By now you’re probably aware that Greece is in a bit of a financial pickle. Up to their eyeballs in debt, the Greeks recently voted against International bailout after disagreeing with the terms. Since rejecting help, Greek banks have shut their doors, the country is on the brink of a total meltdown and whispers of a food shortage have even began to surface. Perfect time to take a trip to Santorini, don’t you think?
If you do have plans to visit Greece in the immediate future, or even in the coming summer, there’s a couple of things that you ought to know before doing so.
Take cash, lots of it!
At present, the banks have temporarily shut down because they don’t have enough cash to hand out. While some ATMs in the country are still working, others have run completely dry. So if you’re in and around Europe before heading to the Isles, take advantage of their plentiful ATMs. Seriously. Experts are advising visitors to bring enough money to cover their entire trip. Furthermore, some restaurants and small businesses are expected to switch to cash only transactions, so don’t say you weren’t warned!
Talk to your insurance company
While travel operators reportedly don’t foresee any emergency scenarios that would impact the travel industry, holiday makers are being recommended to consider taking out extra insurance to cover themselves in the event of getting stranded. Also, check with your insurer to see what your policy includes, as some companies have increased their limits on the amount of cash they cover in response to the crisis.
Stick to tourist destinations
If you are concerned about getting stranded should the meltdown reach breaking point, it’s best to keep within popular tourist destinations. Stephanie Anastasiou from Ask2Travel Group, Yachts-sailing.com and the Entrada Central Reservation System told CNN: “The most important thing to remember is that tourist businesses are privately-owned companies that have nothing to do with the government and the public sector.
“A business in Greece will not stop operating when there are customers to serve. Such businesses have proven to be fully operable even in more difficult times during these past crisis years,” she concluded.
You shouldn’t feel unsafe
Yes, there have been a few outbreaks in Athens since the financial crisis began, but aside from recent demonstrations, locals told CNN last month that tourists should feel safe. “Greece is quiet and peaceful and the people are still as warm and hospitable as ever,” said Athens resident, Georgina Tzevelekou.
What’s more, The Embassy of Greece in London released a statement last week saying: “The minister of tourism, Elena Kountoura, reiterates that Greek tourism remains high in the preferences of our visitors. The tourists who are already here, and those who are planning to come, will not be affected in any way by the events and will continue to enjoy their holiday in Greece with absolutely no problem.”
You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck
With Greece in the midst of a meltdown there’s no doubt that there will be economic consequences – apparently not for travellers, however. In fact, word on the street is that prices in Greece will drop even more and the tourist experience will actually get better. Hurray! At the moment the country is relying heavily on their tourism to stay afloat, therefore it’s very likely that you’ll get the best customer service of your life.
While we all know that between the months of June to late September, Greece is just one of the party capitals of the Mediterranean. Lots of endless summer nights, blue skies, cocktails and too much sun is the reason everyone wants to escape to the other side of the globe.
If that’s not reason enough to book your ticket, here are five more reasons Greece should be on your bucket list.
A healthy Mediterranean diet is just what the doctor ordered – seriously, no wonder it’s one of the most healthiest eating plans in the entire world.
Indulge in fresh seafood, dishes containing in-excess of olive oil, and most importantly make sure to sleep away the food coma with an afternoon nap.
This one might seem a little obvious, but the weather in Europe is unlike anywhere else. Hot summers, humid nights, followed by a cool thunderstorm to set everything back to normal.
Don’t forget to pack some heavy duty SPF 50+ since the sun can be brutal. But it does give us a good excuse to cool off with a cold frappé.
Nobody does summer better than the Greek Islands (no shade to the mainland or Athens either). Whether you’re looking to relax with a good book, or party hard at Tropicana until the sun comes along, you’ll find something which is perfect for your trip.
Take a few days off the party calendar and make sure to visit some of the culture institutions your holiday has to offer. The island of Crete is home to endless memorials during WWII, which are sure to bring you back down to earth after a whirlwind holiday.
If you’re in Greece for a few weeks, why not plan a cruise trip around the major islands? This way, you can visit some of the major sites without over-staying your welcome, and meet new friends along the way. Escape the party atmosphere of Mykonos and visit other islands such as Kos, Naxos, and Ios for a relaxing end to your trip.
Images via Trip Advisor, Panoramio, Greece Travel Secrets, Visit Greece, Pinterest
Europe is a popular destination for tourists in the Summer. It goes without saying that these places will be jam-packed with tourists during summer. It is best to go later in the season, or earlier in the year to avoid soaring prices and heavy crowds.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Make Sorrento your base for exploring the glorious Amalfi coastline in Southern Italy. It is easy to get to Positano and Amalfi – the other main towns along the coast, but Sorrento is the final stop on the train line. Famous for colorful cliff-side buildings and turquoise waters, enjoy this bright and tasty trip in one of the world’s finest foodie capitals.
Santorini will always top my list of recommended travel destinations. The blue roofs, white building, red cliffs and bright orange sunsets are magical. Visit the unique black sand beaches, or jump straight off the rocks in Oia, anywhere you go, the water will be warm and crystal clear.
Nice is one of the largest towns along the Cote D’Azur – more commonly known as the French Riviera. Enjoy a stroll through this coastal fashion capital, visit one of the many tourist attractions, or spend all day on the sand. Maybe you’ll spot a few celebrities or moguls in their natural habitat.
San Sebastian, Spain
Situated in northern Spain, San Sebastian isn’t usually as hot as some of the more popular southern beaches, like Malaga. There are two main beaches: Playa de la Concha is better for families and sunbathers, whereas Playa de Gros is adored by adventure seekers and surfers, worldwide. Come nightfall, start the party with some pintxos and sangria.
After scaling the old walls of this marvelous medieval city, find a secluded beach and relax. There are long sandy beaches, as well as seclude swimming holes along the city’s rocky coast. Lagos is a notorious party town, but don’t be put off. It also has a rich history and plenty of activities.
Note: You must be on high alert for con artists and scams during the European Summer. Have a look at our tips for staying safe on your travels.
The city often referred to as the cradle of Western Civilisation may be in financial troubles but if you are a culture buff then this is the place for you. Athens, Greece is a city filled with history, mouth-watering food and fantastic shopping, yet it seems to only cross travellers’ minds as a stop over for the Greek Islands. People seem off put by the old style buildings, but that is just part of the city’s charm, the juxtaposition between modern and ancient makes it the perfect treasure to explore.
The most well known attraction in Athens is located on a high rocky outcrop above the concrete jungle, as a symbol of Greek spirit and architectural greatness. Surrounded by significant Temples and Monuments including the famous Pantheon and Ancient Agora, built by and created for the leaders of the ancient world. The Acropolis is a world heritage site and is an absolute must to visit in order to be immersed in the history of not only this culture but also the beginning of democracy itself.
The National Garden
If you need some time to relax away from the busy city, spend a few hours wandering or sitting amongst the peaceful plant life, green canopy of trees, and flowerbeds. Established in 1923, the Public Garden is a gorgeous and decorative place surrounded by historical statues and small ruins of antiquity.
The highest point in Athens will provide you with the perfect evening to take a panoramic view of the city and across the Aegean Sea. The hike will be worth it in the end, by reaching its two peaks a lovely dinner is on offer in the restaurant, an open-aired theatre as well as the 19th Century Chapel of St. George.
The Plaka district is one of the most popular tourists destination for its authentic Greek experience and exceptional scenery. You will find yourself walking through a village unlike any other, stone walkways, ancient trees, museums, boutique shops with leafy green canopies falling over you as stroll. Be sure to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some unique food and wine at one of the many cafés and restaurants.
This remarkable city established among seven historic hills and mountains would capture your attention as soon as you walk out the door of your hotel. The unusual blend of old and new is confusing but interesting, there is no doubt you will want as much time as you can to journey through time in Athens.
Images via avahotel.gr and visitgreece.gr
By Amy Miller
“Since the day bread was first made in Greece, it has been imbued with sanctity, mystery, magic and superstition. Eating a special star-shaped bread called fanouropsomo will help your wishes to come true or help you to find lost treasures. A pregnant woman traditionally hides a crust under her pillow to ensure a healthy baby.
Many other beliefs surround the mystery of the rising of leavened bread. Make your bread with holy water blessed on Good Friday and it will be sure to rise. Women who are known to have me heri (the touch) with bread, those women who can always make it rise, are regarded with a degree of awe approaching that of a witch doctor or a voodoo lady. And many people of tradition believe that a true virgin will always be able to make the bread rise. In other cultures bridal virginity is attested to by the white wedding gown, or a stained bed sheet, or the secret wisdom of a Gypsy shamaness. But in rural Greece the fiancee is put to the test when the boy brings his intended home to meet his mother. If Mother is in doubt about the girl’s virtue she will greet her politely, then say “come, let’s make some bread together”.
Bread baked by the pious for donation to the church, known as prosforo, must be imprinted with a special stamp that reads Jesus Christ Triumphs (you can buy these stamps cheaply at any housewares shop, or for substantially more at any souvenir store). These are round loaves weighing as much as ten kilos. They are blessed by the priest and then cut into pieces and distributed to the congregation.” CRUSTY VIRGIN p.53 from World Food Greece
Greek food has well and truly permeated the culinary culture of our land; souvlaki, Greek salad, dolmades, feta – yum! It’s enough to make you want to pack your bags and head to the romantic Greek islands in search of sun, fun and scrummy al fresco eating with a gorgeous Greek God of your very own!
So if you’re planning a Mediterranean odyssey any time soon, or just keen to learn more about the delicious foodie opportunities afforded to you by your local Greek restaurant, get your hot little hands on a copy of World Food Greece. The latest installment in this Lonely Planet series dedicated to galloping global gourmets, World Food offers tips on ordering and eating like a local, defining ingredients, preparation methods and etiquette essential to a totally rewarding dining experience.
A pocket-sized guide, as blue as the Mediterranean Sea, World Food Greece gives you the low down on the specialties of this gastronomic heaven from bread to olives to wine and a special focus on the top 16 cheeses produced across the land. A chapter dedicated to ‘celebrating with food’ covers all the main food focused holidays including Easter and Lent, while chapters on regional variations will fill you in on what’s cool in Crete and beyond.
Of particular interest is the Shopping and Market section which not only prepares you for fresh food purchasing on your travels, but is a handy guide for those of you interested in navigating the delicious produce found in the local Greek community shops and markets on your own doorsteps!
Eat Your Words, the section that incorporates a handy pronunciation guide, a selection of very useful phrases and a great English/Greek Glossary will cover all your food related conversation needs and then some. While the Greek Culinary Dictionary will help you decode even the most daunting menu items.
SheSaid’s most useful phrase? dhen tha ksa-na-pi-no po-te – I’m never, ever drinking again!
By Sally Schofield