Ecoclub Member Blogs
Paths of Greece celebrates 8 Years
Last October, Paths of Greece became 8 years old. When it all started, it seemed an impossible attempt. During the crisis years, the birth of a financially sustainable enterprise that would work on the development of hiking trails seemed irrational to many.
Often, when I had to say what my work was, I used to be replied: “And what is your main job?”. Answering “this is my main job”, to hear again: “Well, and what do you live off? Who walks today? We have cars. Why don’t you get a serious job?”
Yes, I live off that and I am happy every single day. This work fulfills me with experiences. It gives me the opportunity to meet people and places all over Greece. Together, through the trails, we develop opportunities for financial and social amelioration as well as environmental protection. Let aside that hiking is healthy.
The first years passed, and what I was doing with external partners became in November 2016 the Social Co-operative Enterprise Paths of Greece, with Sotiris, Christina and Spiros acquiring specific roles within our project. Throughout these years we worked with many external partners too. With some of them, the partnership became exclusive.
From our very first project, Kythera Hiking, that is being renewed this year, we never stopped getting better and learning from our mistakes. We keep making mistakes of course, but we try not to repeat them.
What we do is to find the old mule trails in different localities working together with the locals. We then organize them in a network, based on the preferences of modern hikers, to then clear them, waymark them and promote them in Greece and abroad. It is an A to Z approach that makes sure that these trails will be “operational” for a long time. Projects like Sifnos, Serifos, Prespa Lakes, Fiscardo, Drama, Paggaio, Monemvasia followed this philosophy.
Meanwhile, we have also created and launched the Hikers Friendly Hotels certification, which recognizes hotels that offer services and facilities adapted to the hikers. Thus, the hiking experience starts from the place of accommodation, before one reaches a trail.
Our next projects, being prepared during this period, will only be announced when totally completed. We believe that they will offer an excellent realm for hiking holidays for visitors to Greece. Our vision is to make Greece one of the Top 10 hiking destinations in the world!
To conclude, and without forgetting the way people looked at me 8 years ago when I was talking about my “job”:
On Friday October 12, 2018, I happily accepted an invitation to present Paths of Greece to the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Frank Walter Steinmeier and to the President of Greece Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, during the official visit of the former to Greece.