After a harrowing 2 hour high speed ferry ride from Santorini, we arrived in Crete. I have never been on a boat ride where so many people became ill. There were literally several employees whose sole job it was to pass out and retrieve (yuck!) sick bags. Add that to my list of jobs I am so glad I don't have. Luckily the Willinghams were all ok - Connor slept the entire trip. Unluckily, Karen and Brady were sea sick and so poor Tony had his hands full. We arrived though and were in CRETE! How cool is that? We stayed 3 nights at the Pilot Beach Resort in Georgiopoulis, Crete. It was a resort that reminded me of a cross between "Kellermans" in the movie Dirty Dancing (without all the risque dance moves and drama) and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (apropos given the location). There were activities galore morning, noon and night. Our children could have lived there: kids karoke every evening, a sight seeing train, more swimming pools than I could count, a playground, a wide beach, and a padded playroom to jump around in. Plus breakfast and dinner were included in the rates so the immense buffets made for immediate meals with lots of food selection for picky toddler eaters. Kirk found a new favorite in the dried banana chips and we all ate, ate, ate. I think we may have been the only other Americans in the entire resort though, which was a little odd. I guess it was a hidden gem of a place.The first day we played, played, played in the pool and on the beach. The pool was icy cold so when Brady and Connor's lips turned blue and their teeth chattering the parents were all too happy to exit the chilly water. The beach however was warm and the sand enticing. We all got sand in every body part, and had a ball doing so. We were all very perplexed by several young children completely naked in the sun. I mean there are just some parts that even a young boy wouldn't want sunburned, right? After a busy morning we loaded a tired Connor into our car...apple and all......and drove way up into the mountaintops of Crete. It was the most intriguing, baffling and beautiful terrain I have ever seen. Green and lush while at the same time being rough and rugged. Fascinating. The roads were twisty turny so we crept along over the river and through the woods.
We happened upon the monastery of Arkadhi in the foothills of the Psilortitis mountain range. It was a type of Labor/Memorial Day (May 1) in Greece and as we drove in and around all of the cars were decorated in flowers in celebration. Unique tradition!
The Arkadhi monastery is a type of Cretan shine in addition to a place of worship. In an 1866 rebellion, Cretan families took refuge in the monastery against the Turks. When the Turks got the upper hand the Cretans lit a stockpile of dynamite, killing thousands of Cretan and Turks alike. We saw the roofless vault where the explosion took place.
We tried very hard to keep Connor out of the rocks - her favorite thing at so many sites. But we finally succumbed. Sometimes you just have to give in!
But perhaps the most vivid memory from the monastery was when we went inside the 16th century Venetian church. It was very dark and ornately decorated with gold and brass chandeliers hanging every which way. We took Connor inside and twirled around trying to remain reverent. In a dark corner an old, wrinkled nun was huddled in a confession seat. When she saw Connor she emerged and came close. Her eyes were kind and sparkling and she presented Connor with a candle to make a prayer with. It was very touching and even though we couldn't communicate with words, her good heart and kindness spoke volumes. I hope she could feel our language of appreciation in return. Another life memory to carry with us.
We swung by Kournas Lake nestled in the mountains on the way home. The green water was emerald and fun.
More Crete to be continued....this one is getting a little long!