Drachma going out with a whimper

With only four days left until the final demise of the drachma, few Greeks seem to regret the advent of the euro, which will be the country’s only legal currency as of Friday. Most transactions are already being carried out in euros, while the majority of the population has ceased to think in drachmas. At the Monastiraki flea market yesterday, antique dealers were quoting prices – and customers doing their haggling – in euros. «It’s easier, there are much fewer zeros involved, and in any event, from March 1 onward we won’t have any choice,» car mechanic Costas Economou observed as he inquired after a battered wooden chest. In the area’s teeming coffee shops, euros were the predominant currency. «We get drachmas very rarely now,« waiter Grigoris Kalaitzis said. «At first, people were very suspicious of euros, fearing that we would try to overcharge them, but now everyone seems to be very much into them.» Commercial banks will still exchange drachmas until the end of this year. Afterward, only the Bank of Greece will accept the old currency, until 2010. Nominally the oldest currency on the continent, the drachma first appeared in the sixth century BC and was quickly adopted by the ancient Greek world, in which each city issued its own coin. It was phased out following the Roman conquest in the mid-second century BC. The drachma was readopted as the currency of the newly established Greek State in 1832. An official farewell will be held for the drachma at the Aigli Restaurant in the National Gardens on Thursday.

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