Posts Tagged ‘Crete’

A yellow Vespa

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September 3

We skipped coffee and bread for 10 today and headed out by 9 for our Vespa adventure.

We met Pierre ( french actor who played a role in a movie about Spinalonga – had pictures to prove it) and his (our) yellow Vespa just a few minutes past the hour. Pierre lived in Plaka next door and couldn’t speak more highly of the town and environment. He took some information from me, showed me how to start the bike and the function for all of the controls – then sent us on our way.

For you first time riding a Vespa do not have a passenger. Get used to your own weight and then add theirs. We practiced riding and turning in an employee parking lot. No one seemed phased by our erratic “scooting” and near misses on every turn. Once I was doing figure eights, I knew we were ready.

We stopped 2 miles out in a town called, Elounda and had an iced coffee. The town was sleepy and kind of forgettable, so I convinced Jaime that we should go further.

We rode the winding terrain another 7 miles to Agios Nikolaus and smiled in the beauty. The town is shaped like an S and is surrounded by crystal clear water on both sides. We parked in front of a boutique where Jaime would buy a beautiful sun dress and I a postcard.

After shopping, we explored the back streets… white facades, blooming hibiscus trees and lots of stain glass in the windows. What a find!

We turned a corner to find more shops and stopped into one which was showcasing the art of a locally renowned glass blower. Her colors were all the best of pastel and she would blow into old beaten cans and other scraps of reworked metal. Jaime got me a vase as a gift. I love it.

We chatted up the store owner for a bit, then Jaime asked him for lunch recommendations.  He sent us down to the beach heavily populated with locals and their naked babies. We ate looking out at the water. Jaime had a fresh salad with smoked salmon and dried tomatoes; I had zucchini balls and a Cretan salad with hard boiled eggs, potatoes, feta and the freshest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Oh and I had a coca-cola in a bottle… it was the responsible thing to do.

After lunch we happened into a couple more shops…found a tiny yellow model Vespa and had to buy it for keepsake. Then we headed back.

The ride back was as majestic as the ride there, but the wind had picked up. Picture us going 45 mph in 50 mph wind on top of a winding mt 100 meters high (with no guard rails) on a yellow Vespa scattered with ads that read “we rent bikes!” Now picture a line of 5 cars behind us…desperate for a straightaway so they can pass. Now picture Jaime video taping the whole thing. Now picture me:

“Kate, where are we?”
“Just shut up!”

Aside from a wrong turn which led is deep into a farming village, we did pretty well. We returned to the hotel full of giggles and with over an hour of pool time to enjoy before our massage appointments. It’s a hard knock life.

We are now on the ferry to Santorini. I’m fighting the urge to vomit as there are a lot of waves. We have a window seat though, so here’s hoping we see some dolphins.

The guy next to me just burped. He may vomit as well.

More soon!

Sunrise in Crete

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We are off to go pick up our Vespa … more on that soon 😉

Spinalonga and the hanging drawers

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I was woken around 8:30 to the glorious sunlight bursting into the room. Jaime had ordered us breakfast which would be arriving in moments. I covered my face in blankets and waited until she called for me outside.

Breakfast was amazing – delicious coffee with fresh creme, fresh fruit, warm pastries and enough bread of four varieties to feed our entire floor.

We ate outside and gazed out to Spinalonga Island cradled in the gulf of Elounda. We would visit there in just over one hour.

We took a 29 Euro half mile speedboat ride to Spinalonga. The water was so crystal clear ice blue that I longed to jump off and swim. The gentleman docked us and we hopped on to the island which to our dismay was oozing with tourists waiting for their guide to start. We got our tickets and rushed past them and up. We went all the way to the top where the wind yanked our clothes nearly off. The views were incredible. Every angle was a photo opp. The island itself is peaceful, but sad. This was a refuge for people with leprosy. We could not imagine how they must have felt… under the hot sun with no coverage – surrounded by salt water. There are remains of their small town, what’s left of homes, probably a post office, wood burning stoves and before that, an ancient Venetian fortress. We have a perfect view of the whole island from our fancy private terrace and pool. We spent over an hour climbing around the stones and through tunnels.  Would you believe wild onions were growing in the desert-like sand and gravel. It made me miss my garden. I thought of how I might prepare them then. though picking onions from leprosy island might not be the best idea.

Zeus and homer gave us a lift to Plaka, a tiny old fishing town near the resort. Since all the men here look like greek gods or part of some epic- not to mention one of course had a tattoo of posseidon – I named them as such. Plaka was about a minute big. You could see all of it and the walk back would take more time. But it was charming. Little shops and fish restaurants haggling you to eat there. Zeus recommended giorgios so we went there. Kate tried to order the sword fish but the waiter said “you don’t want. It’s frozen. You have Dorado. Fresh today.” We both got the Dorado. A whole fish a piece that was cleaned by a sailer who travelled the seas of the whole world. It came with potatoes and zucchini. It was the best meal we’ve had in so long. The most simply spectacular grilled fish ever. We ate everything while sitting on the water overlooking our newly conquered island and the boats that catches our meal. Kate mistakenly shared with a tiny stray kitty who then wouldn’t leave her side.  It was perfect. Sometimes you have to trust the source. We thanked them and complimented the chef who sent us a plate of watermelon in gratitude. We’ve had more desserts on the house this week then I can count. I don’t know if it’s because they want to feed us or if they’re just not used to such gracious american tourists. Probably the latter. The rest of the day was spent poolside, had a midday ice cream because we could and dinner at the italian restaurant at the resort. Did we mention they sent champagne and nibbles to the room? We still haven’t fished the fruit bowl and ouzo from yesterday. Though, we didn’t touch the ouzo. Ick.  Licorice.

Tomorrow is already here. Im thinking beach and spa day. Maybe another Dorado. 

Wait! Jaime forgot the funny story! So I did some wash…underwear and some tanks…and lain it outside to dry. When we were walking back from lunch, the wind picked up and I worried it may all be in the neighbors pool. It was not. Instead it was strewn all about the outdoor furniture like Christmas decorations. Apparently the cleaning staff wanted to ensure it was dry by our return. Emotion = mortified.

More soon!

About Crete

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We woke to our 6:40 wakeup call, chugged some coffee, hustled out of the hotel grande bretagne and into a taxi to the airport in Athens. We decided to take a cab vs. The metro… didn’t want to deal with the commuting rush hour. The ride was nice…got to see the changing of the guards and some really awesome sculptures. 

A 45 min plane ride and we were in majestic crete. We collected our bags and hailed a Mercedes cab. An hour drive into the island and we were at the resort. Holy crap. Words can’t describe it … so here are some pictures.

Tomorrow we check out the village and neighboring island, spinalonga

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