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Internet Cafes, E-mail and Phones in Athens

Internet Cafes and Access in Greece

Staying in touch by internet in Greece is easy and convenient. If you need to bring a laptop for your job then do so but if you are bringing it just so you can e-mail home and stay in contact then I recommend leaving it behind and using the many internet cafes or staying in hotels like the Attalos which has free internet.

There are internet cafes all over Athens, in just about every neighborhood since many young people don't own computers themselves and this is the only way they can play computer games. You can also find internet cafes on Mykonos, Santorini, Lesvos and probably every other island by now. Many hotels now have a computer you can use, most have DSL and charge a fee, usually the more expensive the hotel, the more the fee but there are hotels that are expensive and don't charge a fee. You should ask when you book your hotel because I have seen one Luxury Hotel that charged almost 20 euros a day and another where it was free. The economical Hotel Attalos in Athens has free wireless for people traveling with laptops and several highspeed computers their guests can use, also for free. If you factor in what it will cost you to use the internet from an internet cafe (expensive) you will come to the realization that by staying in a hotel that has free wireless and free use of a computer will save a lot of money.

The Bits and Bytes internet chain has several locations around the city. Even the fast food chain Everest has internet access as does Starbucks of course. Both have locations all over the city. The entire port area of Pireaus has free wireless internet too so you can check and answer your mail while you wait for your ferry. Some ferries have internet but you have to pay by the hour. Syntagma square is wireless. I know on Kea you can sit within 100 feet of the town hall and get free wireless and I assume this is the case in other islands too.

Laptops and Converters

Greece is on  220. Most laptops convert automatically or with a switch, but you will need a small plug adapter. If you want to buy one it is called the standard European and you can buy it in Radio-shack or any electronics shop in the USA or in Greece. Make sure that the holes will fit your plug because sometimes one is larger than the other. Most of the computer shops are located in Exarchia near the Polytechnic but there are others scattered throughout the city. There is a giant computer-media store called Public, right in Syntagma Square if you need to buy adapters, wireless cards or whatever. They sell these cards that you can use for the internet. My daughter bought them for about 10 euros each and they seemed to last forever. I think they only work on dial-up but if you are just receiving and sending e-mail that may be all you need. You can buy them almost anywhere.

Of course downloading e-mail on a dial-up is easy except for all the spam and junkmail you have in your mail some of it with big useless attachments. So what do I do? I go to www.mail2web.com and delete all the stuff I don't want before going to my e-mail program to download my mail.

Computer Service and Computer Repair

laptop_service.jpg There is nothing worse than traveling in a foreign country and having your laptop stop working. PC Express offers a full range of computer service and computer repair  that will meet your entire travel, home and business needs. PC Express technicians are highly trained and provide professional, high-quality computer service at affordable rates. They offer complete laptop service and laptop repair solutions. Their highly experienced laptop repair technicians perform professional, prompt service on all makes and models of laptop computers. They offer laptop repair services at the most competitive prices in the market. When you call PC Express you can be sure that your computer service will be done properly the first time. They can repair any computer, no matter where you bought it and they speak English. Call 210.960.6860 or e-mail them at info@pcexpress.gr
or go to www.pcexpress.gr/en

Mobile Laptop Connect


Last year I bought a media card for my laptop which enabled me to use the internet through the GSM cell phone lines. In most places it was painfully slow. Even slower than dial-up. Plus not only did it cost $120 a month, I also had to pay a per megabyte fee which was not too bad depending on where I was. The problem was that I did not know where it was expensive until I got back to the USA and got my bill. Not only that but because I was in Lesvos my device was grabbing the signal from Turkey which charged about 100 euros an hour. When I came back to the USA, the company (AT&T if you must know) agreed to take off some of the charges since I could prove that I had not gone to Turkey. But they told me that I had signed up for a years contract (which I had not) and I had to pay $180 to break it. The point of this story is to tell you that there are options out there and you should check them out and make sure that there are not extra charges for use in Greece. (If you find something good, like wireless highspeed satelite or GSM that costs about 50 euros a month please let me know.) For those of you traveling with your blackberries they seem to work OK, though you may have to get on some international plan, temporary if they allow you. Wind, Vodefone and Cosmote all have mobile-laptop devices but they make you sign a one-year contract and you need a Greek AFM (Tax number). Oh yes, someone I know went to Greece with a plan paid for by his company and got a bill for $8000 for the first month. Apparently he was using it to skype his girlfriend in the USA using video and was paying by the megabyte! Ouch. So make sure you read all the fine-print if you get an international wireless plan for your laptop.

When you get right down to it the best thing to do is stay in hotels with free wireless internet. Personally I think all hotels should offer free wireless. It seems a little chintzy to me that you stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel and they have to charge you 10 euros a day to go on-line? In this day and age that is like charging you for each time you flush the toilet. The Hotel Attalos has free wireless for those with laptops and iphones and free use of computers for those who don't.

Telephones in Greece

Pay Phones in Athens

telephones in GreeceMaking a phone call from anywhere in Greece has always been a pain. Most people used to buy the phone cards that are usable in some of the phones some of the time if you don't mind waiting in line. The problem is that now there are more cell-phones in circulation then there are people. Everyone has their own cell phones. Even little children. So since nobody is using the phone cards or the phone card phones, the Greek phone company does not bother to fix them and in some places they have removed them.

Lately there have been a number of international phone cards that have hit the market and these you can use at any phone and you can get really good rates. They advertise them all over and you need to check to see which is the best for you. My daughter uses the OTE Xronokarta and for 6 euros she talks forever to her boyfriend in America. It has instructions in English too. For more info see Pre Paid Calling Cards or you can e-mail alex@intersell.gr who sells and recharges pre-paid phone cards on-line through paypal. (If you are going to Mykonos he has the Fast Internet, internet center where he also sells phone cards).

What brought the Greek Phone card system crashing down is the Be-Free system. You buy a cell phone and you buy a phone card with a scratch surface and a code number underneath. You dial the number and punch in the code and you get from 10 to 30 euros worth of calls. Sounds great right? So I bought one. They handed me a box and I paid them and went home to figure it out. It took me a month to really figure out how to use it. The instructions were in Greek. I had to charge it for 24 hours before I could even use it. I never got my answer service working. I probably would have taken it back to the store but I was too embarrassed.

Greece Travel Phones

Actual photo of my Greece Travel PhoneThe next year I found the answer to my problems. I rented a cellular phone from GREECETRAVEL PHONES. It was simple and easy to use, with my own number that I gave to all my friends in America and Greece. No contracts like in the USA. Probably the best feature was the fact that there are no “Roaming Fees”, which means that all incoming calls are free to me, only the person calling me pays for the call. They deliver the phone to you at the airport, your hotel, your cruise ship and even on the islands and it is already charged up and ready to go. You don't have to wait 24 hours like I did. People can find you at anytime and if you don't want them to find you (or want to be selective) there is free voice mail service which they have set up for you in English. They give you a little lesson on how to use it when they deliver it. They also give you written instructions in English in case you are the kind who lessons go in one ear and out the other. Plus if you order and pay in advance you get your phone number before you leave home so you can give it to your friends and leave it on your answering machine. The phones also have an option where it can pinpoint your location, say if you are on the Acropolis. You call a number and it gives you a tour of the site. Like having a tour guide in your ear.

For more info see www.greecetravel.com/phones  Or if you want just send an e-mail to Tom Mazarakis at greecetravelphones@hotmail.com  and he can tell you more about it and answer any specific questions you may have. Or you can call from your hotel for five times the normal rate. Or you can ask in every store, restaurant, cafe or newsstand if you can make a call.

The WIND cell phone company has recently come up with a new "Pay as you Go" prepaid card offer.  It is called WIND International and this new offer gives the customer a flat rate of Euros 0.21 per minute for calls to specific countries including the United States, Greece, Italy, Russia, Albania, and the Ukraine. This means that at the current exchange rate, their calls to the U.S. will cost them only about $ 0.30 per minute.  See www.greecetravel.com/phones

Mail from Greece

For the few people who still write letters and postcards there is a main post office on the corner of Metropolis and Syntagma square. There are others scattered around and some temporary trailers that they use in the summer. Mail can take from 4 days to a couple weeks, depending on who happens to be working, I guess. You can change money in the post office too. Some of the periptero's (kiosks) may have stamps. The word for stamps is gram-ah-tow-see-ma. There are postcards for sale in many different places. I like the Toubis brand just because the photos are so dramatic but all the postcards are pretty good. Even if you are not normally a postcard writer, take the time to buy some and send them. They are really beautiful and they will make your friends back home envious and may even inspire them to come. Plus postcard writing is a lost art and we should all do our part to keep it alive. If you have nobody to write to then send me one.

A word of caution: Many people in Athens pay their bills at the post office so if you get there and there is a line don't assume it will go quickly. Buy enough stamps to get you through the holiday or at least until you get to an island so you don't have to make the post office one of your daily excursions. There are mailboxes all over town. They are yellow.....or is that the trash cans? Anyway you should be able to tell them apart and if not just remember it is the thought that counts.

Questions about connecting in Athens or Greece? You can e-mail me at matt@greecetravel.com

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