Yesterday we left Santorini. This was hard for me. I love Santorini and am fully captivated by its charm and unique beauty. Time passed too quickly while we were on that island and I was genuinely sad to leave. Not only was the scenery beautiful there, we also met some lovely people. The family that owned the apartments we stayed in were so kind and welcoming to us. I sincerely enjoyed my conversations with each of them and was appreciative to the owners’ son-in-law for happily transporting us (and our luggage) back and forth to the various places we stayed at. If you ever go to Santorini, I highly recommend staying at Pension George.
We arrived in Crete last night. The main port is in the capital city of Heraklion. There are no typical cities on the small island of Santorini. Heraklion is a big city. We rented a car for our time here that is similar in size to those red little tykes cars with the yellow roofs that small kids play in. Upon leaving the harbor we saw lots of gas stations, a McDonalds, busy highways etc. It felt like a rude awakening into reality and a reminder of just how quaint and enchanting Santorini is.
In terms of our travel style it has evolved over the years. I used to actually research places we were going and have a list of things to do and see while there. Recently our travel style has consisted of naming a place we’d like to go, finding a cheap place to stay and showing up with little to no information on the area.
Take Crete for example. This island is huge! We found a place to stay based on price and proximity to the beach. This means it’s a two hour drive from the main port and about a five hour drive to the airport we will be flying out of. Also, little did I realize that we’d be staying on the shores of the Libyan Sea which means North Africa is literally across the sea from us.
Driving to our new place, in a small car, in the dark, on an island was an adventure. The roads started off wide and well marked. As time progressed we were following the windy costal roads then suddenly we were away from the coast and driving on narrowing roads that seemed to be ascending a mountain. It was pitch black out, we’d been driving for over two hours, hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours, and we were clearly lost in the middle of nowhere. Of course there was no sign of life for miles and no room to safely turn around on the narrow curvy roads. Eventually we pulled off onto a dirt road to consult a map. Pitch black. Dirt road. Americans lost in a tiny car. On a mountain on an island. No food and little water. Sounds like the perfect scene to a horror movie.
Thankfully we quickly realized where we went wrong and got out of the scary roads unscathed. We finally arrived at our apartment close to midnight to be warmly greeted by the family we are renting from. There was a mix up in our booking and instead of staying in a beach front room, we are in a tiny room in the back of the house.
I was exhausted and starving and had the first minor breakdown of this trip. I woke up this morning with a heartache longing for Santorini. It all seemed like a dream. That a place that charming, enchanting, and beautiful can’t really exist. But it does. And I’m not sure any place will ever compare to it. After wallowing in heartache and disappointment for a period of time this morning, I’ve shifted my perspective on the situation at hand. Thankfully the house we are staying at is located right on a beautiful beach.
We spent the day today doing something we had not done on this trip. Relaxing. I devoured a James Patterson novel I found in our room while taking breaks to swim in the crystal clear waters of the sea. I also enjoyed conversing with the daughter, who is an English teacher, who helps her parents manage these apartments.
It is insanely hot here. It looks and feels like Phoenix in the summertime. Except the sea is literally steps away and it makes the heat bearable. We are staying in the quiet town of Makrigialos on the Southeast end of the island. The beaches here are wonderful and the water appears a mixture of aqua and turquoise from a distance but is so clear up close. The shallow waters are warm, but cool enough to provide relief from the desert temperatures.
Maybe we will be adventurous again tomorrow. But for now, I’m thankful for a day of relaxation.