After more than two years and many experiences together, Travel Bloggers Greece has become something more than a professional association. It’s become increasingly clear we have been brought together by something more than our love of travel and of writing about it. In fact, there was this rumor that someone likened our group to a “sect.” I think it was supposed to be insulting. The more I thought about it, the more reasonable it seemed, and as insulting as it may have been meant to be, it is actually the “cult-like” aspects of our group that make is truly special. Do we have a secret handshake? Well, honestly no…. Do we have a shared vision though? Yes. Can each of us say “This group has absolutely changed my life!” check. Does our group have a culture of its own? Again, check. Are we as individuals deeply committed to the group’s purpose? Oh, yes, and yes again. Travel Bloggers Greece has the clear mission of promoting the place we call home- either by the good fortune of birth, or, as in the case of many of us, by choice.
What goes on at a blog trip?
Those pictures you see of us having a great time are not staged. We are humbled by the enormous privileges we are extended, the access to culture- the intimate experience of the places we visit. It is also a very intense experience. We have a schedule full to bursting. We are there to raise awareness of the wonders of the destinations and we do not want to miss a single one (we sleep very, very little). We bond with the destination. We make true and lasting connections with the people who host us, and the people we meet there. As we become saturated with the flavors and sounds of a place, we also become more than a little infatuated. In the case that we are drawn to a place for ethical or spiritual reasons, like Lesvos, or Patmos, that connection becomes even more intense. The relationships we build last – we write about destinations months and years after we visit them.
Do we all have the same experience?
Not at all. Even though we are all experiencing something together, our experiences of a place as are different as we are as individuals. It is a diverse group- some us focusing on natural wonder and adventure, some of us on history and architecture, some of us on gastronomy and culture, some of us on the family experience (children included!). In this aspect, we are not so cult like- it is a diverse group of people. We also have the good fortune to really adore one another. Our experiences are greatly enhanced because we have them together and share our perspectives. The pieces we write reflect that, and FAM trips result in a wide range of exposure.
What brings us together?
What we do share is a sense of values. We are deeply committed to promoting the country. What has emerged over our many trips together, is that we have all become more aware of what we are really promoting. Greece is a beautiful place, with rich history. But seriously, romantic sunsets and perfect dinners are just pictures in a travel brochure when there is no inspiring story behind them. Greece’s beauty is far more than skin deep. What ends up speaking to us are the values that make Greece truly beautiful. Φιλοξενια- a word that translates to “hospitality” means much more than that. It comprises φιλότιμο- the desire to do the honorable thing. These values, especially in a country beset by an economic crisis and a refugee crisis of staggering proportions, have been joined by inspiring displays of character.
Next to unflagging generosity, we see examples of true heroism and unselfishness. We also see people who will not be kept down, who answer adversity with resourcefulness and creativity. We see people whose dignity rises to every occasion. It is our privilege to share this side of Greece.
What do we offer to our clients?
Authenticity. We are present in the experience, and alive to what makes it unique. Our articles are more personal than promotion- they reveal something readers can relate to and want to experience for themselves. We also give our readers the information to make that possible- concrete suggestions for dining, accommodation, travel, sites.
What do we share with our readers?
Again, Authenticity. We want to share what truly makes a place special, what makes an experience real. In Greece we are spoiled by one beautiful beach and one delicious meal after another. What makes a place truly worth our readers’ attention ends up being all about the people. In Lesvos, we didn’t meet a single person who hadn’t dragged kids out of the sea from sinking boats or taken people in and fed and clothed them. Even in places less beset with challenge, we see what makes the country truly beautiful: at a luxury rooftop restaurant in Athens, a view of the Acropolis dazzles. But there is no true luxury without the values of φιλοξενια. I remember the view, and I remember the exquisite dishes, but most of all I remember that the owner brought us all shawls as the night air grew brisk. That is the side of Greece all of us show- the beauty within.
Written by Amber Charmei — Provocolate.com