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Guide to Greek Holidays, Summer 2015-style

World events are pushing their way to center stage for travelers to Greece. Here's some practical information and advice for those who are committed to going (and some travel agencies and tour companies are offering cancellation or postponement options) to Greece in the next days and weeks.
With the Greek financial crisis coming to a head about now, and Greece apparently about to default on a major loan payment, it is possible that Greece may opt to leave the Euro currency and create a new currency of its own. It may also have to resort to paying its employees and pensioners in scrip for now.
To prevent a panic run on banks, the government has declared a bank holiday (not unlike FDR's action in 1933), and limited ATM withdrawals to 60€—but that limit does not apply to foreign visitors. However, many ATMs run out quickly, and have long lines. For a week or more, travelers have been urged to take cash; even without the ATM issue, many businesses, especially small ones, prefer to operate completely in cash.
There should be no fear that the Euro will not be accepted; even if Greece pulls out, it will take months for any change-over, and the Euro, as a "hard" currency will be in demand. The recommendations are for smaller bills. It makes for a bigger packet, but merchants may not be able to change larger bills.
An issue concerning many: OK, I'm going to be paying cash for dinner, but will my cards work at gas pumps, car rental, and the like. The answer appears to be 'yes," because they are cashless transactions, and are with companies too large to operate strictly on cash. Many unattended gas stations have no other way to pay.
For those concerned about possible demonstrations or even riots surrounding the July 5 referendum date on the "bailout" proposals or other action, the consensus seems to be that foreigners won't be affected unless they are hanging out in Syntagma Square in Athens, home to nearly all demonstrations. 
On the other hand, with so many possible scenarios in the air, British travel agencies are recommending travelers making their plans now go with group packages rather than as independent travelers, and to buy trip cancellation insurance. Going with a package at this point leaves someone else to worry about details and developments.
On the upside: Keep an eye on Greece packages; while there are very few reports of cancellations, as the summer goes on there may be more, and there may be unsold inventory as those who haven't made plans yet plan for elsewhere. That could lead to some real bargains.
More information from Telegraph (UK), the Independentthe International Business Times (IBT)
Photo: Greek National Tourism Organization

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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That's all good information, PHeymont, thanks.


No one knows how the Greek people will react to this, but there is a possibility of riots and demonstrations.  Perhaps violence -- there is no way of predicting.  The crisis will have a major impact on the Greek quality of life.  I've heard some estimates that if Greece makes a new currency, it will have only a fraction of the buying power of the Euro, perhaps 25 cents on the Euro.  That will obviously not be at all well received but its much too early to tell.


So if you travel to Greece this summer, do so with your eyes wide open. I'd avoid large urban areas, avoid crowds, and definitely take along a lot of cash.  I believe great bargains are in the near future for those willing to take a little risk.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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