Cretan Summer

Monday, November 30, 2015

Moni Arkadi

Agios Titos

Irakleio, the road to the Limani/Koules

 So I'm not even sure where to begin...
Going back to Crete, 5 years after Peter and I met and over 3 years after my last visit, was pretty emotional/awesome/overwhelming. As I walked around the streets of Irakleio with my sister, memories would come flooding back- of the corner of Liontaria Square where we'd meet up to run as just friends, of the roma kids who I eventually sort of kind of befriended, of the anarchist's bar down the street from my old apartment, and the Goody's (basically Greek McDonald's) where I'd get club sandwiches when I was home sick.

Our favorite restaurant was Lychnostatis. It felt like eating at your Yiayia's kitchen- everything was cozy and old, from the crummy wicker chairs to the old fireplace that caught fire once while we were sharing raki there with some of the other Physics students (true story.) We'd get lost in the little winding city streets, or on mountain roads looking for the best meat in the villages nestled up against Psiloritis with my cousin. We hopped on KTEL buses from one end of Crete to the other, seeking out the best beaches, the most beautiful cities.

It's so weird thinking back on those times now. I was a puny 21 year old with nothing but a lit degree and a handful of Greek phrases to my name. I miss it- the experiences, the foods, the feeling that there was so much yet to do and see- but now, 4 years on, I know our lives will never be quite like that again. I'm so grateful we began this chapter of our lives- marriage- right where it all started in the first place ;).

Favorite spots in Irakleio (no particular order, sorry:)

Lychnostatis- great food. enough said.

Vrakas Ouzeri and seafood restaurant: so actually, Peter and I are in debate on this one, as I love this place (they used to make a honey-grilled octopus that was kick ass, but don't anymore- boo!) but Peter is partial to Ligo Krasi, Ligo Thalassa. Hippocampos is where Peter used to take his parents- go try all three and decide for yourselves!

Peskesi- a new favorite- everything, including the salads, meats and cheeses, are amazing! Very nice open air ambiance too (though that's not hard to find in Cretan restaurants.)

Erganos- great authentic Cretan meals. Just outside the walls of the city

Outside of Heraklion: Tou Pavlou and To Rodi, both in Rogdia, have amazing food and equally lovely views. Worth renting a car to get to.

The wall around the city is great for strolling, exploring, and getting a nice view of the mountains. In the spring after the rains all you can see is beautiful white and purple daisies- it's just lovely.

Knossos Palace- an archaeological site well worth visiting in spite of being unintentionally damaged by a well-meaning English guy (whoops) - get a tour guide

The Koules- every seaside town on Crete has a Fortezza and old limani, or port from Venetian times or older. Heraklion's is not super big or exciting, but one of our favorite things to do used to be to run together to the end and back. Many Cretans will go for a "volta" (stroll) along the walls. The giant archways you can see nearby were where the ancient ships were once built :)

Churches- Agios Minas has a miraculous history from World War II, when a bomb was dropped on it but did not detonate. Agios Titos is a repurposed mosque from Ottoman times with stunning architecture.

Beaches- so many to choose from! Near to Irakleio the beaches are kind of...icky. a short bus ride or car ride out of the city will bring you to Agia Pelagia, Paliokastro (I used to climb here,) and Kokkini Hani.

Kazantzakis Museum- I never actually went here, but history and literature nerds will love this place. I'm kicking myself right now for not checking it out, all these years later (whoops...)

Getting around: Heraklion has two KTEL bus stations. Coach-sized buses can take you over the whole island; the farthest trip, to Chania, is 3 hours. Prices are somewhere under 10 euros, but I did have a student pass and this was a long time ago, so don't quote me! Basically you can easily get to most major places on Crete without a car if you don't fancy driving on the winding roads. That being said, many of the roads on Crete have been re-done since my last trist with them- they're a lot safer, and a car will afford you access to even more hidden corners of the island. Of note, my now-husband cycled everywhere on Crete, but personally I think he is a crazy-pants and would not have felt safe doing this myself :)

Chania, the Limani

Peskesi, Irakleio

Liontaria fountain- basically at the center of Iraklieo

Tou Pavlou

The rocks down by the sea were a favorite climbing spot when I lived here 

like a terrible blogger, we basically ate all the things without taking *one* photo! for shame. To be fair, it was our first meal in Greece and we were kind of excited.

Positive vibes, only

Sunday, November 29, 2015

positive vibe Spanish Moss c/o Jedediah Smith State Park, summer 2012

In Greek there is a word my parents used frequently on me as a teenager- moutra. I don't know the exact translation of the term, but to put things in perspective, it was meant to encompass my perpetual pouty demeanor, mood swings, and all-around bad attitude that where my adolescent years. Funnily enough, Peter's Mum tells me that he was in similar shape as a teen- she describes him a 'stroppy and horrible!' I suppose it makes sense that we found each other? But also kind of scary to think about any unborn offspring and what kind of stroppy moutra they're going to give us one day...yikes.

I did grow out of a lot of my bad attitude and more typical teen-angst stuff, but the moutra still remains and sometimes dominates. I hate when it does that. All I do is worry and think about the worst possible outcome in life (and I'm sure my face screws up horribly and looks very unpleasant, too.) Consequentially, it also makes it harder to write about life and things here. Grrr.

So today instead of griping about things or worries that I have, I'm giving my moutra a big figurative fat punch in the face- because who wants to read a blog of someone venting and worrying? Not me. Instead I'm finally going through some of the photo from our summer instead to remind myself how damn good and beautiful this life is. Which means- yep, Greece photos are coming your way! Sorry they took so long....

In the meantime..

Some Ben Harper happiness, because we are blessed.

My parents, who are amazing for so many reasons, knew we'd been hoping to dine at this fancy restaurant but couldn't (because the prices are crazy.) So they got us a gift card to the NYC spot for our 6 month anniversary. I may have sobbed cried a little when we got it in the mail. Thanks guys.

I totally missed Small Business Saturday! (I was working a shift in the ER. womp womp.) Hope everyone got out there to support their local businesses :) We did go for a hike on black friday though! So that was kind of perfect.

On a similar note, Bienfaire posted an ethical holiday gift guide- you can check it out here :)

More arsenal for my battle to get a dog this year c/o Reddit. It's just one study, which isn't the strongest evidence, but I can definitely say having a dog in my life as a kid was a wonderful experience...and I want one...for Christmas, maybe? :)))

My sister will be in London with us for Christmas this year!! I'm currently plotting our misadventures for her second (and my 5th or 6th) round of the city. In addition to a day trip (Cambridge or Oxford? decisions, decisions...) Kew Gardens (their greenhouse = bomb dot com) and/or Winter Wonderland are on the current list. All and any recs for holiday excursions in and around London are appreciated!

This lovely foundation is having concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this December, and I'm actually free to go-I'm so excited! More info here, if you're interested.

Share Love

Friday, November 20, 2015

There's a lot of sadness out in the world right now. Here's something beautiful in the midst of tragedy. Love and prayers to everyone.

Photo of Sol Duc Falls trail taken by my husband, Peter

Monday Mornings

Monday, November 16, 2015

I don't think anyone who has known me would ever dare to describe me as a morning person. For some reason, even after a good night's sleep I've never found myself thrilled to be forced out of my warm bed. Luckily, music has a huge influence on my mood, and while living in Greece I found a mix of twee, indie pop (and of course, Fleetwood Mac,) could get me up and out of bed for the day. If you're also the kind that has a hard time not swearing when your alarm goes off, here it is:

καλή μέρα mix (good morning mix) from ATLGeorgia on 8tracks Radio.

Soul Shine and Silence

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

(Unrelated photos of Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon, from summer 2012 roadtrip.)

Sorry about the radio-silence. Sometimes I think just get into a groove of waking up, going to work, coming home, shower, sleep, then start all over again. Things are fine, but the most exciting event of my week is using up out gift cards at Bed, Bath and Beyond (not exactly a groundbreaking life moment.) The chilly wet of November has set in and Peter and I have hit a routine revolving lots of hot tea and popcorn shared under warm blankets with a few netflix shows. I'm also prepping for my third USMLE exam, which means even less excitement this month. Oh well. We'll still try to keep the soul shine going.

On the bright side my sister will be joining us in London for Christmas and I'm currently trying to plot a 1 or 2 day trip out of London for us :) any advice, anyone? I've done Oxford and Cambridge both plenty of times, but they're both so lovely, I wouldn't be adverse to doing either city all over again.

The other big non-development that's been going on behind the scenes is that Peter and I spoke seriously about going to Lesvos to help incoming refugees coming off of the boats from Turkey. For a number of reasons, we decided not to move forward with our plans, but there is still a huge need for many winter items for families on the journey into Europe. Check out this site to find out what is needed and how to get it over there.

That's all from me for now. OH! Except for this: GET YOUR FLU SHOTS PEOPLE :)