Xanti Hill is a journalist and public relations consultant from Greece that now lives in Frankfurt, Germany. Here she recollects the experiences from living in the country, and gives advice on Greek holidays…
Growing up in Greece I always took holidays there as a child for granted. But it wasn’t until I took my young son there for his first holiday by plane that I realised how family-orientated the Greeks are and how it can come as a bit of surprise to the more reserved Europeans.
From the moment we boarded the airplane we had lots of help. Someone was always around to carry and lift our bags into position, and not just the aircraft crew. Before I was even strapped in, my son made friends with a couple of Greek grandparents sitting behind us. Having spotted the first time mum flying alone, they gave me some sweets so his ears wouldn’t hurt on landing!
Greece holidays are full of these little surprises and it makes the experience better to know you are being taken care off. Greek airport policy is to hand parent’s their children’s buggies, pushchairs or strollers at the bottom of the plane, right after landing. This makes getting through customs very easy; especially with a baby! Letting mothers jump the queue is also very common. Not only at the airport for boarding and passport control, but also at the bank, post office and the supermarket. I never had to ask for help to lift a pushchair into a bus or train and on one occasion, when the child was sleeping the bus driver made space for the pushchair in the cabin!
I was dreading the siesta between three and five o’clock in the afternoon, when it’s too hot to go outside, because my child didn’t sleep but chose to cry or scream at those times. In order to keep him cool, the neighbours in my holiday apartments suggested taking him to an air conditioned supermarket or putting him in the bath to play with his ships. Swimming on the beach is not recommended for children at these times and it’s very important to stay indoors so as not to risk getting sunburned. The best time to go to the beach on holidays to Greece is in the morning between nine o’clock and half past eleven or in the afternoon after half past four. My family prefers the afternoon because the sea is warm and the sun is not too hot for little ones.
Sleeping times of children do get messed up on the long flight. You arrive two hours later than your biological clock so it always takes a while for kids to adjust. Fortunately children are allowed to stay up late at night in Greece. Greek parents love to take their children everywhere: to restaurants and cafes, to clubs and even to discos. And so did I!
In the restaurant which we frequently visited with my husband late in the evening staff would take our son off our hands, so that we could eat in peace and quiet. There are also lots of indoor playgrounds with air conditioning and partitions between adult and children spaces.
Family Friendly Facilities
More and more hotels are geared towards the needs of families. There are playgrounds and swimming pools for kids, with lifeguards, on the mainland and on many of the islands. There are also public beaches (as in NEOI POROI on the mainland) with lifeguards every 100 metres. Playgrounds on the beach are very common as well. Shallow beaches are excellent for little oneswho cannot swim yet. I usually ask the locals to point me in the right direction for a child-friendly beach with some shade.
The best thing for me about Greece is that I know they always have the best interests of children in mind at all times, so I can relax and enjoy my holiday.