Every year, my heart brings me back to Lesvos, Greece. I’ve often said that Lesvos is my favorite place in the world. It’s everything – the ocean breeze, the fresh food, the friendly and warm people, feeling like I’ve been dropped into the middle of a painting, it’s the olive trees, all the sun… everything wonderful! No matter what journey you’re on, you will find yourself falling more and more in love with Lesvos each time you visit. What’s more is you will be playing a role in the refugee crisis, just by visiting, with a positive impact on the people who directly helped refugees seeking safety. You most likely won’t see any refugees during your visit, however, the news articles that perpetuate the notion that Lesvos is still being overwhelmed with refugee boats keeps tourists away and the local economy down. I’ll get you started with the basics in this guide!
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We arrived in Athens at sunrise, knowing we had to make the best of what little time we had. We had 24 hours to explore the city before our flight the next day to Lesvos. We had done this before. While jet lag was certainly present and I drank more coffee than I care to admit, our adventure included everything that we really wanted to do.
I’m still riding the high of emotions, breath-taking views, and the delicious fried feta pies. This month we successfully completed our first Crew Travelers’ trip to Lesvos, where a group of strangers from all around the world became a family, as they joined together to help in the refugee crisis during the Dirty Girls Beach Clean Up. Of course we also took time to explore Molyvos, and fell in love with the Lesbians (C’mon, you didn’t think I would write grammatically incorrect sentences, did you?). If you care to read a more detailed account of our trip (and learn more about the refugee situation), check out My Big Fat Greek Adventure! While I recounted our trip activities there, I felt I needed to take a moment here to paint the picture that drew me in.
I’m still riding the high of emotions, breath-taking views, and the delicious fried feta pies. This month we successfully completed our first Crew Travelers’ trip to Lesvos, where 17 strangers from all around the world became a family, as they joined together to help in the refugee crisis during the Dirty Girls Beach Clean Up. Of course we also took time to explore Molyvos, and fell in love with the Lesbians (C’mon, you didn’t think I would write grammatically incorrect sentences, did you?). If you care to read a more detailed account of our trip (and learn more about the refugee situation), check out My Big Fat Greek Adventure! While I recounted our trip activities there, I felt I needed to take a moment here to paint the picture that drew me in.
Now, how to describe paradise adequately? If Lesvos was a box of chocolates, every one of them would be sweet. Everywhere you look, the ocean views are spectacular. Everything you eat is delicious.The Aegean ocean is amazing for swimming in June, and the weather is just lovely. Every road is interesting. Every restaurant cat purrs with affection at your feet. Every person I asked for directions provided me with a friendly, elaborate explanation of how to be on my way, and would then smile and wave as I backed up, blocking traffic going the other direction as I continued on. No honks or dirty looks. What I noticed were people laughing a lot. I sensed a happiness, love and kindness in the people of Lesvos. The olive trees always shield you away from the direct sunlight, but you still feel the sun. The sunsets are always gorgeous. The blooming flowers scent the air with a naturally sweet fragrance that even make your nose buds happier. All of these things made me feel alive, and incredibly thankful to be alive. And I understood exactly what it meant when Katarina told me that you can feel free here.
During the week that I spent at Hotel Aphrodite, Aphrodite and her family made an even bigger impression on my heart, as they helped me each day to navigate my way through the island, pointing out things to stop and see along the way on the big map I unfolded every morning with Aphrodite in the hotel lobby. Aphrodite personally drove me to the market on the day that my group arrived because I needed help finding water shoes for them. She took me to her friend, who gave me a great price, and where I then fell in love with the most beautiful hand-made seashell chandelier.
“We will close earlier unless something drastic changes the situation.”
I heard the stories of families, children- even musicians, who arrived on the pebble beaches in front of their hotel cabana, and the post effect of media images that scared away tourists, the main revenue source for Lesvos. Now hotels are closing down. “Room for rent” signs are posted everywhere. The hotels that are in operation aren’t full, in what should otherwise be peak season. Aphrodite wrote to me a few days ago. And let me tell you about Aphrodite Hotel! Established in 1988, rich in history, located directly on a pebble beach, their vegetables from fresh from the hotel’s organic garden, the breakfast spread is always delightful and everyone works very hard to take care of their guests. Aphrodite wrote to me, “We usually close the end of October, but this year, as we don’t have any reservations at all for the month, we will close earlier unless something drastic changes the situation.”
I would like for us to be that something drastic that changes the situation. Whether you go with one our incredible Crew Traveler’s tours or by yourself, please add Aphrodite Hotel in Lesvos to your “in the near future bucket list”! Tell your friends and family about the kind people of Lesvos, tell them it is incredibly safe, and that the Greeks are now suffering because they did what was right and helped the refugees who arrived onto their beaches. In the enchanted town of Molyvos, where a castle sits at the top, you will see spectacular Aegean views, you will experience that same kindness, you will stop to smell the flowers in bloom, and you will feel free.
If someone like you cares an awful lot, it’s not going to get better, it’s not. As a side project to our September trip, Crew Travelers will collect/deliver donated supplies for the refugee camps, volunteer camps and schools in Lesvos. For flight crew, throwing those hotel amenities into your bag can make a huge difference, and it only takes a call to Guest Services to double or sometimes triple your portions! I created the following Facebook event as a space where people can get involved and help, whether they are going on the trip or not, and where I can post progress pics of our roller-board suitcases! Check out My Big Fat Suitcase: Refugee Relief & Love to Lesvos!
I woke up one morning in April to a calling, a direct line to my heart from the universe. As a citizen of the world, I knew that I had to do something with the passion and outrage stirring within me over the global refugee crisis the world has been watching. After all, we are all connected through our humanity. It was time to go see it for myself, and to create a space of opportunity for other airline crew who want to do the same.
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