There’s a proliferation of lodging for every conceivable taste and wallet in Greece, but you’ll probably be most interested in “dhomatia”, rented rooms in private houses. On the islands and coasts, they’re often clearly marked with tri- or quadri-lingual .igns. (The Greek looks like this: “ΕΝΟΙΚΙΑΖΟΝΤΑΙ ΔΩΜΑΤΙΑ”.) Maximum prices and are required to be posted on a sign somewhere ιn the room. The family may or may not live on the premises, but you will very likely (list meet them when the boat or bus pulls in.
A good landlord or landlady can make all the difference with respect to how much you get out of your stay in a particular place. Regional pride is highly developed in Greece and a gregarious, sympathetic host(ess) is a veritable storehouse of Information on local history, beauty spots, culinary and garden specialties and, yes, wnlking trails. On the whole, “rooms” proprietors, accustomed as they are to a younger, hardier and less ostentatious clientele, are curious, friendly, helpful and (Infinitely not in awe of their guests. “Curious” and “friendly” can mean that you’re ->ubject to interrogation as to your birthplace, marital status, acquaintance with Greeks back home and so on. “Helpfulness” can be a two-edged sword when family und neighbors spend five minutes arguing over how best to answer your request for directions to point A. The quality of being “not in awe” allows your householder to knock and enter simultaneously with a bowl of grapes for your consumption while you’re still half-dressed.
Extra amenities such as hot showers, kitchens, verandas, gardens, laundry areas mid furniture otherttian the bed are usually, though not always, present. Often there in an extra charge for showers. Some families entrust you with the workings of the Ihormosifono (water heater); others guard the switch jealously. It’s a good idea to ask nbout doing laundry; in drought-prone areas washing clothes is a rare luxury, afld nvon where there’s abundant water you should avoid using bathroom sinks for soaking. Pummeling clothes therein tends to loosen wash basins from the wall; you’ll gladly be provided with a kados (wash tub) for the purpose.
Whenever or wherever there are no dhomatia, you can make do with D-and E-class hotels of roughly the same price range. These are more impersonal, but single rooms mo slightly more common. Nonattached baths are adequate; for baths in rooms and .mall bars where breakfast may be served, you’ll have to move up one notch to C-class hotels.
A pandhoheio (inn) is an occasionally encountered class of lodging, a sort of flophouse-cum-Balkan-caravanserai today found principally in Rhodhos, Kalavryta, Karpenissi, loannina and Konitsa. In a pandhoheio the management rents beds, not rooms, and reserves the right to assign anyone it pleases (of the same sex) to any empty beds in your room. My only experience with theft in Greece took place in such an inn, so I recommend patronizing them only in a group or buying up all the extra beds in your room.
Ksenon neotitos is Greek for “youth hostel” and there are at least 20 official affiliates of the International Youth Hostel Association (IYHA) in Greece. You needn’t hold an IYHA card to stay at any of them, except in Thessaloniki, where an International Student Travel Card may be accepted in lieu of the hosteler’s card. Hostels are located in: Athens (3), Corfu (2), Crete (Sitia, Ayios Nikolaos, lerapetra, Iraklion, Malia, Myrtios, [near Plakias], Rethimno and Hania), Dhelfi, Elefsina, Litohoron, Mykini, Nafplion, Olympia, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, and Thira.
The Greek mountains are dotted with numerous (at last count over 40) alpine shelters (katafygia). Unfortunately, few are continually staffed and you must contact the responsible branch of the Hellenic Alpine Club to rent keys for shelter(s) under its control. This is an expensive undertaking—up to $20 a night—and may not be practical unless there are several of you. Some of the mountain huts are wonderful base camps, equipped with stoves, blanketed bunks, meeting-and-eating areas and fully appointed kitchens; others are mean little hovels or glorified saloons for day- trippers with cars. Detailed descriptions and key contacts will be found either in the text or in Appendices C and D.
In extremely isolated areas where there is no lodging whatsoever, it is still not unheard of to be put up for the night by village families. Barring this, you can ask permission to sleep in the school (especially in the summer) oran unused wing of the kinotiko grafeio (community records office) and it will usually be granted.
Partly because of sanitation problems and wildfire hazards, and partly to ensure trade for hotels, “free-lance” camping is technically illegal in Greece. This law is rarely enforced as long as you are discreet and exercise a modicum of respect for the local environment and inhabitants, but you must be willing to accept a certain element of risk in case the authorities decide to get strict. Patronage of local groceries and tavernes works wonders in forestalling official harrassment. Where there are no mountain huts, you’ll be obliged to camp. Most rural people are tolerant of, or even favorably disposed toward, the practice. After all, the mountain-dwelling guerillas of the independence war are enshrined in the pantheon of national heroes, and every summer an army of shepherds imitates them. Squatting in abandoned monasteries or houses is also popular with Greeks and foreigners alike. First, make sure that your choice is not a protected archaeological site!
Most of the “organized” campgrounds are depressingly regimented, plastic and overpriced for what you get. If you need or choose to use an “approved site,” be aware that the use even of a tent, let alone a car or cycle, requires extra payment which brings the cost right up equal with that of a room. Impromptu campgrounds set up by private individuals or a village tend to be less expensive than those run by the National Tourist Organization (ΝΤΟ, EOT in Greek initials).