Cellular stores at Athens International Airport?
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Oct 6, 2012 7:50 AM Last Post By: Agent_Akin
Oct 4, 2012 7:09 PM
Cellular stores at Athens International Airport?Greetings all!
So, in a few weeks I'll finally make it over to Europe, for a cruise in the Mediterranean. I'll be making landfall at the Athens International Airport...
While I can do without talking on my phone while I'm over there, it'd be much harder to be without data, if for no other reason than to upload pictures and check-in on Foursquare...
Instead of paying the horrendous international fees that AT&T charges, I've heard that it's much better to purchase a European SIM card and pop it into your phone during your stay.
So, some questions that hopefully someone may know the answers to...
If I were to assume that there is a store at the Athens airport that would sell me a pre-paid SIM card, would I be correct? Many of the airports here in the US that I've been to have cellular stores inside the terminals. If I acquired a local SIM card, would it also work in Turkey and Italy, the other locations we'll be visiting?
If such a store exists at Athens, what might the chance be of them speaking English? I don't want to be the stupid American assuming that everyone else speaks my language, but I specifically booked a tour and cruise that is English based because I speak none of the languages over there.
Assuming that I find an appropriate store and I can communicate well enough to get a card, does anyone know if nano-SIM cards are available yet over there, for my Iphone 5? I'm thinking of getting a nano-SIM cutter so I can convert a micro-SIM over to work in my phone, but if they sell them outright, it'd be easier...
Thanks a lot!
Oct 4, 2012 8:17 PM
1No, you are not a stupid American -- even those of us who've been going to Greece forever cannot conduct major conversations in Greece ... it's a HARD language to do well -- and Greeks now start learning English in FIRST GRADE. So, not to worry.
However, you do need to wrry about a store at the Airport. There used to be a "Germanos" store (like a Greek Radio SHack) that arriving visitors could get ... but now I hear from others, is in the DEPARTURE area, so perhaps it would be a hassle to get there. Others, correct me if this has changed.
If you're going straight in to Athens, and to the Plaka area, not a problem -- there is a store called "Public" right on Syntagma Square, carries all plhones, and phone accessories etc. also has a (cheap) cafe on 5th floor overlooking the square.
I just bought a cheap Greek Phone to use there for calls & texting, because I don't feel the need to be on the Internet constantly ... part of the beauty of being in a place like Greece is that you can get away from this constant electronic communicating. However, they will have sim cards .... do you know whether your phone is "unlocked" so you can use a foreign SIM card? Check with your provider.
Last thing -- I am sorry that fear of not knowing Greek caused you to book both a cruise and a tour. On my first trip to Greece, 12 years ago, I knew nothing more than how to say PLease, Thankyou, How much? and Good Morning. And I did fine. But then, it was fortunately before the day of 4-square, Facebook, etc etc ... so a person could just go with the flow and get a feel of the country. Try it!!
Oct 4, 2012 9:08 PM
2You'll need a boarding pass to get to the Germanos Store at ATH. It's in the secure departures area now. If you're flying out of ATH you could try using that boarding pass if you have managed to get it in advance. As #1 has already stated, you can get a cheap phone and SIM in central Athens.
Oct 4, 2012 11:21 PM
3You would have to have a sim for each country as data roaming costs in Europe are very high, so wilst the Greek sim card would work in the other countries it will cost just as much in other countries as your US sim. A lot of cruises will not pick up signal once you are at sea so your card could also be redundant when on the cruise.
Oct 4, 2012 11:25 PM
4Well, I mainly want to be able to use my phone while ashore, on the ship there's wifi and stuff...
That's wierd though, I've always heard that Europe has great plans that can be used in any country for low prices. Heck,,many of the websites I've perused describe such plans... I'm just hoping it's cheaper to do it on the ground when over there instead of having a SIM card shipped to me here before I depart...
Edited by: Agent_Akin
Oct 4, 2012 11:33 PM
5If you live in the U.S. be sure your phone is an unlocked quadband GSM phone or it won't function in Europe. The mobile phone frequencies there are different. Also, just a few years ago you could buy a Greek SIM and have it mailed to you but now there's some paperwork involved and you have to register it along with your passport number, so that option will no longer work.
Oct 5, 2012 12:00 AM
6errr... okay, what exactly is meant by "unlocked"? I'm guessing you're not talking about sliding to unlock the screen... is that like "jailbreaking"? I don't know anything about that kind of thing...
When I called AT&T earlier, they didn't mention a need for anything like that... I was planning on using my iphone 5, but if anything funny needs to be done to it, I may use my old iphone 4...
Oct 5, 2012 12:17 AM
7"Unlocked" means that you can use any provider's sim card in your phone. Usually, if you buy a phone as a deal with a 12- or 24-month contract, your phone is locked into that provider's plan.
"Europe" does not have great plans for cell phone use. Individual countries might have great plans, but as soon as you cross a border, you pay roaming fees, which can be high. The EU commission is working on this, to force providers to bring down their rates, but so far, it's pretty expensive.
Oct 5, 2012 12:20 AM
Oct 5, 2012 12:45 AM
9wonder why AT&T failed to mention this nlocking business when I asked them about popping n a new SIM card
Why would they? It's not in their interest if you pop in a local SIM card instead of using their services.
How do plans for use in multiple countries compare to the $180 for 800megabytes of data that AT&T wants to charge me while I'm international?
Comparing plans within one country is already a hell of a job, let alone comparing your American plan with everything on offer in Greece. All depends on how many calls you're going to make, how many texts you want to send etc.
But since you say you have "wifi and stuff" onboard, I wonder why you'd bother with a local SIM card anyway and don't just stick to AT&T just in case you need to make an emergency call. You're travelling, I assume you do that in part to get away from your daily routine in the US and won't be calling home every day to talk for hours about what you did and saw, will you? And what's the point of going abroad if you'll be staring at your iPhone half the time anyway while you're ashore? Do you really need 800 Mb of data during this trip?
Oct 5, 2012 12:51 AM
10Like I said, I don't plan on making any voice calls, and I want data for uploading pictures and checking in and looking up interesting things about where I am, and whatnot...
And, I don't trust any wifi that doesn't require a username and password. Too many horror stories about what can be done over open wifi... especially in popular areas, like tourist destinations...
Oct 5, 2012 2:46 AM
11Most wifi in europe doesn't require a password and username just a code, and really there are no problems with it yes I woud not be buying things with my credit card but for general usage there really are no problems. Why not just go with the flow on your travels you are already in the situation of being herded (guided) around most destinations so have some freedom for when this is the case. Travel is about discovery forget the internet for a few weeks and enjoy the new places on route. Why waste money on uploading photos when you can do this easily enough on your return.
And with regard to the data the $180 for 80GB will probably be much cheaper than buying a Greek card and using in other countries. With pay as you go sim cards even data use in the country where you bought is not that cheap
Oct 5, 2012 3:05 AM
Oct 5, 2012 6:46 AM
13Agent, I have a SUPER Idea!!
Why not buy a guidebook??? You can get a 2008 Rough Guide to Greece on Amazon for a couple of bucks plus shipping.... AND it's laid out so that you can pull out a section (such as "Athens" "Cyclades Islands" etc), and "bind" the spine with duct tape and VOILA! you have a tiny pocket-size guide with more and more accurate info than you can find on most websites ... plus terrifc maps of cities, islands, ancient sites, museums -- the works. PLUS... it has a wonderful succinct and insightful section that puts all of Greek history and culture into context PLUS a section on useful greek phrases & menu items (with pronunciation guide!) ... a wealth of info!! NOTE: the latest Rough Guide edition (2012), has gotten iffy reviews for leaving out a lot --- 2008 Guide is fine for all details except perhaps hotel prices, and I can testify it 's a treasure. I've bumped around on Peloponnese and half a dozen islands with these "mini=guides" in a pocket, and it work!
Of course, it's your parents' technology, and it doesn't get you on four-square ... but you can use the $170 you save to buy a whole lot of dinners and good greek wine...
Oct 5, 2012 6:49 AM
14PS: this data source also works if you're in a place with no cell coverage ... or sitting on a rock somewhere ... or waiting on a dock or sitting in a taverna. And it's not nearly as anti-social as ignoring your companions to stare at a phone... you can look up and join in conversation without having the "minutes" add up to $$$.
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