I woke up in the early morning on Wednesday and realized something tragic: my trip to Greece was ending.
This wasn’t just a regular jaunt to a foreign country. This was a trip with girlfriends that meant something more than just snapping great photos for Instagram.
I had the privilege of experiencing Greece and Crete with fellow travel (and life) lovers who appreciated every breathtaking view, every bite, every sunset. It made me stop, too, put the iPhone down and look around.
Let me tell you, not catching the shot — sometimes — is worth it.
We tend to get caught up in capturing the moment only to share it with our followers and friends. It’s all about the perfect Instagram shot, the retweet, the likes on Facebook. It’s easy to care about that.
But whenever I’m in areas with very poor WiFi — I never buy an international data plan — I’m forced to just witness the beauty around me, use the point-and-shoot that’s my mind’s camera and visit these images whenever I want. The trip then becomes intimate and personal. It’s my moment, not one I need to share with the world.
So I decided to relish the last remaining hours I had on this wondrous island — but I brought my camera along, too.
Here’s what we did on our last full day in Crete:
On our last day in Crete, we decided to actually enjoy the area where we were staying in Chania, the second largest city in Crete. Old Town, arguably the most beautiful urban city on the island, is such a charming place, we hated to leave without walking around, at least for a bit.
We decided to walk around the history Venetian harbor and to the lighthouse. We encountered an older couple selling natural sponges from their boat. Sponge diving is one of the oldest — if not the oldest — form of the original art of underwater diving, and you can find these sponges everywhere in Greece.
The Greeks have been harvesting sponges for centuries. The Greek islands of Simi, Chalki and Kalymnos are best known for these. So of course we had to buy one!
We walked out to the lighthouse and got this amazing view of the city. It’s hard to believe Chania was invaded and occupied by German forces during World War II, with part of the city destroyed during bombings. Now, this is a thriving tourist area, with shops and restaurants lining the akti, or seafront, catering to visitors.
It was a hot morning, so we headed back to town and grabbed freshly squeezed watermelon juice.
We wandered the little alleys in Old Town, always seeing something new with every turn. I hear this is what Venice looks like.
This shop not only sold pottery, but the workshop was located upstairs and you could watch artisans in action.
This shop sold fresh fruits and veggies.
There’s bougainvillea everywhere here. Look how gorgeous this outdoor restaurant is.
Restaurants here don’t really open for lunch until about 11:30 a.m. (Dinner gets busy around 9.) We were hungry so we stopped at a small eatery that specializes in Mediterranean and Cretan dishes.
The restaurant was called Kalderimi and it was located on a quaint street in the old Topanas neighborhood. All we cared about at the time was that it was open (though we loved the outdoor terrace). And it boasted that it uses local ingredients. Sold!
The salads in Greece was nothing short of amazing — and so simple. Most times these bowls are just filled with mixed greens (lots of arugula), fresh tomatoes and cheese, topped with a light olive oil dressing. Still, the freshness and crispness and simplicity are what make these salads so delicious.
Easily one of the best dishes I’ve had on this entire trip: these pumpkin-filled ravioli with red bell peppers were ridiculously good. Fresh pumpkin puree with cinnamon and other spices in a soft, doughy shell. Perfection.
Here were the mushroom ravioli with a creamy sauce. Equally delicious.
Another standout was this fish dish: sea bream caught locally, so moist, flavored with just olive oil, butter and lemon, that’s it.
Our meal ended — as it always does — with dessert. This was the house panna cotta with a cranberry sauce. Nice, but it couldn’t rival the ravioli and fish.
It was hot, sun overhead, and that watermelon juice had already evaporated from our bodies. It was time to hit the beach. So we walked west of Old Town, maybe about 15 minutes, before arriving at Nea Chora and a few other beaches that line the bay.
The beaches here are beautiful, too, but not as stunning as the ones in Gramvousa and Balos Lagoon. Still, it was nice to sit on the sand, dive into the chilly waters, and relax.
There are a lot of shops and restaurants in this area, which is often frequented by visitors to Crete. And for good reason!
Crete is known for its seafood, and octopus is a favorite here. This is how they’re dried. We walked right past this on our way back to Old Town from the beach.
And how do we end a perfect day in Crete: a cheap gyro topped with tzatziki sauce and stuffed with fries, of course!
Too bad you’re not here to document our Santorini trip! Lol
So Glad you had this trip. I really enjoy your posts. Your fud pics make me hungry and I can almost taste it. The travel shots, you have a very good eye..
You’re right Cat! Traveling with good buddies are especially wonderful! I love the final days of Crete!!!!!