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The 1 Euro Store

Bargain hunters delight

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Sophisticated travelers will avoid these at all cost - but with the exchange rate the way it is lately, that cost may be pretty high indeed. What am I talking about? The European Union equivalent of the "99 cent store" - the "1 Euro Shop".

Before you decide I've gone completely mad, let me reassure you that I know that the majority of the goods in these places are shoddy imports having little to with Greece. But as a save-money strategy, they're hard to beat. While most of them are in the larger towns, I've also spotted similar shops in relatively remote villages and on the islands.

If you're daring enough to enter, here's what you'll find:

  • Cheap toiletries - great for filling in the gaps of what you forgot to bring, or what was seized at airport security. Use them in Greece and throw them away when you leave.
  • Electronics - European extension cords, multiple-outlet surge protectors. These are almost impossible to find outside of Europe, but for today's electronics-addicted traveler, they can be a lifesaver as you strive to recharge batteries for multiple devices while working on your laptop. Since outlets in smaller Greek hotels can often be located in hard-to-access places in the room, one of these can be a great help.
  • Multi-purpose tools. Oh for the days when I was never without my Swiss Army knife in my purse. But with today's security challenges, it's become easier for me just to leave it at home. But if I pick up one of the cheap imitations, I can use it in Greece and leave it as a bonus tip in my last hotel room.

  • Surprise! The occasional legitimately Greek souvenir. It's true, 99 percent of the goods at the 99 Euro Cent store will be from Asia. But a few Greek surplus goods may find their way in. Some of the most common - chunk incense in plastic boxes and olive-oil soap.
  • Socks and "Intimate" Apparel. Many of the 99 Euro cent stores will have at least a limited selection of underwear, socks, bras, and so on. If they happen to have what you need, it can save you a time-consuming trip to a department store in a larger town.
  • Washcloths. Greeks really do use them, yet cheaper hotels routinely omit them, fearing they will be stolen. This is true - after five or six days in hotels without a washcloth, if you happen to finally get one, it can be awfully hard to leave that little terry square behind. This will help keep you honest.
  • Plastic raincoats - you know the kind, essentially a large thin plastic bag enclosed in a little pouch. Souvenir shops will be happy to sell you one for 4 or 5 Euro, especially when the rain starts. At a Euro store, it's a cheap insurance policy against rain.

Note: Some stores will stick to the "1 Euro or Less" policy, others will mix in a few more expensive items, usually labelling them as such, and I've also seen the "1.50 Euro or Less!" sign. In any case, it usually will save you substantial money over any of the same items bought at a "real" store.

Happy bargain hunting!

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