Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Archive for March, 2010


Greece KalimeraΚαλημέρα/Kalimera!*

That’s the 2010 tourism motto for Greece, backed with a budget of €12 million.

The deputy minister of tourism and culture said they chose a simple, widely known Greek word that symbolically encapsulates Greece and tourism, which will be the focus of 10 TV commercials set to the music of Manos Hadjidakis.

Good job on saving letters due to the country’s debt crisis and making no false claims. Points off for choosing a motto that must first be translated for anyone who can’t understand Greek, which is pretty much everyone who isn’t Greek or has never been to Greece, the very audience being targeted by a tourism campaign. Ironic.

Assuming the motto was tested properly tested on a panel and experts were consulted, Greece wasted their time and money.

The Greek National Tourist Organisation website still advertised Greece with the 2009 tagline, “A Masterpiece You Can Afford” at the time it announced its new motto, while a plethora of new taxes took effect on everything.

In launching the new website, the EOT/GNTO has chosen to reorganize all pages, causing former links to be broken; and the map and destination list are presented by municipality, which of course makes no sense to a foreigner or visitor.  Ironic.

*Kalimera means good day or good morning.


Kalimera is country’s new tourism motto” – Kathimerini
«Καλημέρα» από Ελλάδα” — Ta Nea

Related posts

Live Your Myth in Greece 2008
The true Greek experience
Do I need a visa for Greece?

Image from

Goodbye Greek drachmas

Drachma notes or δραχμές/drachmes could once be exchanged for euros in their country of origin at the Bank of Greece, but the deadline for notes passed March 1, 2012 and for coins on March 1, 2004.

Greece entered the euro single currency on January 1, 2001 and began circulating euro notes and coins on January 1, 2002. Drachma notes and coins ceased being legal tender on February 28, 2002.

*Article last updated July 1, 2012. Photo comes from my personal collection.


Article covers

  • How much they were worth
  • Where drachmas were exchanged
  • Possibility of leaving the euro
  • What I did with mine.

How much were they worth?

Greek drachmas were exchanged at a fixed conversion rate decided by ECOFIN.

340.75 drachmas = 1 euro

Where to exchange drachmas

The Bank of Greece or Τράπεζα της Ελλάδος/Trapeza tis Ellados was the only place in the world you could exchange drachmas for euros.*

Elef. Venizelos 21
102 50 Athens

+30 (210) 320 1111

+30 (210) 323 2239

Hours of operation
Monday-Thursday: 8:00 to 14:30
Friday: 8:00-14:00
They are closed weekends, during strikes and on days listed at “Holidays for 2012.”

*There was a small fee.

Outside Athens

If you were nowhere near the Bank of Greece, even abroad, you could have sent drachma notes via registered mail to a friend or relative to exchange them and post them back to you.

Within Greece, registered mail is relatively inexpensive and the envelope can be tracked online at “Track and Trace.”

The same service can be used for envelopes going abroad, but postal staff say that tracking stops once outside Greece. Regardless, I have always found it reliable when sending mail to the United States, Australia and anywhere in the EU.

Ditching the euro, return of the drachma

There has been much speculation about Greece exiting the euro zone, either by choice or by force, and returning to the drachma. If this happens, Greece would adopt a new drachma or other currency, and not return to using the drachmas shown above. Experts say it could take up to two years for a new currency to be designed, approved, printed and circulated.

What I did with my δραχμές

I keep 50 and 100 drachma notes in my wallet to remind me of Greece’s history and my own, since I arrived during a period we still used it. There’s a 50-drachma coin with a boat on it, which I keep for luck; other denominations are mixed in a box full of francs, lira, pesetas, escudos, dinars and coins I see as souvenirs from countries I visited; and once in awhile I run across notes flattened in books.

Anything I did not keep or spend was given to friends who collect banknotes and coins as a hobby.

I always felt there was something special about using a national currency with so much history, and it was a shame to let it go.

Author’s note

This post is based on a blurb I wrote in 2008 for a book, which has been expanded online and updated.


Euro cash changeover” — Bank of Greece
Valuing the new Greek drachma” — Roubini Global Economics
Greek elections: Pick euro or drachma” — Reuters
— First-hand experience exchanging drachmas for friends

More information

Drachma banknotes” — Bank of Greece

In the News

Whispers of return to drachma grow louder” — NY Times
ICAP runs drachma-trading drills, just in case” — WSJ
Talking up the drachma” — NY Times
Is the euro strong enough to let Greece go?” — Bloomberg
Last chance to swap those drachmas” — Business Week
Billions of drachmas left unclaimed” — AFP, Kathimerini


2010 Tax deadlines for Greece

e1 greeceTax deadlines are determined by the category of filing and final digits of an individual’s AFM (Greek tax number), and married couples file on one form using the husband’s AFM to determine the deadline.

However, on May 31, the finance ministry announced that all taxpayers now have until June 30, 2010, regardless of AFM (Greek tax number) to submit their returns online or in person and to pay any money owed with an 80 percent discount on penalties.

Annual tax forms (E1) are sent to the address used the previous year, or your current residence if you moved and remembered to file an address change as required by law. Forms are only in Greek and can also be picked up in person at any eforia/DOY (Greek tax office) location; they are not available in English or online for download. If employing an accountant, he/she will often provide you with a completed, printed tax declaration suitable for filing and will not need your E1.

Electronic filing can be done online in Greek only at or with the recommendation of completing the process at least five (5) days before the final date.

Tax returns filed by mail should be sent in a special envelope from ELTA (Greek National Postal Service) and postmarked by the deadline. Taxpayers that miss the deadline will be penalized 1.5 percent for each month on the amount due or up to €1,200 if exempt.

To find out whether you need to file, please consult an adept accountant, consult the latest tax booklet or call/visit the eforia (DOY) nearest your legal residence to inquire, as tax laws have changed drastically. Locations can be found at “List of DOY-Eforia Tax Offices in Greece” in English or any map book available at a periptero (kiosk). There is no centralized eforia website; all business is normally conducted in person and in Greek.

*New arrivals to Greece: The 2010 tax filing applies to all tax/income activity for the year 2009. See “2011 Tax deadlines for Greece” if looking for tax filing dates and tax forms pertaining to activity in 2010.

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