It turns out that I have an hour or two to kill at Athens airport and so naturally decide to go to the Sofitel hotel, to sit outside rent an hour’s internet use to write another article about Quindell and have a coffee. I know that it will be expensive (11 Euro) but I will enjoy writing, smoking and having a coffee in the warm late afternoon air.
I write first and then go online to ensure that my whole hour is used wisely. Naturally Sofitel cuts me off after 45 minutes. But the articles are written and I ask for my bill and hand the chap a ten euro note and a 5 euro note.
In the west a waiter would return promptly with 4 Euro change (if he is sensible as one 2 euro coin and two 1 euro coins) and would probably expect a tip of a euro at least. But this is Greece and after more than five minutes the waiter has not returned.
I wander inside and he is sitting behind the bar polishing glasses not serving anyone. “My change” I ask and he hands over a plate which was sitting next to him with for Euros on it. No fucking tip for you Stavros.
The game he plays is simple. Some folks will have to rush to catch a plane, others will be to embarrassed to ask and so five times out of ten he will get to trouser 4 tax free Euros by behaving as he has done. Only once in a lifetime will he get a chippy Brit who: demands his change, gives no tip and then posts an article on the Internet saying that the Sofitel hotel Athens charges ludicrous prices and should be having a few words with Stavros the waiter about the way he does business.
Natch nothing will change, this is the side of Greece than leaves a bitter aftertaste as does my encounter with a bent taxi driver just minutes before.
I love Greece and will be back soon, but not everyone is so forgiving.