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The Tates Take on the Hellinic Post & Police

A cultural comparison of the Greek and American postal systems and police force.

Living in a new country turns daily tasks, like mailing a package or having a signature notarized, into adventures. Such was the case for the Tates.

Let's start with our experiences with the Hellinic Post. After Google Maps led us to a restaurant, not a post office. We tried the second listed address and found the Hellinic Post in Chalandri. We needed to mail a birthday card to my friend Elisha, and sunglasses to a Scottish Laird whom we accidentally stole from at lunch on the island of Meganisi (you can't make this stuff up.)

First impression: people are as miserable in Greek post offices as in Washington, D.C. post offices. Check out this guy's expression. It's the exact expression worn en masse at the post office in our our U.S. neighborhood.

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Upon further exploration, we noted the civility of the Greek post office. You take a number, and sit (yes, sit in proper chairs) while you wait for your turn instead of standing for 20+ minutes hating life and your high heels.


Next similarity between postal systems: the automated postal machine is always broken. I have to admit I enjoyed the shared cultural irony (especially since I had zero hope of using the machine in Greek.)

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Having successfully mailed the birthday card, we attempted to mail the laird's sunglasses. It turns out that unlike U.S. post offices, Greek post offices do not sell boxes or packing tape. Soooo... we will hang onto the stolen property until we can find a box.

The next errand on the Tate to-do list was signing our residency permit application paperwork. This is not as simple as just signing and sending a document. In Greece, your signatures need to be authenticated for this type of paperwork. Notaries don't exist here... so you need to head to your local police station to have an officer witness and seal your signatures. That sounds special, doesn't it?

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Great news... the Greek police are incredibly friendly and kind! Officer Dora sealed our signatures and even agreed to a photo for this blog. In fact, the guy in the back actually moved to be in the photo. We were in and out of the station within 5 minutes (2 of which were dedicated to photo taking and Culin teasing Merric about being thrown in a cell.)

My experiences with the U.S. police are limited (hooray,) but they tend to be more strict and more focused on law enforcement. The Greek police seem to share roles of law enforcement and public service... sort of like a police, Triple A, and county clerk mashup.

The signed Residency Permit paperwork have been scanned to our immigration lawyer as the next step in "the process." It will be interesting to see how long it take to get an appointment to submit our application and have our blue papers (temporary residency permits) issued.

What's Next:

An epic blog post about sailing the Ionian Sea for a week + our upcoming visit to the sea turtle rescue center!