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Ice cubes… once the privilege of the rich and wealthy have become an everyday staple. The US is probably the largest consumer of ice cubes in the world. McDonald’s, Burger King and all the other fast food chains figured out long ago that adding ice – a lot of ice – to their soft drinks drove the beverage cost down. When you go to a restaurant in the US, most of the time, you are offered a glass of water filled to the brim with ice. Our refrigerators come with ice machines. Ice and ice cubes have become as certain as turning on a light switch or a water faucet. Electricity and water is always there, ice is always there – provided you have paid your bills.
The rest of the world though, has yet to catch up to the idea.
Greece is no different. In fact an old Greek wives tale leaves most Greeks are afraid that drinking very cold water – or eating ice cream in the winter – will give you a sore throat! You get half if not less ice in your beverage at a McDonald’s in Greece than in the US. Ice makers in refrigerators are very rare. Only very expensive ones have them. Those are generally large and occupy valuable real estate in the small homes. They are also much more expensive to operate.
All that said, what does the North American traveler to do when in Greece?
No problem!
First, there are the ubiquitous ice trays. You fill them up with tap water – it is perfectly safe to drink the water in Athens – or you can fill them from bottled water – the second choice is not my favorite since it produces a lot of non biodegradable garbage, and even though recycling is available, not everyone recycles. The problem there is that you have to remember to fill up the tray before you need the ice cubes, and can not use too many, or else the next person will not have ice.
Second, you can buy bags of ice cubes from most McDonald’s – I am starting to sound like a commercial for McDonald’s, but they do many things right – for no more than a couple of Euro. That is probably the most socially responsible thing to do.
Third, some supermarkets and liquor stores (kavas) carry bags of ice.
The problem with the second and third choices is that you have to lug the ice from the store to your place of residence, a challenging task when you are out and about touring, an even more challenging task in the heat of the summer, when you may end up with a bag of water by the time you get home.
ice cubes in Greece
There is a fourth option: ΠΑΓΟΚΥΨΕΛΕΣ, otherwise known in English as ice cube bags. I don’t know why we’ve never seen them on late night television, but they are a brilliant invention – plastic bags that are formed with pockets in the form of ice cubes. There are several brands to choose from, two examples are Sanitas, Frotto. You’ll find them in all the supermarkets. They are very handy. filling ice cube bags in GreeceThey have an opening on one side from where you fill them up with water, tap or bottled; in fact, you could even fill them up with your favorite non-carbonated beverage. Kids love frozen Popsicles, think about lemonade flavored ice cubes! (Hmmm, I’m think they might be a cool addition to a gin or vodka, too). They seal on the top and can be placed in the freezer. They stay freezer burn free and do not pick up the odor from other foods. When you need them, just pop as many of the ice cube “pillows” as you want and the rest stay frozen. You can even recycle the plastic bags.
Frozen ice cubes

Anyway, in Athens, Greece, a city where even in the winter time the temperature rarely gets colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) and most of the time is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), having ice available for a North Americans is a good thing.
Happy travels. My husband is fond of saying that “knowledge is power”, so therefore you now have more power – I’m not sure what this bit of profound insight has to do with this post, but you will definitely have more ice.

By Athensguide

How does a little girl from Skokie, Illinois find herself in historical Athens, leading curious explorers through the winding streets of Plaka, down "pezodromos" to hidden ouzeries for tempting mezedhes and homemade barrel wine? The journey began more than twenty years ago, and regardless of whether the wanderlust comes from the spiritual and culture DNA flowing through my veins, or the alignment of the stars on that cold mid-December day this Sagitterian came into the world, I never seem to tire of exploring my adopted homeland of Greece. Here you'll join me as I explore Athens: be it the back streets of Psirri and Gazi, or through the National Gardens and Zappeio where a family of turtles makes their home, or down wide, treelined Imittou Street in Pagrati, which pulses with Athenian life 24 hours a day. And while Athens has stolen my heart, the rest of Greece vies for my curiousity and wanderlust. My two guys (that'd be the Greek God, Vasilis and our Greek dog, Scruffy) and I can often be found settling in for a long weekend in some charming mountain village, or a quaint fishing port on a nearby island, or learning how Greek vitners are producing wines that rival some of Napa Valley's finests productions, or celebrating a panayeri in Epirus or sharing in the festivities as a family of Cretan sheepherders come together to sheer their 1500 sheep in the spring ... And if you happen to find yourself heading to Athens, consider finding yourself a real home for your stay. Living amongst the locals, be it for 3 nights or 3 weeks, will offer you the chance to experience true Athens, beyond the Acropolis. Choose from one of our 5 beautiful penthouse and historical homes, and who knows, I may be leading you down that winding "pezodromo" to our favorite hidden ouzerie!

3 thoughts on “Greece Travel: The secret to ice cubes in Greece”
  1. Brilliant post, thank you thank you. These bags will make terrific souvenirs if I can find them in the local supermarket. I have saved your photo to tke with me.

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