You’re a go-to-it kind of Gal. If something needs doing, you’re the one to do it. You’re self-sufficient, organized, intelligent, and in great shape. You’ve worked hard to create the life you desire, and are in control of just about everything that can be controlled. You’ve put in long hours for your time off and earned the vacation of your dreams.
Because you are independent and enjoy a change of scenery, you’ve decided to head to Greece.
You’ve heard that it’s a safe place for single women travelers.
Well, you may want to rethink a few details. Although you may head off to Greece alone, unless you’re Billie Jean’s twin sister, you aren’t going to be alone for long. (I’m talking the tennis star, folks, not Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean) Even the Billie Jean situation can be remedied with your first trip to a topless beach. No disrespect to Billie Jean, by the way. She has accomplished oodles for us women, and I thank her for this. But, that’s my point. All of her amazing accomplishments will go unnoticed. In Greece, appearances are everything. And women, no matter how accomplished or brilliant, are seen as women first.
Take my first trip. I had just finished twenty-five years of education, completed my residency in obstetrics and gynecology and was literally dying to get my body (and soul) over to Greece. I had planned two lovely, serene, brainless, anonymous months. Well, I guess two out of four isn’t bad. I’m sure you, by now, can guess which two Greece delivered. Out of my two months there, I spent only five days alone.
There’s the feminine thing, but there’s also the social thing. Greeks see a single woman traveling alone and, once they’re convinced you’re not a putana (the same word in Greek and Italian), they all take pity on you. Forget anonymity. Forget autonomy. Greeks, if you are unaware of this fact, are highly social beings. If you’re hoping for anonymity, stay in the U.S. Forget about Greece. Heck, people still bump into me, acting like my long-lost relatives, recognizing me from previous trips. Who are these people?
So let’s tackle the single female thing first. When you are alone, you are available. You are, literally, free, the Greek word for unmarried. And I’m talking both meanings. Every woman is the same to every (older than you) Greek man. Age discrepancies do not compute, as long as the man is the older one. As for me, within the first hour of my arrival on my Greek island destination a certain Greek God blocked my way, his perfectly sculpted body perched precariously atop a tiny motorbike--hard to ignore, even if he hadn’t been screaming at me in Greek. Lord knows I tried, unsuccessfully. He finally asked in English, “Why are you not speaking to me?” And I answered, “Because I don’t understand what you are saying.”
Enter my first Greek boyfriend—which brings me to my next point. If you truly want to be protected from Greek men, you have two options:
#1. Do not leave your room. This, however, is not a fail-safe method, since there are an awful lot of Greek men who already know where you are…the taxi driver who dropped you off, the owner of your hotel, the guy down the street at the kiosk, the men on the main street who stared at you as you got out of the taxi, the guy waiting on the side-street below your balcony--just hoping to get a glimpse of you, preferably naked…
#2. Get a (temporary) Greek boyfriend. (They are too high-maintenance to keep long-term. Believe me, I should know.) No one else will touch you, literally and figuratively, because you are his property now, and he will protect you. It’s as if you have an invisible diamond layer of skin, one you are clueless about—clueless, that is, until he dumps you (but that’s another story). The code is clear. Greek men don’t mess with other Greek men’s women (doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but it definitely takes two). You’re thinking, but then I won’t be alone. Women, forget the “alone” thing; it’s not going to happen. Were you listening?
I recommend #2, after years of rigorous personal testing. If you aren’t yet convinced, I have an exercise for you. When you first arrive in Greece, walk into any empty cafe or taverna (a task in itself), and sit down. Bet you that the next group of Greeks—and it will be a group—to walk in will sit down right next to you.
So, I’m wishing you a lovely brainless trip to Greece. Please remember to send pics of your personal Greek Gods. Kalo Taksidi!
Oh, and because there are always a few in every reading crowd—please please don’t take me so seriously! Don’t need anyone blaming me for STIs or heartbreak! (and no, of course all Greek men are not like this. Honestly!)