The sweltering heat and the relentless sunshine here in Crete has slowed us down on our typically active explorations. Yesterday, despite temperatures around 100, we drove along the coast and admired the views of the olive trees growing on the mountains out of one window of the car and sweeping views of the sea out the other window.

IMG_1643IMG_1639IMG_1655We stopped in the town of Pefki which is literally built into the mountainside. It was far too hot outside to explore for long so we settled on enjoying a cold drink at a taverna. The rest of the day I spent sitting in the shade on the beach where we are staying.

IMG_1663 IMG_1667Today we decided to brave the heat and venture to the Northeast side of the island to Vai. Vai is home to the only Palm Tree Forest in all of Europe. Furthermore, it continues to be named as one of the most beautiful beaches on this island. I have never been to such a beautiful beach! Palm trees provide a stunning backdrop to the light colored beach and azure waters. The waters here are completely translucent. No matter how deep the waters were where you swim you can clearly see the bottom of the sea and your own shadow looking back at you.

IMG_1702 IMG_1706 IMG_1693 IMG_1677 IMG_1674 IMG_1712People clearly profit off of Vai being such a destination here in the island. To use a beach chair/sunbed it costs four euros and fifty cents which is equivalent to $6.10 in American dollars per chair. Michal and I finished off our bottle of sunscreen while we were there. I went to the store to buy more and for 8 oz of sunscreen the price was 24 euros, aka $32.10. I held off on buying the sunscreen until we stopped at a larger store on the way back and found it for a much more reasonable price.

After we left Vai we stopped at a banana plantation and indulged in freshly picked bananas, figs, and grapes. The taste of fresh picked organic fruit is indescribably delicious and refreshing.

IMG_1713 IMG_1717A few miles down the road we stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient city in Itanos along with another stunning beach that was much more secluded than Vai. We then stopped at Moni Toplou monastary.

IMG_1720 IMG_1722 IMG_1725Driving back along the windy mountain roads we needed to stop several times. At home you need to stop to avoid hitting deer. Here you need to stop to avoid hitting mountain goats that roam the mountainside in large herds.

IMG_1741 IMG_1746 IMG_1748 IMG_1750It is evening here (7 hours ahead of East Coast time in the US) and we are done for the day. It is impressive how exhausting the combination of heat, sun, and water is. Despite it all Michal and I are appreciating Crete for what we have discovered thus far.