As a child, I always dreamed of visiting Greece. There were many reasons, and i was probably to young to put into words many of those reasons, although I think I always understood why. One of the things that drew me to the ancient island nation was the simple desire to witness with my very own eyes, the beauty of the Aegean. I was not disappointed.
Elafonisi is an island off the Southwestern corner of Crete. The island boasts a rich history, some of it tragic. Visiting, one can see why it has been used for centuries as a place of refuge and imagine what events may have taken place off of its shores. The water is a blanket of deep shades of turquoise. And for my trip, full of jelly fish, surprise! But with care, it was very enjoyable day of swimming, sunbathing, and exploring secluded coves.
Glyko Nero is a clothing optional cove type beach that lies next to an idyllic seaside town nestled along the mountains. The name ‘Glyco Nero’ literally translates to sweet water, and if you dig even a foot through the rocks, mountain spring water seeps through. This has drawn a healthy population of mountain goats roam freely and are happy to cap a snack off a willing visitor like me. I ended up feeding one of the rascals all that was left of our snacks, bananas, and after he took even the peel from my hand wasn’t satisfied and playfully chased me into the water.
Beyond its beaches, busy port of Hiraklion and Chania’s romantic harbor and stunning Venetian-styled architecture, Crete still has an abundance of options to offer. It’s an island closer to Africa (Alexandria in particular) than to the Greek mainland, and a part of this island nation that welcomes us to explore its enduring myths rich with archetypal symbolism that guides us towards truths we never suspected. Before we know it, we find ourselves in our very own hero’s journey.
Ancient Minoan ruins at Knossos, home of the fabled Minotaur. Serpentine roads winding up and down the mountains exposing lush olive groves and wineries open to visitors. Tiny villages with the most hospitable people you could imagine dot the island. Crete surprises you at every turn.
Perhaps considered out of the way for some, if you get a chance, don’t miss Crete. It’s truly refreshing chance to discover a side of Greece that except for a few organized tours, remains pretty much secluded from the prying eyes of mainstream tourism.
I’ll leave you guys with a beautiful rendition of an ancient Cretan song covered by the Rembetika Hipsters here. More on Rembetika music and its place in Greek history later. Happy travels!