Monday, June 02, 2008

Crete, Part II

After Boutari Winery, we returned to the hotel and had a bit of a rest before meeting up with Garreth, an English guy who runs a water sports business in Crete. We had met him the night before at the Axos hotel bar and he had offered to take us to one of his favorite spots for dinner. We were super excited to try some traditional Greek cuisine and Taverna Fantastico was the perfect place to do it! It was far from the tourist traps, up in the mountains with a great view of the sea and the sunset. We chowed down on fried aubergines, stuffed vine leaves, saganaki (fried cheese), tzatsiki (yoghurt and cucumber dip), zucchini balls, fried zucchini, and bread – and that was just appetizers! We also enjoyed “village wine,” made locally. As if that wasn’t enough we also each had a main dish. I had beef and Eva had tomato and cheese spaghetti. Everything was incredibly delicious but we were definitely surprised at how much fried food the Greeks eat. We were expecting to eat the traditional Mediterranean diet of fruits, nuts, beans, etc, but we’ve been finding the food a lot unhealthier than we expected. It’s a good thing we’re staying active!

After dinner we headed right to bed because we had to wake up at 5 AM to catch our bus to hike Samaria Gorge. The gorge is the longest in Europe, stretching about 14 kilometers. The hike was fairly strenuous, with lots of rocky paths down the side of the gorge and through it to the other side. It took us about four and a half hours to complete our trek, which is about two hours faster than average! I guess dinner the night before had really energized us!

At the end of the gorge there was another 3 km walk into town. We were rewarded with a relaxing swim and a few hours of laying on the beach before we had to catch the bus back to Rethymno. The sand was very black and rocky but the water was crystal clear – probably the purest water we have ever seen!

Sunday, we were supposed to meet up with Garreth again so we could do some of the water sports that his company offers. Unfortunately, when we woke up our leg muscles ached from the hike the day before and all we could even think of doing was lying on the beach all day. We caught a bus to Prevali, a gorgeous, secluded beach that is fed by a stream. Little did we know, there was a hike involved to get to it! We rallied and made it to the bottom and it proved worth the effort.

Back at the hotel, we packed our suitcases to prepare for the next part of our journey to Santorini and then met up with Stephano, another one of the locals, at the hotel bar for a farewell beer and a few shots of Raki.

They even let me behind the bar so I could show off my pint-pouring skills!

Crete has been an amazing time. The island has a lot to offer and we’ve made some great friends. Looking back, we wish we had rented a car so we didn’t waste so much time on long bus rides but it’s probably best we didn’t because it would have been fairly expensive. Now we’re on the ferry to Santorini and we’ll back in the United States in just one week!

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