Summer in Greece
WE’RE now into the third season of me writing this column, and that means we’re at the peak of the year. It’s summer in Greece!
This is when Greece comes into its own, when the world forgets about the bloated deficit, interest rates, bond yields and all that boring stuff and flocks to the country to get a slice of that summer sunshine.
It’s quite simple, really. Summer is Greece’s best export. The blazing sunshine, countless islands, beaches and warm summer nights make for a dizzyingly hedonistic experience. Here are a few points of advice on how to make the most of your summer in Greece and avoid disappointment:
1. Smashing plates
As previously mentioned, tourists heading to Greece to free up their inhibitions with some wild plate-smashing will be disappointed. This is not done here anymore. If you get up in a tavern and smash a plate, you’re likely to be asked to pay for it.
2. Summer loving
Greece was once the go-to destination for inhibited Northern European maidens looking for a hairy-chested, medallion-wearing guy to loosen them up. The Aids crisis of the 80s put a stop to that. You will nowadays find even Greek women complaining about how Greek men don’t flirt any more.
Everything shuts down here in August. This is the month when Greeks go on holiday themselves and the cities empty out onto the beaches, islands or more exotic destinations. You can expect to find very few shops open during this period except for the typical touristy places.
Greece has unfortunately made a name for itself as the place for hordes of young people to visit for cheap beverages and partying. When I first moved here, my husband’s friends would ask me why young Europeans get so ‘crazy’ in Greece, to which I had no answer.
Public drunkenness is highly frowned upon in Greece. They do not look kindly on having to step over tourists lying in the gutter being sick, considering they have to live here the whole year round and remembering also that Greeks take their children with them everywhere, including out on late nights.
A little consideration goes a long way, though I doubt anyone hell-bent on drinking and partying holiday is going to heed that. Greek establishments promoting this type of holiday are also to blame.
5. Sea Urchins
These little guys can quickly turn a trip to the beach sour. You’ll usually be able to spot them in the crystal clear waters and avoid them. However, accidents happen as I recently found out. Sea urchin spikes are very hard to remove once embedded in the skin. Let them be and they’ll eventually dissolve. See a doctor if you experience a lot of pain or swelling. If you have children in tow, encourage them to wear those jelly beach sandals on sale everywhere this time of year.
Sometimes I get told by readers emailing me that this column is much too escapist, that I have a narrow view of Greece. I can see their point, but do you really want to read more about the debt crisis? I don’t have to write about Greece’s problems, they’re around me every day.
What I do like to do is to forget for a moment all the bad things and focus on the good, especially in the summer, because in the summer Greece truly feels like heaven, and I feel lucky as hell to be living here.
There is a joke in Greece about how the Greeks came to live in such a beautiful part of the world. When God was handing out land to live on to various nationalities, the Greeks were too busy talking to get in line. When they eventually turned up, God had given all the land away and there was nothing left.
“Where are we supposed to live then?” huffed the Greeks.
God hummed and ha’ed until He rummaged around in His pockets, produced a few pebbles and threw them into the sea.
He then said to the Greeks. “Don’t worry, you can take the bits I was saving for myself.”
Omaira Gill is a freelance journalist based in Athens
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