Greek couple on honeymoon, penniless in NYC, amid Greek crisis

2015-07-03 10:53
Valasia Limnioti and Konstantinos Patronis. (Mary Altaffer, AP)

Valasia Limnioti and Konstantinos Patronis. (Mary Altaffer, AP)

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New York - Newlyweds Valasia Limnioti and Konstantinos Patronis' long-planned "dream trip" to America ended in New York City, where their three-week honeymoon quickly turned into a nightmare: Their Greek-issued credit and debit cards were suddenly declined and they were left penniless.

"We were hungry, and I cried for two days," Limnioti said. "I felt homeless in New York."

The couple skipped a few meals before spending their last dollars on dinner at McDonald's. Strangers from two Greek Orthodox churches in the city's Queens borough came to the rescue, giving them survival cash until their flight home to Greece on Friday.

Their financial woes won't be over once they get home.

With banks closed, Greece faces a deep financial crisis. Greeks will vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether to back more spending cuts, more tax increases and more negotiations with European creditors. A rejection of such draconian measures could trigger a Greek exit from the Eurozone.

Limnioti, aged 36, is unemployed after the small business for which she worked failed. Her 39-year-old husband still has his job as a helicopter engineer for the Greek military.

The couple's US adventure started after their June 6 wedding in Volos, Greece, a port city several hours north of Athens.

Their coast-to-coast US trip that took in Los Angeles and a Caribbean cruise "was the dream trip of our lives," Limnioti said.


They had saved for a whole year to pre-pay for flights and hotels, with enough cash left for both necessities and pleasures. Two Greek banks issued them cards before the trip, a Visa credit card and a debit card. In Greece, they generally pay in cash, which is preferred by businesses, but they were told to have cards for the US.

"Everything was all right, then 'boom!' in New York," Limnioti said.

Their midtown Manhattan hotel asked them to pay a $45 surcharge. That's when their cards bounced. They paid with their dwindling funds.

Within days, the couple ran out of cash and "we couldn't withdraw any money, zero," Limnioti said.

On Tuesday, in despair, they reached out to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New York, which contacted the churches in Queens' Astoria neighbourhood.

The honeymooners were offered about $350 from the St Demetrios Greek Orthodox church and another nearby one, St Irene Chrysovalantou.

In addition, an undisclosed amount came from a New York-based Greek journalist who hails from Volos.

The couple insisted they'd pay back the money but were told it was a gift, said Limnioti, speaking Wednesday from the American Museum of Natural History.

She said relatives in Greece told them other Greeks abroad also were left penniless, including some patients in US hospitals who cannot pay for medical care.

She said she's speaking out "because we Greeks are a proud people, and I want the world to know that we are not in this situation because we're lazy or did something wrong".

Read more on:    greece  |  economy

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