Greece is known to be one of the best tourist places in the world with a historical record of the 8,000 years old sites that were restored by Greece archeologists. However, most of these sites were temples built for Greek Gods.

A Retired High School teacher, missionary, and graduate of the Brigham Young University of Utah, US, Ann Jepsen shares her 14-day vacation experience with Artourey. She is also a mother of 4 and grandmother of 13 children. Although, the recent flood issue that occurred in Crete, Greece affected tourists thereby disrupting their activities while in the country, her experience is still worth sharing. Emmanuella Lekwauwa brings the adventure of Ann Jepsen in Greece to life in this exclusive interview.

Greece has been recorded as one of the best tourist sites in the world. How true is it?

I love touring Greece! I visited Athens, Knossos which is the home to king Minos, the Labyrinth, the Minotaur, Heraklion Museum, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Nafplion, Olympia, Delphi, Firaon the Island of Santorini and the Island of Mykonos. Though I have been to 10 European countries and I can say that Greece isvery beautiful. The people were kind and accommodating. The airports in the islands were a little chaotic but Athens on the mainland was easy to negotiate.  The Greek natives that I crossed paths with all spoke English which was quite helpful to me. 

It is a known fact that 80 percent of Greece is dominated by mountains. How do you view tourism in the country?

There are many mountains but there are more islands surrounding the mainland that were formed by volcanoes which can be regarded as a huge tourist site. For example, the Iconic blue-domed Greek Orthodox Church usually pictured on a tourist guide is situated on the island of Mykonos. During my visit, I saw three cruise ships making an entry to the place tounload their passengers while the harbor held four large yachts. 

Tourism is one of the most important sectors of the country’s economy and a key pillar towards its growth. In what ways has the sector contributed to the economy of Greece?

Those islands not only have important archeological sites but they are extremely beautiful. There is a tiny uninhabited island off the coast of Mykonos that was the birthplace of the ultimate Greek god, Zeus. Mykonos is a trendy island famous for its shopping opportunities. Greece most photographed windmills and wave-lapped buildings are called “Little Venice”. Besides, the majority of the area is reminiscent of the Greek mythological gods and goddesses. Those 2 islands are unique in that every structure is put white with either blue or red doors. It is remarkable to walk the streets of pure chalk-white buildings and homes. It is quite remarkable to see it from an airplane thereby enabling you to see that every building is pure white. It is a beautiful contrast to the very blue Aegean Sea that surrounds all of Greece. 

One of the most popular museums is that of the Acropolislocated in Athens, Greece. Where do you see the tourism sector in the next 5 years? 

Hopefully, the worldwide pandemic will have taught us to be more prepared and more careful, especially in protecting ourselves and others through vaccinations and precautions.  For example, in Greece, I saw bottles of hand sanitizers on every table in every public restaurant I visited. That isn’t the case here in the States, and I think it is a very progressive step toward keeping the people safe. I wonder about the world economy and how the war in Ukraine will ultimately affect the nations around the world, but 5 years is a long way out and no one can predict that. There are also natural disasters that take a heavy toll on tourist places. For example, I flew out of Mykonos one morning. By that afternoon a severe storm had washed away the beaches and the floods had washed out the runaways. The airport had to shut down just 10 hours after I left, leaving several of my fellow travelers with no way to get home. There were tourists even trapped in the museums. With global warming, some tourism is likely to change in the next 5 years. 

What do you think the government can do to advance tourism in the country?

Well, according to a news article concerning the recent storm in the country, which gives us the impression that someone needs to straighten up airport management. There was pure chaosduring the weekend after the runways got washed out. I didn’t see very much homelessness or very poor people on the streets, but I’m not sure they would be where I was anyway. Athens has 4 million people just in that one city and it looked beautiful to me. The museums were very well established and clean, lovely, and easy to navigate. One of the things Greece needs is more money for the excavation of ancient sites. They know that whatever they successfully uncover, they need to take care of. That costs money and a lot of excavating has stopped. They seriously value these very ancient sites and Greek civilizations are so old! Can you even wrap your head around 8,000 years? That was way before Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promise land. The temples those people built for Zeus and other gods are nothing less than magnificent and a true engineering marvel. I think the Greek government should invest more in discovering them and preserving them.

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