Astoria Churches Come to Rescue for Penniless Greek Honeymooners Impacted by Greek Bank Controls


Greek Newlyweds Valasia Limnioti and Konstantinos Patronis’ long-planned “dream trip” to the U.S. ended in New York City, where their three-week honeymoon quickly turned into a nightmare when their Greek-issued credit and debit cards were suddenly declined when the Greek government issued capital controls, limiting bank transactions and the flow of money abroad in any way.

“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 Astoria came to the rescue, giving them survival cash until their flight home to Greece.

The couple’s U.S. adventure started after their June 6 wedding in Volos, Greece.

Their coast-to-coast U.S. 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. Neither of their two Greek-bank issued credit cards worked.

“Everything was all right – then ‘boom!’ in New York,” Limnioti told NBC News in an interview.

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 New York-based Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which connected them with two churches in Astoria, which offered about $350 from the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church and another nearby one, St. Irene Chrysovalantou.

“I said to them, ‘Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here,'” said the Rev. Vasilios Louros of St. Demetrios. “This is the church of Christ and we always help people.”

The money was withdrawn from the church’s bank account, “and that was it,” he said.

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.

Numerous Greeks are stranded abroad, including some patients in U.S. hospitals who cannot pay for medical care or daily living expenses.

Original story from NBC News.



  1. Helen Steele on

    The support the couple received is very touching . However, being able to withdraw $50 a day per person from an ATM is not exactly being penniless.

    • Gregory Pappas on

      Dear Helen– as a clarification to you– the couple in fact was left penniless because the daily limit only applies to people withdrawing from their accounts in Greece. The capital controls imposed by the government don’t allow for any foreign transactions, meaning that Greeks traveling abroad could not use their debit cards at all. Not even the 60 euro a day limit. Also, most major companies are no longer accepting Greek-bank-issued credit cards. We have received numerous messages from readers in London, and elsewhere.

      • Dear Greg. Thank you for the clarification. I just came back from Athens and I found out that there the 60 euro per day limit became 50 because the banks within a few hours ran out of 5, 10 and 20 euro bank notes.

    • Gus Panagopoulos on

      It was clear that their credit and debit cards we’re declined, so it is not fair to say that they weren’t penniless. So quick with a response without reading the story. I applaud the strangers and churches help. We call this “filotomia” which comes from the Greek word “filotimo”, the act of generosity without wanting anything in return.

      • It was not clear, but I did not want to argue. I came from London yesterday where I used my Greek Alpha Bank debit card and was given 50. Also a friend of mine used his Ethniki debit card in Lima, Peru and was given also 50. Please drive your own conclusions.

        • Gus Panagopoulos on

          Drive my own conclusions?!? Lady, either you can’t read or understand what the story says in the first paragraph. You are not a national of Greece like the newlyweds are. There is a restriction of money flow to citizens of Greece and not to non Greeks like yourself. You are being judgemental which is wrong. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but yours is not factual, just ignorant.

  2. I’m sorry this is a little ridiculous. So after planning a three week honeymoon abroad, and enjoying the beauties of California and the Caribbean, they end up in NY “stranded” and with no money? Ok, but that they were “hungry” and left to survive on only McDonalds, is a little bit dramatic. Have they ever voluntarily eaten Goody’s in Greece? Or only when hitting rock bottom were they forced to eat that too. If this is an “Our Country uniting all over the world to help each other” story, please don’t end it with “numerous Greeks are stranded, including some patients who cannot afford medical care.” Then maybe that’s primarily where our Church’s generosity should be going. Not helping a couple finish off their dream vacation.

    • I did not want to argue but I came from London yesterday where I used my Greek Alpha Bank debit card and was given 50. Also a friend of mine used his Ethniki debit card in Lima, Peru and was given also 50. Please drive your own conclusions. The cafes and the restaurants in Athens are full of the locals who eat, drink and be merry while they are discussing and rather arguing about the latest political developments and calling us hazoamerikanous.

  3. Pauline christakos on

    Why did they tell them to go to Astoria….why didn’t the Archdiocese help them out? I’m sure they have enough funds to help out people in need.

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