Updated: Aug 9, 2021
CaptK and I are in Crete, Greece, the largest and southern most island the Aegean Sea. It is our first European Trip in almost 2 years and we have missed it. We love the Mediterranean Holiday vibe in the coastal European countries. We especially love Greece. We love the affordability, the food, the people, the natural beauty and the history. When I asked CaptK about coming to Greece this July, he said "Greece is my happy place." This is the 6th visit for both of us and Greece is the first place we traveled to as a couple. In May/June of 2019, we spent a month in Greece, including 2 delightful weeks in a small apartment overlooking the port on Hydra. We followed that same recipe for success this year by renting a small apartment over looking the new port in Chania, Crete.
Why did we choose Crete and why do we love Greece? First, we choose Crete because we had never been here before. We have visited many of the Greek islands, but never Crete. Second we choose Crete because of the world situation with COVID and its impact on travel. We were both vaccinated and had a two week window in July where we wanted to travel. We were looking for similar accommodations to what we had in Hydra, a small apartment with a view. After an exhaustive search of the US Western states and New England states, I found the prices for accommodations in the United States extremely high and the choices very limited. We made the decision to travel in May, after most people had already booked the summer vacation trips.
One of the reason we love Greece is the affordability. I am not always a price sensitive shopper. However for the cost of our comfort plus airplane seats and two weeks in an apartment with an amazing view in a walkable city totaled less than any two week accommodations I could find in the United States, within our window of travel availability. We love of the welcoming Greek people and their delicious and healthy food. I find ancient history intriguing, and you find it at every turn in Greece. The natural beauty starts with their beaches, but goes way beyond just beaches. The decision to come to Greece was a quick and easy one.
Looking for more inspiration on visiting Greece, check out my other blog posts on Greece:
The Greeks are very proud of their country. Beyond being welcoming, they truly want you to love Greece as much as they love Greece. You can feel their pride in the way tour guides describe their country and in the way that waiters present their delectable offerings. They are patient with all your questions and happy to take as much as needed to explain "all things Greek" to you. In general, the population is very adaptive with languages, as you will hear a taxi driver or waiter speak, French, Italian, German, English and Greek all in the same evening. Greece is the preferred summer holiday destination for many European Counties and the Greeks are proud to host them.
The food of Greece is a reflection of its warm climate and and history. They have been making wine and olive oil in Greece and particularly Crete since 3500 BCE. The processes they follow today are similar to those used by the first Cretans. Greeks take great pride in their cooking, and that pride is reflective in the high quality, locally sourced ingredients. Simply put, every restaurant is a farm to table restaurant where the recipes have their roots in grandma's cooking. History plays a big part in their food. Because large parts of Greece were ruled by Venetians and then Turks, you find Middle Eastern spiced dishes, versions of Italian pasta choices, and wood fired pizza ovens throughout Greece. Cretan cooking is especially reflective of these influences. I have fallen in love with the Cretan version of Pasta Carbonara which uses olive oil, not cream to give the dish its richness. As well, the traditional Cretan Minced Lamb Kofta Kebabs with flavored with cinnamon, cumin, allspice and hot paprika, pictured above.
Greece truly is the birthplace of Western Civilization. The Bronze Age Minoans had a sophisticated society with a written language, international currency, skilled craftsman and leisure activities. The center of the Minoan Civilization was on Crete. They used its strategic Mediterranean Sea location and maritime skills to trade with the Egyptians and the Phoenicians who lived in modern day Lebanon, Israel and Syria. Their farming methods, olive oil producing methods, and wine marking methods are still used today. The written language is the precursor to the modern Greek language. They used small flattened balls of precious metals as coins. They decorated their palaces and homes with frescos in shades of reds and blues. They played elaborate board games and had athletic competitions. All of this beginning around 3500 BCE. Much of the folklore of the Minoan culture became the basis of Greek and Roman Mythology. Throughout Greece, almost every town has an archeological site that traces the town's roots to one of these ancient societies. When visiting them, I like to visualize what life was like in those ancient times and imagine how similar those people are to me.
The Natural Beauty
Greece is a visually stunning country. The sparking Mediterranean Sea in shades of sapphire and turquoise, against the towering mountains granite and alabaster dotted with olive groves and orange trees. We were first drawn to Greece because of the idyllic beaches. In recent years we have found great joy in hiking through their thyme scented valleys and rocky peaks. We especially loved hiking in Hydra. We visited in May and were able to enjoy the multitude of wildflowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. The Greeks have an eye for aesthetics. Even if you visit in the warm, dry summer months, you will finds terraces covered in bright fuchsia bougainvillea, blooming oleander along the roadways and pergolas covered in grape vines.
As I mentioned above, one of the factors that weighed heavily in our decision to come to Greece is its affordability. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of luxury beach resorts and villas as well as high end city hotels. Since we retired, we like to stay longer in a place and live more like the locals live. We try to select holiday apartments and restaurants where locals eat or where European tourist stay and eat. Because of this, we have stayed in some delightful places and ate some amazing meals on a budget that allows us stay longer and experience life more like the local population. Captk has even mastered the Greek washing machine. We do splurge on meals in fine dining restaurants and private or semi-private tours several times during our stays, but in general our morning cappuccinos run about 5 euro for two, our lunches with house wine about 20 euro and our dinners with house wine or local bottled wine 40 euro for the both of us.
If you have not visited Greece, I strongly encourage you to make plans to visit. If you visit in the spring or fall you will find it much less crowded. If you are visiting Greece for the first time, spend 2 or 3 days exploring Athens and then explore the lesser known islands or smaller towns and villages on the main land. The charm and generosity of the Greek people is best seen in these places.
Are you ready to book your trip?
Check out booking.com.
We found some delightful budget friendly places to stay through them.