Ah, Greece, the land of sunlight, ouzo and blue skies. Wish I could visit right now!
I travel to Greece once or twice per year and every single time it feels like the first time. My excitement to discover something new and taste something different resembles the one a child has when eating ice-cream for the first time. Despite the fact that I was raised in Greece, I still explore the country as a tourist; camera around the neck, map on hands and asking locals about recommendations-speaking the language comes handy on this particular occasion.
Greece has been lately all over the newspaper headlines, not for the most positive reasons like the beautiful islands or the amazing Greek spirit, but for the financial and immigrants crisis, leaving many Brits wonder what’s happening in the country right now. A question I am being asked quite frequently I have to say.
Since many of you are interested into visiting Greece and want to hear the truth about the country’s situation from a local’s mouth I gathered opinions and stories from people back home to deliver this article-BBC news do not necessarily tell the truth you see.
Why you should travel to Greece this summer?
A lesson I’ve learned while watching the British news and international media is to never underestimate how much they can manipulate and twist a story-this has made the Greek crisis appear to be much worse than it is in reality. Many of my friends are surprised to know that there are no riots in the heart of Athens or fires outside the banks. Please always filter any information being told to you and do your own research about the truth.
Virtually there is no tension anywhere in the cities and despite the difficulties people keep living their lives as they used to before the crisis. Discussions about the immigrants in the islands and a 70% reduction of holidays makers is often the topic of choice among the locals, but this does not affect the tourists to any extent. Quite the opposite, tourists and people who support the local economy are more than welcome during these difficult times.
If you must know this is Volos city in January, yup I am talking about summer all year around.
The Greek economy
For the past 5 years Greece has been receiving bailouts that include government commitments to implement merciless austerity measurements to the Greeks. It is indeed true that the measurements are so hard (and in some occasions unfair and with no logic) that make me wonder if any other European country and its citizens would be able to go through them for such a long time. It’s no brainer that the answer is “no“!
Greece had its chance to leave the Eurozone last year after the majority of people voted against more austerity measurements and bailouts, however the Greek prime minister decided to stay in the Eurozone with an ultimate price.
As you can tell none of these can affect people visiting Greece; the banks are still open and you can exchange money at any time. I would personally think that the biggest difference is that business owners prefer cash rather than card payments, so please make sure to carry euros with you anywhere you go.
Are there immigrants in the islands?
This is the most frequently asked question from people who are planning to visit the Aegean islands. Sadly there are loads of Turkish traffickers that take advantage of the human pain and devastating situation in Syria and make a remarkable profit by sending people in old wooden boats to the Greek islands. As you understand the sea is not a field that can have a fence to prevent this, so islands like Kos, Lesvos and Chios have been floated to Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis since last year. This has affected the life of the islanders as they have seen a major reduction in the tourism industry, however none of these immigrants are willing to stay in Greece and their ultimate purpose is to reach Germany after the Chancellor’s public invitation and promise for a better life. If you visit any of the islands mentioned you will most certainly see people in groups walking towards the harbour or towards a refugee camp but if you must know none of them is dangerous or wants to steal your belongings.
However, things are running quite smoothly and nothing should stop you from planning your dream Greek holiday. Santorini has still the best sunsets, the houses in Mykonos are still white, the water of the sea is blue and the sun is shining 10 hours per day. The transportation within the islands has not been affected and the hotel prices have fallen down a bit, making them the ultimate getaway destination!
Can I visit right now?
Absolutely! As I am writing this the local temperature in Volos is 17 °C while in Aberdeen it is 9 °C and I feel incredibly lucky that it is not rainy. Greece has very mild winters and if you choose to visit one of the Southern islands then it is even warmer. Wholeheartedly I can say that winter in Greece equals to a Scottish summer (no wonder why I am forever dreaming of blue skies and sunshine) and booking your tickets for a Greek getaway will only give you pleasure and satisfaction.
It is not difficult to understand that in order to help a country recover from a financial crisis then you have to support the local economy and be part of the solution. By choosing to travel to Greece this summer (or any other time) you help small businesses support their families, you create more jobs for people in the islands and ultimately support the European economy that directly or indirectly affects your country.
So what are you waiting for? Aegean airlines offer flights to the Greek islands and big cities daily from various British airports. Book your tickets today and enjoy the sunlight, a world of new tastes and the hospitality of people.
Efcharisto (thank you in Greek) is all you need to know 🙂
Have you ever visited Greece? Are you planning a trip anytime soon?
*This is not a sponsored post, just my honest opinion about this incredible country.