The day before we left for Greece, the newspaper headlines made it sound as though the country was about to disintegrate. “Greece on Brink of Collapse,” blared the U.K broadsheet The Daily Telegraph in a front page above the fold piece last week, after the International Monetary Fund said that Europe’s leaders should prepare for the possibility of Greece leaving the Euro zone.
We’ve been reading bad news about Greece for many months now, so the most recent news that Greece is about to hold yet another election and may very well leave the Euro zone is just the latest chapter in Greece’s economic free fall. Over the last year, protesters have run wild on the streets of Athens, and other Greek cities on several occasions, but why are some tourists avoiding Greece this year?
We spent most of the last month in Italy and I met several people who said that they considered the Greek Isles but decided against it based upon all the bad news coming out of Greece in recent months. A pharmacist in Kefalos named Bill, who gave my family a lift to the island’s lovely “Paradise Beach” told us that he has friends around Europe who asked him if there was enough food to eat in Greece.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “They see all the bad news on T.V. and think people are starving here.”
I have the opposite take – Greece is still safe, especially the Greek Isles, and with other tourists staying away, now is the time to visit as the crowds are thinner and the prices will probably never be better.Is there something unseemly about swooping into a country in crisis for travel bargains? The Greeks would say: hell no, please, please, please come to Greece! There is nothing you can do to help the Greeks more than to come here on your next holiday.
I’ve been in Kos with my family for just a few days but have already noticed that the crowds are light and the prices are enticing. After booking another hotel on the Internet before arriving, I walked into a place on the harbor called the Kosta Palace, and after a brief negotiation, I was offered a two-room apartment with Wi-Fi, a kitchenette and a balcony with no view for a family of four for 50 euros per night, including a copious, if aggressively mediocre, breakfast buffet.
Like nearly all mid-range Greek hotels, the place is nothing fancy. In fact, the furnishings at nearly all moderately priced hotels in Greece are practically identical – that is, not that stylish. But the room is clean and spacious, the Wi-Fi works (sometimes), the water pressure is good and the place has a nice pool and a stunning rooftop bar with panoramic views of Kos (see video). A couple can score a room here for as little as 45 euros through the end of May, and 55 euros through the end of June, which is awfully hard to beat.
Over the next six weeks, I’ll be traveling around the Greek Isles, starting in the Dodecanese islands in the eastern Aegean, so stay tuned for more updates on the situation in Greece.
[Photos and video by Dave Seminara- photo 1 was taken at the beach bar of Kos's Hotel Artemis, photo 2 was taken at the Kosta Palace’s rooftop terrace.)