Greek hospitality comes at a great cost

PORTRAIT 14 – LESVOS –  ANAXOS – JULY 2016

The Christina’s Garden Family business is run with passion and love. The youngest daughter carries an endless smile on her face and is always in for a chat. Her ‘good morning ladies’ sounds cheerful every single day, while there’s not much to smile about this year…

For years they’ve been fully booked with guests from Denmark and The Netherlands. Not anymore. “This week we’re about half booked and that’s considered a good week nowadays. In August we’ve got as little as three bookings in one week! Our Danish tour operator hasn’t booked a single room this year, the Dutch very few compared to the usual and of these few not all will be filled.”

Portret 14- Lesbos ©Vluchtelingen in Europa

Still she’s optimistic: “We take it day by day. For this season we have no high hopes but if by next year things improve then we’ll manage.” Her parents were gifted this piece of land in the 90’s from their parents. Since then little by little, they built a magnificent apartment complex with a bar, restaurant and swimming pool. They started with five accommodations and continued building a little more every year. By now they have over forty apartments, all built and decorated with love.

In summer the entire family works daily. Normally they have quite some staff members to clean the rooms and keep the gardens. This year they do most of the work themselves. Between receiving guests, pouring beers and grilling meat dad is now also bending over for hours pulling weeds. “We each have our own task and are well attuned.”

“My task is people. I’m truly interested in all the stories and remember details. If someone for example is allergic to tomatoes I’d remember that from day one and if someone returns a year later I’d still remember. People appreciate this!” Her love for people also reflects in her choice of education; she studied to be a nursery teacher and further specialized with a master in sociology. The chances of her ever finding work in her field are unfortunately remote. “There aren’t any jobs for young people on Lesvos and in general very few in Greece.”

They’re not the only ones who have it rough. Just a quarter of the sun beds on the beach of Anaxos are in use in this warm first week of July, and in the various restaurants very few people enjoy a -by the way delicious- meal. Some hotels won’t even open this year because the tax and electricity fees outweigh the amount of bookings.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the people of Lesvos. Due to the fact that the island received and cared for half a million refugees last year, tourists choose not to visit anymore… The Greek hospitality comes at a great cost.

Would you like to know more about the circumstances in Lesvos? Read: About Lesvos

 

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