YIA-SOU! (hello in Greek). My name is Lea and I want to share with you my vacation experience. I hope to give you a little insight into the untold places and activities available you don’t find in the travel books. Also, I’d like to give you my idea of how to become part of the culture and give back to the place you visit. I hope my travel adventure will give you inspiration to make the most you can out of your next family vacation.
On our family trips to Greece, we are able to experience both Athens with all its tourist attractions and village life since my dad has family in both regions. This year we decided to add a new twist and with a little bit of internet searching for volunteer opportunities by my mom, I was able to volunteer at MEDASSET. This is an international not for profit environmental NGO founded in 1988 that studies the sea turtles and their habitats throughout the Mediterranean. Check out their website at www.medasset.org. to find out more information and what they offer. During my 3 week internship, I was able to work on a various research projects and learn a little more about sustainable tourism and the loggerhead sea turtles.
During the week, I would take the Metro (easy to navigate) into downtown Athens to volunteer for the day. The office location allowed me to experience the city livelihood. Weekends would be spent at my dad’s village called Gavalou (not found in the travel guide). What a change from the fast cars, and crowded city life to waiting for sheep to walk across the narrow roads.
Within close distance of my grandmother’s house, we were able to go rafting, hiking, and swimming in the Evinos River. Cabins are available by the river. Check it out at www.raftinghouse.gr. A bit further away, you can find quiet beaches with beautiful sunsets
Staying in the village makes you realize that there is such a thing as the simple life. Waking up to hens cackling and other noises that I’m not quite sure about is quite interesting. At night, you’re sure to find lots of people at a PA-NA-YE-RI. That’s a village festival with plenty of food and activities for all. Music and dancing continue to early morning hours.
A few things I must mention about the food. Forget the first restaurant you see and walk a little father to the back roads. You’re sure to find an inexpensive outdoor market with tasteful items. The down side is, they’re usually open early morning or late evenings. If you’re near the sea, take advantage of the fresh seafood. My brother was intrigued with how the whole shrimp is served.
You can see how the days can keep you busy, so now I must end with a few lines about the amazing night sky. Mountains are everywhere, so if you can ride to the top at night where there are not many city lights you’ll be amazed by the upward view. You can see the Galaxy right before your eyes. It’s unlike anything I could ever see where I live. With the magnificent backdrop of the night sky surrounding you, it’s an unforgettable feeling.
As you can see by my story, it’s possible to fit many rewarding things into a family vacation. Be creative, become part of the culture, and make your travels much more meaningful. KA-LO TAX-E-THI! (have a good trip in Greek )
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