Cretan Perfection

I can’t really say what I expected from Crete. Honestly, I can’t even remember why we chose to go there other than it was on the “Greece Honeymoon” template of our Honeyfund account. Whatever, it doesn’t matter – Crete is now one of my favorite places and a true hidden gem.

The Cretan Roadster

We arrived after a 30 minute flight from Athens to a very mountainous island. I booked a rental car from a local agency and that was an experience in itself. The broken English and unclear rental terms made us really nervous. So, we decided it was better to not leave a paper trail – we opted to pay cash and they agreed. Very trusting those Cretans.

Without a GPS, it was actually pretty amazing we found our hotel in the adorable Venetian port town of Chania (the 3rd largest city on the island). In hopes that we would be given a little extra treatment, I was sure to let all the hotels we booked know it was our honeymoon and the Ifgenia Suites hooked us up. They upgraded us to their “penthouse suite”, which included the entire roof top as our patio, two terraces, a jacuzzi and a bottle of local wine. All for the price of 60€ per night. Already, Fabien loved Crete.

After a quick lunch, we loaded up the car and headed to Elafonisi Beach.  The drive was absolutely beautiful and completely terrifying.  Single lane, curvy roads, where if, by chance, an oncoming car comes along, you have to play chicken. Loser goes over the cliff. So, if you’re going to Crete and renting a car, don’t forget your Xanax.  However, arriving at the beach, was totally worth risking our lives because it was bee-u-tay-full! What do you think?

Yes, it’s that amazing.

So, we spent a few hours lounging, drinking milk shakes and swimming in the beautiful water. We then went to Falasarna, a west coast beach where we would watch the sunset.  It was another terrifying drive and the only way I could prevent an anxiety attack was to shut my eyes after a while, but when I opened them, this is what I saw:

Beautiful death trap road

I didn’t take this pic because of the sheep, I took it because I was so happy to see a guard rail.

By the time we made it back to Chania, it was 9pm and we were starving. There were many restaurants with amazing views of the water and we quickly chose one that offered salad, wine, a platter of greek meats, potatoes and dessert, for 2 – all for 25€. Again, my cheap husband loved Crete. Also, after every meal, there was complimentary Raki and watermelon. If you’ve never had Raki before, I’m guessing it’s the equivalent of moonshine. One taste was one taste too many for me, so we politely declined going forward. From this point on, each night we would walk along the port, looking for these kind of specials.

The next day was like the previous. Scary car ride to an amazing beach.

Prevali Beach is also known as the one of islands best, but you have to work for it. The only way to access the water is by hiking or boat.

Happiness is…

On the third day, we had arranged to take the public bus to hike Europe’s deepest gorge, the Samaria. Now, if I thought being in the little car was scary, the bus was ef-ing scary. I thought that surely there was a highway or a bus route that didn’t include oncoming traffic. Wrong. But I did appreciate how the bus driver beeped his horn before going around every curve in warning to other drivers. Safety first. And so we hiked the gorge. I’m happy we did, but I’m not sure I’d do it again. After spending 2 weeks, walking in Spain, I think I am officially walked out and over 5 hour hikes for a while. But, Fabien loved it.

Somewhere around the crack of dawn in the biggest crack of Europe

At the bottom of the gorge

At the end, we arrived in a cute little town and the hottest beach on earth. By this I mean the black sand was so hot that you needed shoes just to get in the water. This was the first time I ever thought, “It’s too hot to be at the beach.” The only reason we stayed is because we had to take a ferry back, which didn’t leave until 5pm. Good old European efficiency.

The fourth day would be our last full one on the island. The next day we would be taking a boat from the Cretan capital of Heraklion to Santorini. So, we spent the day driving to Heraklion and stopping at some little towns along the way.

Looking back, we both wish we had more time in Crete. We really just scratched the surface of the amazing island. The prices, beaches, friendly locals and amazing food are simply too hard to beat. If you are ever thinking of going to Greece, do not miss Crete.

For the entire Crete photo album, click here.

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I Do…Again

When we recently moved, I found a couple funny things in a box of school assignments my mom had saved. One from 6th grade was a book of predictions of where me and my classmates would be in 10 & 15 years (22/27ish).  (Yes, I know, I know – I’m not 22/27, but I’m not too much older.) While most other students said they wanted to be doctors, professional athletes, parents, rich, married, etc., I had big plans for myself.

Age 22 forecast

Age 27 forecast

Talking about setting an intention.  I guess that even as a child, I was a big dreamer.  But, relatively speaking, I don’t think I did too bad with my 12-year-old vision board. Sure, I take photo’s, so that would make me a “photographer”. I didn’t technically live in Paris, but I was about an hour away. Traveling to all the amazing places in Europe? I’ve only just scratched the surface, but I’m well on my way. And not only do I have an adopted daughter, but also an adopted son. Aren’t they adorable?

My daughter, Cally

My son, Bear

Then I found another book, where I designed the cover. Again, my psychic abilities weren’t too bad.

Sure, I changed directions a bit in Middle School and decided I’d like to have a baby, work in an office, drive a Mercedes and live the single life in Tennessee.

Yes, I’m well aware that I don’t have a Mercedes and that I don’t work in a big office building, but I’m okay with that. However, what stuck out most was the, “Marriage – not for me”.  Maybe this was a result of my parents recent divorce, but I also found myself in my single 20’s, feeling relatively the same. I was making good money, had a decent job, a house, a dog, cat and awesome friends. Why would I want to get married and mess that all up?

Well, within a short time of meeting Fabien, to quote my friend, Adam, “I chucked it all and followed my heart”. I quit my job and left my house and animals in the care of my friends and family to move to the other side of the world with some french guy I had only known for 6 months. Talk about risk. Fortunately, it all worked out, but , it could have been an epic disaster.

So, here I am. 3 years later and married. Our wedding last year was a perfect day and truly the happiest of our lives. BUT, the perfect day has some competition because this Wednesday, Fabien and I leave for France to get married again. Yes, the girl who didn’t even want to get married and didn’t dream of her wedding is having two weddings. Oh, the irony of it all.

So, here’s what life looks like for the next few weeks:

The Church of St. Cyr en Val

July 4th: Happy Birthday, America. We’re flying from Nashville to Detroit to Paris with wedding supplies in tow.

July 5th: Arrive in Paris and run around like a crazy woman doing last-minute preparations.

July 7th: Get married….again. Did I mention the whole ceremony is in french? And that it’s tradition that the reception lasts until the wee hours in the morning followed by lunch the next day? Next blog. It’s simply too complicated to describe here.

July 9th: Honeymoon (finally). We’re off to Athens, Greece where we’ll spend 3 days sightseeing and dodging protestors, which isn’t new to us. Remember our trip to Bangkok?

In Crete we’ll hike the Samaria Gorge in the White Mountains.

July 12th: Flying from Athens to Chania, Crete. We’ll spend 4 days driving around the island beach hopping and hiking the Samaria Gorge.

July 16th: Jumping on a boat to Santorini for 5 days. Honestly, while most little girls were busy dreaming of their wedding day, I was busy dreaming of Santorini, Greece. Check out the view from our hotel room. I could possibly die right there because my life will be complete when I spend 5 days with Fabien in this paradise.

!!! Our hotel and view !!!

July 21st: Fly back to Athens and soak up one more night in Greece.

July 22nd: Begin the long journey home. Athens > New York > Atlanta > Nashville – Hello, frequent flier miles!

So, here’s to being a photographer, living in France and Tennessee, having adopted animal babies and traveling to all the amazing places in Europe with the worlds most amazing husband.

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!