Europe, Greece

A Summer Under the Cretan Sun

Europe Greece

For the longest time, Greece wasn’t on my radar. I knew it looked beautiful from movies, but if you asked me where I wanted to travel, it would not have made my list. After last summer, all of that changed. Crete now feels like my second home. If I had to leave my apartment today, I would go back to that island before I resettled anywhere in my home country. It has everything- beaches, mountains, cities, country, castles, and so much history.

My favorite part about Greece were the beaches. There is even a pink beach on the west side of the island in Chania. However, my favorite beach is hidden away in a goat pasture in a small village called Kavousi. It takes a thirty-minute hike to reach and is the most beautiful place I have ever been. The water is so blue, words cannot even describe how perfect and vivid it is. I met many friendly goats along the way and some days, if we were lucky, the goat herder would be going into town and would offer us a ride so we didn’t have to hike after a long day on the beach.

Of course if you’re visiting Crete, you have to see some of the archaeological sites. Knossos is the most famous Minoan palace, but in my opinion it was too touristy and fake (it was repainted in the early 1900s when archaeology wasn’t very disciplined). Some of the more amazing sites were Azoria and Kastro in East Crete and the Malia Palace in central Crete.

On days where I wanted to get out of the country and dive into city life, I headed west. Rethymno is a lovely town in Northwest Crete that was occupied by the Venetians in the 1200s. That meant that I got to stay in a castle and eat in castles and shop in castles. It was total bliss! Every medieval stone is overflowing with flowers that have taken root over the centuries, making it look like a fairytale land. When you need a break from all of that, you can stroll along the pier and grab a bite to eat overlooking the water.

On my last night in Crete, I stayed in Heraklion, the capital. I ate at this amazing restaurant called Pekesi and went to the archaeological museum. Doing the museum at the end was really interesting because after my tour of the island, I was able to, in my head, create a world in which the artifacts lived. It was one of the most rewarding summers I ever had and forever changed the way I look at travel- as a long-term process that involves assimilating into the culture of other places, not checking off a landmark on a list.