Watch out for tricky beggars
Beggars are tricky and know how to get their money!
This happened to me while visiting Hagia Sophia. I went inside the church for a few minutes, and when I came out an old lady dressed like a nun stuck her hand out and showed 2 Euros. I thought it was a fee for going inside the church, so I gave her 2 Euros. I would've given her 5 expecting her to give me change, but for some lucky reason, I didn't. Thank God something stopped me, otherwise I would've lost 5 Euros, which was a lot at that time. I saw some other tourists paying her as well. I only found out afterwards, that she was a beggar.
This is really common in tourist areas, since tourists are easy targets. They'll hold out their hands with the largest amount of money they receive, to make it seem like an entrance fee, and an unsuspecting tourist will pay it.
These beggars are usually old, dark skinned women, dressed like nuns or Muslims. They don't look like typical Greek women. If you see some asking for money, just ignore them, unless you want to give them something. Word of warning, they can be really stubborn and hard to get rid of! One got hold of me in a restaurant, and wouldn't stop following me! I had to flee into a store to get rid of her!
DON'T BOOK WITH SZAWELTRAVEL!!!!
Northern Greece is quickly becoming a popular destination for Polish tourists, due to cheap online deals, and a wide variety of travel companies.
A word of advice, if you're traveling from Poland DON'T BOOK WITH SZAWELTRAVEL!
They're okay for the bus service to Greece and the hotel, but once you actualy arrive in Greece, don't book any trips with them! First of all, two trips they were suppose to offer Athens and Delphi were cancelled! The trips that they did have Meteora, Skiathos, Mt. Olympus, and Thessaloniki were very badly orginized! Aside from Olympus, Thessaloniki was the worst! Our guide was running around like crazy! She did give us 20 minutes free time at the most important landmarks, but she gave us no time at the ruins. She just stopped for 3 minutes, explained, and then ran off! I was stopping to film and take pictures, and then had to run after my tour group! That lady was completely insane! She didn't take us to all the inetersting landmarks, she didn't always say where we were going next or where we were at, so I had no idea where I was half the time! She wasn't there to answer questions! 20 minutes was barely enough for even see the main landmarks. Before we saw everything, it was time to go! She spent too much time in palces she shouldn't have, and not enough time in places she should've! She barely gave us 5 minutes at the ruins, 20 minutes at the churches, but 2 hours at the market! I couldn't climb to the top of the White Tower, and was barely able to see the Alexander the Great Statue, before we had to get on the bus!
She was running around in the 90 degree heat, and by the time we were finshed, I was exhausted and had had enough! Another guy in our group also wasn't happy with the way the way the trip was orginized!
She did mention that Greeks don't like foreigners giving tours, so that's probably why she was in such a rush! I don't think it as neccessary at all!
I recommend not booking the Thessaloniki trip with them, or any foreign companies! It's better to just go there by public bus, buy a map of the city and see everything yourself, then you have as much time as you want! Or book a trip with a Greek travel agency! They're a lot more orginized, and sometimes you can get a cheaper price!
It is worth noting that there is a time difference between Macedonia and Greece - Greece being one hour ahead. I nearly missed my onward train to Athens because of this. Its a good thing that I can run fast!
You'll soon get fed up.
If you are enjoying a meal or a drink outside in Thessaloniki, you will be pestered consistently by beggars and people selling counterfeit CD / DVD's. The beggars are of the same types that you see all over Eastern Europe - kids with roses, people placing cards claiming to have this or that affliction and so on, but I was somewhat surprised at the volume of counterfeit software sellers. they all seem to be African males, and there will be one of them approaching you literally on a five minute basis. It soon becomes very annoying. In fairness, they are not at all aggressive or threatening and will go away if you show them you are not interested, but it is a hassle. Be prepared for it.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
If you have sensitive eyes and/or sinuses or difficulty breathing, then you might have those conditions exacerbated here. I didn't have a problem with anything before I got here, but now my eyes are almost constantly itchy and irritated. An older gentlman from Ireland who I work with here says that he gets up in the morning with major phlegm and congestion in his chest, which he's never had. I personally can feel short of breath when I go running at a distance that I normally wouldn't be winded. I got home from work the other nite, and I could see the dust drifting by the streetlights everywhere. It smelled like the entire city was on fire and was being covered in the ash. I can't imagine what Athens is going to be like if it's worse there.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Good driving and parking skills a must!!!
Parking - Sidewalks here aren't meant for pedestrians solely. They also double as parking lots. Since it hasn't occurred to anyone, or perhaps that the Greek Municipalities won't approve above/below ground multi-story parking garages, then the sidewalks get parked on. It causes great distraction, hazards, and worsens congestion throughout the city. Wherever you can find a place to park where you can get in and most likely be able to get the car out again is fair game. It's possible that you could get blocked in. Be sure you can parallel park, and do so within a small area (meaning narrow streets). This is all the more worsened by the fact that certain residents feel that they can block off certain curbs that they feel entitled to with cones or pallets. When you do finally park, if you're parked on a narrow street, make sure you fold in your side mirror.
Driving - I'm sorry, but Greeks have to be the worst drivers in Europe. They routinely can not keep their car within a lane...WHEN there are even lines painted on the road, which is probably the cause of their problem. They can not judge distance. They need to pull about 3/4 of the way out into the first lane to tell if they're then going to be able to cross the second lane. Directional lights are optional. If you want to make a left turn, then it's apparently okay to drive around the 5-10 cars waiting in the left turn lane and jump ahead by sitting out in the intersection at the red light. Speed limit is posted, but could be better utilized as billboard space. OH, and the best thing...you have some kind of responsibility for drivers behind you. Instead of pulling around you, it's okay to flash headlights and expect people to move over...brake pads must be expensive.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
- Road Trip
Greek coffee not Turkish
Greek people are very sensitive to the "coffee" subject.So please be careful when you order your coffee and dont mentioned about any other nationality ....only "Greek Coffee"..
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