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Greek Customs

by Tyler

Wow. I really thought Tunisia would win the award for most inefficient postal service on our trip but today, Greece easily stole the crown.

Here is what it took to receive our new camera:

  1. Our package arrives in Greece on Thursday but isn't delivered.

  2. I call FedEx on Friday morning to see why it hasn't been sent. They inform us that it hasn't cleared customs because we have to fill out paperwork which they'll email to us.

  3. No email is sent, they close @ 4pm.

  4. I call on Monday morning, they apologize and say they will send paperwork, and that our package will be delivered by Thursday. Then they say in addition to duties, it will cost 100 extra euro to have them clear it. When I ask if we can clear it ourselves, they say yes.

  5. We ride the train for an hour to the airport where Customs/FedEx is.

  6. In the airport they say we need a special permit to visit customs.

  7. We are given 7 different extensions to dial on the internal phone system to request this permit. All are busy or non-functioning for the first 10 minutes.

  8. When someone does finally answer they say we've reached the wrong department and transfer our call into nothingness. We start over.

  9. We finally reach someone, and they open the customs office door for us, just across the hall.

  10. Customs informs us that we need to go to a different customs in "cargo", 2 kilometers away.

  11. We ask several taxis, but the drivers don't know what we're talking about. A police officer eventually helps. With much ado, we make it to "cargo" and the FedEx office. Where we wait in line at FexEx, pick up our papers, and pay an unexplained fee of 30 euro to take them.

  12. We go to customs with our papers. They redirect us to cargo.

  13. We go to cargo, a tiny dark room in a warehouse, where a crotchety man looks over our papers and almost refuses to let us continue. Our package has been shipped to our hosts with our name below "care of" and the man either does not believe that Tara is Tara or just doesn't want to be helpful.

  14. Thankfully, the man gives in to what could only be called our pleading, looks over our papers and signs and stamp them in no less than eight places.

  15. We are sent into the cargo warehouse to wait at another window with our papers.

  16. A man takes our papers and disappears for awhile looking for our box.

  17. Once our box is located, he calls us over, opens the box to confirm the contents match the airbill, but doesn't really look inside at all.

  18. Our papers are stamped and signed yet again, and we are sent to customs across the street.

  19. At the first window in customs a man writes a single tiny number in the corner of our papers and sends us to another window.

  20. At the second window, a man types the number into a computer, signs and stamps our papers and sends us to another window.

  21. At the third window, another man looks over everything, signing and stamping everywhere. When he is through, he sends us across the street to another building near cargo.

  22. A woman there takes our stamp-and-signature-filled pile of papers and calculates we owe 15 euro in duties. We pay and she hands us two new pieces of paper to take to cargo.

  23. Cargo gives us our package and sends us on our way!

We did it! Outside of customs, we disposed of all the packing material, loaded our new gear into our backpack, and took a bus back the two kilometers to the airport where we would catch the hour-long train ride home, fiddling with our new camera (a used Nikon D700) the whole way.

Athens Train

Holy moly, our new camera and super large aperture lens let us take good pictures in low light! It feels like a whole new world of photo opportunities has opened up!