NEWS

Bloggers report back on pros and cons of Greek holidays

The Australian government has established the annual practice of issuing a travel advisory (the latest on June 3) for Greece, warning of activities by anarchists, exploding Molotov cocktails, purse snatchers in tourist areas, sex crimes on the islands, even the risks of traveling on provincial buses. Fortunately, very few people are paying attention and are signing up for their holidays as usual this year. According to many bloggers from Down Under and elsewhere who have made the trip, the worst thing about Greece is its taxi drivers. The Internet is full of stories from visitors to Greece, most of them flattering, fortunately, as they are the best advertisements for our sunshine, clear waters, delicious food and the warmth of the people. The down side, however, begins after they arrive at Athens airport and get a taxi into the city. Some of the sites urge travelers to reach an agreement with the driver about the price in the presence of a third party before setting out. One tourist complained about taxi drivers’ penchant for steering him toward particular restaurants, telling them it had «real Greek food that even my mother would eat.» The one time he was persuaded, he ended up paying 120 euros for a few mezedes. «The taxi driver clearly had an arrangement with the restaurant,» he said. Travel advisories often mention the state of the country’s roads and the behavior of Greek drivers. A German traveler had this to say about the road system: «Those of you who are traveling by car should forget about what you understand about highways. A highway in Greece is an ordinary road with just two lanes and a half a lane obviously just for cars that break down. These roads are used by thousands of cars and trucks,» he wrote. Jan from Belgium adores Greece and is a frequent visitor. He has set up a website on Athens (athensinfoguide.com). «Driving in Greece can often be thought of as being a memorable experience for visitors. Greek driving is definitely different from the driving you are used to… there are places that have worse driving but in terms of driver behavior, Greece is near the top. Changing lanes without indicating, disregarding the pedestrian green light, driving over curb corners, crossing before the light turns green, etc…. Do not let people upset you and ignore the car horns… Above all, remain calm.» Other complaints range from «special» prices for tourists in some stores, poor food and the effects of ouzo, to the practice of some hoteliers who at the last minute cancel a room booking and send guests off to another hotel, usually of a lower standard. Yet the majority do not seem to regret their choice of destination, nor the memories they take back with them.