Changing Perspectives on Cash v. Debit

When we lived in the US there was no doubt that debit was the way to go.  Tracking the charges was relatively easy, even if the bank descriptions do get a bit crazy, they're still easy enough to figure out when you don't spend much.  So I lived out my college days with less than ten bucks in my wallet, which was only a problem when I wanted to order a pizza.

Then we moved to Saudi Arabia we couldn't get a bank account until we got our residency cards.  Since anything pertaining to the government takes an unnecessarily long time, we spent the first couple months spending cash only before we got a new bank account here with a shiny new debit card. Since it's accepted basically nowhere and we had already adjusted to spending cash, we thought nothing of it.  We live in a cash based society, and since the dollar is pinned against the riyal at 1:3.75, it's not unusual for us to have large bills on hand, especially when shopping in Jeddah.  Since bank fees make me want to punch someone, we go cash only on vacations too, so we didn't really think anything of it when we got from our "bank" 500 euro notes when we exchanged money.

I'm not 100% sure how, but somehow we realize that forking over the equivalent of a $668 in a single bill might not be the best tourist move we could make.  So we decided that when we got to Greece, we'd break it down to smaller bills.  Turns out this was a lot harder to do than we though. Each bank we went to would only break one, and the currency exchange places refused to break them.  In retrospect, it is a lot of money, but it is still money and the notion that it is somehow less spendable boggles me.  Real currency isn't spendable in Greece, but water has somehow become currency in Saudi?  It's a crazy, crazy world.

*Catch up on our entire Athens adventure by checking Our Travel Page, or our Greece tag.*