Communications

DESTINATIONS greece communications-27

TRAVEL TIPS

Communications

Internet

Major hotels have high-speed Internet connections in rooms, and most smaller ones have at least a terminal in the lounge for guests' use. Telecom privatization has helped Greece close the Internet gap with other European countries and, especially on touristed islands, you'll find most cafés offer Wi-Fi, often for free.

The City of Athens offers free Wi-Fi access in Syntagma Square, Thissio, Gazi-Karameikos, and Platia Kotzia (Kotzia Square), and a number of rural towns also have free Wi-Fi in public areas. If your cell phone works in Greece and you have a connection kit for your laptop, then you can buy a mobile connect card to get online. Head to the national electronic store chains Plaisio, Multirama, and Germanos to purchase mobile Internet access within Greece by the day, week, or month.

Computer parts, batteries, and adaptors of any brand are expensive in Greece and may not be in stock when you need them, so carry spares for your laptop. Also note that many upscale hotels will rent you a laptop.

Contacts

City of Athens Wi-Fi Spots. This has a list of Wi-Fi hook-up spots and cafés in Athens. www.athenswifi.gr.

Cybercafes. The Web site lists more than 4,200 Internet cafés in 141 countries around the world. www.cybercafes.com.

Free Wi-Fi in Greece. This Web site lists free wi-fi internet hotspots in Greece, according to region. www.free-wifi.gr.

Phones

Greece's phone system has improved markedly. You can direct dial in most better hotels, but there is usually a huge surcharge, so use your calling card or a card telephone in the lobby or on the street. You can make calls from most large establishments, kiosks, card phones (which are everywhere), and from the local office of Greece's major telephone company, known as OTE ("oh-teh").

Establishments may have several phone numbers rather than a central switchboard. Also, many now use mobile phones, indicated by an area code that begins with 69.

Doing business over the phone in Greece can be frustrating—the lines always seem to be busy, and English-speaking operators and clerks are few. You may also find people too busy to address your problem—the independent-minded Greeks are not service-conscious. It is far better to develop a relationship with someone, for example a travel agent, to get information about ferry schedules and the like, or to go in person and ask for information face-to-face. Though OTE has updated its phone system in recent years, it may still take you several attempts to get through when calling from an island or the countryside.

The country code for Greece is 30. When dialing Greece from the United States, Canada, or Australia, first dial 011, then 30, the country code, before punching in the area code and local number. From continental Europe, the United Kingdom, or New Zealand, start with 0030.

Calling Within Greece

For Greek directory information, dial 11888; many operators speak English. In most cases you must give the surname of the shop or restaurant proprietor to be able to get the phone number of the establishment; tourist police are more helpful for tracking down the numbers of such establishments.

Pronunciations for the numbers in Greek are: one ("eh-na"); two ("dthee-oh"); three ("tree-a"); four ("tess-ehr-a"); five ("pen-de"); six ("eh-ksee"); seven ("ef-ta"); eight ("och-toh"); nine ("eh-nay-ah"); ten ("dtheh-ka").

All telephone numbers in Greece have 10 digits. Area codes now have to be dialed even when you are dialing locally. For cell phones, dial both the cell prefix (a four-digit number beginning with 69) and the telephone number from anywhere in Greece.

You can make local calls from the public OTE phones using phone cards, not coins.

Keep in mind since there are more cell phone users than ever, OTE hasn’t bothered to repair or replace broken phone booths. Some kiosks may also have metered telephones, which allow you to make local or international calls.

Calling Outside Greece

To place an international call from Greece, dial 00 to connect to an international network, then dial the country code (for the United States and Canada, it's 1), and then the area code and number. If you need assistance, call 134 to be connected to an international operator. You can use AT&T, Sprint, and MCI services from public phones as well as from hotels.

Long-Distance Carriers

AT&T. 800/225–5288.

MCI-Verizon. 800/888–8000; 800/444–3333.

Sprint. 1–800/877–7746.

Access Codes

AT&T Direct. 00/800–1311; 1–800/225–5288.

MCI-Verizon WorldPhone. 00/800–1211; 1-800/888–8000.

Sprint International Access. 00/800–1411; 800/877–4646.

Calling Cards

Phone cards worth €4 or €10 can be purchased at kiosks, convenience stores, or the local OTE office and are the easiest way to make calls from anywhere in Greece. These phone cards can be used for domestic and international calls (the Chronocarta phone card especially costs €6 and allows one to talk for up to 290 minutes to U.S. and Canadian land lines and mobile phones). Once you insert the phone card, the number of units on the card will appear; as you begin talking, the units will go down. Once all the units have been used, the card does not get recharged—you must purchase another.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies from what's used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a very low set fee (often less than 5¢). In Greek mobile phone contracts, only the caller and not the person receiving the call can be charged for local phone calls (both are charged for international calls, however).

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.

If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

If you take your cell phone with you, call your provider in advance and ask if it has a connection agreement with a Greek mobile carrier. If so, manually switch your phone to that network's settings as soon as you arrive. To do this, go to the Settings menu, then look for the Network settings and follow the prompts.

If you're traveling with a companion or group of friends and plan to use your cell phones to communicate with each other, buying a local prepaid connection kit is far cheaper for voice calls or sending text messages than using your regular provider. The most popular local prepaid connection kits are Cosmote's What's Up, Vodafone's Unlimited and CU, or Wind's F2G or Card To All—these carriers all have branded stores, but you can also buy cell phones and cell phone packages from the Germanos and Plaisio chain stores as well as large supermarkets like Carrefour.

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. This company rents and sells cell phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072; 310/862–7100; www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. This company rents mobiles and sells GSM cell phones (starting at $29) that will operate in more than 170 countries. Per-call rates are charged per minute, there are no monthly or annual service charges and vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162; www.mobal.com.

Planet Fone. This company rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777; www.planetfone.com.

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