It would be impossible for me to accurately document my experience in this beautiful place – impossible to capture the charm of the streets and villages, the romance of the land, the sensuality of the strong sun, and the magnificent strength of the sea. The enormity of Crete’s deep history alone is more than the mind can grasp. Top all of this with a romance beyond all expectations and dreams, and no words exist to define it.

I began my stay in the area of Hersonissos… a small town called Koutouloufari – a hard-to-find place up a steep narrow street. I discovered this pearl of a place on the internet, and it was just perfect, this hotel called Creta Blue. The traditional Greek family who ran the place were welcoming and kind. Guy met me at the airport – our first face-to-face meeting. We checked myself into my hotel, then went into Hersonissos for margaritas. We never spent more than a few moments apart after that.

The central location of Hersonissos provided us with a good opportunity to visit other parts of the island. We ventured to Agios Nikolaus twice – once at night to enjoy the lights and restaurants, and once during the day to lie on the beach and look around. We also drove to Ierapetra, the southernmost town in all of Europe, where we enjoyed the architecture, the sunset, and a good meal. I took this picture of Guy there; the lighting at night was gorgeous against this old stone building along the coastline.

I did not book a hotel for the second part of the trip, but I had planned to work my way west on the island to the area of Chania and find something suitable on the way. Guy and I decided to stop at a travel agent’s office, where we met the lovely Diane. She happened to be from Wisconsin – the only other American I met the 12 days I was there. Diane found us a perfect place, after listening carefully to what we were looking for. Orestis Hotel is in Upper Stalos, a quaint village with authentic surroundings, barely touched by tourism. It’s a charming place, run by a gracious husband-and-wife team. At the pool, we were introduced to the music of Mario Frangoulis (via CD), which I liked very much. From our 3 balconies (yes, three) we could see the shoreline of Chania, along with groves of olive trees in the hills. Just at the bottom of our hill was this nice little beach where we took breakfast (well, usually lunch) almost every day. This is the photo with the parasols below.

In Chania, we found many charming shops and magnificent architecture. Along the shore, as we tried to decide where to dine, we found ourselves in a very busy section filled with tourists. Each restaurant had “pretty people” standing outside, trying to draw the people in. We kept walking, and continued along until we were on the other side of a big stone structure. It was suddenly quiet and not nearly as busy or lit up. We found a perfect spot for dinner, and later found it was highly recommended by the native Greek people.

Here is where I shopped for souvenirs. While there were dozens of jewelry shops, we searched until I found one that “felt” just right. They had a very patient, knowledgable staff. As I made my selections and the owner assisted in some detail work for me, we made friendly conversation and he eventually invited Guy and me to share a glass of Raki with him there in his shop. I had read that this happens sometimes, but I was charmed at this wonderful hospitality.

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One evening we chose to take a short sunset cruise to another tiny island off the coastline, where we posed for this photo. When we reached the island and anchored the boat, they served us fresh fruit and Raki while we watched the sun set over another small island in the distance.

This next photo is probably my most favorite one of the whole trip. This is not enhanced in any way – the colors of the sunset against the historical walls in Heraklion were breathtaking. Heraklion is the industrial capital of Crete, but it still has a unique beauty all its own. It was here where Guy and I had a final glass of our favorite Greek wine, Retsina, before we headed off to the airport for my flight home.

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