Although we have been back home for four weeks, I guess I must still be in Crete in my heart. I can't leave this topic without sharing a few more photos of this evocative island.
We didn't want to end our trip without getting out on the aqua waters of the Mediterranean Sea, so we joined an all day cruise from the Port of Kissamos on the finger of land that extends into the ocean on the most northwestern tip of Crete.
The ship was full of holiday makers speaking any number of different languages, but somehow I didn't feel crowded. I spent the whole voyage standing at the bow watching our progress. The first stop was a small little uninhabited island named Imeri Gramvoussa. This place has a lot of history. In the Venetian period (1500s) there was a castle here and the ruins crown the crest of the steep hill. It was also home to Cretan freedom-fighters during the Ottoman period (1600s) when three hundred men sheltered and sustained themselves by pirating ships as they passed by.
This group of islands is considered by some Homeric scholars to be the Komykies from the Odyssey, and Imerl Gramvoussa to be Aeolus, home to the god of the wind.
It is definitely atmospheric! And the climb to the top is slightly perilous and gruelling, over loose rocks that tumble down the mountain under foot, though the view was well worth the effort.
After a couple of hours on the island, climbing, swimming and being served a surprisingly delicious lunch, we were taken to the Lagoon of Balos on the mainland, but on the far western side of the island, inaccessible by car. Here the waters are very warm and shallow and we spent the entire afternoon lounging around on the sandy beach. I came back home with a tan.
Being out on the calm sea, sailing through blue islands and aqua waters was an experience I will never forget. It was like existing out of time for a few hours.
We spent our last day in Rethymnon, a university town and third largest city on Crete. Wandering through the streets you see artifacts from the various phases of their history.
We took lunch at the Taverna Knossos where we made friends with the owners, a brother and sister named Stavros and Maria. Their mother, whom they introduced us to, was the cook and probably about 80. Her grandparents had opened the restaurant at the beginning of the 20th century and it is still in the family.
Rick was really charmed with the music and found out where to buy his own little baglamas made by hand in the town.
In a sense I'm a bit loath to leave Crete behind, it continues to be a compelling and enlivening memory, but we can't complain too much about being home either. It's rather nice chez nous and our fall is continuing to be mild and fun. I'll share a few recent adventures from France when I come back again next week.