On Crete, Chinese evacuees keen to learn and say "thank you" in Greek

13:05, March 01, 2011      

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Among the Chinese evacuees who landed on the Greek island of Crete after a cross-Mediterranean trip from Libya in recent days, "Efharisto" (thank you) has become the most popular native word they are keen to learn.

Since Thursday, more than 10,000 Chinese nationals have been evacuated to Crete so far.

Toula, one of the dozens of Greeks who handed out water and bread to Chinese evacuees at the port of Heraklion, capital of Crete, said she probably has heard "Efharisto" for thousands of times by Monday.

"We can clearly see the relief in their eyes," she told Xinhua, as she greeted a group of Chinese evacuees with a warm smile before they got on buses which would take them to one of the 20 local hotels to rest, relax and enjoy Greek hospitality before their return to China by air.

Most of area hotels which usually open in May for the tourism season, have been closely working together with Chinese embassy officials who arrived in Crete last week as well as Greek officials to prepare for the arrival of the evacuees.

"Once we got the request from Chinese officials, we rushed and pulled out a miracle to open the hotel in just over 12 hours," said Theofilos Fragkiskos, a young receptionist who slept four hours on average over the past few days to offer the best accommodation to Chinese nationals.

"It's the least we could do for these people," said Michalis, owner of a nearby hotel.

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