Daily we are subjected to weird headlines:
* Greek PM Tsipras says no to speedy elections, but… (His party is riven in half, so he might not have a choice.)
* First taverna to accept Bitcoin is inundated with tourists. (Can that even be true?)
* 50% of Germans want Greece to stay in the Euro. (No comment.)
* Athenians have not left to go on holiday yet...(How can they, they have no money.)
Meanwhile, travelers to Greece have been getting bombarded with advice: Bring thousands in cash. Do not get robbed. Keep away. Beware.
People have been bemoaning the lost tourist season, another stroke of bad luck for the stricken economy. It is said there are many canceled bookings and workers in tourism will have to be laid off. But then friends who did not cancel reported from a variety of islands to say they were having a lovely time. Also my friend Emanuele called from Italy to see how we were faring. He told me a lot of Italians are changing their destination from other countries to Greece in order to show solidarity and spend their money here. A message both touching and cheering.
My take is the following:
1. COME! The sun still shines, the sea is turquoise, ancient temples beckon. Take a boat, or climb a mountain. Whether you want to party, veg out or sightsee, Greece is still the place to be. Best holiday ever.
2. Bring some cash (just in case). If you lead the simple island life, you won’t need much, especially if you’ve already paid for transport and accommodation. A few drinks, a meal by the sea – swimming and siestas are free. Except if you’re headed for Myconos – but that’s another story. About getting robbed? It could happen wherever you go. Greece is far from being the most dangerous place on the planet. All over the world, most people get their wallets stolen in their local subway station.
3. Go to an open-air cinema: nothing beats watching a film under the stars, surrounded by jasmine and bougainvillea. In Greece, films are not dubbed.
4. Check out open-air concerts (free), or the panigyri (traditional festival celebrated on saints’ name days) at the local church. A lot of islands also put on interesting art exhibitions.
5. Talk to the locals. Most people speak English. They will be more than happy to try and explain the unexplainable political situation – in their opinion, of course! It makes for lively conversations.
6. If things get fraught, just get out of the center of Athens. Everywhere else will be fine.
7. Last but not least, there are bargains to be had. A lot of places – shops, hotels or restaurants – have put their prices down.