Finally, A Beach Day

NOTE: My camera’s memory card glitched and we basically have no pictures from our trip until we hit Athens. I may try and find images online, just so you have a sense of what we saw/ are talking about. (And will credit if I do.) But keep that in mind as you read these next posts.

Looking back, it’s a bit astonishing that it took us so long to get to the beach. Typical for us, it wasn’t one nearby — we went to the village of Aphrata about 30 km north of Chania on the eastern side of the peninsula. It’s a tiny, rocky (!!!) beach with a taverna and free sunbeds. Gorgeous.

I actually don’t have a lot of pictures from here — I didn’t take out my camera at all. I think J. got a few pics with his phone. I was too busy getting in the salt water (yay for water-ready sneakers!) … sheer bliss. We stayed for a few hours and just did nothing.

Lunch was in the local resort town of Kalymyra in a place off the tourist track: Ionnais Kafenagogeio. A superb ‘greek’ salad with added peppers, olives, mini croutons and balsamic vinegar; (pork) souvlaki accompanied by the best fries we’ve had so far, cabbage salad (SO GOOD); and a unexpected ‘starter’ of grilled bread drizzled with olive oil and oregano along with tzatziki and hummus. The bread in particular had me in raptures, although the whole meal was one of the best we’ve had in a taverna. J. went to pay and they insisted that we have ice cream, which came in the form of a mini ‘sicle of vanilla covered with a truly scrumptious milk chocolate.

We had an evening tour planned, so we headed back to Chania, had showers, and met our guide at the Central Market right before 6:30.

A group of seven from Milwaukee, the Channel Islands, Montreal, and Seattle (/me waves) we joined Anotinis of Urban Adventures for their Bohemian Sunset Tour (https://www.urbanadventures.com/Crete-tour-bohemian-sunset-tour). This four hour walk and dinner with curated local wines was great fun. We meandered all through Old Town learning about the history, how to tell a Venetian wall from Byzantine, why the Egyptians are so well liked even they were only here for 20 years, and seeing the remaining devastation of WWII. We also learned about the local food, why the knife is almost sacred to Cretans, and were given tons of recommendations for where to get various kinds of food. I should say that a perfect start was the glass of fresh squeezed orange juice we were given in a tiny shop around the bend from the Market.

Antonis is an electrical engineer by day, designing security systems and occasionally installing them. He also manages several Airbnb units in town while doing these tours. I got the sense that he is earning money to travel, as he was passionate about where he’d been and what he still wanted to see.

We ended up at Boheme (https://www.boheme-chania.gr)– a restaurant with a strong interest in showcasing local wines. Let me stop right now and tell you that Crete is going to be world famous for its wines in not too long a time. We started with a kind of brushetta of thinly sliced local bread, toasted with an avocado-yogurt creme and ‘cherry’ tomatoes accompanied by a white wine. Our second was a salad of fresh greens and lettuce, walnuts, with a light dressing and a local cheese tasted somewhat like manchego but was a bit softer. It was accompanied by a rose which was nothing like the ones from France. Our main was a smoked pork with local mushrooms and fried potatoes accompanied by a red that was full and a bit jammy, but not sweet or thin. Yannis, our sommelier, opened each course with a description of the wine and why it was chosen.

We left Boheme, crossed the street and had some of the best gelato I’ve ever had at Delizia (Halidon St). Made from goat’s milk, my nocchia was truly superb. Cones in hand, we wandered just a little ways to Pastelaria de Dana (https://www.facebook.com/sketiglika), a patisserie, where we were given a tiny tart of marscapone cheese covered with salted caramel — magnificent! The evening ended with a glass of local raki blended with honey and a secret herb in a tiny bar who’s owner thematically redecorates every couple of weeks. (For us it was a Frida Kahlo/ Dios de los Muertes theme — apparently the Frida on the bar is the permanent fixture.)

I have to say that this one one of the best food-based tours we’ve done and I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Chania — make it your first night so you can get a feel for Old Town and get a ton of recommendations for places to eat and spend your time the rest of the trip.

Swimming was lovely, but I need to find a sandy beach . . .

(Sep 9)

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