Little Black Book...Spring in Greece
My Santorini List
- Caldera Villas, Oia: A bit pricier than I usually go but we got a good rate since it was still off season. Beautiful location, quiet and clean with an amazing view and an included traditional breakfast that will keep you from ever needing to eat lunch.
- Kandouni Restaurant, Oia: Definitely my favorite spot in Santorini. The staff is lovely, by the time we left we felt like old friends. And the food is delicious, again a bit pricey but worth every euro.
- Gyro's Place, Perissa: Just one street back from the beach, the gyro's were good but it was the family who runs it that got me, especially their little boy Yorgio (who I ended up playing cars with for the better part of an hour while I ate).
- Roka, Oia: Off the main street this little tavern has great food for a reasonable price and a cozy and comfortable atmosphere too. http://www.roka.gr/
- Atlantis Books, Oia: What can I say, I'm a sucker for a good bookstore and this one is what every bookstore should be (in my personal opinion); overflowing with titles in many languages with the requisite cynical clerk. http://atlantisbooks.org/
Postcards from Santorini
Spring arrived in New England just before I left, snow melting off the warm faces of the crocus's and snow drops I planted last fall. I moved the wicker chairs outside and sat in the hot spring sun, thinking one thought...tomorrow I'll be gone.
Thirty six hours later, the mountains of Greece crinkled below me like an olive and tan topographic map, rugged, earthy and warm. But as we flew past the mainland and headed out over the islands it changed; the peaks growing hazy in the late afternoon fog and the Aegean turning the milky blue of a fairytale sky.
By the time we left the airport it was dark, the inky night covering everything except the little lights of Fira shining across the crescent shaped island. When the next mornings light seeped under the shuttered doors of my little white washed cave room I pushed them open and the view stopped me short. There it was again, that fairytale color, the kind of blue that makes you question your sanity and try to clear the cobwebs of dreams from your mind. Was this real?
The rugged brown and tan cliffs dropped straight down to the sea and were topped by the same white washed little places as mine with rounded roofs scattered with dark wiry men brandishing paint brushes, freshening them up for the tourists who would soon invade their little town.
As we had no luggage (long story) we decided the best use of the perfect day would be a walk to Imerovigli from Oia. The day was cool and sunny, the morning mist still burning off the sea and our stomachs full of fresh Greek yogurt and honey, we spent the day walking along the cliffs through wildflowers with our sketchbooks in hand.
My Chania List
- Glossitses, Chania Town: On the edge of the old harbor, the food is as good as the view and the service is amazing. Out past the edge of the main tourist areas it's a great spot to stop for dinner on your way back from a walk to the lighthouse.
- Vranas Studios, Chania Town: Great location, surprisingly quiet street for the center of the old town. The rooms are pretty and clean and the staff extremely helpful. http://www.vranas.gr/
- Casa Latina, Chania Town: Modest, plain and clean this is a great place to stay if you are one a tight budget. On a cute little street in the old town the rooms are above a small family run grocery store (which doubles as the front desk).
- The Well of the Turk, Chania Town: Great little restaurant in the Turkish quarter of the old city. It is a little hard to find but a fun ramble and the food is worth the search, a mix of Mediterranean and Moroccan, delicious.
A Week in Chania
As our taxi leaves us at the edge of Chania's old town I can't help feeling as though I am standing on the seam of a city. To one side the future and to the other the past. We heft our packs with a shared grin and head out into the old narrow streets lined with awnings that stretch out over the cobblestones, shading racks and racks of caramel colored leather bags, jackets and wallets. I cannot help but run my hand along the soft cool leather and wish my budget was just a little bit higher.
It takes us days to roam each little neighborhood and I can never quite decide which I like best. The rambling ruins of Splantzia (the Turkish Quarter) with its leaning buildings eroded and layered with dripping vines of pink bougainvillea, dotted with secret squares and hidden alleys or Evraiki (the Jewish Quarter) with its sunnier streets and less mysterious but altogether pleasant and laid back atmosphere.
The main square is lovely too but a bit touristy for my taste, not to mention the ever alluring leather wares nearby which I did my best to avoid for my wallet's sake.
The Marina area is also stunning, particularly in the evening as the sun sets over the rocking sailboats and the smell of fresh seafood and salt air drifts around you. All in all, Chania is a city that slows things down, even time. A week there felt longer and I found myself reluctant to leave, hoping to find just one more hidden courtyard or fallen building filled with spring wildflowers.
More of Crete...
- Manousakis Winery, Vatolakkos: Lovely winery just outside Chania. The is tiny and quaint and the tour is cheap (18 euros per person) and includes a light lunch, an interesting tour of the winery itself and of course a lots of good wine. http://www.nostoswines.com/index.php
- To Pigadi, Rethymnon: Lovely little restaurant with amazing food, friendly staff and a nice ambience. The grilled mushrooms were one of the best things I've ever eaten. http://www.pigadi-crete.com/
- Rethymnon, Old Town: Interesting little city with lots of lovely shops and restaurants. It is a great spot to find beautiful ceramics and olive wood utensils.
- Palace of Knossos: As a child obsessed with Greek mythology I couldn't pass up the site associated with the myths of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros. Happily we happened to arrive on International Monuments Day and didn't even have to pay admission! http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh355.jsp?obj_id=2369