A local shop owner who runs a coffee shop in the Old Chora of Alonissos said that she wished that the Greek crisis happened during the winter so by the time summer come, a solution might have taken place and in this case, tourists won’t be put off that much to come to Greece. July is supposed to be a busy month and Alonissos being one of the lesser known islands in Greece, it normally gets local Greek tourists visiting this area (although there were a bunch of British tourists last night at the bar that we were at). However, now that the Greeks had to practically save up their money for what’s bound to happen to their country – the local tourism industry has been hit hard by this crisis.
It is saddening really that the financial turmoil that they are currently in had to happen during the busiest season of their tourism industry which as we all know, is one of the industries Greece is relying on. We’ve been here for more than a week now and apart from the fact that some ATMs are empty, there really is nothing worth noting about our holiday except that I am definitely having a fantastic time. The crisis seem to be non-existent, for tourists at least since most of the shops, hotels and restaurants are operating their businesses as usual.
As a tourist, the crisis will not have an effect on you when you visit Greece these days however, it will somehow sadden you a bit when you see how it is affecting the local Greeks. We passed by Volos the other day at around 6am and found all the ATMs full of people waiting for their turn to get their daily EUR60 limit from their own bank accounts. If you think about it, it is truly unfair for them that they can’t even access their own money – the money that they have worked hard for. Since the Greek Mister holds an international bank card, this EUR60 limit doesn’t apply to him so whenever he takes out money from the ATM, he would have to hide it out of respect. It’s not because he’s afraid that the people waiting would be rude to him or mug him, he just thinks that it is unethical if he would flaunt the amount of money that he was able to take out of the bank when all of the Greeks are struggling to get by with the EUR60 limit.
What I find really very impressive though is that the Greeks have maintained their hospitable and generous nature all these times. There is no other place in the world that I have been in which a restaurant, a bar or a coffee shop would give their diners complimentary nibbles to go along with their drink, complimentary dessert after a heavy meal or even complimentary slices of cake to go with your Greek frappe. I thought that with the crisis that they are in now, they would stop this practice and start charging people for all these freebies. I guess there is no stopping the Greeks from being the kind-hearted people that they truly are.
I truly hope that this crisis will end soon and that everything will go back to normal. If you’re bound to Greece anytime soon, I think you have all the reasons to pursue your holiday now more than ever. Help this beautiful country get back to its feet and show the rest of the world how beautiful it truly is – with or without the crisis.
All photos taken during my holiday in Thessaloniki, Pelion, Skopelos and Alonissos in the midst of the Greek crisis.