Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stalis, Crete, Greece

After a less than perfect travel day, Jaime, Kristin, and I arrived at our amazing hotel in the tiny beach town of Stalis on the greek island of Crete.  We spent four days here for our mini vacation, and although the weather was less than ideal, it was possibly the most relaxing and fun time of the whole trip!

Since it was still the end of April and the season for tourism officially starts in May, the beautiful beaches of this common tourist destination for the wealthy British were desserted, many of the shops were closed, and everything was fairly vacant.  We absolutely loved it.  It gave us the chance to get to know the locals and fully appreciate their hospitality.  It felt like we had the whole island to ourselves.

On our first night for Kristin's birthday dinner, we went to the tavern next to our hotel for dinner and our first taste of incredible greek food.  Unexpectedly, we also got a taste of greek culture and the kindness and openness of the people.  The place was owned by a very kind, older couple: the woman was the waiter and the man the chef.  They were welcoming and giving, showering free desserts on us, wanting to get to know us, and caring about us.  We received warm hugs that made us feel like family and instantly decided that this woman would be our adopted greek mama!  It was a perfect and loving experience, unlike anything I would have expected or imagined.

We mostly spent our days walking around, relaxing, and eating.  There was a little mountain range so we did a bit of hiking.

The beach was just a five minute walk from the hotel, so we enjoyed walking along the beach, especially because it held the most perfect, soft sand I have ever felt-- completely incomparable to anywhere else I have ever been.  The waves and the blue water were just breathtaking; it was overall one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to, although the sand was the absolute best.

The main town was about an hour's walk, so we only made that trek once; we preferred to get well acquainted with where we were.  On the walk, we got to talk in all the beauty of the island: the mountains, the beach, the neat greek architecture, and tons of beautiful flowers.

One day when walking along the beach, as we passed a bar with a couple people in it, we heard some girls calling for us, so we decided to see what they wanted.  They asked us if we were british and told us that they were spending the summer working at a hotel on the beach here, and invited us to a roast with them that evening.  When we returned for the roast, we were showered with a delicious combination between greek and british food, more than we could ever eat, all homemade by one of the three girls.  We spent the evening getting to know them, learning about Crete through the locals that were there, and telling them about ourselves!  We talked with them for hours, and even taught them how to two-step and learned some card 'magic' tricks from the greek!  The meal included snails, lamb, chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables  and was probably one of the best meals I have had in Europe!

We had a ton of fun enjoying each other's company and the amazing people, culture, and food of Crete.   It was absolutely lovely!

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