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7 Out Of 10 Greeks Abandoned the Dream Of Summer Vacations

What is a Greek family worth, if mom, dad and kids cannot swim in the sea? Already in the 1980’s Andreas Papandreou* launched the slogan of Greek summer identity: “Swimming for the Common People!” (Τα μπάνια του λαού). A socialist concept for summer where every Greek, especially low-income families, had the right to affordable summer vacation. Preferably in August that used to be the hottest month of the summer. Populism? Maybe? But it facilitated every low-income family to have cheap summer vacations.

Thirty years later, it is July that has become the hottest summer month due to climate change and Greeks have run out of money due to economic change. “Swimming for the Common People” has mutated into a “Levies for the Common People” with non-stop regular, direct, indirect and emergency taxes and permanent income decreases.

Beach bags are now full of paid and unpaid bills starting from taxes and ending in utilities.

In the fifth year of crisis and recession, in the second year of IMF/EU/ECB rescue bailout, in the broke summer of 2012, the majority of Greeks has abandoned the dream of summer splish-splash and has to stay at home.

Up to the nearest beach!

Supposedly the kids of  the happy Greek family of the 80’s have their own kids nowadays. If they are lucky enough to live near the sea, mom, dad and kids pack sunmbrellas and lotions, towels and tents,  folding chairs and tables, arms and spring floats, buckets and shovels, coolers and taper ware with meat balls and stuffed vegetables, a big watermelon, slip into their flip-flops, get into the car and up they go! To spend a whole day at the beach at the lowest possible cost. Like in the 1950’s and 1960’s however in a more contemporary version.

If they live away from the beach, they stay home and boil in their own sweat. From anger.

Summer Survey

According to news portal, 7 out of 10 Greeks have not made any plans for summer vacation this year and are not going to make any – neither for August, not for September.

Those not going…

69% of  of the survey respondents invoked “economic crunch” as the reason for not going into holidays this summer.

21% of them, gave “economic instability” [taxes, additional austerity measures]

and only 10% said they won’t go on holiday due to business reasons.

Many said, they were unable to leave even for a couple of days.

Those going…

Of those going on vacation, 31% said, they would ‘escape’ home for no more than 4 days, because their finances do not allow more.

25% said, they will go on holiday for a week, while only 15% have the luxury of two weeks vacation.

The majority said, they would go and spend vacation at a relative’s or friend’s summer house in order to save the cost of accommodation.

 55% said they would stay at a friend’s private or summer house and 25% at a relative’s home.

 20% said, they would book accommodation in a hotel.

Who can afford a hotel accommodation nowadays? underlines that the cost for accommodation and food for 15 days for family of four is 3,000 euros.

“The daily rate starts for hotel for a family of four starts at 120 euros for hotel, while trannsport costs and general expenses start at 120 euros.”

Why is so expensive? Because a family of foreign tourists gets much better accomodation rates incl trasnport through international travel agencies, while Greeks do not.

Of course, a family could rent an holiday apartment usually with a tiny kitchen for the family’s daily meal to press down the cost. This would lower the pure accommodation cost down to 70-80 euro per day. A the end of summer holidays, dad and kids take home a totally burned out mom, who spent her each vacation day struggling in a tiny space to feed four people. Not to mention that on Greek islands, for example, basic goods are more expensive due to transportation costs.

I saw recently, a Greek webportal offering special Daily-Cruise prices for Greeks only! Thsi website is not affiliated with local extreme-right parties. I was first annoyed about the offer concerning only holders of Greek IDs. But on second thought and for reasons mentioned above, to tell you the truth, I can’t blame them. Populism? Maybe. But it facilitate Athenians to enjoy a cooling breeze.

PS1: Among the accessories a Greek family carries to the beach, I forgot the most important two: a shaker  for frappe and the giant squid that swallows their income.
* In the 1980’s socialist PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou  promoted state-subsidized tourism for lower-income families.

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  1. Greeks can of course use the same travel agency chains as foreigners to book hotels on the Greek islands. There are plenty of web sites, like, who does not require you to be a foreigner and sells hotels without the flight tickets.

  2. Still believe the fairy tales spun by Andreas Papandreou while he destroyed the fabric of the country to line the pockets of his family and co-conspirators?

    Great story of sorrow while the tsipouradika are all still packed with those poor people of the lao.

    Andreas Papandreou is the forefather of the Greek Debt Crisis, that’s it. Painting him as a man of the people is a disservice to Greece.

  3. Might be an idea to give ideas to spent your holidays more economical? Enough creative people around on your blog. So I will make a start:
    1. Get a tent and go camping. Even now ‘triple-A-country’ citizens are going camping in their droves in summer. And Greece has some great camp-sites.
    2. Shared responsibility for household chores. Yes that includes ‘dad’ and children. I know, I know! This is a barbaric thought for most… But hey! It’s a crisis, you know!
    3. Bring food from the ‘cheaper’ mainland. No, not perishables of course. But pastas and all kinds of dry-food travel well and can be complemented with some fresh local produce. Bring wine too and stop slurping whisky and beer.
    4. Make daily local trips to the sea. What’s wrong with the tram to Athens south coast? Or is that strip still illegally claimed by nightclub-owners and other ‘fine businessmen’?
    5. Indeed Andreas: book with foreign travel websites. It always was a great tradition and ‘joy’ to see Greek hotel-owners rip off Greeks. More often then not you would pay half of what your Greek neighbour did. And I have the feeling that’s still the same. (By the way, the scams with the ‘social holidays’ were also driving up prices for locals)
    6. Leave the car at home. Go cycling (not at noon, I hasten to add!) or walking in the mountains on the mainland.
    7. Indeed: if you have friends of family with houses in the countryside… why not use them?
    8. Why not go as soon as schools close? Not all around 15 August. Holiday Spreading is a great thing for helping to drive prices down.
    9. …

    • keeptalkinggreece

      4. beaches are eternal overcroded and according to latest tests not clean. Apparently one can hardly use more than 5 out for 15-20 beaches from Piraeus-Sounion up to Halkida.
      5. I heard there were/are foregin travel websites that do not accept Greeks when it comes to vacation in Greece – I can’t conform it though.

  4. Another thing people might do is swap homes. Those in Athens could link up with those in more rural areas and islands. Of course, it might now work for many. I myself haven’t had a vacation in ages due to fiancial issues though I am not in Greece, so I sympathize. I was actually thinking of getting a deal with Greyhound and just jumping off in towns looking nice in Canada and America, exploring just during the day, and then hopping back on a bus travelling at night to be safe at night and not have to pay for a hotel. Sometimes anything is better than nothing especially one has had nothing for a while.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      innovative! why not? but I’d think, Athenians would want to go on vacation, when rural areas residents, especially from the island, would not want to go to Athens lol

    • Jean, this is actually an excellent idea. You get to meet people (hopefully nice ones), travel around the place, and sleep safe. Buses do come in handy. What would be very good is to keep a diary, or have a blog on your travels. Surely you’ll drive past the odd Mac or so where you can “borrow” a little broadband to upload?
      In 2006 there was a lady in London who had been evicted from her home and ended up living in her car. She started blogging on her experience. If I’m not mistaken it was called WanderingScribe, it was an excellent blog. Maybe she’s still going, don’t know. Witty, sad, funny and oh so real…She did get a book deal out of it!
      there might be the makings of a proper holiday fund there?

  5. Answer? Live in this:

    Everyday is a holiday!

  6. A classmate of mine did it one time and really enjoyed it. The closest I ever got was when I bussed it for 2200 miles. It took a little over two days and two nights. We would have long breaks for meals, and I wandered around in some little towns. It wasn’t bad at all and I did meet nice people.That wasn’t a vacation but just me coming back home from a job I took and didn’t like, you know North American distances in the same country can be huge. Thanks for the positive feedback.