A couple of surprises I’ve encountered while traveling in Greece during the economic crisis:
1. Prices have gone up, almost universally.
2. Service has gone down, in almost every respect.
Before leaving for my trip, I’d read that there were great deals to be found in Greece, but the reports seem to be contradictory. Tourism supposedly rose by 20% last year, yet there seems to be a lot of empty space at beaches, hotels, and restaurants. I suspect the bargains only apply to package deals from northern Europe. If you’re an independent traveler expect to pay more for everything: metro, food, rooms, scooters, and cars.
With fewer tourists traveling to Greece, one would expect merchants and hoteliers to make themselves more competitive by offering better amenities, but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill economic crisis. Perhaps someday soon we’ll all start calling it what it truly is: a depression. Pay and pensions were cut but prices continue to rise, which, I believe, is a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, revolution. But I’m prone to hyperbole.
Air-conditioning was rationed in two of the hotel rooms I stayed in. In one of the rooms, the owner tried to convince me that a fan was actually air-conditioning. In another room, the front desk had complete control over the AC, which they assured me was on, though you’d never have known it. This rationing is great for the environment, but a challenge for anyone trying not to succumb to heat stroke in the sweltering inferno that is Athens during the summer.
Also of note:
The price of my jeep rental rose by €20 when the rental manager realized it was one of the few jeeps left on the island. I understand the laws of supply and demand, and how they effect price, but there’s nothing like an instant price increase to make one feel shafted.
After four nights on Hydra, the sheets and towels in my room still hadn’t been changed so I found the laundry room and changed them myself.
Bus service on the islands is much less frequent than in previous years.
Quite a few beaches were littered with trash, never having received an early season trash clean-up.
For die-hard Hellenophiles, these glitches won’t spoil a trip, or even a day in Greece, but I’ll be getting clarification and confirmation on AC from here on out.
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