If you have used Google to find information about Greece in English, you have probably come across the name of Matt Barrett. Matt Barrett’s Greek Travel Guides are among the oldest and more popular sites for information on travelling to Greece. The site started as a hobby for Matt in 1995 and has since grown in popularity and size to become a huge portal, full of original photos, free information and advice for travelers.
The portal, a true labyrinth of information on anything Greek, includes a complete guide of Athens, the famous Athens Survival Guide, said to be used even by native Athenians. Other geographical areas presented in detail are mainland Greece, the islands and in particular Lesvos, while the portal also covers a wide array of specialized topics, like sailing, honeymoons, cruises, travelling with children, Greek food, Greek weddings and more. The portal boasts even a complete history of Greece, probably one the most detailed and colorful accounts of Greek history from antiquity to present-day Greece to be found online in English. Matt’s music guide is also one of the few thorough accounts of popular Greek music to be found online.
Matt Barrett was born in the US; his grandfathers from his father’s side were Greek, but, as he says in an interview for Lifo magazine, his father “was of the generation that wanted to be American and we barely knew we were Greek. So all I knew of Greece as a child was food from visiting my papoo and yaya.”
Matt’s family came to Greece in 1963 when his father was teaching at the University of Athens. His first memory of Greece is taking the ferry from Pireus to Syros: “ It was very rough and I remember glasses breaking and an entire tray of pastitsio sliding off the counter and falling on the floor… So really the pastistio falling on the floor was symbolic of being awakened to what Greece really was. But that first summer was the most fun of my life and then when we moved back [from 1964 to 1974], those were the best years of my life”
Ever since he left, Matt has been going back to Greece every summer, and once or twice during the rest of the year. Asked what keeps bringing him back to Greece he replies “The sea, the mountains, the food, the wine, the people, the history, the culture, you know, the usual things.”
In an older interview with Kathimerini, Matt Barrett was asked what would he do if he ever became minister of tourism in order to improve tourism in Greece, and his anwer was unexpected: “The first thing I would do is make it profitable to be a travel agent… So lowering the taxes paid by the travel agents will increase the profits, attract better people into the business and in the long rain will bring more money into Greece because the agencies will be able to compete with the international computerized booking sites and more of the clients money will end up in Greece and not in the pocket of big international booking sites.”