Nearly a Quarter of People in Greece and the US Can’t Afford Food

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No matter where you’re from, not having enough to eat is the ultimate signifier of economic distress. Food is the base of Maslow’s hierarchy. It’s the
first concern in disaster zones. It’s usually the last thing to go — after the car and the nice apartment — when you lose your job.

If you can’t afford food, there’s really nowhere to go but up. That’s why it’s so shocking just how many more hungry people there are now in what were
formerly known as the world’s well-off nations. According to a new Pew report released today, almost a quarter of people (24 percent) in
the United States and Greece answered “yes” to the question, “Have there been times during the last year when you did not have enough money to buy food
your family needed?”

The levels in other Western countries weren’t quite that high, but the rate at which hunger has swept the eurozone since 2007 is still really dramatic:

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Germany, which has been relatively sheltered from Europe’s economic woes, bucks the trend: only 8 percent of Germans can’t afford food, fewer than the 10
percent who said so in 2007.

Some Eastern European countries also seem to be doing better: Hunger plummeted in Poland from 35 percent in 2002 to 16 percent this year, and in Russia
from 50 to 23 percent in the same timeframe. (We’ve written before about how currency depreciation had a big role in Poland’s

relative economic success

.)

These numbers are particularly stark when you think about them in terms of countries that are historically not as wealthy. In Lebanon, only 1 percent of
the population said they couldn’t afford food (down from 12 percent in 2007), and in China, it was just 8 percent.

Of course, Europe obviously does not have it as bad as most of Africa and parts of the Middle East. In Uganda, Kenya and Senegal — some of the poorer countries surveyed — the majority of respondents said food is hard to come by.

Still, the data shows just how severely the Great Recession and the implosion of the eurozone has blighted some of the world’s richest economies (and,
ironically, some of its most-renowned food cultures.)

Coincidentally, these are the same developed countries where fewer and fewer people think the economy is “good” — a statistic that fell from 65 percent
in Spain in 2007 to just 4 percent in 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 12.18.47 PM.png Even though Greece has the worst hunger statistic in Europe, it’s not the most pessimistic about its economic future. That dubious distinction goes to France, where just 11 percent of respondents said they thought the economy would improve. That could be a marker of national sentiment, a sign that Greece has simply hit bottom, or it could be related to the fact that unemployment in France recently reached a 15-year high. Either way, it’s yet another terrible sign for Europe.


Readers’ tips: The Greek Islands

It’s your choice where you go next: back down for a shady lunch in Filoti,
onwards and upwards to the sunny summit. Or, you could just stay in the
silence of the mountain with your picnic and imagine the start in life that
the father of the gods had.

Laura Alonso, Norfolk

More feedback from readers

Plan ahead

We have made more than 30 trips travelling independently to the Greek Islands.
My advice for travellers would be: Do your research beforehand. In
particular study ferry routes and timetables in order to check the
practicality of your proposed trip.

For novice independent travellers the easiest option is to combine islands on
the same ferry run, such as Paros/Naxos/Santorini, Syros/Tinos/Mykonos, or
Serifos/Sifnos/Milos. Greek Travel Pages (gtp.gr)
and Open Seas (openseas.gr)
are good for ferry information.

Be aware, however, that not all ferry companies release their summer schedules
at the same time, and some can be quite late to do so. If this makes
planning difficult, the Open Seas site lets you backdate so you can find out
last year’s schedules for the dates you need, although of course you cannot
guarantee that this year will be the same.

If you are on a budget remember that the high speed services are considerably
more expensive, generally speaking, the slower the cheaper. And be prepared
to be flexible.

Linda Clegg, Warwickshire

Rooftop experience

Most people visit Lindos, the picturesque white-cubed village on Rhodes, on a
day trip from other resorts. There is also a fantastic boat trip from Pallas
beach in Lindos around to St Paul’s Bay where The Guns of Navarone was shot.
But do stay to make the most of the rooftop restaurants, many which are lit
by fairy lights and candles – as well as moonlight and shooting stars, which
are plentiful.

Sharon Hanley, by email

Early start

Shipwreck Cove on Zakynthos (Zante) is a beautiful small bay with stunning
views and great for sunbathing. However, you really need to get there early.
Come midday, lots of large cruisers arrive, each with hundreds of people and
it can get very packed.

The other problem is that the cruisers churn up the water, meaning that you
can’t see anything if you’re diving or snorkelling. Aim to arrive before
9am, then get ready to leave when you see the big boats coming in. It’s much
the same with the viewing platform at the top of the cliffs – you caqueue
for more than an hour if you leave it too late and the tour buses arrive

Stephen Barnes, Newtownabbey

Free and easy

Having lived in the Greek Islands, on and off for several years, we suggest
the following tips. Unless you know exactly where you want to go book a
cheap return flight to one of the larger islands and take a ferry, stopping
off en route, until you find an island that ticks your boxes. It is easy to
do and some of the smaller islands on the main ferry routes are well worth a
visit. Just ensure you leave enough time for the return ferry journey, to
catch the return flight.

Never bother booking accommodation on the smaller islands – just haggle
with those who approach you with offers of accommodation at the ferry ports.

If you cannot find accommodation that suits, have a coffee in the nearest
taverna and ask if the owner, waiting staff etc can suggest accommodation-
you will surprised at just how many “cousins” will be available to
rent rooms at a price you require.

Anne and Ron Richardson, West Sussex

Thermal tip

No visit to Lesbos would be complete without renting a car and checking out
some of the amazing landscapes. It’s surprisingly green on the island, with
fantastic sunsets from the beaches – Petra is particularly impressive and
has great local ouzo. Go to the world famous fossilised forest at Sigri
(take a hat and lots of water) and take an invigorating hot dip in the
thermal springs at Eftalou – you can hear the waves outside the window!

Rod Cornaby, East Sussex

Lush cuisine

My top tip for travelling to Greece is food-related. Make your meals in Greece
an experience – take your time, peruse the menu thoroughly – or look in the
kitchen and see what takes your fancy. Then relax and wait for fresh, tasty
dishes which will revitalise your palate. And my favourite choice would be
some proper homous and pitta, chicken souvlaki for main and fresh fruit to
end – all washed down with a local red wine. Lush dining.

Kathryn Hearn, Herts

Artist’s choice

For those who not only like to take home a golden tan but also a memorable
souvenir, why not consider a painting holiday on one of the Greek Islands.
Some years back we flew to Kos then took a three-and-a-half-hour ferry ride
to the beautiful, tiny island of Lipsi. The views were glorious, the soft
sandy beaches a delight and the small guesthouses and hotels were welcoming
and good value.

Every morning after breakfast the dozen or so potential Van Goghs who formed
our group were given a demonstration by Muriel Owen on various aspects of
water colour painting, perspective, shading, mixing, etc. We then split up,
sat ourselves down comfortably, surrounded by the artistic paraphernalia
necessary to create a masterpiece, and concentrated on a pot, a door, or a
tree.

Two or three excursions were organised to the islands of Patmos, Leros, and
Arki, where we witnessed preparations for a baptism. An exhibition of our
work was organised on the village green for the last but one day of our
holiday.To my utter joy I sold a painting, entitled “Mono Dendri”
(Single Tree) for the equivalent of £11.

Marion Smith, Lincolnshire

Island wedding

As we had both been married before, our wedding in 2006 had to be something
different and we didn’t want a “package deal” so where else could
we choose but Naxos?

The legal documentation did take that bit longer as there were no formal
wedding packages existing for the island so we had to go via a notary in
Athens but this just added to the authentic Greek feel to our wedding plans.

Arriving on the Monday of the wedding we went along to a wonderful jeweller on
the harbour front where our wedding rings were designed, made and engraved in
just two days.

The wedding was conducted on the hillside in front of the Portara with the
mayor having given his permission and then officiating.

After the ceremony my wife and I were driven through the town and past the
harbour where every boat sounded their klaxons, every stall and bar owner
came out to applaud us.

We have since returned on two other occasions and are glad to find that
nothing has really changed. The island and its people are just as welcoming,
friendly and keen to ensure we as travellers have a great time.

Martyn Anne Golesworthy, Kent

Golden sand

Chrisi Milia beach on the quiet island of Alonnisos on the Sporades has
fantastic golden sand, aquamarine water, leafy, shaded trees, rock pools and
a taverna. Hire a moped and check out the island’s many other coves, bays
and beaches. Spot dolphins and seals on a boat trip from Patitiri harbour
into Greece’s first National Marine Park. Amazing.

Lisa Grabham, Durham

Ionian inspiration

You can’t beat the Ionian Islands for glorious limestone cliffs, lush green
vegetation and sparkling summer seas – and Lefkada, less well known that its
sisters Zakynthos, Corfu and Kefalonia is the most lovely of them all.
Comparatively untouched by mass tourism, Lefkada boasts some wonderfully
scenery – we were quite astounded by the Nidri waterfalls, reached by a
pleasant stroll through lemon and orange groves from the coastal town of the
same name.

Those wishing to experience some traditional Kafenion culture should take the
local ferry to the small island of Meganissi and visit the lovely village of
Spartohori. What’s more, the rather hysteric inflation of recent times seems
to have been more subdued here – plenty of Greek salads to be enjoyed for
around the five euro mark, and wonderful fresh souvlaki for little more than
seven.

Caroline Barraclough, by email

Perfect gem

In the far north of Kefalonia, largest of the Ionian Islands and a few minutes
ferry ride from Ithaca lies Fiscardo. The only untouched village after an
earthquake in 1953, the island has gradually been rebuilt, but Fiscardo
stands like a perfect gem of Venetian architecture around a harbour where
little shops and restaurants and moored boats of all types and sizes are
untroubled by motor traffic. The buildings are painted soft pretty colours
with beautiful wrought iron balconies and we go by foot in the evening down
the hill from our hotel, a 10-minute walk through the lush green trees that
border the road.

By the harbour’s edge we can choose to wander from an early evening cocktail,
past the boats to find a taverna or fish restaurant and spend the evening
watching the world go by. Locals, promenaders, boat crew, families, all in a
good-natured, peaceful, happy atmosphere.

The Almyra hotel, where we have stayed for the last four years, is owned by a
local Fiscardo family, who also run Tasia, the best restaurant in the
village as far as we are concerned.

Gail Graham-Brown, by email

Greek haven

Hidden in among the pine trees, with views over the crescent-shaped bay, is
the Armonia Bay Hotel on Samos. Being a small hotel, you really do feel like
you’ve escaped the crowds. I particularly remember the relaxed breakfasts on
the terrace and the hotel’s simple but stylish décor, both of which help to
make this a wonderful place to unwind. The beach is just a couple of minutes
stroll away through the shady olives trees.

If you want to venture out of the bay there are plenty of walks that take you
through old Greek villages. I love the fact that the island doesn’t seem to
have pandered to tourists, but just provides a traditional Greek haven away
from the bustle of everyday life.

Suzi Richer, Bewdley

Price watch

Always check a few prices before ordering food and drinks to avoid rip-off
experiences. Generally the simple tavernas with uncomfortable chairs have
the warmest welcome, best local food and cheapest prices – but not always.

Drink carafe wine not bottled. Clear, bright and quaffable, it is much cheaper
and a world away from the awful home-made oxidised plonk they often served
years ago – although occasionally it is still offered, so maybe best to
order just a miso (half litre) or even tetarto (250ml) until you know if you
like it.

When eating out, order the Greek way – a few dishes on the table to share.
Maybe just two appetisers, one meat or fish plate for two people. You can
order more after if still hungry. Don’t expect food to come in sequence, or
all together. Each dish will come when it’s ready!

Get a hire car and go to places where they don’t speak much English. Even with
only tourist Greek you’ll be surprised how well you can communicate with
sign language and just a few words in inland villages or tiny resorts.

Sylvia Cook, Wiltshire

Local holidays

Be aware that Greek Orthodox holidays are not necessary the same as our
holidays. Check that it is not Easter weekend for instance. If it is and you
are on a self-catering break on one of the smaller islands such as Symi, ask
the locals on what days the shops will be open and stock up with basics, as
bread and fresh produce could be in short supply after a couple of bank
holidays. Also not all of the tavernas will be open especially if it is
early season.

Lester Annis, Llanelli

Once bitten…

Mosquitoes will be an issue for many holiday-makers, so unless you know for
certain they won’t bite you, make sure that from teatime onwards you wear an
effective insect repellent. I’ve tried many for Corfu, but the only one that
works a treat and doesn’t smell foul is a product by Avon called
Skin-So-Soft. Kind to the skin and washes out of your clothes afterwards.

Karen Waddy, Essex


Spain Rated as Top Destination for Travel With Kids

Spain is the leading destination for Russian tourists traveling abroad with their children during the summer break, according to a list of the top 10 hot spots for summer travel with children published Monday by online hotel reservation site Oktogo.ru.

The list also includes Italy, France, Great Britain, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, Montenegro and the U.S.

According to the website, Russian vacationists book their holidays in Spain for an average of nine days. The cost of one night’s accommodation in a Spanish hotel is less than $125 on average.

The longest vacations are reportedly spent at Greece’s Ionian Islands (28 nights on average), the city of Blanes in Spain (22 nights) and Villamoura in Portugal (14 nights).

The most expensive summer destinations are the U.S., where the cost of one night at a hotel is about $220, Great Britain ($176 per night) and France ($150 per night).

Holidays in China, Mexico and Ukraine are also growing in popularity, said Olga Favarizova, the head of Oktogo.ru’s support department.

“The duration of summer holidays with children abroad will increase by 20 percent compared with last year,” she added.

According Oktogo.ru, the top five Russian cities for a summer vacation with kids include St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sochi, Yaroslavl and Kazan.

Oktogo.ru is a leading Russian online hotel booking and travel company. The company boasts over 5,000 hotels in Russia in its database and over 250,000 hotels worldwide.