GREECE 2017 – PART 1

Some of my favorite memories growing up were the long summers I spent in Greece with my family. This past August, I went to Greece and it was amazing!  I know it’s already mid-October but I wanted this blog post to be perfect and I just had so many pictures, between my camera and phone, that I really wanted to take my time to go through them, organize them, and decide which ones I was going to post!  Plus, I hope this post can be a nice little warm weather distraction from this fall chill we’ve been having.

Anyway, really hope you enjoy it and all the pictures.  It’s been nice going through them and reliving the memories (although the memories are nothing compared to the real thing!) If you’ve been following along with me on my Instagram you know I’m still dreaming about this trip, so it doesn’t feel too far gone for me yet!

 I went with my cousin, Angelique, and our friend, Catherine and we stayed in Xania (pronounced han-YA) in Crete.  Crete is the biggest and southern most island in Greece, and Xania is both a municipality and a city all the way on the west side of the island.   This is where my family is from and we used to spend two months there every summer when I was growing up and all throughout my teen years so it felt amazing to be back.

The smell in the air, the beaches, the food, the mountains, the feeling you have when you’re there… there’s nothing quite like it.  It’s literally magical.

Also, keep in mind that none of these pictures have been edited and they’re all in their original form…so yes, the sky and the water really are that blue!

A view of the Aegean sea, north of Crete and about 10 minutes from landing!  This picture doesn’t do it justice but the water was just so BLUE and the sun was in the most perfect position, it was literally making the water sparkle.
I took this one picture above with my iPhone.  I know.  I’m still amazed.  Damn iPhones.
This is on the east side of Akrotiri, a small peninsula on the north side of Xania, right before we landed. 
 
Seitan Limania
One of the many beaches we just had to visit was Seitan Limani.  The full name of the beach is actually Seitan Kataramena Limania, which literally means, Satan’s Cursed Harbors.  But this tiny, magnificent beach is anything but cursed.  It was almost unreal.  Except for the hike down and back up.  And the ride down and back up.  Those were actually a little too real.  I could totally see how Satan himself designed those.  But it was all so worth it!
The ride down was just a little scary because you’re riding down the edge of these super curvy, narrow roads that are carved into the side of the mountain and it seems like you’re thisclose from just falling off the edge.  But even though it was scary, it was so freakin cool and the view was like nothing else.

 

The beach itself is absolutely magnificent.  It’s in between two mountain sides that looked like they just cracked and separated perfectly.   The water in between is this crystal clear, yet extremely pigmented turquoise water.  I think the color might have something to do with the minerals that come off the rocks there.
This is my cousin, Angelique, hiking down in front of me.  She and our friend Catherine didn’t bring sneakers to Greece and they hiked down to the beach in sandals.  So even though it was pretty hard and scary (I broke a sweat just looking at the “path” down,)  if they could do it in sandals, you can do it, too.  And, hey! We got our workout in for the day!
The hike down was pretty rough physically and I knew it was going to be a hike down so I went prepared in sneakers and a backpack.   I also made sure to wear denim shorts that I didn’t care about getting dirty or scuffed up.
We went on a Sunday so it was pretty crowded, especially since it’s such a tiny beach.  So I definitely recommend trying to go either earlier or later in the day and on a week day if you can.  Between 11am and 2pm the beach was packed.  Crete itself is pretty crowded during the months of July and August, so if you’re trying to decide a good time to go and you have the option, the months of May, June, or September, are the best because it’s still warm but there aren’t as many tourists.
Above is a picture of one side of the mountain that the beach is between and if you look realllllyyyy close, you can kinda see the path we had to climb to get back up to the top lol.
In the picture above, we were about to take turns jumping off the rocks into the water.  The way the mountain is split allows for the perfect jumping set up!  People were climbing up SO high and jumping into the water and it was crrraaaazzyyy to watch.  We only jumped from that rock that I’m standing on in the pic above because BELIEVE ME, it looks so much higher when you’re up there and not gonna lie, I’m pretty afraid of heights.  But it was AWESOME!
Stopped to pick some figs up on the mountain!  Nothing better.
Theriso/Drakona
 

 

One afternoon we took a ride to Theriso, a village a little bit outside of Xania, to the south, that’s known for an amazing gorge it’s home to, it’s historical significance in fighting for Crete’s independence in the early 1900’s, and for being the birthplace of Eleftherios Venitzelos‘s mother.  The village is up in the mountains and the ride there is absolutely beautiful.
As you start to ride into the mountains, the roads get smaller and winding, the trees get taller and more abundant, the air gets a little cooler and fresh, and the smell of it is just like nothing else…I had my head out the window like a dog the entire ride up into the mountains.

 

YES.  THAT IS A TREE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.  And yes, they actually paved AROUND it.  Only in Greece people!
Yes, this is real.
A little ways further up into the mountains we arrived in the village of Drakona, where we had dinner at a restaurant called Taverna Dounias and it was AMAZING.   Their seating area is under this gorgeous wooden gazebo, with the most amazing view of the mountains.  It was so peaceful and there’s nothing like eating up in the fresh air of the mountains.  I think it might even make the food taste better.  They’re known for cooking in these big clay pots and they only make one batch of everything so it’s best to get there earlier in the afternoon because by the evening they’re almost out of food.  That’s how you know that their food is totally fresh and you can tell.  It was so. good.  This was my favorite meal of the entire trip!
In Crete when you eat out, the waiter usually brings watermelon and Tsikoudia (pronounced tsee-kooth-YA) to the table after the meal.  Tsikoudia is literally like Cretan moonshine and WOO one shot’ll just wake your senses right up! Lol.
This was our little baby goat friend, Bae-ae-ae-ae (get it?! b/c a goat says, ba-a-a-a) the Katsikaki (little goat) and he/she (we weren’t sure) was SO CUTE.  Miss you Bae-ae-ae.
These are the sort of “ovens” that the clay pots are put on top of to cook.  By this time is was pretty late and they were done cooking for the day.
The ride back to Xania from Drakona and Theriso was amazing because from the mountains the view of the sunset sky was so vast and clear, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes (which  I can say about a lot of things in Greece!)
This was part 1 of 2 of my Greece trip!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Part 2 will be up sometime next week so stay tuned 😊
xo
Athena
P.S.  Big shout to Angelique and Catherine for taking some of my pictures!  You guys are the BEST!

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