Saturday, October 6, 2018

Chania, Greece

We drove along the winding coast road from Stavros to Chania Harbor town. And with only a few wrong turns and one short terrified stint going the wrong way down a one-way street, we made it.

As with the rest of Crete, the harbor was no exception when it came to beautiful turquoise waters, ancient buildings and clear blue skies.

We were treated to the this view along the waterfront. There are fishermen selling fresh catches and straight from the ocean sea sponges for mere pennies, compared to what you pay back home. There are horse drawn carriages and boat captains waiting to take you on a tour.

And above all else, the smell of espresso mingling with the scent of roasting chestnuts from the little cart next to the old harbor warehouse, and always a sea breeze at your back. 

One of the most notable features of the waterfront is at the mouth of the harbor, this Venetian (and later rebuilt Egyptian) lighthouse is nearly blinding in the sun as it reflects off the clear blue waters. 

I can never resist a good bit of history so I walked the sea wall to explore what I could, and was thoroughly impressed and delighted. It's hard to be anything but relaxed when there's warm stone beneath your feet, sunshine on your face and a cool sea breeze blowing through your hair.

Plus the view back of the harbor wasn't half bad.

It was far too beautiful out to simply let my eyes do all the exploring. So, finding our way past boat after boat, we found one who was willing to take us out despite the rather boisterous sea conditions that the wind was causing.

I never feel more at home than when I'm on a boat and on the ocean, it's really a feeling that just can't be beat. And if I can be on a boat, in the sun, slicing through the waters of the Sea of Crete.

It was such a blast, the people that made up our little group were such a fun collection of different cultures, and  everyone was up for a some adventure. The captain had some fruit for us and a few generous pours of ouzo to warm us up before we hopped off the boat into the water.

We made it safely back to the harbor and after thanking our captain it was time to get some food, because all that swimming definitely gave me an appetite.

But not appetite enough not to stop for a few photos along the way of course.

Thankfully in Greece you don't have to go very far to find food. And all of it is amazing.

Plus all the little alleys are just so cute with the awnings and the sun streaming in.

And because the walk back to the car was long, it would have just been irresponsible to not stop for a freddo cappuccino, don't you think?

Chania was such a charming and beautiful place. Someday I'll get to make it back with more time to really do it justice.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Crete, Greece

Last fall after more than 24 hours of travel, one lost reservation in Amsterdam, a missed connecting flight that ended with a strange and wonderful night in a hotel overlooking a secluded bay in Athens, I finally touched down in Crete just as the sun was rising. 

I can honestly say I don't remember ever being as relaxed as I was while I was in Crete. From the moment I got there, time slowed down. People seemed friendlier, things just seemed simpler. And I was working the whole trip! 

Lunch time was inevitably spent at Loukoulos, which I cannot recommend enough. Not one thing on their (incredibly reasonably priced) menu was less than delicious and the view simply can't be beat.

We had the beaches and the restaurant almost entirely to ourselves everyday since it was just past the season. If I ever find my way back here, I'll be immediately jumping into that ocean since I didn't get the chance.

Every single day here felt like it couldn't be real. There's no way a place as perfect and laid back as this could exist in real life.

Thankfully, nothing is far from the ocean on Crete. Our hotel (which I loved) was just a short walk down a dusty road to Zorbas beach. At the end of the day I raced to get to there before the sunset to enjoy the absolutely incredible view.

If you look closely to the right half of the mountain, towards the end of the ridge you can just make out a cave.  According to local history the cave used to be used as a place of worship for the goddess Artemis, although more recently has been used as a place of Christian worship.

I've honestly never been anywhere like this, it took my breath away every time I saw it. One day I managed to make it with enough light to delve into some Ancient Greek mythology, which satisfied my soul knowing that I was in the very birthplace of Hercules.

There are quite a few local restaurants around the area but in the off season many of them are closed or only open for limited hours.

Thankfully Thanasis was open. I wouldn't be able to get myself to go anywhere else after going there anyway, they have the most beautiful views, amazing food/drinks and the friendliest staff. The swordfish was to die for!

Now, personally I have never seen the movie Zorba the Greek, but apparently this little beach in Stavros was where it was filmed. 

I just wandered here on an evening walk and found new and beautiful gems everywhere I turned. It wasn't until later having a chat with the owner of our hotel that I found out about Zorba.

I saw these ruins and had to explore. While they were fascinating I would not recommend doing this in sandals like I did, turns out those rocks are sharp as knives, the pool that looks so inviting is too slippery to walk on and during that time of year almost no one ever comes by here.

Being able to watch the sunset here made the climb completely worth it.

If I ever get the chance to stay in Stavros again, I would do it in a heartbeat. There's just such a feeling of history and mysteries to be uncovered here that you just can't find in the states.