Sex in The Olympic City
A Healthy Stay in Athens
by Nikos Melas
New in Athens? There are obviously many things you want to know about the city that never sleeps. Sightseeing, nightlife, shopping, eating out, the Olympics, the boys, the girls can, and will, intrigue you for days. Although you will find most of the information you need in your travel guidebooks, there are many important things you'd like to know which are not to be found in 'regular' tourist literature.
You can find heaps of them in pharmacies, supermarkets and kiosks, or periptero. The differences between them are the variety and the storage conditions required.
You will find all major brands (Durex, Duo, Trojan) plus another two produced locally (Again and Stop). Check the expiry date and storage conditions. Condoms should be kept away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Do not use two for them at the same time for "double protection". Friction will make them break. Always use condoms with sufficient water-based lubricant. Oil based lubricants such as Vaseline, oils or creams may damage the condom and make it permeable.
The most widely available water-based lubricant is 'KY Jelly', which is sold in (most) pharmacies. If you don't find it in one, check around - there are usually about three pharmacies every other block. Note that pharmacies are closed on Monday and Wednesday afternoon as well as on weekends. There are always emergency pharmacies open day and night around the city. You can find their addresses either on the boards hanging in the pharmacies' windows, or in local newspapers, though bear in mind that it's written in Greek. Ask your hotel reception for help if you're in a bind. You'll also find a variety of lubricants in sex shops, but these are not always visible and unless you know where the shops are, they are not easy to find.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
All hospitals have a dermatology department, which also deals with STDs. Note, however, that regular examination hours are between 8am-2pm. Go early, as queues tend to be long. After 2 pm you have to rely on emergency wards. Depending on the day of the week only certain hospitals admit you in the evening/at night and only on an emergency basis. You can find their addresses either in the newspapers or by calling the Tourist Police on 171. Of course, you can always visit a private doctor. Contact your embassy for names and addresses of dermatologists.
If you are on antiretroviral treatment and you are having some problem such as a side effects, you may contact the respective department in the following hospitals: Singrou (downtown, closest Metro station: Evangelismos), Evangelis-mos (downtown, closest Metro station: Evangelismos), Erithros Stavros (NE Athens, closest Metro station: Katehaki), Geniko Kratiko (NE Athens, closest Metro station: Katehaki) and Tzanio (Piraeus). The easiest and fastest way to spot the clinic is to ask at the hospital reception for the "AIDS Department". If you want to be politically correct, then say "Department of Special Diseases" in Greek: "monada idikon limoxeon". Private doctors are not permitted to prescribe antiretrovirals in Greece.
Note: Hospital facility standards in Greece sometimes lag behind Western European/American ones. Although this does not generally affect the doctors' competence, it will strain your nerves unnecessarily. Be a patient outpatient!