Travellers All: short term and stayers
A Short Well-Earned Holiday
From my point of view, living in Greece, tourists are a nusisance, but I know I’m being grandly restrictive, from the point of view of taverna owners tourists are their bread and butter, they are a necessesity. Is not that I think Greece should only be available to people like us and others should not travel to Greece, but I’d rather folk did not just go as sun-and-beach tourists. There is so much more you can explore and so many other kinds of tours you can make in Greece.
But the cultural norms remain and most planning a holiday to Greece think of doing is ‘tanning on a Greek beach ’ and ‘Eating Greek salads at a taverna’. They expect white houses with blue shutters and are disapointed if they do not find them. So certain islands and certain tourist activities remain about the only thing most seek. In fact there is an exculsivity about these tourists. However it is an easy way to advertise Greece, and the locals seem to want to keep it that way.
This way of advertising saves the tourist operator the trouble of thinking of anything outside of the norm and for the Greeks it can be used as a way to control newcomers, keeping foreigns busy and not interfering with local concerns.
Cook’s Tours and Tourist Information
Cook's idea to offer excursions came to him while walking from Market Harborough to Leicester to attend a meeting of the Temperance Society. With the opening of the extended Midland Counties Railway, he arranged to take a group of 540 temerance campaigners to a rally in a town eleven miles away. On 5 July 1841, Thomas Cook arranged for the rail company to charge one shilling per persont that included rail tickets and food for this train journey and he was paid a share of the fares actually charged to the passengers. This was the first privately chartered excursion to be advertised to the general public.
In 1872, he formed a partnership with his son, John A. Mason Cook, and renamed the travel agency as Thomas Cook and Sons. They acquired business premises in London. By this time, Cook had stopped personal tours and became an agent for foreign or domestic travel. The office also contained a shop which sold essential travel accessories, including guide books, luggage, telescopes and footwear.
The firm's growth was consolidated by John Mason Cook and his two sons, especially by its involvement with military transport and postal services during the 1880s, when Cook began organising tours to the Middle East. By 1888, the company had established offices around the world, including three in Australia and one in Auckland, New Zealand.
Doing Something Different, B&B’s?
We have often stayed in in European B&B’s and if run by the family who own the house they have provided some of our best holidays. However changing the cultural norm of a week in a modern seafront hotel is difficult for tourists, who only get a weeks leave, and for local Greeks who are not used to running B&B’s. There are just one or two in the country and you may find those running them are not familiar with this kind of business. We did think about it for our house and realised the problems. It would require good supervision to keep up a standard, and we are not there year round, and also some kind of joint enterprise between owners, supervisors, tourist operators - and joint-enterprises are something that even Greeks admit they are not good at.
|Lesbos, like Lemnos, is different.|
On the one time we looked for B&B’s in Greece we found much lacking in the one we picked. It was badly organised, (you had to climb across the bed to get to the other side), no one was there to greet us though we’d booked ahead (and we had to pay an old grandmother when we left). It was up in the mountains and cold we weren’t allowed to turn on the heater, and we practically had to beg for breakfast. The family had obviously got an EU grant to add onto their farm house to provide for tourists, but they really did not want the worry of making strangers feel welcome.
Stay in an Ahondikio (previously a wealthy person’s home) What I’m proposing here is to ‘get to know the country’ by staying where people have previously lived. We stayed in a lovely place on Lesbos once, previously the home of a weathy sea merchant.
Or Stay in a Convent
One place I’d like to go back to on Lesbos is the Monastery of Agiou Raphael in Thermi. People come from all over Greece to the shrine of the Newly Sanctified Martyrs of Raphael, Nikolas, and the young Irene, all three of whom died as martyrs at the hands of the Turks in 1463. This monastery is constantly visited year-round by pilgrims searching for a miracle. The complex has rooms for overnight stays. There is a celebration here on the Tuesday after Easter, which is perhaps when you should not go, it would be booked out.
What is hitting the newspapers is something out of my league that I cannot comment on. That is the sale of whole islands!
More pratical though, and perhaps the other alternative is to buy a holiday home in Greece. But do so with caution.
Though there are a lot of empty houses in Greece for sale at the moment, and many owners wanting to sell second homes there are difficulties. If our experience is anything to go on this is not an easy thing to manage and took us over five years to finally buy our house. And many other’s have had the same experience. You will find that either the owner has an inflated idea of what the property is worth on today’s market, or, more likely, that there are simply too many owners of one property, and probably no legal titles, so negotiating a sale can become very difficult. Maybe the climate is changing and this will become easier as there are clients out there as many in Europe would love to own a house in Greece, and there are without doubt many empty houses in Greece.