Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Off to Crete...

The day after the kids got out of school we jumped on a flight to Chania, Crete. None of us had been to Greece before so we were all very excited.

We arrived at almost 11pm, and since we were some distance from the airport, I arranged to have the rental car folks escort us to our rental house in Gavalohori. This ended up being a life saver as we had several miles of twisting and turning up and down hillsides until we got to our house.

When we arrived I was stunned. Generally rental homes which look nice online, look good when you get there, but there is always a mental depreciation calculation made beforehand to avoid being disappointed. This house was absolutely great. In addition, they really went the extra mile to look after us. If you are ever headed to this part of the world I recommend you check them out at www.eladin.gr.

Aside from the photo of the house:
1) The kids looking out at the beach and sea at Almirida. We snapped this while waiting for what ended up being among our best meals in Crete. There is a cautionary tale - in Crete, at least where we went, check out the restaurant before eating there. We found the quality of food and service to be highly variable.

2) The kids playing in the sand at Georgiopoulus. We spent three days at this beach, finding it a little more fun than Almirida, with more dining selections and more to do. Not that the kids noticed the difference much. Although, they do remember the first restaurant we went to and have spoken about it numerous times since. FWIW - there is a small restaurant right on the river (which runs into the sea from behind the beach). The restaurant looks cool and peaceful, which it is. However, the service can only be measured with a calendar, and the food was of a flavor and consistency that could be surpassed using a boiled stone. When your six-year old children tell you that the french fries are bad, there is a serious problem. On a positive note, we did find some lovely places just up the road along the boardwalk with excellent service and food.

3) This is another photo of the kids is from the beach at Georgiopoulus. An excellent beach with dramatic hills to the west and a clean river running diagonal to the beach and cutting across it to the sea. In the interest of doing something new and fun we got the kids inexpensive rafts that they used to float down the river into the sea (and then run back up and do it - again and again...)

All in all a great trip. One of the highlights, for which I could not get a decent photo, was a midsummer celebration they had in the village the final evening...

We were going out that evening to a taverna, where we had become friendly with the staff, one being an Aussie woman and the other a Swedish woman. Our kids had wanted to go there to play with their children. When we arrived to the town square they were building small fires in the road for the children to jump through (much safer than it may sound) as the adults looked on and listened to a small ensemble play Greek folk music feverishly in the background. The frenetic combination of the kids running around, the music, and a large dose of ouzo made for a magical experience. It was capped off with a midnight race up the very steep hill to our house, after which we all had a dip in the pool, dried off and promptly collapsed into our beds.

Speaking of "life" - I think we treasured ours much more after making a daylight trip back the airport. The twists and turns we so breezily sped through on our way to our village were all at the edges of steep unforgiving cliffs. Needless to say, our journey back took a little longer than our evening arrival.


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