It’s the perfect summer to visit Greece!
Sitting around my son’s game tonight, Ball Dad Bruno says “you know Rick, we’ve always wanted to vacation in Greece, but now’s not the right time”. He continued on, expressing concerns that the countries current economic turmoil would interfere with his planned holiday. Well, I must disagree with you my friend, now is the perfect time to go…. and here’s why;
- Air Only pricing for peak summer dates is cheaper right now than it was when I first cut my Travel Agent teeth at a popular Agency on the Danforth in the late 80’s. Back then, we sold peak date KLM connecting flights for $1325 all in. Last week I sold a couple of seats for $1183 out the door. With three carriers offering non-stop Toronto-Athens service right now, supply is seemingly exceeding demand, which ultimately favours the consumer. I was even more shocked to find a quality Aeroplan Itinerary with an early September return date available for Classic Mileage Points. Apparently, there are quite a few Bruno’s out there.
- Seems to me that summers in Greece have always been crippled by striking workers, packing the biggest punch just when the tourists arrive. The current higher than normal unemployment numbers have created a sense of urgency for the locals to keep and thrive at their vocations. With the peak tourist season approaching, you either do a good job, or someone else will. I expect service to be better than ever this year. There exists a certain thirst (and hunger) among the locals as never before. Once again, all that that screams value for potential visitors.
- Recent elections in Greece have placed a new Government in power with an election platform that included walking away from current debts and even breaking away from European Unity. I have to believe that such an unprecedented move would be frowned upon by developed countries and would ultimately lead to sanctions moving forward. Many Canadian’s have seen the effects of international sanctions first hand while vacationing in Cuba. The general lack of imports and simple things like a constant power supply make Cuba a cheap vacation destination, but certainly lacking. Greece as we know it may be facing drastic changes in the coming years. I’d recommend you get there while the getting’ is still good !
Wondering what else you need to know? Well, here are a few tidbits on receiving value, from a long time Travel Guy with lots of vowels in his super-long last name;
- Most first time visitors spend far too long in Athens. It’s a busy and very unorganised city. I’d recommend you get in and out fairly quickly. A day or two to see the sights, another to recover from a fantastic party night in the Plaka and that’s about all you’ll need. The true glory of Greece lies in the outskirts. A much slower pace and unmatched ambiance await you there. The warm hospitality and great food are found everywhere but appreciated most when all of your senses are tantalized in an incredibly beautiful spot.
- The Islands offer amazing scenery, serenity and beauty. The uniqueness of the most popular islands of Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Rhodes draw huge crowds in July and August which will take away from your experience. If you can hit them in June or September when the crowds are leaner, they are a definite must see. Head’s up, you may find the Meltemi winds much stronger in late summer. Their cuboid villages with annual fresh coat of white paint on a backdrop of the bright blue Mediterranean will leave you with lasting memories. Perhaps a 3 or 4 day cruise is the best way to see and feel them all without breaking the bank. Although there is no comparison to a College Student wanting to party on Ios during summer vacation, I personally prefer the smaller, less crowded Islands such as Spetses, Zakynthos or even Hydra. Accommodation is cheaper than on the Big Islands and all are just a short boat ride from Pireas. Surprising to most, very few Greek islands have nice sandy beaches. If you must dig your toes into some soft sand, then check out Naxos or Paros.
- Aside from the unique ancient ruins and historical sights found all across the mainland, there are some very pretty spots with beautiful beaches that provide tremendous value to visitors. Depending on your particular preferences, I’d recommend you consider charming towns like Kalamata in the south or Kavala in the north. Both would satisfy all your senses at a fraction of the cost of the Islands. Methoni Beach and Finikounda are my favourite destinations in the Peloponnese where the best hotel’s on the beach go for less than 100 EUR per night during the peak season. Still sound a little steep for you, well both those towns boarder the largest KOA Campgrounds for you Backpackers out there.
Alright, so we’ve established that it’s the right time to go and you now have some sweet spots to check out, in your back pocket. What else do you really need to know? Well I would frown upon any type of motorbike, scooter or car rental. The roads and drivers are indeed treacherous and the equipment is often sub-standard. If you absolutely need a car, then I’d recommend you also purchase the Insurance Packages offered. It would be a huge mistake to rely on your Credit Card Rental Insurance here. If anything did to happen (and trust me, it’s likely), you will definitely be sorry you declined insurance coverage. Taxis when on land, Dolphin Hydrofoils on the sea, definitely the safe and effective way to get around.
For more information, I’d recommend you contact your knowledgeable Travel Agent today…. and Bruno, you should start packing pal, Elaine will be reading this real soon !
Cheers and safe travels !