Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Russians and the Greeks.

How can someone like me pass up a headline like this in a Greek Newspaper:  “Greece earns third place in Russian tourists’ list of favorite destinations.”

Yep, that’s right out of Wednesday’s Ekathimerini.  Being in third place on any Russian list might cause concern to some students of history, and I’m not sure how much better one might feel knowing that this week Crimea has likely taken over as Russia’s most popular destination, but be that as it may, it’s good news to many in the tourist business that the “Russians are coming.” 

To most Greeks, and certainly Cypriots, that comes as no surprise. They’re not only visiting, they’re buying up properties everywhere that suits their fancy.  According to the article, travel by Russians to Greece was up 70%, with more than a million Russians visiting in 2013.  Overall, 54 million Russians left their homeland to travel abroad in 2013. (There is no figure for how many returned.)

I know, to some it may seem I’m taking cheap shots for easy laughs.  But how can you blame me when the 50-billion dollars of Russian cash tossed at the Olympics for pure PR purposes was as good as flushed down a toilet by Putin’s highly publicized homophobia, invasion of the Ukraine, and off-his-meds televised interview.

If you can’t find a way to laugh through all this geopolitical tragedy, how are you ever going to handle the 2014 US Congressional elections?

Which reminds me. Note to Democrats: Beware, the Republicans look to be claiming Will Rogers’ famous line as their own for the upcoming midterm elections, “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” 

Will Rogers (1879-1935)

That great American humorist had so many insightful things to say in the days of the  (first) Great Depression, that it’s frightening how on the mark they remain today.  Here are just a few others plus a link to even more:  

“This would be a great time in the world for some man [or woman] to come along who knew something.”   

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

“There is no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”

One of his thoughts I think particularly appropriate for our world today is:  “There is one rule that works in every calamity.  Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer.  The poor even help arrange it.” 

That’s as true today in the US and Russia as it is in Greece—just check to see who’s benefitting from Greece’s Troika mandated privatization of state assets program for evidence of that.  

But I digress.  This post is about Greece’s popularity among the Russians.  China, Thailand, and Spain rank behind Greece in the Russians’ holiday plans.  Why, I have no idea, other than that Russia and Greece share Eastern Orthodox roots and Greece’s Ministry of Tourism is working very hard. 

But here’s who ranks ahead of Greece: Turkey and Egypt.  Turkey I can understand, but in its current political climate Egypt surprises me, though the two countries have a long history together going back to the days of Russia’s support for the (Greek) Orthodox Church in Alexandria and Russians are historically Egypt’s largest tourist block.


Westerners seem scared off by all that’s happening in Egypt. The Russians apparently are not.  Is it because Russians are so used to visiting Egypt that the unstable situation over there does not alarm them?  Or is it something else.  Perhaps in crises Russians see opportunities of the sort once recommended by Will Rogers: “Buy land. They ain’t making any more of it.”

We shall see.

Za Vas!



  1. My favorite Will Rogers quote: The trouble with common sense is that it's not so common.

    1. There's a reason he was the most popular film star of his time and often suggested as a presidential candidate. No one like him today...even on late night cable.

  2. You? Digress? This is a rarity the rareness of which is not very rare!

    Over 54 million Russians traveled abroad? But, but... the population of Russia is only around 150 million, so that means that 1 out of 3 Russians traveled abroad??? I suspect, more likely, it was the filthy (and criminally) rich upper class who traveled abroad many, many times (and probably for most of the year), and it is they (them? those?) who are buying all the land, of course. It would be interesting to see how many INDIVIDUAL Russians had traveled abroad, as opposed to the total number of trips.

    1. I have no idea, Everett, how those figures were determined, but it seems as if you've given quite a bit of thought to the subject of Russian emigres...and I'm not in any way of course suggesting an interest on your part in the travel habits of the sort of Russians offering "friendship" and "companionship" via Facebook, chatrooms, and similarly soulfully deep and meaningful venues. But if you have any URLs...

  3. Scary, just scary! Isn't this reminiscent of "Eleni?" I wish I could laugh about this, but this man in Russia is ambitious as hell. Let alone the Republicans.

    1. I never quite thought of it quite as "Eleni" like, but you may have a point. As for Putin's ambition, I think being remembered in Russian History as the leader who restored Russia to glory is what he's after. He already knows he has all the money and power he'll ever need. It's now all about aiming for the history books and that's what makes him extraordinarily dangerous.

  4. Interesting insight. It's four years since you wrote this post but feel like it's non the less relevant at the moment. Not only Russians are coming to Greece, lots of investors are running to put in their money in the country and win in the growing market The time is ripe now, really. My main concern is that Athens might relive the fate of Barcelona