A Cold Beer From The Bakery

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Things in Greece are not always what you might expect. If you come to visit from Canada, you might be surprised to learn that it’s okay to drink an ice cold beer while sitting in the car! And there are other things that occur that you’d probably never expect to happen. Like what can happen when you’re looking for the DHL Courier drop off location.

can of alfa strong beer in athens, greece while sitting in car

Now why would I be looking for a DHL courier drop off location in the first place, when the ELTA (Greek) Post Office is almost right around the corner? Several reasons including the fact that lineups at the post office can be a huge time waster (for me), and the fact that I had sent a package back in June, to Canada, with tracking – but the online tracking reported that the package was still stuck in Greece, more than a month later.

My son’s 18th birthday is coming up next week, and I wanted to be sure a gift I have for him would arrive in Ontario, Canada on or before his birthday. I was hoping to send it through the postal mail as it would have been considerably less expensive – but with the worries about the package I sent in June still not arriving, I decided that courier would be the best chance.

I checked out the DHL website to figure out how much it might cost and how I’d even arrange for the package to be couriered by them. There were some “yikes” moments when I saw the price, but nevertheless I wanted to get this to my son by August 6th. So the next thing was to figure out how to get it to DHL in the first place, and I could not do the online order as we have no printer here at this time.

But, there were drop off depots listed. And one of them was only about 3 km away, within walking distance for me. I had an idea of the area the drop off location is in, but still, in Greece, it can be very difficult to figure out exactly how to get to places, even those places that might be a short distance away. So, that’s where Google maps comes in (but even then, mistakes can easily happen).

So with mobile phone and package in hand, I set out on foot on a hot sunny day to locate the DHL Courier drop off.

Not A Walk In The Park

There were two routes I could have taken, one which would have had me hike through the large municipal park in Nea Filadelfeia. I decided against that route as Google said it would take a few minutes longer (probably due to the hills) and because I thought walking through the streets would help me with figuring out where I am in relation to other places, when we’re driving.

But even choosing this route, I still managed to screw up. In Athens, when Google is telling you to turn right, sometimes it really means to keep going straight. Or, if it is telling you to turn left, which left precisely as it could mean the alley way (which are used as roads), or the other street that is also on the left that is running diagonally. Often, street names are not marked at all, and there are times when it is pretty much impossible to know what street you are on unless you ask someone.

Anyhow, even though it should have been less than a 30 minute walk for me, it turned into a bit more of an adventure, especially as I reached the final destination.

There Is No DHL Courier Drop Off?

Finally, I made it to the street I was supposed to be on – Vrioulon St and Google maps indicated I had only another 80 metres to walk before reaching my destination. Because it was such a hot day and the sun was shining directly on my phone, I decided to stick my phone in my pocket at that point, and just look for a place with a DHL sign. Should be easy enough, right?

Except there were no shops with a DHL sign. I continued walking past 34 which seemed to be a cafe of some sort and kept looking. Nothing. Five minutes later, I thought I better check Google maps again, but when I took out my phone, the map app had disappeared and I could not easily re-enter the information. Heat and sweaty hands just don’t it very well with mobile phones.

I started to walk back the other way, looking closely at all the shops, most of which were closed. As I stood in front of a place that was clearly marked “34,” I was not sure what to do as this place definitely did not seem like a courier drop off point.

In addition, I was getting a bit nervous about the time as it was ten minutes to 4PM – the cutoff time the DHL website had noted.

While standing there, a man got out of his car, apparently to help me find what I was looking for. I was obviously looking for something, and I suspect he had seen me walk up and down the street past his location a couple of times. Of course, he spoke to me in Greek and did not understand English – and although I had said, “DHL” to him, he seemed not to understand at all.

In Greek, I told him I was looking for “Triada-Tessera” and pointed at my package. In retrospect, he likely did not know for sure if I had a package to deliver to someone, or was looking for the drop off place, which actually happened to be his shop!

Finally, when he realized what I was looking for, he gestured to me to follow him but I was still not sure if he understood. The next thing I realize is that he is opening up the large exterior security blind of a shop that is a small bakery and asking me to come inside. There were still no signs of a DHL drop off location.

It wasn’t until he gestured toward me to approach a counter at the back of his shop and took the package from my hands that I realized that it was his small bakery shop, that he had closed up early, that is also a DHL Courier drop off (but using an association with another company called “Clever Point”).

Now To Find Cash!

I will say that the man was obviously trying to be very helpful, but we did have a language barrier although I could understand some of the questions he was asking me. It took about 15 or 20 minutes to get things straightened away and the package ready with proper shipping label and documentation – but when I pulled out my credit card to pay the 86 Euros – he exclaimed, “No carte! No carte!”

“Uh oh,” I thought. “Now what?” I indicated to the man that I only had a small amount of cash on me, and he pointed in the direction of down the street while saying, “Trapeza” – the Greek word for bank (or table). But I had no clue how far I’d have to walk, nor had I any clue if this bakery owner wanted to stay open for me while I went off trying to find a bank machine.

In Greece, there just aren’t bank machines at every corner, and banks are pretty much located only in the major shopping districts of each area. Combined with the heat, and the sweat now pouring down my brow, I really wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up calling my companion for help but she was at work and didn’t have time to speak with me – but tried to reassure me I could find a bank by continuing walking down the street toward the “square.” But I still was not really sure where I was.

Finally, after about 15 minutes of looking for a bank machine, figuring out how to return to the store, I handed over cash in two 50 Euro bills, and looked at their cold beer in their refrigerated display and thought, “I need one of those!”

I bought two.

It’s Okay To Drink A Cold Beer In The Car

My companion decided to drive up to the location of the bakery as soon as she could to make sure I had managed okay. I waited outside in the sun while watching for her vehicle. We ended up driving to another location where she had to be, and I asked, “Any chance I can open this beer?”

“Huh? I’m surprised you have not done that already!”

And after opening it up, I took a long refreshing swig of the beer and realized that you just never know in Greece, what you can and cannot do, and how different things can be.

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