|A frappe on the beach, in the shade, with a nice cool breeze. What crisis?|
The short answer is: as great for tourism as always.
In vacation areas, including every beach we went by, all the restaurants were open and doing good business.
|Rooftop restaurant with a view in Athens|
Athens seemed to have more closed shops than the last time I was there three years ago. And people were waiting in line outside of every ATM.
But the majority of businesses are open. Grocery stores are well-stocked. Bars and restaurants seem to be doing OK. I'm told locals are spending less when they go out, but they are still going out.
We stayed near Syntagma Square, the site of most protests, but unfortunately there was no protest while I was there.
|Just go. Take sunscreen, euros in cash and comfortable shirts|
I saw very few homeless people. I'm sure they're there but we stayed in a big tourist area and went to dinner in another, and there weren't any beggars, unlike San Francisco. In fact, perhaps because of the weak economy, there were a lot fewer Africans selling selfie sticks and fake Gucci bags then I've seen recently in Venice and Barcelona and probably ever other big EU tourist city.
A big question Americans always have about foreign countries is, "Is it safe?"
It's usually a silly question, as only 14 countries in the world have a higher rate of death by firearms then the U.S. I'm not a completely fearless traveler: No. 1 on that list is Honduras. I've been there, parts of the mainland were scary, I was afraid (great diving in Roatan, though). For that matter, I'm from Baltimore, and there are places in my hometown I'd be afraid to go.
|Fried smelt. Bet you can't eat just one|
Crime can happen anywhere, but it's probably more likely in your hometown than it is in Greece. I don't know exactly where this crime index site gets its stats, but it has Greece as about the equivalent of Canada. And nobody asks if you're worried about going to Canada (though if you can't keep your opinion of the Maple Leafs to yourself, maybe you should be.)
Regarding money, it is a very good idea to bring euros with you, as Greece's banking situation is still unsettled. I brought about 800 euros cash. I was relieved to see US-based credit cards are widely accepted. If you fly through a transfer city in the Eurozone like Paris or Frankfurt, you should be able to withdraw euros at that airport. However, there may be a daily limit, plus you never know if your plane will be late and you'll be sprinting to catch a connection, so I would advise you just to buy the Euros at home before leaving.
100-euro notes are big and colorful so I folded them so the wad would be less obvious sticking out of my wallet, but I carried them all in my wallet, no moneybelt. Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in moneybelts in countries where they're warranted, but I don't think Greece is one.
|Who knows what lies in the road ahead for Greece, but the country will always be beautiful|
Tourism to Greece is down a bit because of worries about unrest and the economy. For travelers who do go there, this is a good thing: You should be able to get into the hotels and restaurants you want. The euro is weak right now, not just in Greece, so prices are significantly lower than two years ago. In sum, it's a great time to visit Greece.
Plus, as Greece is rife with small businesses, not chains -- part of the "inefficient" culture the Germans want to eradicate -- you'll find yourself putting your money into the hands of someone who really needs it. At a cafe, I bought a 5-euro jar of rose petal jam from the woman who made it. She smiled. Sometimes that's why we travel.
Read my short story about the potential impact of the crisis on Greek's wine industry at Le Pan.