• Gilly Cameron Cooper

WHAT A GREAT TIME TO GO TO GREECE!



I was the only person on the bus from #Santorini airport to the island's capital, Fira and on the 20-minute ride from there to the S coast below ancient Arkrotiri. It's high summer, and this island, one of the world's top bucket-list destinations for its stunning combination of volcano and dazzling sea, is usually heaving with up to 10,000 tourists a day. It's not much fun for the locals who normally make a mint out of the 2 million tourists a year, but the visitors who brave air travel in times of Covid have a rare chance to enjoy the island's caldera-side spectacle without the crowds.

The #BlueStar ferry to #Naxos, normally jostling with sweaty foreigners and smoking Greeks, is like a ghost ship, a combination of reduced demand and the ferry-company's strict Covid safety and distancing measures. On Naxos many of the big hotels are closed. Yannis, a waiter at the popular (and excellent #Irinisnaxos has usually lost his winter weight by now; not so this year. With just one table to serve, he's just not getting the exercise. Favourite beaches at Aliko and Mikri Vigla, usually awash with German, French, Italians and Scandinavians, are now full of Greek families having fun - which is great, until you reflect that they are probably there because their summer tourism jobs and income are redundant.

A government spokesman urged those in Greece's tourist industry to extend the season and plan for autumn and spring to make up for the huge losses expected this summer. Many islanders are hoping for the usual August peak in domestic and foreign tourists, even if it won't be quite comparable to normal non-Covid years. For latest travel information visit www.gtp.gr . To plan your naturally self-distancing hiking holiday in the Cyclades, order the guide book from www.cicerone.co.uk/walking-on-the-greek-islands-the-cyclades


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