Touring a country on its last economic legs

Greeks are notoriously suspicious of central government, and their national identity even today is a work in progress.

February 11, 2012 22:10
1 minute read.
Mill on the bank of the Agrafiotis

MILL on the bank of the Agrafiotis 390. (photo credit: OFIR ADANI)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The Greeks are notoriously suspicious of central government, and their national identity even today is a work in progress.

Athens, which just last month defaulted on its debt, is trying hard to develop international tourism in the mainland. Tourism is a large part of the Greek GDP and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos is aware of the untapped potential of the country.

The government has a problem, though.

Greeks’ aptitude for misusing state subsidies – which were par for the course in an economy which was quasi-socialist for decades – makes Israeli cunning with taxes seem tame by comparison.

And so the government tiptoes when reaching out to the folk who are ultimately the service providers of its inland tourism industry. It offers guidance and assistance, but as a brief conversation with Geroulanos shows, is wary of heavy-handed intervention.

Thakis’s restaurant in Agrafa is a case in point. Born to a family of millers, Thakis nearly went bankrupt when emigration to the major cities caused the village’s population to dwindle. Additionally, his profession became obsolete, since Agrafans no longer needed to stock ground wheat in their sheds.

Enter the government – and its will to preserve the old flour mill as a building of historic significance – in the role of Thakis’s own deus ex machina. The middleaged miller participated in a program encouraging countryside tourism, during which he was led step by step in converting the mill into a restaurant.

The restaurant gave birth to other jobs in the village, including the supply of fresh produce, waiters, and villagers opening their own guest houses. The slowly dying village was reborn and started quietly flourishing.

It’s easy, and perhaps pointless, to try to determine which government, or successive governments, are to blame for Greece’s financial meltdown. Maybe it’s even the particular mindset of the entire population and not the government’s fault at all. But from a purely human perspective, it’s quite a pleasure to be welcomed by the miller-cumrestaurateur.

And after dining at the windmill, it’s satisfying to see that at least in this case, the plan came together.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

El Al
August 16, 2014
The Travel Adviser: For El Al, mission accomplished