Castillo San Marcos

Castillo San Marcos
13th-century castle, El Puerto de Santa Maria. That WAS our house to the left and behind the tree!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crete During the Greek Crisis

Hillside orthodox chapel

Not wanting to miss out on the Greek Isles while we were in Europe, we took the opportunity of cheap flights and a looming Euro crisis to vacation next in Greece.  Todd and I studied many of the Greek classics at St. John’s College, and while I had visited many years ago, Todd was still in the dark about the beauty of this country.

Looking for an oar-swept ship across the wine-dark sea

So we booked flights to Crete, a Greek island far enough from the demonstrations in Athens and big enough to explore for 10 days.  With a big rented villa to stay in, we were set!

Our big stone villa

Those cheap tickets came at a price:  arrival into Heraklion at 4:30 am.  We booked a close airport hotel, slept in, and visited the Reptile Rescue Sanctuary the next day.  Totally worth it!

Bound by love...and a big snake!

Special bracelets

After a tour of the Knossos ruins (the foundation of the legend of King Minos, the labyrinth of Daedelus, and the escape and death of Icarus), we headed out to our villa.  Set amid gorgeous olive trees with views both to the sea and to the spectacular White Mountains, we were also in walking distance of the village of Plaka.

Reconstructed ruins

Dolphin details
Perseus and Ariadna in the labyrinth
Moussaka and dolmadakia ruled the dinner plates!  Along with regional goat cheese, sheep’s milk yoghurt, and homegrown tomatoes (every house seemed to have a garden) for Greek salads, and of course kalamata olives.

Delicious snacks

Always part of our dinner table

We visited Chania town with its Venician harbor, taking in the golden afternoon and the Italian-influenced architecture...


...but mainly we explored little coves and beaches.  

Hidden cove

Diving into turquoise waters...not bad.

We walked the Imbros gorge one day; on the truck ride back to the car we saw a turquoise cove that beckoned.  After sneaking past a German nudist-colony hotel, we arrived at a pebble beach, with the most crystalline waters, an island to swim to, and several tidal caves to explore—all to ourselves!

Not a great picture, but this is our cove, our island, our tidal caves...and no nudists except ourselves!

And despite being there during the vote on whether to exit the Eurozone, with ATM withdrawals limited to 60 euros a day for Greek citizens, the Greeks we spoke with were remarkably sensible and calm.  They expressed sadness, some worry, but mostly resignation that they had survived for millennia, and would come through this crisis as well.

Sign of the times

All in all, a gorgeous, sun-soaked trip, with no drama except that of the sunsets.

On the road

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