With the summer fast coming upon us it’s the time of year when many will be thinking, “Shall we risk Greece this year, or are the problems there of such gravity that they’ll affect our chances of having a great holiday?”
Of course, the austerity measures here are never far from our thoughts, as is the abiding thought that still many in Northern Europe are believing the hype that the media’s been putting out. But as my wife and I are “on the ground” here, as it were, here’s what’s happening all over Greece, in every small corner of this sun-blessed country.
Fresh licks of paint are being applied to signs, pergolas and railings, and varnish to slightly aging wooden and cane café chairs, the cushions for which have been extracted from their plastic protective covers in which they’ve passed the winter months, and have been dry-cleaned or plumped up ready to receive the derrières of innumerable sunseekers.
Taverna tables are already out on terraces and menus prepared for placing before hungry diners.
We hear that the numbers of British holidaymakers travelling to Greece look as though they’re going to be up on last year, something which, should it materialise, would be very encouraging for everyone here.
Talking to quite a few of the guests on my excursions last year I was re-educated too about how much it costs to eat out in Greece when compared to other European countries.
In response to my lament about how decades ago you could dine in a traditional taverna in Greece for pennies, I was told by not a few people, with the benefit of also having recently visited Spain, including the Canaries, the South of France and Italy that Greece in fact compares rather favourably with those other countries. I gained the impression that, by and large, it’s probably around 20-40% more expensive in the restaurants of those countries than in Greece. This was especially enlightening and encouraging to me because Rhodes isn’t the cheapest island within Greece, yet I was made vividly aware that I was a bit behind the times.
True, nowhere is as cheap in real terms as it was in the eighties and nineties; but a couple, using a little savvy perhaps, can still eat out like kings and queens in Rhodes for €20-30, including drinks. Take my tip, never go for the “starter, main course, dessert” thing. That’s sooo British! No, eat like the locals, simply order a few plates of whatever takes your fancy from both the starter and main course menus, then all pitch in from the dishes which are placed in the middle of the table. This is how the Greeks always eat, both out and when at home.
Another aspect of coming to Greece that ought to rank highly on the list of requirements for a prospective trouble-free holiday is the crime rate. I read in a UK paper just the other day about a group of British tourists who were engaged in an excursion from a cruise ship on a Caribbean island. Their coach was ambushed by a group of armed men who proceeded to rob the visitors of their valuables. OK, so no one was actually harmed, but how would you have been feeling at being ordered off the bus by a group of blokes wielding automatic rifles? On your hols too? I would never be daft enough to assert that there is no crime on Rhodes, or indeed any of the Greek islands, but it is a fact that the level is very low. For starters, even though you’d be wise to lock your hire car when leaving it anywhere, the chances of it being tampered with or anything stolen from it are nevertheless slim. It’s still a fact that most locals never do lock their cars and if you walk around a village, even the outskirts of Rhodes town, you’ll see a liberal sprinkling of front door keys protruding from the locks, with not a soul about. Crimes against the person are mercifully still a very rare occurrence on a Greek island too, which is why it’s a joy to wander around Old Rhodes Town late in the evening. If a lone woman were to be approached by a couple of men in such a situation, they’d be more likely to ask her if she needed help finding her way than to assault and rob her. OK, so they may try and buy her a drink, since the Greeks do rather fancy themselves as Europe’s greatest lovers…
Having read and watched the media during my recent visit to the UK, I have to say too that the overall impression I’m now getting is that people are at last being encouraged to disregard the economic problems when selecting Greece as a holiday destination, since in the “value for money” stakes my adopted country is actually doing pretty well.
It’s official, Greece is open for business and you’ll get your money’s worth if you choose to spend your vacation here.
Something I’ve written before also bears repeating – the sun is not in crisis.
(source: rambling from Rhodes)

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