CONSIDERATIONS FOR THOSE COMING TO MINISTER IN THESSALONIKI
While I am neither an expert on Greece nor a travel agent, please take note of a few tips from across the Atlantic to help you in your preparations for your ministering in Europe for the Lord.
Thessaloniki is not a place in a third world country. It is a very modern city. Although there are many things which cannot be expected from an American cultural viewpoint, you will find all of the necessities of life in this city. Do not worry about simplistic things such as food, water, cleaning supplies, toiletry items, or household things. Most anything you want or need can be purchased in Greece howbeit somewhat more expensively. The plan is also to rent furnished housing and thereby eliminate the need for bringing any type of bedding. Since luggage space is sometimes limited on flights (please check your luggage allowance and don’t assume anything unless you have plenty of money), concentrate on bringing necessary clothing, needed medication, and other personal items. You need to check the historical temperature of Thessaloniki (chart below in Fahrenheit) during the time of your travel to help guide you in what garments to pack.
Thessaloniki Climate graph contributed by climatetemp.info
Some have asked about immunizations. This is strictly a personal decision. There is no need to worry about picking up anything in Greece that you could not pick up where you are currently. Coming to Greece is like going to Canada or the Bahamas. There is really nothing you need to do very special. In my opinion, getting any shots is overkill and unnecessary unless you have some medical issue peculiar to yourself. Of course check with your doctor about such things before travel.
One very important area you should watch is your electronic items. Anything that runs only on 110v (standard in the USA) will burn up in Greece. However, if your electronics (like some computer products or razors) lists the specifications as 110-220v and 50-60hrtz then your product will operate normally with a European adapter. You can purchase 2 prong grounded European adapters in many places in the USA. The adapter you need for Greece looks like this. Be warned though that if you plug the wrong thing into this (such as a normal American hairdryer, etc.) that it will be toast.
The most important thing you need to do in preparation for your trip is obtain your passport. Do not delay with this. Sometimes it takes months to get a passport. Check with your local courthouse or post office for more information. If you have a passport, then make certain it is valid to the end of your stay. Passports are only good for 10 years and children’s passports are valid for only 5 years. You do not need a visa to enter Greece if you are an American citizen. You are entitled to 90 days in the country as a tourist. If you are asked at airport customs why you are coming to Greece (which is unlikely), you do not need to explain your spiritual reasons for being there. Simply tell them that you are visiting Greece as a tourist for two weeks. If you are asked where you will be staying (also unlikely), then you need to have the address of the house where you will be staying. This will be forwarded to everyone after such housing is retained.
As to the currency issue: Greece uses the Euro. Never exchange US dollars for Euros in the airport. Banks in the city will exchange your money at a much better value. Someone should be meeting each of you at the airport so you will have transportation and time to exchange money later. You may bring Travelers checks if you wish. Any credit cards you wish to use in Greece must be validated for international travel. In other words, you need to contact your credit or debit card companies and let them know you want to use said card in Greece. You should probably call at least a week before travel to give them the dates of your trip. While you are speaking with them you probably should ask what the fees and charges will be associated with international use. Each card will be different with 3-5% surcharges not unusual and also an additional fee for the use. The amount of cash you bring is up to you. Each person will spend different amounts for food, pleasure, and purchases. By the grace of God the house you will be staying in will have a full kitchen and a washing machine. This allows the purchasing of food from local grocery stores or open markets for preparation. Of course you may enjoy the many wonderful restaurants of Thessaloniki, but this is strictly your choice.
Greece is not a land of English, but it is estimated that about 40% will speak English although this is mainly true for the younger people and merchants. If you desire, you may obtain a Greek-English dictionary to aid you. God has provided a translator for this effort so that you do not have to be bilingual to be effective. Nevertheless, anything you can pick up will help.
This is a preliminary sketch to answer the questions of many. I am sure more communication will be sent along the way later, however, if you have any questions in the mean time do not hesitate to contact us.
Antioch Missionary Ministries