Stuff to know
Zone: Greece is 2 hrs ahead of Greenwich Meantime, 2hrs ahead
of London, 7 hrs ahead of New York, 7 hrs behind Tokyo and 10 hrs
ahead of Buenos Aires
Language: English is widely spoken on Crete, however, it
is fully appreciated if you attempt (however badly) to use some
Greek words or phrases!
Tipping: By law, a service charge is figured into the price
of a meal, but it is customary to leave an additional 8-12%, unless
you receive particularly bad service (which is very unusual). Tip
hotel maids 2-5 Euros per day (3 Euros = 4 Canadian Dollars!), hairdressers
10%, tour guides approximately 2 Euros per day. When tipping taxi
drivers, Greek people usually round off the fare to the nearest
Zzzz Zzzz: siesta time is from about 2-5 each day. Most shops
will close during this period - however it was my experience, from
the end of May to September-most stores and tavernas stay open.
Stamps can be bought at the Mini Markets or anywhere you purchase
your post cards. Mailboxes are yellow (there is a main Post Office
in Chania) and are situated mainly along the roadways.
Phones: You can dial direct by using phone cards that can
be purchased from one of the many roadside Kiosks. Phone booths
Taxis: are licensed with meters and are everywhere and are
Currency: Travelers cheques may be exchanged in one of the
many banks in Chania and main centers. It is recommended that you
take some local currency - which as of January 2002 is the European
Euro. There are many bank machines throughout Chania and they are
just as convenient and easy to use as the ones at home! Payment
by credit cards is generally not accepted in tavernas, local stores
and smaller establishments. Inflation in Greece has dropped to around
5% a year - generally Greece offers good value compared with many
other European countries.
Mosquitoes (Kanoupies) are common on Crete as with most Mediterranean
countries. A variety of plug in anti mosquitoes devises are available
in the stores. Purchase insect repellent before you leave home.
Toilets: Greece has limited drainage systems. Use the bins
provided for the disposal of all paper products - please do not
flush them down the toilet! The bins are emptied often.
Airports: There are two major airports on the island - Akotiri
Airport which is about 15 minutes outside of Chania and Heraklion
- about 11/2 hrs from Chania.
Churches: Most churches in Chania are Greek Orthodox. There
is a Roman Catholic Church on Halidon Street.
What To Wear: Dress is generally informal, however, should
you wish to enter churches or monasteries, respect for the Greek
Orthodox faith requires no shorts - please use common sense. The
weather can be changeable, bring a light jacket. You will need sun
block, hats/sunglasses. If you plan to hike, bring sturdy shoes.
Transportation: The National Highway, which is the main
road in Crete, follows the north coast of the island from the east
to the west. It is a good road that handles most of the islands
traffic and makes traveling from one side to the other fairly easy.
Other good asphalt roads cross the country from the north to south,
as well as plenty of minor roads ranging in quality from asphalt
to little more than dirt roads. When driving on the National Highway
(Greece is left hand driving-same as North America) it is the custom
to pull off to the right in order for faster cars to pass you. Speed
is limited to 50 km in the towns and the highways have the speed
posted. There are no trains, but there is a good bus service, which
covers Crete. The main bus terminals are centrally situated in Heraklion,
aghios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Sita, Rethminon and Chania. From these
terminals, buses can be taken to all ports of Crete. It can be a
little hectic and confusing at these stations-lots of people coming
and going! Get there early, go into the terminal building and ask!
Very often the people passing on the information will not know which
location your bus will be leaving from until just before it leaves
- be ready to move quickly! Town buses can be caught along the main
roads at marked stops - they do not always stop if you are standing
there so you must flag them.