As season ends, impressions good and bad linger

«Live your myth in Greece» was the National Tourism Organization’s slogan on advertisements around the world this year in images that tended to fade not long after holidaymakers touched down in Athens, despite the great weather, delicious Greek cuisine and wide blue sea. Koni, Sheila, Claire, Scott and many more tourists expressed satisfaction with their holidays, but when pressed, came up with some complaints: Heavy traffic, lack of respect for pedestrians, littering, and too many sun loungers, tables and chairs on beaches. As for prices, the tourists we spoke to at Athens airport, who in the main were not on package deals, found goods and services overpriced, particularly when they compared them to former drachma prices. Oscar, 44, had combined a medical conference on Rhodes with a holiday with his wife Marisol and their young daughter. Oscar does not think Greece is an expensive place to visit. Nor does Catherine, from the US, who just paid her 67th visit to the country. «All the public works carried out for the Olympics have done wonders. I will keep coming for the rest of my life. They say that fish is expensive in Greece, but seeing the trouble the fishermen go to, I don’t think the price is too high,» she said. Sheila, however, who came here with her husband and 4-year-old son, spent 2,000 pounds in 12 days in Athens, Paros and Santorini, a sum she found too high, particularly for food. «There are no children’s meals. Why should I pay for a larger portion that isn’t needed?» she asked. Koni and Irene from Sweden also found Greece expensive. After 10 days on Sifnos and a day in Athens, they realized that the euro had raised prices to the equivalent of those in Sweden. Claire from Australia, who visited Myconos and Santorini with her boyfriend, complained about the clutter on the beaches from sun loungers, tables, chairs and umbrellas. «I would have preferred the beaches in their natural state,» she said. Santorini was the favorite island visited by Canadians Elia, 27, and her friends Lacy, 21, and Jenavi, but they all thought prices were high compared to Canada. Eighteen-year-old Pavla from the Czech Republic was on her second trip to Greece. She also cited prices when asked if there was something she would change about the country. «What I don’t like about Greece,» said 44-year-old Scott, from London, who is on his 16th trip, «is that the people don’t respect their environment and just throw their rubbish onto the street.» (1) These articles first appeared in the October 9 edition of K, Kathimerini’s color supplement.