Sebastian Smee recently published an article in the Boston Globe describing a recent 3-week excursion to Greece with three generations of family ranging from 4 to 68-years-old. All I’ve been hearing about Greece lately relates to financial crisis, public demonstrations and even tear gas in Syntagma Square. Although the future is uncertain for Greece, for now, “violence and crime, although reported to be on the rise, are still nowhere near as high as in the United States. The Greeks themselves, we found, are warmly, casually, universally hospitable. And a block from Syntagma Square — let alone in the rest of the country — there’s no sign at all of the civil unrest that dominates perceptions of today’s Greece.” (1) The prices couldn’t be better. The crowds couldn’t be thinner. The people are grateful that you’ve chosen to visit their country and contribute to their economy. This is the best time to visit Greece!
When events arise that scare away your average tourist, take it as a sign that you need to go visit, not get spooked away. After the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, visitors didn’t return for months, adding insult to injury for those who depended on tourism for their livelihood. It’s not as if the entire country had been wiped off the map. It was still there, much of its pristine beauty intact.
We went to Kenya at a time of political instability. We were told that visiting downtown Nairobi on a day when demonstrations were planned was not recommended. Okay, I could deal with that. We drove to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico from the border town of Mexicali – with our kids. Bad news regarding the drug wars were keeping tourists away from regions far removed from drug violence. The hosts at our bed and breakfast were gracious and so thankful we had come to patronize the businesses in their town.
Last month confrontations with Occupy Wall Street protesters led to tear gas in Oakland and smashed windows in Seattle (2). So, I told all my foreign friends planning visits to the United States to stay away. It was too volatile and. . . Wait, no I didn’t.
Athens photos courtesy of Chad Slayton.