herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish, and various meats, including poultry, rabbit and pork. Also important are olives, cheese, aubergine, courgette and yoghurt. Greek desserts are characterized by the dominant use of nuts and honey. Here are some specialties:

Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).
• Moussaka (aubergine casserole with minced lamb, cinnamon, red wine and olive oil).
• Calamari (deep-fried rings of squid) or htapodia (octopus).
• Souvlaki (spit-roasted meat, generally pork or chicken).
• Stifado (a rich beef stew with caramelised onions, cinnamon and cloves).
• Kokkinisto (a rich stew of either beef, pork or chicken cooked with red wine and tomatoes).
• Horiatiki (Greek salad: feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, black Kalamata olives and fresh olive oil).

Every table in the summer would include a communal plate of Greek salad. You can find tasty spinach pies (spanakopita) and cheese pies (tyropita) in fast-food joints around every town in Greece, and they are ideal for a quick breakfast or snack on-the-go. Greek food tends to be very simple, rarely involving sauces but with full use of local seasonal produce, olive oil and charcoal grills. Water is always served with meals, along with wine or beer. Ouzo is drunk with mezedes (appetizers) but rarely with full meals, except with seafood in the summer.

Travel

By plane:

ATHENS - http://www.aia.gr/traveler/

THESSALONIKI - http://www.thessalonikiairport.com/

By train:

After a period of break the international railway service is back to work. You can take a train to Sofia, Belgrade, and Skopje.

The state train company is Trainose (Τραινοσέ) /http://www.trainose.gr/en/

Thessaloniki is Greece's hub for international rail service. Trains connect Thessaloníki to Sofia (3 daily), Bucharest (1 daily), Istanbul (2 daily) and Belgrade (2 daily).

There are special fares as Balkan Flexipass and other offers.

By bus:

All long and short distance buses on the mainland and the islands are operated by regional collectives known as KTEL. The fares are fixed by the government. More information can be found on the internet at www.ktel.org.

Taxi:

There are many taxis in Greece, but in the large cities, Athens in particular, getting one can be quite a challenge! You hail taxis like in any other large city, but in Athens many taxis will refuse to take you if they don't like your destination. If you need a taxi during rush hour, it can be next to impossible to find one. Some taxis maight not take more than three people since the cars can be very small.

Border crossing

Greece is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs.

Import regulations:

Free import to passengers arriving with goods purchased within the EU which are for personal use only:
a. Tobacco products, for passengers aged 17 and over:

  • 800 cigarettes;
  • 400 cigarillos;
  • 200 cigars;
  • 1kg of pipe or cigarette tobacco;

b. Alcoholic beverages, for passengers aged 17 years and older:

  • 10 litres of spirits over 22%
  • 20 litres of alcoholic beverages less than 22%
  • 90 litres of wine (though no more than 60 litres of sparkling wine)
  • 110 litres of beer

c. Perfumes: no limit;
d. Medicinal products: no limit provided the quantity is required to meet the traveler’s personal needs.

Free import to passengers arriving from non-EU Member States (incl. Aland Island, Canary Islands, Channel Islands and other similar territories):
1. tobacco products, for passengers aged 17 and older:
200 cigarettes; or
100 cigarillos (max. 3g each); or
50 cigars; or
250g of tobacco; or

proportional assortment;
2. alcoholic beverages, for passengers aged 17 and older:

  • 1 litre of spirits over 22% volume, or non-denatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80% volume; or
  • 2 litres of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages less than 22% volume, or sparkling wines or liqueur wines; or
  • a proportional mix of these products; and in addition
  • 4 litres of wine; and
  • 16 litres of beer;

3. medicinal products sufficient for personal needs;
4. other goods (for air travelers) up to a total value of EUR 430.- (per adult) or EUR 150.- (per passenger aged under 15 years).

Import of gold, gold plated objects or other precious metals must be declared at Customs on arrival.

Products of animal origin, not originating from an EU Member State, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland, are not permitted to be imported into an EU Member State, with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, Faroe Isl., Greenland, Iceland and small amounts of specific products from other countries.

Export regulations:

Note: It is strictly forbidden to remove antiquities and art objects from the territory of Greece. A special permit issued by the Ministry of Culture is required.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

For passengers arriving from an EU Member State, baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination.

Passengers arriving from a Non-EU Member State and proceeding to a domestic flight within Greece, must clear their luggage at the first point of entry into Greek territory. The passenger is responsible for the transfer of his/her luggage to check-in for domestic flight. Exceptions to this are if the connecting domestic flights are to Chania, Corfu, Heraklion, Rhodos or Thessaloniki, where baggage can be collected at the final destination.

Transit baggage is cleared at its final destination outside Greece, provided labelled accordingly.

Money / banks / credit cards

Greece has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. The euro replaced the drachma in January 2002.

Currency exchange offices are common particularly in larger cities and in any touristic area. In addition to hard currency, they also accept traveler's checks. There are also automated currency exchange machines in some areas of the country. Most banks will also exchange euros for some currencies such as the US Dollar and British Pound (often at better rates than currency exchange offices). Banks' commission fees for these exchanges are usually structured so that it's more economical to change larger sums than smaller.

When changing money in large amounts at a bank or currency exchange, it's a good idea to ask for mostly smaller notes, and nothing larger than a € 50. Many businesses are reluctant to accept notes of larger than € 50, partly because of a scarcity of change, partly because larger notes have a history of being counterfeited.

You may get better exchange rates by using credit and ATM cards. Mastercard, Visa, and Eurocard are widely accepted across the country in retail stores, hotels, and travel/transportation agencies (including ferry, airline, and car rental agencies), but are not accepted at some restaurants.

ATM machines are present almost everywhere. Many ATM machines may not accept 5-digit pin numbers; ATM card-users with 5-digit pins are advised to change their pin to 4 digits before leaving home.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you plan to use your credit/debit card in Greece, please inform your bank on your intention before departure! Otherwise it is very possible that your bank will block your account/ card for security reasons when you try to use it abroad! Unblocking your card, when abroad, may cost you lots of phone calls and troubles!

Communications

Post offices:

Greek Post Offices open at 8 am and close at 1:30 pm Mon – Fri. Sometimes you may find one open until 2 or even 3 pm. They are closed Saturdays and Sundays. If you need to send a letter there are stamp vending machines and post-boxes outside all central post offices. Stamps can also be bought at many kiosks. In some post offices you have to take a number and wait some time for your turn.

Internet:

Internet access is widely available. In big cities coffee houses usually provide free internet if you ask the waiter for the password.

Phone calls:

The cheapest way to call someone abroad is to use a pre-paid calling card and call from a land line anywhere (also from your hotel room). Pre-paid calling cards are sold in many shops and kiosks. The calling card is not much more than a phone number and a pin code, which you dial prior to dialing the usual phone number. If you want to call internationally, ask for an international calling card. For one euro you can call for about 45 minutes, so buy a card in the cheapest value (which is about 3 euros). You can also use this pre-paid calling card at public phone boxes, which are widely available. Cards expire usually 90 days after first use.

Greece has three mobile phone companies: Cosmote, Vodafone and WIND. 

Electricity

Electricity in Greece is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 Hertz. If you travel to Greece with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.

Business hours

Throughout the year, apart from Festivals, businesses are open at the following hours:   


Offices Mondays to Fridays 09:00 - 17.00 (with an hour's break at midday).
Banks Mondays to Thursdays 08:30 - 14:00 (until 13:30 on Fridays)
Stores Mondays to Saturdays 09:00 - 18:00

Emergency

General Emergency number in Greece is 112.

This number can be called when faced with any emergency situation is toll-free and operator independent. As mobile coverage is extended all over Greece (even over open seas) using your mobile phone is the most convinient means of accessing emergency services.

Other emergency numbers are:

  • Police 100
  • Ambulance Service 166
  • Fire Department 199

Purchasing power

Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 12.00 €
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) 1.27 €
Water (0.33 liter bottle) 0.50 €
Milk (regular), (1 liter) 1.27 €
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) 0.76 €
Apples (1kg) 1.38 €
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 1.40 €
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 0.33 €
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 7.00 €

BHFS Towns


Athens and Environs

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece that dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years.

Kavala, Philippi and Environs

Kavala (Neapolis – Christoupolis, all its historical names) is situated in northern Greece and has always been an important port on the Balkan Peninsula.

Pella and Vergina

Pella is an ancientGreekcity, thesecond Capitalof Macedonia and birth place of Alexander the Great.

Thessaloniki and Environs

Thessalonikialso known as Thessalonicais the second - largest city in Greece. It was first established in 316 B.C. by Kassandros and named after his wife, Thessaloniki, half sister of Alexander the Great.

Delphi

After the Acropolis, Delphi is the most popular archaeological site in Greece.