Greece

A Surfing Lesson at Ikaria Surf School, Greece

A Surfing Lesson at Ikaria Surf School, Greece

We sat on foam surfboards under a tree on the beach, waiting for our surf instructor to start our afternoon lesson. My board was yellow; Joel, my British, pre-teen surfing companion, had a blue one. While we waited, I asked him about his surfing know-how. He and I both had limited experience (I downplayed my surfing trip to Hawaii and ignored my surfing lesson in Tofino), so I would feel more comfortable. I really am not that good. There was a chalkboard nearby with the name Nikolas written on it, along with a few surfing diagrams, so I figured that was our instructor and his handiwork. (It wasn't.)

A Drive Around Chios Island

A Drive Around Chios Island

As Greece's fifth-largest island, it's necessary to rent a car to see all of Chios. Of course, I didn't know this until I got there. I had spent all my research time (which was admittedly not much) on finding a surf spot in Greece, neglecting to really look into what to do on Chios. Other than spending time with the refugees there (and a visit with a friend who was spending her summer across the water in Izmir, Turkey), I had no other plans for my time on the island. 

Upon arrival, I got bored quickly. The port city of Chios is quite small, and beyond cafe-hopping, there wasn't much to do. So I took notes from the in-flight magazine I stole from my flight from Belgrade. They had a feature on Chios, so I made a list of all the highlights and turned that into a road map for a day trip around the island. 

Postcards: Favourite Instagrams of 2016

Postcards: Favourite Instagrams of 2016

In January, I returned back to Vancouver after an amazing family Christmas/New Year's trip to Oahu. I was craving a bit of winter to contrast the Hawaiian sun and surf, and had to go up in the mountains to find it. I feel #blessed to have this as my backyard. 

A typical February in Vancouver. 

In March, the world was hurting from recent terrorist attacks (it still is). I love the beauty and symbolism of cherry blossoms, which seemed to bloom at just the right time. 

The Day I Didn't Volunteer with Refugees in Greece

The Day I Didn't Volunteer with Refugees in Greece

It wasn't that obvious, the collection of dark green and blue tarpaulins, almost hidden behind a stone wall along the southern ring road around the Chios castle, but it was the white ones with the UNHCR logo that gave it away. I had never seen a refugee camp before.

One of the reasons I chose to visit Chios in Greece, of all the country's 1200 habitable islands, was because of the refugees here. For the past year I have been following the news stories about refugees from the Middle East that have reached Greece's shores, and with its close proximity to Turkey, Chios has had a large flow of these migrants.