Opening our Wallets in Greece

Until this month we had stuck to the itinerary we mapped out in October 2011, when we set of on our around the world journey. In April we realized that our fantasy of driving through Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan was much more complicated than just renting a car. The logistics and visa requirements to execute the road trip were more than Sandeep and I wanted to navigate. We needed an alternative.

At first we wanted to stay away from Europe, thinking the cost of living would be too high to maintain the relatively extravagant (as compared to New York City) lifestyles we’ve become used to on our trip. Despite this, we ended up in Greece because it was a unique opportunity to live in a crisis that will likely change the world and, very naively, we thought that prices would fall as the crisis got worse.

I just wrote a piece for Huffington Post about why domestic prices in Greece remain high. To add some additional perspective, here are a couple of insights into how wide we’re opening our wallets.

We had to send a fax to our booking agent in Namibia yesterday. The two page message cost us 33 Euros ($42). This is the receipt for our dinner in Vari, probably the best value for money we’ve had so far at a restaurant in Greece.

Notice the 23% tax on every menu item, including food and wine. As with many establishments in Greece, this Vari restaurant is absorbing the cost of the tax hikes so as not to increase menu prices and lose demand. Sadly, despite their best efforts, the restaurant was still relatively empty when we were there.

The Greeks are struggling and, like the owner of the Vari restaurant, are doing everything they can to stay afloat. We came here thinking we would find a few bargains but, after seeing the hardship that many people in Greece are facing, we’re willingly stretching our wallet as far as it will go to eat out and purchase local goods and services.

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2 Responses to Opening our Wallets in Greece

  1. Aye

    Do you like Athens? I was in Greece last July and didn’t like Athens very much. It reminded me of NYC suburbs. I really like the islands though.
    Too bad you couldn’t make it to the Caucasus. Namibia next? I am leaving for South Africa in three weeks.

    • Diya

      We’ve been outside of Athens, in a suburb, so I can’t fairly comment on the city yet. We head there June 1st for a few days and I’ll let you know. We leave for Namibia on the 5th and then Cape Town on the 14th. I can’t believe we are going to miss each other!

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