Culture Magazine

Crete, Greece is Underrated, Maybe in Part, Because You Must...

By Shannawilson @shanna_wilson
Crete, Greece is underrated, maybe in part, because you must...
Crete, Greece is underrated, maybe in part, because you must...

Crete, Greece is underrated, maybe in part, because you must have a car to efficiently and effectively get around the island. But when you go the distance, its worth the effort. Crete is packed with wild herbs, goats, mountains, hundreds of beaches, three main cities-Chania, Heraklion and Rethymnon—warm people, and Minoan ruins.

Our three days in Crete went something like this. Moussaka, Greek salads, Greek yogurt, honey, beaches, goats, local chefs, more beaches, ceramics and herb shopping, more beaches.

Balos Beach, on the northeastern Gramvousa Peninsula, at Cape Tigani, is a sight to behold. Drive five kilometers up a rocky cliff that juts up from the salty drink, watch for the goats that pop up from the hillsides, and park in what looks like a dirty lot in the high desert. Walk along, following the sign that says 2 km to the beach, and it’s likely the grandest entrance to several shades of clear blue water you’ll ever see. The vantage point for photographs is perfect, and the walk down the coarse sand dunes is more of a sprint, as you select the straw umbrella from which you will be spending a glorious day in remote paradise.

It also feels really nice to support a broken economy, where a local chef asked us if the small price he charged us for the food from his small restaurant kitchen was ok. He then shoved away the tip we offered him, pushing it back into our hands, which we then pressed back into his. He took me into his kitchen and showed me how he uses the clay pots that were piled high on his coal stoves. If it had been light out, he would’ve given us a tour of his organic gardens.

Through this, we met the head of a family of ceramic artists who make all of his clay pots. Yannis, the potter, called the postal service for us to see how much it would be for us to ship items home, which we ended up not doing, as it would’ve cut into our final day at the beach. He offered us drinks in his shop, and graciously told us a bit about his clay process.

The gas stations were all on strike, (it happens, don’t fight it) and we almost didn’t make it all the way to our destination, except they re-opened, and we ended up buying more gas than necessary. So someone is driving to the gorge on us this week. Pay it forward, people. 

We drove to Elafonisi beach, at the southwestern most tip of the island. It’s a stretch of flat blue lagoons that all merge together, divided by small strips of sand. Half naturalist on one side of a sand dune, rocks separate the multi-colored water into private swimming and snorkeling holes, and Greeks, Russians, Serbs, and mixed European families all lounge across the sand together in one final attempt at successfully catching the summer sun.

Our final night, we went to one fine restaurant, where we encountered two lovely British men traveling together who met through their love of photography. They told us everything on the menu was amazing. The more chatty of the two convinced Chris that we needed to go to Thailand because the tigers were magic. While I already knew that, it was nice to have a stranger validate me. One of the men was a vegetarian for 35 years, and his companion was being a vegetarian with him for the trip, which was kind. If you go to Crete, and you hit up the vegetarian restaurant To Stachi, get the bureki, or whatever Chef Stelios tells you to get. He will be right, and it will be good.

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