A Greek couple honeymooning in New York City ran out of cash last week when their Greek-issued credit and debit cards were declined. Two Greek Orthodox churches in Queens replenished their wallets until their flight home, where, presumably, the honeymoon hasn’t improved. Amid a debt crisis there, banks are closed and withdrawals are limited.
Fortunately, with a few extra euros in their pockets, Americans heading to the alluring land of Greece will not face anything as unpleasant as did the honeymooners. Our credit cards are working fine there.
What can travelers to the financially squeezed country expect? Business owners who will be happy to see euros. And great prices as the dollar strengthens and hotels in Greece look for customers.
According to Visit Greece, the website of the Greek National Tourism Organization, “All visitors to Greece and anyone with a credit/debit card issued in a foreign country will not be affected by the measures to limit bank withdrawals.”
Despite that assurance, Nora Blum of Travel Leaders in Maple Grove said she tells travelers to bring a few more euros in case the ATMs have long lines or run out of cash. Other agents report that some businesses are asking for cash payments. Sandy Anderson of Travel Leaders in Coon Rapids suggests that travelers pre-purchase hotel rooms and tours with reputable companies.
Follow the above advice, and you should not have difficulty vacationing in Greece. But do stay alert for demonstrations.
Check periodically with the embassy in Athens, which posts planned demonstrations at athens.usembassy.gov/demonstrations3. html. It recommends using caution near such actions and notes, “even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.”
Contact travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@star tribune.com; follow her on Twitter @kerriwestenberg.