It was so lovely to experience a new country and culture with my sister and her family, and of course my fiance who was just "the boy" at the time. We were also honored by the presence of some old family friends who were even on their honeymoon!
Sadly, my camera only made it through the first 3 days before dying and refusing to come back to life, despite charging it all day and shouting at it. It continued its strike all summer, until last week when I bought a new camera and went to switch out the memory card, and lo and behold my trusty Nikon decided to come back to life!!! A miracle!
Anyways, upon arriving in Greece we took a long a beautiful drive from Heraklion airport to our villa in Platanias. My brother in law Jorgo is originally from Crete, so he has all the connections here, and used them to hook us up good. Once we arrived at our stunning villa, we were greeted with local olive oil and a stocked fridge of Greek deliciousness like cheese, oranges, olives and more cheese. Now, I knew we were staying at a villa with a pool, but I had absolutely no idea what we were in for.
The pool itself was beyond magical.
But there were plenty of sunny spots too.
Actually, there were TWO pools. The main one, and the kiddie one, which was just as long.
The view from the pool was nothing to scoff at either.
That Mediterranean sunset... Oh my.
The inside of the villa was quite beautiful as well. Very open, high ceilings, very traditionally Greek. But sadly I was too excited to remember to take pictures before the 7 (and a half) people living there made it slightly less photogenic.
Also missing from my photo round ups are much of the food we ate, but after trying certain things the first night we developed a certain pattern at every meal... saganaki, which is a fried haloumi cheese, stuffed zucchini flowers which are these delicate delicious little balls of heaven, and Greek salad. So. much. Greek. salad. We even smuggled some Cretan olive oil and mizithra cheese home to try and recreate it but there is just no beating a Greek tomato.
The second day, we took a trip to the pink sand beaches at Balos. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. Getting there however, was no joke.
First you must make your way up a mountain along twisty curvy narrow streets that hug the side of a cliff that drops off in to the ocean. This is the side of the mountain that we drove along:
Then we hiked about a mile downhill along a beautiful Greek mountainside.
Thats Katie below with her au pair Julia.
And made friends with some locals along the way while stopping for some shade.
As we hiked, we caught glimpses of the paradise we were heading to.
Until finally, we were there. I immediately abandoned my camera and jumped in the water for some refreshment after our sweaty hike, but the water was as warm as a bath! The beauty (and the ice cream that followed later) totally made up for it.
Some much deserved honey raki to follow our hike. My sister Katie LOVES raki.
The next day we went to the beach, which was of course beautiful. In Greece all the big beaches have comfy lounge chairs and umbrellas, which is necessary due to the heat of the sun. And perfect for napping. I slathered on SPF all week and left with a nice tan and no burning or peeling, but I think the Greek sun feels softer somehow despite the heat.
I want to add that on the way to the beach, we filled our giant van's gas tank with diesel and didn't have to fill it again for the rest of the week. We drove about 2 hours every day. Incredible!
After the beach, we had some much needed pool time. I'm always the one holding the camera so here is my lovely neice Malina and her parents Katie and Jorgo.
I managed to convince this little porpoise that I met in the market to come home with us for Malina to play with.
On Wednesday we took another perilous cliffside drive to this sweet little fishing town.
From there where we hopped on a boat and took in the sights.
My sister Katie and Geoff are below. We jumped off at every opportunity.
Never in my life have I seen water this clear. We were pretty far out in the ocean, and you could see every pebble on the bottom. It's hard to capture but this is actually quite deep- it's so clear it looks like it's only a few feet.
We swam in some gorgeous natural caves. A little scary but quite the experience.
We passed by a Byzantine shrine to St. Peter, and then ended up on a black rock beach to lay in the sun and explore the caves. We topped off the afternoon with some home cooked Greek food at this little restaurant, followed by those fried dough balls dipped in honey that every restaurant serves after each meal (and more raki). On the way home we stopped to check out the ruins of an old castle/fort, and then we picked up the bootleg raki and cheese to bring home.
Unfortunately this is where my camera died and decided to force me to enjoy the rest of my trip through my own eyes and not the lense. Very sad that I don't have documentation of every sight and bite, but it was still the best trip of my life. There were so many more adventures- Cretan wine tasting, shopping through old Port in Chania, driving through miles and miles of olive fields, dancing and swimming and drinking the day away at the beach club, and the food. OH the food. I could eat Greek salad all day every day for the rest of my life.
I did manage to steal one picture from Julia from our little section of the beach club... when I die, this is where I want to go to spend all eternity...
I cannot wait to go back to Crete. I think we are going to make it an annual family trip!