Crete: A Vacation

Derek and I have talked about how cool it would be to go to Greece for a long time. Trouble is, it was always a fantasy conversation, not a real “where exactly do we want to go” and “what is it that we want to see” conversation. As we started really planning to go we realized how much there is to do and see in Greece! Island or mainland? Which island(s)? Which part of the mainland? Beach or city? Sightsee trip or relaxation vacation? IMG_1791Once we answered some of those questions we started looking at plane tickets. Upon seeing how expensive it was and how many flights it would take to get from Birmingham to Mykonos (3+ legs!) or some other islands we went back to the drawing board. I found a great price on one-way tickets into Crete (nonstop even!) and an even better price for a one-way out of Athens. Score! An island and the mainland. Vacation and some sightseeing. The biggest problem with this trip was honestly that we could have spent way more time in Greece. A good problem to have. The food was amazing, locals were really nice and welcoming to and prices weren’t extravagant. Plus family beach time. Win-win-win. While in Crete we stayed near Malia – hugely touristy, but really inexpensive and the pool led right down to the beach. IMG_1742Take me back! ahhhhhahaha
Being in a hugely touristy area sounds negative, but it had its perks. There was lots of great food nearby, everyone spoke English, and we were a short drive to a handful of cool things to see on the island besides our pool and beach. We did, however, have an absurd amount of difficulty finding our apartment. Our flight landed at 8pm in Greece (only 6pm in England so not crazy late for Daughter… yet), and once we got our car and drove to the right town we were pushing dinner and bedtime. But it took us several hours of driving up and down the right road stopping and asking shop owners and restaurant hosts if they knew the name of the small grouping of apartments where we were going to stay. The GPS didn’t recognize the address and google maps was about a mile off from where we later found the apartments. Their phone number wasn’t working and we were minutes away from just splurging on another hotel for the night (it was after 11pm) when I realized the phone number in an email confirming a cot for Daughter was different than the one on their website. That number worked and we found it! It was a rough first night, so on our first day we took it easy and just played at the beach and the pool. IMG_1670IMG_1701The rest of our days we would get up, eat a quick breakfast, slather our white bodies with sunscreen, go play, come back, drive somewhere new, eat lunch, play outside again, then eat more yummy Greek food. I’ll say it again, take me back! Crete Collage 1For our first outing we went to Knossos – a Minoan archeological site from around 1300 BC (give our take). As our guide put it – these people were ancient to the culture we are describing when we talk about the ancient Greeks. IMG_1599There isn’t a labyrinth and there certainly weren’t any minotaur bones : ), but there was running water (back in the day), and check out these huge oil storage jars:IMG_1591IMG_1576IMG_1579IMG_1606 On another day we saw the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum. It had great reviews on trip advisor and seemed interesting, plus, after we’ve been to so many open air-type museums we felt like we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see another one in a very different culture.
IMG_1786I had never see an olive oil press before, and some of the rooms were really quite interesting, but the best part was the view of this small Greek Orthodox church overlooking the sea.
IMG_1829We also went to see and hike through Diktian Cave – the legendary birthplace of Zeus. The cave is up on top of the Lassithini Plateau. Once we parked it was a bit of a hike to the cave, though some people hired mules to take them up the mountain. As we figured, Derek is just as much of an ass so we didn’t need to hire one. wanh wah.IMG_1856

By the time we hiked around other tourists and mules and got to the cave I felt like we sneezed and were already done. Even still, the stalactites and stalagmites were pretty cool. I can totally see why there are legends surrounding this cave.
IMG_1837After reading about Zeus and Rhea (his mother) and her hiding him to protect him from Cronos (his father) I kind of wanted to go and re-read the Percy Jackson series. Not the most mature literary choice for Greek mythology, I know, but still a well-loved series!
IMG_1850Overlooking the plateau.
I do wish we could have seen more on Crete. It’s the largest of the Greek islands so there’s lots more to see there than other islands, but I’m glad we saw what we did and I don’t regret any of the time spent just hanging out as a family in the sun and water.
IMG_1872To explain her awesome outfit: the day before we left I got paranoid about her getting sunburnt and bought this full coverage suit with the super classy included hat. Definitely not a high fashion choice, but I think it was a good-mom decision, especially for only £5, even if the hat served more to crack me up than to protect her from the sun!
IMG_1647This will be a family trip for my dreams.
IMG_1555

Instead of taking an overnight ferry, we took a <1 hour flight to Athens for the last few days of our trip. The ferry would have been really fun if we had the time to island hop, but we do what we can with our limited vacation days. Work hard, play hard!

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