Newlyweds Valasia Limnioti and Konstantinos Patronis' long-planned "dream trip" to the US ended in New York City, where their three-week honeymoon quickly turned into a nightmare: Their Greek-issued credit and debit cards were suddenly declined and they were left penniless. The couple's US adventure started after their June 6 wedding in Volos, Greece. The couple had saved for a whole year to prepay for flights and hotels, with enough cash left for both necessities and pleasures. Two Greek banks issued them cards before the trip—a Visa credit card and a debit card. "Everything was all right—then 'boom!' in New York," Limnioti says. Their midtown Manhattan hotel asked them to pay a $45 surcharge. That's when their cards bounced, and they paid with their dwindling funds. Within days, the couple ran out of cash and "we couldn't withdraw any money—zero," Limnioti says. "We were hungry, and I cried for two days," Limnioti says. "I felt homeless in New York."
The couple skipped some meals before spending their last dollars at McDonald's. On Tuesday, they reached out to the New York-based Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which contacted churches in Queens; the honeymooners were offered about $350 from two churches. An undisclosed amount also 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, Limnioti says. "We Greeks are a proud people, and I want the world to know that we are not in this situation because we're lazy or did something wrong," she says. Their financial woes won't be over once they get home: Greeks will vote Sunday in a referendum on whether to back more spending cuts, more tax increases, and more negotiations with European creditors. A rejection of such measures could trigger a Greek exit from the Eurozone. "There are only three things saving us now: our families, our friends, and our God," Limnioti says. (Read more Greece stories.)