“You’re going to Greece now? During the crisis?” was the incredulous refrain that I kept hearing as I was packing for my trip to Crete in July of this year. Having ignored it entirely, I went and came back (in one piece!) from my two-week trip, and am now here to tell you why you shouldn’t let the media or others dissuade you from doing the same.
Ironic, huh? In reality, as a tourist, you are not subject to any of the hassles that the locals have to deal with. Other benefits include decreased hotel prices and fewer tourists. All the while, you’ll be injecting much needed tourism dollars into the economy.
Greeks have always been known for their warmth and the economic crisis has done nothing but make them even more welcoming towards tourists. In my personal experience, hotel staff was more like family, restaurant servers were extremely courteous, and even strangers on the street would flash a beaming smile and gladly help you with directions. And speaking with locals yields fascinating discussion: they weave a tale of struggle, but never lose a tone of optimism.
With its mountainous landscape and seemingly endless stretches of crystalline water, Greece boasts some of the most impressive sights in the world. The peaceful rallies have done nothing to mar these sights, not even in the heart of Athens. So you can stay in the capital or get away to Crete or one of the Cycladic islands, but no matter what you choose, you will undoubtedly find a place to settle down and spend an idyllic day looking at out remarkable views.
Greece’s historical landmarks extend beyond just the iconic Acropolis and its history is not solely contained within the Classical Period, during which democracy was invented. For instance, I had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time in the Cretan capital of Heraklion. Through the city’s famed Archaeological Museum, I learned a great deal about the progressive yet peaceful Minoan civilization.
And, just as important, you can witness the history unfolding around you at that very moment as a country struggles and moves toward rebuilding itself. Speak with the locals and, by that, I don’t just mean the adults; the youth have some very valuable insight to offer.
Aside from tourism, the fact that agriculture is one of the largest industries in Greece is easily evident in the vast array of delicious, fresh ingredients. Greece has a reputation as one of the foremost gastronomic destinations in the world and this rings true as decadent, flavourful indulgences-from classic eggplant moussaka to snails- abound. And it doesn’t cost much either!
So, whichever of these reasons calls out to you the most, pack up your bags and don’t you dare cancel that flight. An incredible experience in one of the world’s most culturally rich and beautiful countries awaits.