October 9, 2009

The Virgin Traveler: The Real Creta

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It's easier to stay inside your comfort zone. To not travel outside your neighborhood, to only talk to people you know. It's safer. Even when traveling, it's easier to stay within the space that you are familiar with, to take the most traveled way. Like taking the once-a-day bus to the famous beach with all of the other 99,000 tourists. That would be easy.

But to take the road less traveled (I know, overused phrase) is the most exciting. For the past two days, me and my friends, in our bright green Fiat, drove through the Cretan mountains to the Libyan Sea and to the best beaches I have ever been to in my life. Not that I have been to that many, but I think anyone would agree that these beaches are pristine, beautiful and addictive.

It's surreal - little old Greek ladies in black, sitting by the side of the mountain road selling olive oil and honey from their farms. I kept wanting to take a picture, but is that weird? Hello, you seem like a postcard, mind if I take your picture? Luckily, the wild goats didn't mind. There are so many of them, just sauntering across the mountain roads like it's no big deal. A shepherd standing on the side of the road with his staff, watching the sheep on the other side as they grazed. It's like the movies. And it's the Real Creta.

The roads are so narrow that Amber, our fearless driver, had to honk whenever we rounded a bend as we drove through the tiny mountain villages. And even on the narrowest of roads, the motorcycles zoomed around our Fiat as if we were standing still.

And when we got to the first beach, Elafonisi. Oh. Over the mountains this clear blue vastness appeared and we all stared. It was well-kept, with clean bathrooms and a litter-free beach. People old and young, tan and white, plump and thin, everyone in bikinis. Everyone free, not wearing shorts to cover bits of cellulite, not ashamed of their imperfect bodies. Frolicking in the pink sand and splashing in the clear turquoise water. I, in my granny-like bathing suit, joined them. Social pressure be damned, I did not hide. And it was the most glorious, care-free feeling.

The water was warm and no squishiness was found at the bottom of the sea. Just saltwater and pink sand. There were a couple of refreshment stands nearby, but that is it. There are no hotels there and the nearest restaurant is a mile away. It is untouched by tourism. Well, besides the one tourist bus that comes every day at 11 and leaves at 4. But since it is the off-season, even that was not distracting.

The next day, we made our way through Sfakia (where we had lunch overlooking the water) and ended up at a beach called Paradisos.

There were skinny-dippers and few others. I spent over an hour in the water, paddling, swimming, splashing and then the most fun. I was laying on my stomach in the shallow part and huge waves would come and wash over me, sending me into fits of laughter, as it kind of tickled. Yes, I am three. But who cares. The nearest person was far away. And if I had wanted to strip naked and skinny dip, no one would have seen or cared. Besides my friends. And I didn't want to scar them for eternity.

I love the Real Creta. I wish I never had to leave.


LeLo said...

These are my favorite kinds of vacation RIGHT HERE.

And here's a tip about taking photos of those ladies: stop and buy something, then ask to take their photo. That's my technique at least. Not weird then, and they get some business!

Anonymous said...

That's how I feel about England - I never want to leave and have cried before. But I have learned that I will always go back and I do. It's wonderful to have those special places that move your heart. It also helps that you are on vacation and don't have to concern yourself with the realities of life. That makes almost everywhere special. Just know that this is the beginning of many special adventures for you!

The Blackthorne'd Rose said...

It sounds like you're having a wonderful time. But I have to ask... what is the dish in the upper picture? They both look fabulous... You'd think I would have learned by now to not peruse your blog before breakfast...