Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crisis, what crisis? Business on the Greek islands appears to be booming!

Amid constant debates on the (ongoing) Greek crisis, the situation on many islands seems to show the contrary as business surrounding tourism appears to be booming.

We spent 16 days on the wonderful island of Alonissos, located in the Sporades island chain of Greece.  This was, at least for me, my 8th trip and to 14 different islands in Greece.  The situation appeared to be rather calm on Alonissos, with throngs of Italian tourists flooding the island (and not only them) and nearby Skiathos and Skopelos (where the film-musical “Mamma Mia” was shot some years ago).

While speaking to some of the locals (hotel, restaurant, supermarket and car rental owners) the impression was that Greeks on the islands are rather self-sufficient and manage to survive rather nicely thanks to tourism and home-grown products such as olive oil, goat cheese and wine. 

Prices are still a great bargain in Greece: two sunbeds plus an umbrella go for a mere 5 euros, and in some cases they’re also free (all you had to do was order a coffee frappe’ for 3 euros).  A simple dinner for two will run you around 30 euros.  Scooter rental (one of THE best ways to get around the small island: it’s only 20 kms long and some 5 kms wide) is around 12 euros per day (for a 125 cc scooter). 

The island itself is very green, unlike some of the islands located further south of Alonissos.  Boating, snorkeling, sailing and also kayaking are the call of the day, as well as nature trips seeing that the area is also home to natural marine park with seals and dolphins.  

 (Some of the local "fauna" of Alonissos!)

The old village, Hora, is nestled atop of a small mountain and right near the main port of Patitiri. It was re-built after an earthquake there in 1965.  Connections to the airport in Skiathos (a flight to Rome is only 1 hr and 20 minutes) are good via ferry boats or speed boats (the trip to Skiathos takes about 2 hours with the ferry boat whereas with the speed boat it takes slightly less than 2 hours).

(The pooch that we had nicknamed "Snobby Dog"!)

The dramatic migrant situation that is currently hitting the Greek islands of Kos and Lesbos?  It’s virtually unheard of in Alonissos (with the exception of a very small boat load of migrants which arrived some weeks ago).  

Crisis or no crisis, it would appear that tourism in Greece, and especially on its stupendous islands, is still a great bargain for holiday travellers!  

(The dock, below, of Skiathos where Pierce Brosnan and Clon Firth missed the boat to Meryl Streep's B&B in the wonderful film, "Mamma Mia"). 

(Life aboard a ferry...)

(Arrival in the port of Alonissos)

(The simple things of Greece: enjpying a coffee frappe' in the port of Alonissos!)

(Greece is STILL a great bargain!)

(Luckily there was water below me...!)

(Riding along on your scooter and all of a sudden you come across some goats.  It's ALL very Greek!)

(Dani and I as we get old after a kazillion trips to Greece!)

(Riding along on the scooter thru the olive groves)

(Goats calmly roaming about on the beaches of Alonissos!)

 (Having a drink with Kostas at his great beach at Alonissos!)

(Another great Monty Python fan!)

(A nice big, fat, Greek wedding!)

(Relaxing on one of the many beaches!)

(Relaxing with some fine Greek beer!)

(A rough life indeed on a Greek island, even for the animals!)