“The Wind is in from Africa”—Joni Mitchell, ‘Carey’
We’re spending a week on Crete, the rugged island at the southern edge of Europe. It’s a place of wild beauty, fierce winds off of the Libyan Sea, and one-land roads full of hairpin turns. And it made for a classic Joni Mitchell song decades ago. Here are some of the highlights of our trip.
Greek food, simple and rustic, comes from local and fresh ingredients. We ate at least one traditional Greek salad every day, the crunchy cucumbers offsetting the salty olives and feta. Lamb and huge prawns also appeared on our plates. We especially enjoyed the farm-to-table dinner for a crowd at the Agreco organic farm just outside of Rethymno.
It’s still summer here in September. Crete gets hot in mid-summer, but as the season wanes, the weather is nearly perfect. The mid-day sun requires a shady spot, but, it cools down to the 70s at night, perfect for strolling around after dinner.
The beaches brought out my inner mermaid. We swam in this teal-blue swath of the Mediterranean also known as the Libyan Sea every day. Rugged cliffs surround every beach, creating a sense of swimming at the end of the world. These swims represent some of my best beach experiences ever.
The Minoan people came to Crete about 7000 years ago, making this island a paradise for archeologists. Seeing the tablets written in the pre-Greek languages of Linear A (it looks a lot like Egyptian hieroglyphics) and Linear B (a pre-cursor to Greek and the obvious jumping off point of the Greek alphabet) thrilled me. We also toured the palace of Knossos and took in rooms of ancient pottery, jewelry and tools.
Crete offers many hiking experiences. We did not make it to the famous Samaria Gorge, but we did a few easier hikes around Plakias. Walking among olive groves to this old mill became our favorite hike, and we did it twice.
Greek people tend to be warm and friendly. Many people speak some or a lot of English, and even when they don’t, they will go out of there way to call a friend who can translate.
We are heading back to the European main land soon, but I look forward to another trip to sunny and special Crete some day.