Thanks to Greece volunteer Lynn Lotkowictz for her recommendation:
About 10 years ago, I had to give up running for the usual wear and tear reasons. But the void it left was tremendous. My job, managing an energetic sales team and support staff, is demanding, and running was how I relieved stress while also managing my weight. I knew I needed a new workout.
Another passion of mine is travel, so when I heard about active vacations, I figured I could combine activity with adventure. With my running career behind me, I was working out at the gym, and knowing I had an exciting vacation coming up kept me going. Several years later, my husband and I have hiked the Tatras Mountains in eastern Europe, hiked in Morocco’s Sahara, attempted Mount Olympus in Greece, and our most spectacular experience: hiking to the Tigers Next Monastery in Bhutan.
Recently, I added a new dimension to my adventure travels. In October, I served with Global Volunteers in Crete. My job: helping local children to learn English. I chose a program in Crete because my father was born there, and emigrated when he was a small boy. I had never been to Crete, and thought that spending time with local families would give me a far better introduction to my father’s home than a typical tourist visit.
I had so many memorable experiences there, but one that stands out was from my first full evening of teaching. I was practicing vocabulary with three teenagers. One of them, a 14-year-old named John, struggled a bit, but tried so hard, and was so grateful for the help. At the end of class he asked me if he could bring in his mandolin to play for me. I was thrilled he wanted to share his talent with me.
I found that hiking options are many in Crete: there is the Samaria Gorge- National Park. It’s an easy weekend trip to the south west from Gazi – our Global Volunteers’ “home base.” It’s an all day hike through a beautiful gorge many Greeks consider the “Grand Canyon of Greece”. Walking and using public transportation in Crete is a fun, challenging and great exercise. I spent a good deal of free time taking the bus to Heraklion and walking all around the port, waterfront shops and up and down the hilly side streets. Crete is so mountainous, it’s easy to get a good workout.
The trip was satisfying and even life changing on a different level from my previous adventures, and an invaluable reminder that travel can be an opportunity to stay healthy and fit both in body and soul.
– Lynn Lotkowictz