Thank you Crete, thank you for your wonderful mountains and your beautiful beaches. I will return, I promise.
- I would rent a car if I were you, the island is fairly small and the roads are manageable to navigate.. there also isn't much of a public transportation option. If you want to see the island's best, rent a car.
- And when you do rent a car, don't rent from an American company (Hertz, etc), they're WAY expensive. Find a local place, in the airport main lobby, and rent from there. It will be significantly cheaper and your car will be just as nice.
- If you're going to drive slowly, do so on the shoulder of the road. You know, that place on the road that you're supposed to avoid in America? The one where you pull over when you're caught speeding? Yeah, drive on that. It's basically another lane here in Crete.
- The island isn't too big and nothing seems too far, distance wise, but don't forget the entire island is cut in half west to east by huge mountains. Get ready for some hairpin turns and ear-popping altitudes.
- It's windy all the time.
- Eat fish, but make sure you know what fish you're ordering. You may end up with a plate full of tiny fish that you have to rip the heads off of.
- Yes, there really is only one main highway on the entire island.
- You have to work to see Crete's most prized possessions. There are no easy ways to see Samaria Gorge or their world class beaches. It will involve dangerous drives and exhausting hikes, both of which are completely worth it.
- Don't order dessert, you get one for free at the end of the meal anyways, complete with a drink called ouzo. Don't drink the ouzo unless you're ready to grow hair on your chest.
- The tourists flock from April-September and when you go outside of these times, you will likely be the only person in any establishment you go into.
For our last day on the sunny island of Crete, we decided to make the trek back out to Balos beach, this time actually seeing the beach! We packed up our bag with snacks and towels and hit the road! Like I said a few days ago, the drive there was pretty scary! It was a rough gravel road and there were some large rocks in the middle of the road that you had to swerve around.
I was a little disappointed when we started on the rocky road and saw a couple other cars.. the other day when we made the drive there was no one there. I guess we went on March 31 and the tourists don't start coming until April.. apparently they come right on time around here! On the way there we passed a little arrow that said 'cave' and there was a tiny little path leading down the mountain. Being the crazies that we are.. we parked the car and headed down the path. It took us about 20 minutes to hike there.. now, in America.. this path would have been groomed, maybe even paved(!) but here in Crete it was filled with thorny bushes and big rocks. We weren't complaining though, I would much rather it be this way than all messed up by us humans. We reached the cave and it wasn't much of a cave at all, more like a little cove. It still was beautiful! BHW had researched the night before about Balos and had read something about a nearby cave and that a bunch of pirates had killed each other there in the 1800's. Don't worry, we didn't find any human remains, or wood peg legs.
The hike back up the mountain was obviously a little more difficult and when we reached the top we celebrated over a Lemon Fanta. YUM! We were now onto another hike down another mountain, this time the mountain would take us all the way down to Balos Beach! The hike was nice, this was a little more groomed than the path to the cave. We reached the ridge and held our breath a little because of the sight we were about to see. Once we peeked over the ridge we were in for a treat! It was B-E-A-yooteeful! The water was so blue it looked fake and the sand was perfect (it was even pink in some places!)! There weren't too many people around either so that was nice. We didn't have the place to ourselves but just about, we set up camp far away from everyone else. We spent the rest of the day at the beach, napping, searching for shells, reading, and relaxing. It was so picturesque! After being in the sun for awhile we came back home to pack and get ready for our long day tomorrow.
We also ate dinner right next to our villa at a little taverna. We were, once again, the only people eating there, but we've gotten used to that. Tomorrow our flight leaves at 6:30AM and we land in Turkey. From there we will spend the day doing the things we missed the first time around, and trying to stay awake until our flight at 5:55AM the following day (Saturday). It will be a very long day but hopefully fun!
At our wedding we had the guests vote on where they thought we should go for our honeymoon, and they voted Greece! So, 11 months later, we are finally making the journey! Turkey and Greece, here we come!