TAMPA, FL – Many members of the Greek-American community prefer to wait a little longer rather than skip this year's summer vacation in Greece due to the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to The National Herald, some of them from various cities noted that they are not so much concerned about their stay in Greece, which dealt so successfully with the pandemic from early on, but the trip by plane, which may be full of passengers from different areas, as well as wearing masks for many hours of the flight.
Nikos Apostolopoulos, a businessman and president of the Hellenic Congress of America, who lives in Charlotte, NC, goes every year for about two months vacation to Greece. He comes from Karpenisi in Evritania and besides his hometown, he also visits Athens, Evia, Preveza, and Lefkada, always with his friends from Greece.
“This time of year, I always went to Greece, but now I will wait and if all goes well, I will go for Christmas and New Year's,” he told TNH.
He is not worried about his stay in Greece, as the situation there is an example for many countries and is not comparable to the United States. But he is concerned about traveling by plane, due to the large number of passengers and their various places of origin. “However, my friends in Greece call me almost every day, ask me how I am and advise me to be careful. None of them encouraged me to visit the homeland.”
Nick Intzes, President of the Nisyros Society of Florida, said that he has not ruled out a holiday in Greece this year, where he usually stays for more than three months. “I'm worried about the trip by plane, that is, how many passengers it will have, as well as the mask I have to wear for so many hours all the time. I am not afraid of staying in Greece, because I will be at my house there and I will be able to go, as I want, to the shops, wearing a mask. Besides, Greece did well in the precautions against coronavirus.”
Intzes noted that if the situation does not change by the end of August, he can go on holiday to Greece in September and October. He has been going to Greece every year for the last five years. He usually stays at his house in Monastiraki of Nafpaktos, but also visits Nisyros.
Nikos Bardis, President of the Ionian Cultural Federation of America, and founder of the Panatha USA Sports Club in New York, takes his family vacation to Greece every year. “For this year, we are waiting day by day to see what happens,” he said. "I'm thinking of going in October, if the conditions allow. We always go in August. This year, my children would have gone in June and I in August.”
He usually purchases plane tickets in February, so that he can find the best prices, as he did this year from Emirates.
Bardis comes from Kerkyra and always goes there. For this year, he had planned to visit Lefkada, Kefalonia, and other areas.
“There is concern everywhere,” Bardis added. "And staying here and thinking about vacationing in Florida, also poses a lot of problems these days.”
Angelos Sakis, former president of the Cretan Association based in Palm Harbor, Florida, is always thinking about vacationing in Greece and despite the pandemic, he is still planning the trip for this year. “It's a bit difficult, of course, but in our hearts it's always home,” he said. “We will be patient for a while and as soon as the situation changes, we will go in September. We leave the door open, because if we close it from now on, it will be difficult in the summer.”
Usually, Sakis goes to Crete with his family in early July. He previously would stay for a while in Athens, where his mother lives, and then continue on to Crete, and other nearby islands. The family always has weddings or baptisms of friends and relatives to go to. Last year, he stayed in Greece for four months
Isidoros Bilarikis, a businessman from Brooklyn, and his wife Anna visit Chios, where he comes from, but also Athens and other parts of Greece, every July and August. Bilarikis usually books the tickets at the last minute, he told TNH.
“Right now, I'm waiting, and we're ready, as soon as I see that things are better,” he said. “I have not ruled out our trip this year, because, thank God, in Greece they have no problems so far.”
Bilarikis' biggest concern is air travel. He is thinking of going to the end of July and staying until the middle of September. “Especially on my island, Chios, they have no problems with the coronavirus and all our friends and relatives are constantly inviting us. There are also acquaintances of mine who were ready to go, but the airlines had canceled their flights. With the opening, they are ready to go to Greece.”