Many of my friends think I hate Greece. It is true I am very tough on its people, businesses and government. I openly support the famous marbles from the Parthenon taken by Lord Elgin staying in the British Museum. I fully justified austerity measures as well deserved. I even downplayed the massive recent success of containing the pandemic by claiming it is mainly due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of lazy civil servants are happy to officially do nothing and get paid for it whilst others are simply protecting older people because they live off those pensions. I am also a vocal critic of Greek tourism, always harping on about the lack of infrastructure, short term profit causing destruction and horrible rate of decay of anything Greek tourism touches in its unplanned and unregulated ways.
But right now it is pure bliss.
I just got back from a five day stint around Central Greece. Kudos to my partner and all the kids that tag along, we just hop in a car and follow our hearts. Feel like walking to a spectacular waterfall? I was in Norway last summer but we can compete with the best of them. Prefer an alpine valley, do you want to camp under the stars? You got it! Some of the least light polluted places in Europe are in the Greek mountains. And of course if you want beaches, heck, we have all kinds of beaches. Not just the ones you see on the posters. Beaches with sand, beaches with pebbles, “I want a beach to find pretty stuff to make a necklace” said my daughter and hey presto, here you go darling, I just needed to drive around a couple more corners.
The real treasure right now however is the freedom. You get that beach to yourself. You can walk all day and not meet a soul. All the tourism infrastructure is there and working, just without all the tourists. It is a unique opportunity. A friend once explained to me that the Greeks that own most seaside resorts are actually descendants of the least able offspring of people that lived in mountain villages. Back then, cultivatable land was the prize. So the second son got the lots by the sea which were considered worthless. I liked the theory, it justified all the damage I have seen done to these places over the years by short term thinkers out for a fast buck, the ones that like to take advantage of tourists.
Well the good news is that they are not around now. It is mainly the more modern, friendly, better grounded hospitality operators that decided to make a go of it right now. The long term thinkers. The ones you will like. If there is one cafe open in the village, it is the nice one. Add to that freshness the fact that nature is refreshed through quarantine keeping humans away for a couple of months and this is the most ….springy Greek spring ever.
So take it from someone that isn’t afraid to say it as it is even when it annoys all my Greek friends. Right now is truly the best Greece anyone has seen in the past half-century. If you visited a long time ago, you know what I am on about. If you don’t just take my word for it and visit Greece as soon as possible. This won’t last forever I’m afraid and I will have to go back to bitching about it again…