Sun, Salt & Sweets in Crete

DAY 17 (CONTINUED)

We landed in Crete (an island in Greece) on Saturday night and arrived at the hotel a bit later than we anticipated.  We had an hour and a half delay in Amsterdam (once we were already on the plane), a 3 and a half hour flight and spent about an hour waiting for our luggage before getting in the taxi for an hour long ride to our villa, but it was all so worth it.  Once we got to St. Nikolas Bay Resort, the owner himself showed us to our villa, where he had an array of fresh local fruits and desserts along with a bottle of champagne waiting for us.  We sat and ate for awhile and said goodnight quickly, all of us tired after a long day of travel.

DAY 18

On Sunday, we woke up and went to the breakfast buffet included in our stay, which was really good.  Then we headed back to our villa to enjoy our private pool.

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We spent most of the day relaxing at the pool and the beach before heading into the nearest town, Aghios Nikolaos.  It was about 4 miles to the heart of town, up and down hill, and the route was mostly seaside with beautiful views of the coast, boats and Cretan architecture.

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We did a little “shoppy-shoppy” in Ivo’s words, and had a drink while waiting for our reservation at the number one restaurant in town according to Foursquare.  The restaurant was authentic Greek food with a great atmosphere.  Most restaurants have only outdoor seating because of how ideal the weather is here, and there were a million beautiful lights making the patio area glow.  The food and local wine were so good.  I tried my first Gyro (btw, does anyone in the world know how to pronounce that properly?!) and I understand the hype.  Also, they brought us complimentary appetizers AND desserts without us ordering anything.  At first, we were confused but after looking around we realized they were doing that at every table.  To top it off, the bill was only $56!  That is a craft of red wine, a glass of white wine (for me because I’m picky), two table-sized bottles of water (one still, one sparkling), a large salad to share, five entrees, the complimentary appetizers and the complimentary desserts (shown below) for only $56!!  I’m still amazed.

After returning to the resort, we enjoyed some of the bartender’s “signature Greek drinks”, and hit the hay.

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DAY 19

Monday was a verrrrry chill day.  I ended up sleeping until 1:30 (oops), so I missed breakfast and most of the morning activities, but once I woke up, Ivo, Lara, Ylenia and I went to the beach and swam around for awhile while Shawn was on a conference call.  Then, we all met for a late lunch/early dinner.  The eating habbits are so relaxed here.  At the resort, lunch is open from 11 to 7.  After eating, we relaxed some more and soaked in the beautiful views of Crete.

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DAY 20

On Tuesday we rented a car with a driver for the morning and afternoon, so we ate breakfast early (by early I mean 9 o’clock) and then headed to the reception to meet our chauffeur for the day.  This was by the hottest day that we’ve spent here so far at 105 degrees with absolutely no breeze.

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It was a long, windy car ride.

We first went to Lasithi Plateau (la-city plateau), which was about an hour drive through the mountains, providing some of the most beautiful views.  Once we got there I was a little confused.  I’d never seen Lasithi spelled out so I thought we were going to a big city in the mountains (blonde moment).  Instead it was more like a farmers plateau, but there was a really cool archeological site.

We arrived at what looked like just a giant parking lot with a lot of tour busses.  Shortly after the start of our walk in the same direction all of the tourists were going I realized we were about to climb a mountain. *Cue the constant stream of complaints about how hot it is and how I’m not wearing the right shoes for this*.

Once we got to the top of the mountain, we waited in line to buy our tickets and then we saw a staircase leading into a giant cave in the ground.  It was so cool.  Literally.  It was like the best air conditioning in the world, and the sight of it was so amazing.  Reportedly, it was the birthplace of Zeus.

After our super long hike, we had the best frozen yogurt I’ve ever tasted.  Greek yogurt is truly a special breed of yogurt, but nothing like the Greek yogurt you buy at the super market from Yoplait or something.  It doesn’t have the tang to it.  It is super smooth and often mixed with the best honey in the world, also from Greece.

Our minivan adventure then carried on to Kritsa, a village known for selling local handmade goods.  There were so many little shops with really cool silver and gold jewelry, beatiful handmade tapestries, leather sandals and blown glass vases as well as so many natural foods stores with herbs and other goods directly from Crete.

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We then returned to the resort.  I took a nap, exhausted from CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN IN 105 DEGREE HEAT AND FLIP FLOPS (sorry, last little whine I had left in me).  I’ve also had a really weird headache since we got to Greece, which I think I figured out is because I haven’t had my daily Diet Coke.

Later in the evening we went to the resorts Greek restaurant and pigged out.  We got eight starters, bread, cocktails (the drink of the night was a passionfruit margarita, so yes please), wine and main courses of lamb, steak and goat meat.

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DAY 20

Wednesday morning was another late one for me.  I was awoken by the maintenance crew drilling on the villa next to ours at 11:30.  Lara, Ylenia, Ivo and Shawn had all already been up for hours enjoying the pool and local breakfast foods.  I spent a few hours soaking up the sun, before we had lunch.

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After lunch, Lara, Ylenia and Ivo went into town to explore a bit more.  Shawn and I stayed back.  I edited some photos for Alana Braund Photography, and we had a really nice chat.

DAY 21

It is our last day in Crete.  Lara and I woke up and went snorkeling!  It was my first time, so everything I saw was the coolest thing in the world (we saw an octopus, a lot of beautiful fish, a crab and an eel), but Lara said it wasn’t the best snorkeling experience she’s ever had.

We then relaxed by the pool for awhile to work on our tans as much as we can before we have to leave the island tomorrow morning.

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To cap off our last night in Crete, we went for another dinner at the Greek restaurant in town that we went to on Sunday.  It was just as good the second time, and the walk there at sunset was beautiful.

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