In the last post we were in Rethymno, always referred to as one of Crete's most picturesque cities. It is, I suppose; the harbor is pretty, the Venetian stuff left hanging around is pretty, but it's a packed-in tight tourist center. Stall after shop after cafe after store packed with tourists, and selling touristy souvenirs. This continues to be disorienting to us because we rarely go places like this. We're usually the only people around who look like us. In Rethymno, we very much enjoyed the beautiful place we stayed, and we enjoyed driving around in the countryside south of Rethymno, but the city itself not so much.
|here's our little Crete car -- we rarely saw other drivers so it was easy to stop whenever we wanted|
|Crete is all mountains and valleys|
|in the countryside, the roads are lined with these gorgeous yellow-flowering plants|
|for some silly reason, Greek highway graffiti cracks me up.|
|the little homes in the villages often look like this -- draped and dripping in bright flowers|
Driving from place to place often takes us down what are surely just alleys that will surely lead into someone's garage or workshop, but no...it's just the road through the village. The paved road will end and we're suddenly on a little dusty unpaved path going up or down the mountains, and we'll think we got off track somewhere, surely we're not meant to be driving here, and eventually the paved road reappears. It's the most fun driving I think I've ever done.
When we left Rethymnon, we took the long, scenic route to Chania which is also described as one of the most picturesque cities in Crete. And it is -- and it's another harbor town with Venetian ruins, remnants of WWII bombings, and tourists. It was less packed-in than Rethymno so I liked it more, and again we adored the place we stayed -- an old Venetian-era home restored to a small hotel (three rooms) but we mainly spent our time there driving in the countryside. Mama Nena, the hotel, was just like a home, and the breakfast spread was so huge it kept us full all day. That didn't stop us from visiting little tavernas in the mountains for lunch, of course. I'm going to have to get on a hard diet when we get back.
|the red building is our hotel, and we have the only balcony overlooking the harbor|
|such a nice place to sit in the mornings and evenings|
|I love this landscape, it takes my breath away.|
|and I always love coming upon windmills, like wackadoo giants waving their arms at me|
|We ate dinner at this charming little restaurant in Chania, Terpiti, and had the best appetizer I've ever had.|
Bougiourdi, a small dish of feta and fresh tomatoes and chili peppers in olive oil, baked until it's bubbly. YUM.
|no idea which taverna, which lunch -- could be any of them. Greek salad, a basket of bread,|
a Mythos or Alpha beer for me.
|we stopped all along the way, and whenever we saw a walking path if we thought it looked promising|
we'd just park where we could and walk as long as we could. Never saw another person.
|but we saw and heard lots of goats and sheep, and on rare occasion a shepherd standing nearby.|
|this dessert was fantastic, but how bad could fried puffs of bread drizzled in honey be, anyway?!|
|so Greece. Blue skies, white churches, the Greek flag.|
|the lighthouse in the Chania harbor|
|ah, here's that lamb roasting over the fire, at that taverna! Blogger's not good or easy at picture uploading.|
|oh, hello mountain goats trying to cross the road.|
|this dude walked around Chania holding a little sign that said FOTO.|
From Chania we drove through the mountains again to Zaros, a small village on the slopes of Crete's highest mountain, and an ancient (and current) source of great spring water for Crete. Unusually, the skies were cloudy and in fact in the evening there were long rolling thunderstorms. As we were leaving Chania, Matina said no, it wouldn't rain, there would just be dust from Africa (just south of Crete is Libya). But it did rain, and a beautiful long quenching rain, too. I'm glad it didn't rain while we were driving on the little mountain roads.
|uncharacteristic (for this time of year) cloudy skies|
|enlarge this -- that's a gorge-type gap. Crete is well-known for it's beautiful gorges; it seems to be|
one of the main tourist draws of Crete, hiking the gorges.
|here's another style; this one just seemed to be a model of a church.|
|we're staying at Eleonas Cottages in Zaros, and the grounds are thick with |
fruiting trees, herbs, and flowers.
|we walk through this to get to breakfast|
|this makes me LAUGH -- the 'gym.' In Crete you work out underneath olive trees.|
|a beautiful setting for breakfast|
|Greek yogurt and honey. It's like eating the richest ice cream. I could eat it every day for the |
rest of my life.
|not a fan of yogurt, Marc selected the other traditional breakfast foods|
|such gorgeous flowers everywhere|
Boy. Come to Crete. It's such a beautiful place. I'm so happy we've come here, and I've loved every single minute of it (except for the headache day). It's a strange vacation for us, and crazy expensive compared to our usual destinations -- I doubt we'll ever come back, so I'm soaking up every second with a big smile.