Early morning in Agios Nikitas on Lefkada island and all the scare stories couldn't seem further away. Here it's business as usual. The sun comes up, the beaches are gorgeous, there are no queues at ATMs and the locals greet you with a warm 'kalimera'. There are tourists everywhere, from all corners of the world, who look as happy as can be.
Here's what you can count on when you visit Greece: there will be sun, endless beaches, hundreds of destinations on the islands and the less talked about mainland, countless accommodation options - from budget to boutique to 5* plus- and fantastic, locally produced, raw ingredients used as the basis for honest Greek cooking. Foodies can enjoy amazing meals for no more than £10 per head. You will be hard pushed to find a more child-friendly country. Whether you're a history or a wine buff, an amateur photographer or painter, a hill walker or sun worshipper, this is the place for you. This is exactly why we set up our business, Everymatic, right in the middle of this crisis. What better place to use as a backdrop for someone's ideal, made to measure, holiday?
On the flipside, Greece is facing the biggest challenges in its recent history. There are pensioners queuing up for 120 euros per week and young people staring down the barrel of a gun that is absolute unemployment or immigration. Greeks, the people behind those numbers, have lived with this dark cloud over their heads for the last five years. They've soldiered on through some really dark times and have kept 'filoxenia', the art of welcoming visitors, very much alive. This is what keeps us here and continues to inspire us every day.
Despite a background in the British music industry, it's in Athens that we've met some of the most creative minds we've ever come across: photographers, graffiti artists, graphic and fashion designers, brilliant tech innovators, musicians, chefs and everything in between. This is what is at the heart of Athenian life and why we encourage our clients to visit. The scars the crisis has left on this city are evident everywhere you look but if you find a more buzzing city centre anywhere in Europe, we'd be surprised.
I guess what we're saying is visit Greece, keep coming like you always have. If anything, this country and its remarkable people need you more than ever. People are calling it solidarity holidays. We'll just say that you can have some of the best experiences of your life while helping to keep a proud country on its feet. Despite the heavy burden it's been carrying for years, Greece is still one of the most welcoming places on earth. People are warm and would do anything to make sure you enjoy your time here.
Don't believe the hype, just bring some extra cash with you and a smile. Tell your friends about your visit and tell the world through social media. As Simon Calder wrote yesterday: "While life is very tough for the Greeks, for travellers it's another good summer". You can help ease these tough times and we'd say a huge 'efharisto' for that.