Believe it or not, I actually have a travel post for you. In the beginning of September my brother and me spent a week in Crete, essentially sunbathing, reading, eating excellent food and also having the (more or less) occasional glass of wine. Our hotel was located directly on the beach of Stalos, a town very close to Chania which is the second biggest city in Crete, only following Heraklion. Is there anything better than having breakfast with a view over the sea? I don’t think so. After breakfast we would usually move our belongings a couple of metres to one of the sun beds and spend the rest of the morning tanning and reading before having lunch and then repeating the whole thing. Basically living the dream. On the first day we walked all the way to an award-winning restaurant in Stalos village which had been recommended to us. Stalos has a seaside town as well as a village up in the hills, making it a solid 30 minutes walk to reach. But although we were slightly exhausted walking up there in 32 degrees heat, the views and the food were well worth it. The restaurant is known for its homemade products, especially olive oil, which was lucky for me and not so much for my brother who despises all things olive. I get asked a lot whether it isn’t a struggle to find vegan food in Greece but I have actually experienced the contrary – Greek starters are accidentally vegan a lot of the time, ranging from fried aubergine chips to stuffed vine leaves and fava, a delicious blend of peas (I know it doesn’t sound too appetising but trust me and try it at the Real Greek!). For my main, I would usually go for stuffed veggies, beans in tomato sauce or Greek pasta. Even better, the restaurant across the street from our hotel offered a vegan Gyros plate which was so delicious I got it multiple nights in a row.
Speaking of amazing tavernas, one of my favourite Greek restaurants was located in the harbour of Chania. Chania is often said to be the most beautiful city in Crete and after visiting I can see why. Although I enjoyed the food market, small alleys and ancient buildings, my favourite part of the city was the Old Venetian Harbour. The whole setting was very romantic and I tried my best to capture it on camera despite difficult lighting. As said, my brother and me picked a taverna directly by the harbour and had a classic Greek meal, wine and an insanely delicious dessert. One of the things I love most about Greece is its hospitality – after a meal you usually get offered a treat on the house and an ouzo or small jug of wine. Ordering my meal, I had an odd conversation with one of the waiters, asking if I could have chips rather than fried potatoes and both turned out to be exactly the same thing. I mean, fair point. Next to a portion of chips, I got white beans in tomato sauce which was really delicious. After watching the sun disappear into the sea, my brother and me got the bus back which was a bit of an adventure as we actually did not know where to get off but had to follow the journey on Google Maps – which actually was pretty effective.
Although we spent the majority of our time just relaxing on the beach, we did go on another trip, this time to one of the most stunning beaches of the island. Early in the morning, we were picked up and taken to the harbour of Kissamos from where we would take a ferry to the island of Gramvousa and then the beach of Balos. I have to admit that we expected the ferry to be a bit smaller, carrying about 20 or 30 passengers. Instead it felt more like 2000 or 3000 but oh well. On the boat, I encountered a minor disaster – I discovered that I had brought a German book that I had already read in English (the titles were misleadingly different!) so I got creative and downloaded the Kindle app onto my phone and bought an e-book that had been on my reading list for a while. ‘Field Notes on Love’ turned out to be the perfect holiday read – funny and interesting and yet thought-provoking and emotional. (It is about two young adults who don’t know each other but through weird circumstances go on a train journey together that will change their life.) Arriving at the island of Gramvousa me and my brother got off the boat and managed to secure a spot very close to the shore. We either had the option to just spend our time at the beach or to climb all the way to the top of a mountain to visit an old castle (in 32 degrees heat, the decision was not a difficult one). Although we enjoyed swimming and sunbathing, my absolute favourite thing about Gramvousa was its sea life, our snorkelling gear finally being of use. These are the moments I wish I owned a GoPro but you will have to use your imagination instead. I saw everything from swarms of tiny silver coloured fish to fish cleaning the bottom of the sea and fish at least 10 inches long. It was simply stunning and hands down one of the highlights of our trip to Crete. Leaving Gramvousa, our second and last stop was Balos which I was particularly excited for following its reputation. And I wasn’t disappointed – the lagoon and beach were absolute stunning, with turquoise water and light pink sand. Generally, this place felt like a giant bathtub, much in contrast to Stalos beach where we were mostly greeted by the sight of a yellow flag. It was with a heavy heart (and a vow to myself to come back one day!) that we left this beautiful place behind.
Apart from our trip to Chania and Gramvousa and Balos, the rest of the time was spent reading, playing (and losing at) mini golf, hunting for postcards and petting cats of which there were many. Crete is essentially a paradise for cat lovers. One of the items on my bucket list was to send a message in a bottle. However, as throwing a plastic or glass bottle into the sea is a bad idea for various reasons, I completed this task in my own way – on holiday I read the book ‘Good Vibes Good Life’ by Vex King, which is all about self-love, self-acceptance, happiness and the law of attraction. Generally a book I can highly recommend! So on my last day, I decided to pass this positivity onwards, leaving the book together with a little note by some rocks on the beach. In the spirit of good vibes and the power of the universe, I decided not to leave any contact details but to trust that the book would find its way to someone who needed it.
Overall, Crete is very high up on my list of favourite places and I can only recommend visiting if you haven’t been. Also, visiting in September is great in particular as it’s less crowded and hot but still nice and warm. Have you ever been to Crete or any other place in Greece? Whilst you’re add it, feel free to check out my travel posts about Athens, island hopping and Santorini. x