Feature: Heat wave hits Greece, austerity-hit Greeks flock to nearby beaches

Added On August 3, 2016

ATHENS, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- August arrived with a great rise in temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius in many parts of Greece and austerity-hit Greeks flocked to nearby beaches to beat the heatwave.

Temperatures in northern Greece reached up to 37 degrees Celsius on Monday and Tuesday, while in mainland the mercury soared up to 40 degrees by midday.

In the Greek capital, temperature rose up to 37 degrees in the shadow, according to the National Meteorological Service.

Armed with umbrellas and water bottles, tourists in Athens defied the heat to visit archaeological sites, while others attended the surrounding beaches just a few miles from the Greek capital to find a cool refuge along with the locals.

Though August is the month where the majority of Greeks take some time off for holidays, many choose nearby seashores due to diminished spending budget following the six-year recession.

"The only way to beat the heatwave is the sea! Since there is no vacation in our plans due to the financial crisis, we choose short escapes. We either go to beaches in Attica or in Corinth," Manolis Dimitrelis told Xinhua, after taking a dive in Lagonissi beach in the so-called Athens Riviera.

The shore was full of families and teenagers who were enjoying the clean waters and the relaxing atmosphere away from the fuzz of the city.

"We come three consecutive days here at the beach to have a light refresh before leaving for short vacations. It is an easy alternative when you are at the city," Magda Salloum told Xinhua.

With tax increases and high unemployment rates, cities are less empty during the summer, many choose to take a holiday for shorter period of time, or visit their villages.

Konstantinos Fourlemadis, a businessman with two children, has changed his holiday plan the last years.

"We live very near Lagonissi and we come every day at the beach. For holidays we go to my village, as it is cheaper. In the past, we used to go long trips for holidays, but now with two children we cannot bear the cost," he stressed.

For Maria Sarigiannidou the beach is the only solution to have a great time during summer, and especially in August.

"How can we combat the heat? Either we come to the beach, or we stay at home with air condition. I try to come every day," she said.

Besides the high temperatures, experts warned over the high ozone levels as they reached alarming levels in some parts of the Greek capital.

The Ministry of Health recommended to people with respiratory and cardiac problems to remain indoors.

The Civil Protection Authority, as well, advised the public to be cautious during the heat wave, avoiding exposure to the heat especially for the vulnerable groups such as older people and children.

In various parts of the Greek capital, open air- conditioned facility centers provided relief from the high temperatures.

Meteorologists expect the heat wave to start dropping as of Thursday with a light breeze over northern Greece and temperatures dropping by 2-3 degrees during the weekend.