For the last few years there’s been a running joke in my family that you could call “the Greek island receipt”. Roughly once a month – and more often in the summer – one of us will share a post, usually (but not always) from an American, featuring an obscene bill paid at a restaurant in Mykonos or Santorini. The image will show that a tourist has paid upwards of €100 for water, sometimes more than double that for a single cocktail. As a family of Greek-Americans (my dad was born in Greece and was the first of my family to ever leave) from a non-touristy part of the Peloponnese, the joke is obvious. Most of Greece is cheap to visit, and it only takes five minutes of googling to find that out. There are hundreds of other places beyond the most famous islands that are just as picturesque and far more interesting for a fraction of the price. Even if you insist on visiting the tourist hotspots, you can go online and easily find endless lists of hotels, bars and restaurants where you aren’t going to end up getting scammed.
Lately, though, social media has been rapidly filling up with content that looks a lot like Greek island receipts. Tourists are flooding into disproportionately popular southern European destinations and then voicing shock and dismay at their infamously extortionate prices. Not only that: these tourists also appear amazed that these locations are not car-friendly American cities and require more than a straightforward drive to reach. Last week, a TikTok of this ilk went especially viral (getting just under a million views on TikTok and nearly 60 million views when it was posted on Twitter) featuring an American woman complaining about the costs and quaintness of the Amalfi Coast. “To get to the highest of the high points, the beautiful hotels… you have to walk up 160 stairs,” she says with exaggerated exasperation, before lamenting that the area is pedestrianised. She complains about having to fly to Italy, get a train and then a ferry: “It’s impossible to get here.” In a since-deleted follow up video, she explained that this part of the Amalfi Coast was much more “difficult and time intensive” to get to than people on social media had made it seem.