BRITISH CONSULATE DETAILS:
In an emergency it is sometimes essential to notify the British Consulate, or at least consult them for any advice you may require.
Athens - British Embassy
Address: 1 Ploutarchou Street
106 75 Athens
Telephone General: (30) 210 727 2600
Heraklion - British Vice-Consulate
Address: 16 Papa Alexandrou Street
712 02 Heraklion
Telephone General: (30) 281 0224012
Patras - British Honorary Vice-Consulate
Address: Votsi 2
262 21 Patras
Telephone General: (30) 261 0277329
Thessaloniki - British Consulate
Address: 21 Aristotelous Street
546 24 Thessaloniki
Telephone General: (30) (2310) 278006
Zakynthos - British Honorary Vice-Consulate
Address: British Vice-Consulate
5 Foskolos Street
291 00 Zakynthos
Telephone General: (30) (2695) 22906 / 48030
Korfu British Consulate
Address: 18 Mantzarou Street
491 00 Korfu
Telephone General: 0030 26610 30055 / 23457
Kos - British Honorary Vice-Consulate
Address: 55 Navarinou Street
853 00 Kos
Telephone General: (30) (242) 21549
Rhodes - British Honorary Vice-Consulate
Address: 29 Gr. Lambraki Street
851 00 Rhodes
Telephone General: 0030 22410-22005
Syros - British Honorary Vice-Consulate
Address: 8 Akti Petrou Ralli
841 00 Syros
Telephone General: (30) (281) 82232 / 88922
Passport & Money/Card Loss
Tip: Always note beforehand the contact details of the nearest British Consulate representative, other than the main Athens one, so that dealing with any eventuality is easier for you. The British Consulate will assist UK nationals with passport loss and financial issues resulting from money loss. They will normally help you home – but do not expect a free lunch. Far better to hedge your bets and keep a reserve of money somewhere no one can find it. It may seem there is a lot to do before you travel – but it saves time and anxiety in the long run – trust me on that! Besides, you will be an expert at preventing mayhem in no time at all!
WARNING: Once again I must advise ALL travellers to use bum bags and document body belts. These are the very best ways to keep documents and cash/cards safe. I would also recommend buying an intruder alert door-wedge. These are lightly wedged under door hotel or apartment main door. When someone attempts to make an unauthorized entry, the alarm emits a high-pitched noise – loud enough to wake you up and invariably frighten off any thieving intruder. I use one – never needed it so far yet I know if I did not have it I would – if you get my drift.
Do not panic if you suffer a loss due to carelessness or theft – this is easily rectified. If you have your passport or cash/cards (or anything else) stolen notify the police immediately and get a copy of the report form showing you have lost it, then immediately notify the nearest British Consulate (there is a Rhodes office). At this point, hopefully – if you have heeded my earlier warning and you possess a colour photocopy of your passport details with you. If not, it is more problematical but not hopeless. The consulate will help sort out any complications caused by passport loss and issue a temporary one to get you back home. They will also put out an alert that your passport is now on the loose and probably being held by a fraudster. But don’t expect a free meal – however, in exceptional circumstances, they will ensure you get back home safely, as is their remit, but forget about spending money. Hopefully, you have friends or relatives who can wire you some cash to tide you over – if not, adopt some for your next trip!
Never travel without private medical insurance (some bank accounts in the UK provide this as an included extra) and at least a photocopy of your medical insurance details – including the vital emergency telephone number in case of medical emergencies. Think about this before you go – too many people fail to do this and end-up in a dire mess. It is less stressful if you are prepared. That is the truth.
What, you never bother with private medical insurance? Don’t be a fool, that’s like not breathing or eating in travel terms. Buy insurance and take the details with you. Without it you could be sunk. The history of travel and tourism is littered with tales of disaster and financial ruin simply because clever clogs thought they didn’t need to bother about insurance. Got that – good! Now buy insurance and enjoy your holidays reassured…
What To Do - during a medical emergency:
Don’t panic! Initially, either you or someone needs to contact the insurance emergency helpline and notify them of the emergency (after you have called for medical assistance of course) – and tell them the what, how when and where details. They will then guide you through the basic procedure and advise you on any questions you may have. Insurance companies are thankfully well aware of the human element in a crisis and are only too well trained and pleased to reassure and help you through what is always a traumatic and worrying time. Despite some unfortunate exceptions, insurance companies actually do a great job overall – but obviously you should insist on good service at all times.
If you or a companion needs to be medically repatriated via air ambulance, the insurance people will arrange this if it is needed. Besides, it is often better for the patient and everyone else that the casualty is treated in the UK if their injuries are of a certain nature. It can also be considerably cheaper. Some treatments given in the US, for example, have reached a ¼ million dollars – not something the insurance companies want to be charged for (although hey have to anyway).
In the awful event of a death of someone you are travelling with, contact the British Consulate immediately. They need to know. They will then assist in the repatriation of the body – indeed they are very skilled at humanely taking care of these issues when the bereft are suffering from grief and shock. If the police are involved, or there has been foul play, then this could cause delays and sometimes you may have to go home without the body. Feel free to ask the BC any questions and they will answer them.
Athens & Cities
Tips for Survival: In any truly great city there are always warnings to be heeded…
Athens, for prime example, is one of the greatest historical and visually entrancing places on the planet. The cradle of Western Civilization offers visitors an impressive and truly memorable experience with its scintillating museums, the spectacular and achingly beautiful Acropolis complete with the mesmerizing Parthenon – the very symbol of Greece. It attracts traders and visitors like a magnet.
However, here are a few tips to help make your stay more enjoyable:
Make sure you know the number of the local tourist police and put the number in your mobile phone-book for quick use. You never know when it will be needed – hopefully, never. Also, always take along a small notepad plus pen/pencil in your bum bag ready to note important information. There are few more frustrating moments when you find you have nothing to write on or write with.
Be astute and rigid when paying for any service – you owe it to yourself, your group and to other tourists to ensure no one fleeces you. Be brave!
When taking a Taxi make sure it is properly registered (this is displayed) – i.e. an official taxi and not just an opportunist on a fleecing expedition. If they are not, walk away. If unsure, ask to see their taxi licence – he is obliged by law not to refuse.
If they are genuine, check with the driver before you get in, precisely how much he is going to charge you for your chosen destination. Don't be phased. No confusion here – they know what ‘how much’ means as any taxi driver will be able to speak enough English to understand you. If he claims lingua franca ignorance, then reject him and move on quickly.
If he seems to be OK, then agree on the charge by repeating loudly what he has just quoted you. If you have luggage he may well charge you extra – yes they can do this, but again, agree on a total charge before you get in that includes all your luggage. If it seems steep, cancel the liaison without another thought – you are not an idiot or a charity for cut-purses. You can always find another taxi. Some people are too polite to cause a scene – don’t be. You could run the risk of being royally fleeced, especially in the high season when more taxis are about. There are true stories of people losing small fortunes and having their trip ruined.
Show emotion but don't go mad!
Exceptional Note-Switching Scam
This is worth a mention. When paying for your taxi ride, if you have to pay using a larger Euro denomination note, hold it up and loudly ask him ‘Can you change this large [say amount] Euro note?’ This will formally register the value of the note and prevent the rare, but not unknown, practice of instantly switching the note for a lower denomination and then proclaiming you have just given him a smaller one and asking for more cash! This cut-purse trick is indeed illegal but it has happened to too many tourists in Athens. If they do try it on, immediately demand your original note back – stating that he has taken it.
If they refuse, quickly step back from the car and visibly make a written record in your note book of the car registration number whilst informing him that you are now telephoning the Tourist Police to report the crime. Do this anyway even if they attempt to drive off.
Report the matter without delay. The chances are he will hand back your cash and drive off before you ring the police. The police are very eager to protect the tourists from crime as this is a huge earner for Athens and Greece in general, and they will deal with your complaint with their usual vigour.
NB: Most Greek taxi drivers are perfectly and rigidly honest, however, criminal types, mainly non-Greeks, many posing as taxi drivers, are giving Athens a bad name. Help stamp this criminal element out by following the above outlined procedure. At the very least, memorize their ID/car details/personal details and report the crime every time.
This advice is applicable in any country – not just Greece. Trouble with Greek hotels, etcetera, to be fair, are quite rare – most bookings are handled correctly and fairly. However, I have experience unnecessary issues myself, which can be dealt with quickly before the problem threatens to damage or even ruin your holiday. Refuse to be treated badly – in any event demand good service. Good service is not a holiday extra; it is a basic requirement and let no one tell you otherwise. If any hotel or accommodation owner/manager thinks you are a fool, show them otherwise. If you are two females or two males you are surprisingly more likely to be messed about – never let anyone make a monkey out of you!
Don't get angry - sort it out!
When you have booked a hotel room(s), always insist on seeing the hotel room before you pay a deposit/full amount. Even if it is a package holiday, you still have Greek statutory rights, so never formally accept the room until you have inspected it fully. That is your right as a visitor – exercise it for the health of good hotel practice!
Tell the reservation staff that you must approve the room before you accept it and insist a member of staff comes with you. You need a witness and this will expedite any corrective measures needed if what you see is not what you booked in the first place.
At this point if the room is substandard or not what you booked/required - or is not in the right position you agreed - demand a new one immediately and approve that one as well. Don’t accept any old alternative. At this point some hotels worth their salt may give you a free upgrade just to keep you happy – they don’t like guests complaining in the lobby.
Obviously be polite but firm, but show your disdain if required (Greeks respond to emotion) and do not accept a room until it meets your exact requirements. There is no excuse for springing on you such a drastic change (it’s a dirty trick) – get what you are paying for. If you still have serious issues or they are stonewalling you (rude and offensive for most humans), mention that you may have to inform the Tourist Police – it may jog their responsibilities. Hotels have legal standards they must uphold. Sometimes they will offer you an alternative room in a nearby hotel – but if so, you must still approve that room, which must have the same facilities you originally required. You must also confirm that the cost is no greater than you originally agreed to pay. If it is – the original hotel MUST pay the difference – not you. Be sure about that and don’t let them fob you off. If the hotel is in the wrong you are not legally required to pay for their mistakes.
Maybe the room is not up to scratch?
Don’t Let Them Move You!
Once you have the right room, agree to accept it, verbally, and do not allow the hotel to move you during your stay. If you are ever told that your room is needed, and that they are moving you, tell them verbally it is needed by you, that you booked the room and the hotel agreed to give you the room. Then tell them that you are not moving. This constitutes a contract between you and the hotel. They cannot move you if you refuse. If they get nasty or insistent with you – a rare occurrence – threaten to call the tourist police. This usually stuns them into resigned silence. Remember, a contract is a contract and you should never accept shoddy treatment, even if Madonna wants your room.
However, if they have the nerve to move your property and bags to another room without your approval (or knowledge), demand to see the manager and make a stiff formal complaint, notifying your tour operator rep if you have one. Keep a copy of any paperwork. If you feel insulted and abused by the hotel staff, via their actions, then say so. Tell the manager exactly how you feel to impress upon him/her the unjust manner of the offence. And report anything that may have been lost during transit between rooms. Also, don’t forget that you may have valuables still locked in the room safe. If something is missing, report it to the Tourist Police immediately and make sure the manager is aware of this fact.
Restaurants & Bars
If you do not want bread you must tell them before you sit down. Just say ‘No bread thank you’ or ‘Ochi psomi efharisto!’ It’s the same for mineral water – although as a rule a taverna would not normally serve this unless you asked for some in the first place. Some expensive restaurants charge anything around 5 Euros for bread – not a small sum to give away.
Dare I Venture?
If they ask you into their kitchens go – they won’t boil your head for dinner. It is faintly rude to refuse as this is a way of manifesting Greek hospitality by inviting you to see what is on offer. The kitchen is the cook’s inner sanctum – pay them your respects. Then choose your main dishes by pointing to those you like the look of. Get used to it and in any event it can be great fun. Be brave. Starters and puddings can be ordered at the table.
If Music Be the Food of Love…
Fiddlers or entertainers may suddenly appear at your table. Remember, if you did not ask them to serenade your table, you are NOT legally obliged to pay for their services. Just do not give them any eye contact and ignore the music. If you have relented and tipped them a small note (never pay more than 5 Euro), then do not pay anything extra if the performers have accepted the money already.
If a further charge appears on your bill, tell the staff it is an error and ask for it to be deducted, either because you have either already paid the musician directly, or you did not ask for any music in the first place. Don’t be frightened to do this - they will almost certainly do what you ask. If, strangely, they do not, then politely threaten them with the Tourist Police – with mobile phone in hand. This always works, apparently – although I have not experienced this scenario so far. Same goes for phantom bread or other items – never ever pay for anything you are absolutely certain you did not order or consume. Although remember: if you do eat or drink something you did not order, you must pay for it, as consumption equals consent. So be on your guard and bat away any unwanted items or phantom charges before they go on your bill.
Usually, thankfully, eating and drinking in Greece is a breeze as Greeks are pretty good at being hosts. They are especially eager to keep tourists happy and are only too pleased to disperse any misunderstandings.
Theft (see above as well)
If you are the victim of theft – in any event – always officially report the crime to the police and obtain a copy of the police report confirming you have notified the authorities.
Without this proof no insurance company will entertain any notion of paying out when something you own has been filched. You have been warned – failure to officially report the incident equals no proof. And make sure you are insured in the first place. Sometimes your home contents insurance policy will include items taken with you abroad. Check.
To avoid theft, especially of vital documents like your passport, keep them stashed away in a good quality bum bag or document sleeve tucked inside your shirt (these are like flat unobtrusive bum bags suitable for notes and docs). A bum bag is a brilliant way of keeping stuff safe; including those all-important prescription drugs you may need to have with you.
The truth is that thieves do not require any encouragement, but if you are slipshod with leaving your stuff about, ripe for being lifted, then you are a fool. Make sure everything is accounted for and carefully secured at all times. DO NOT leave valuables lying around a hotel room – when you leave the room either stash it all in the room safe (insurance companies generally DO NOT cover you if your room safe gets nobbled). It’s best to place it in the general hotel safe, inside a sealed envelope with an inventory of what is inside on the front, checked and signed off by a senior staff member. This may sound like a pain in the back but really it is the very best way to hang-on to those precious items. Otherwise just carry them around in your bum bag.
It is quite simple: never fail to register all assaults with the police – don’t ever hesitate no matter how distressed or injured you might be. If you are at a hospital, tell them to call the police. Never fail to report a crime. You should also notify the British Consulate - see above list.
Medical Emergencies (see above as well)
Accidents and sudden illness can occur – so be prepared. First, be sure you have fully comprehensive holiday insurance that allows you to seek private medical care abroad. That is essential – and do not think the reciprocal EU health card will pay for everything because it simply does not. Some things are not covered – which is why private insurance is so important. And its always those who have failed to buy insurance who end-up in the financial mire – it stands to reason!
Before you go or when you arrive, find out the telephone number of the best local ambulance service, linked to a private hospital, in the area you are visiting. If needed, you can just use your mobile to summon help and hey presto! Also, never hesitate to call an ambulance if anyone is taken ill – if unsure you could put their lives in danger. Many people have perished because their companions were too timid to call for help. We are not doctors, remember, and if there is any doubt, bring the ambulance out! I cannot stress the importance of sick people receiving quick medical attention when it may turn out to be something very serious. Always be safe rather than sorry.
Hotels are always willing to ring for an ambulance or a doctor for you – so you can just ask them to do it for you. I asked a hotel to do the same when my brother went down with Diogenes’ Revenge (food poisoning). The doctor saved his bacon!
Mal de Mare (see above as well)