Whatever is the eventual, long-term outcome of the long dispute between the nation of Greece and the European bankers who hold its debt, one thing is clear: the Greek people are in for a hard time. Their per capita incomes, their pensions and retirement savings, their standards of living, are all bound to be cut. And this is happening to a noble people who achieved victories against the pro-Hitler armies of fascist Italy in the early years of World War II, maintained a successful early resistance to the Axis powers, and were only subdued when Nazi Germany sent its troops to put down that Greek uprising.
(Photo by Jaume Escofet/Flickr)
I say that the Greek people deserve our support. And one of the best ways of giving it is to include Greece in our European vacations. Tourism and shipping are Greece's major industries, and their prosperity can contribute to a better life for all the Greek people.
Going to Greece is surely one of the world's most pleasant activities; I can scarcely recall a single acquaintance who has ever been dissatisfied with their travels through Greece. You will find: a glorious climate in all months other than three winter ones, a tasty cuisine that you can test in numerous Greek restaurants in our own major American cities (the Greek "Uncle Nick's" is one of my favorite eateries in New York City), and the indispensable, not-to-be-missed experience of exploring Athens. Here, western democracy was born; here are some of the most enthralling architectural structures on earth (the Parthenon on the Acropolis overlooking the city, the highlight, of course) and numerous other temples, ancient theaters, and shrines, Here, western philosophy was born, western theater presentations were first attempted, awesome achievements in science and medicine were had, and all this is presented not only in its original forms but in superb Athenian museums.
You taste another world of ancient Greek culture by renting a car after a few days without one in Athens, and driving from Athens into the "Peloponnese", a large, peninsular land mass connected to the mainland, on which is found Olympia (the track for the original Olympic games is easily seen), Sparta, and Delphi (home of the ancient Greek religion, with numerous perfectly preserved religious shrines and altars). Though the road through the Peloponnese is through jagged mountains, it is easily driven, and it is memorable--as you drive--to recall that Athenians made the same lengthy trip on foot, to worship and pray at the altars of Delphi.
And the islands! Their beauty was captured for all time in Lord Byron's poetic trip to "The isles of Greece! The isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung!" You will visit several of them if you take any number of Mediterranean cruises (Santorini and Mykonos are always visited), or you can sample them via various ferries from the port of Piraeus outside of Athens.
Making sure that your next trip to Europe will include a stay in Greece, is one of the easiest and most pleasant of travel decisions. Do it not simply for yourself, but for the Greek people. Tourism will improve their lives.