Festive celebrations take toll in Greece

With the Christmas break over, travelers and revelers are starting to measure the cost on their pockets and waistlines.

Figures made public yesterday show that some 250,000 Greeks spent Christmas abroad this year, with cities such as Prague, Berlin and Vienna ranking among the top destinations.

A number of holidaymakers pointed out that despite the traveling expenses, trips abroad cost them roughly the same as staying home, given the rising cost of living in Athens. A holidaymaker, who visited Prague over Christmas, said that food and drink in the Czech Republic was cheaper than in Athens. “Our trip cost 1,800 euros, including air fares and accommodation at a very good hotel. Had we stayed in Athens, we would have frittered away the money elsewhere,” she said.

Cheaper options included trips to Bulgaria where a four-night stopover at a five-star hotel in central Sofia would have cost about 400 euros. Other travelers said that they managed to pay for the trip with the help of their Christmas bonus and avoided resorting to consumer loans.

However, bank data showed that the number of applications for consumer loans during the festive period came to over 2,000 applications per day.

About 820,000 people visited the Varvakeio food market in central Athens during December in order to furnish the holiday dinner table. Experts warned those who overindulged not to resort to crash diets.

Dietitian Giorgos Panotopoulos said that diets need to be realistic and must be adhered to over a long period of time in order to be effective. “There should be no stress or guilt involved. Only programming and an essential change in dietary habits over the long term. And above all, an increase in exercise,” he said.

Overconsumption of alcohol is also common during the festive season. Experts recommend that men stick to 21 glasses of alcohol per week, while women limit themselves to 15 glasses on a weekly basis. These guidelines, however, depend on a number of factors, such as individuals’ tolerance for alcoholic beverages.

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