Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mario Kart, Raki, and Snot- Greece

Ten months ago my family went to my grandparent's beach house for a final weekend together before I went off on my adventure. My father and I were looking up places to visit, he suggested a few things, and finally said, "Talk to the people around you. They will have better ideas than what we can possibly come up with." I smiled but secretly made a list of my own... where is that list now? I have no idea. What was on that list? Doesn't matter.  I have been to places I would never dreamed of (or embarrassingly knew of) visiting because we have such a great group of eclectic travelers here on the Edelweiss Program. Greece was never on my list, but when a friend asks if you want to go, the beach is involved, and it just happens to be on your birthday the correct and only answer is yes yes yes!

In ten years or so from now I may have the money to wine taste luxuriously through Italy or where ever, but for now I am on the budget friendly tour of Europe. So flying from Munich to Crete, Greece via Ryanair is where its at. Good ol' Ryanair. Like I said a strict budget.  So to Crete we went!

If you go to Greece I recommend Santorini, Mykanos, Athens, all those places, but this was my first time going to a beach in 10 months so Crete was just fine in my eyes. Really, this blog is going to be real short. Why? Because we were on the beach ALL THE TIME.. and I was perfectly okay with that. The first day we decided to take a quick boat ride to Gramvousa and Balos- which really turned into an hour bus ride, 30 euros, and an all day adventure. Not complaining just unexpected. This was great to grab a beer (vacation, it doesn't matter if you start drinking before 10am), talk, and just look out at the b-e-a-utiful water. In Garmisch, I have never seen so many different shades of green. In California, its beautiful, but hot and dry heat aka not much green. So Garmisch there is green everywhere, but in Greece it is teal and blues for the water. Its a lot like Hawaii, there is a different shade of blue every 10 feet of water. I will attempt to show you a picture, obviously it wont do justice... free crappy picture or just buy a ticket to Greece.. this shouldn't be a question! Gramvousa is this small island that has castle ruins at the top, so of course when you send a bunch of tourists on this tiny island with a time limit it is like a pilgrimage to the top. Or its like Mariokart- people passing each other, all in a sprint to the finish line, I wouldnt be surprised if I saw some banana peels thrown to trip us up! Anyways, it gives you a great view of the blues, but we remember why I was in Greece right? Well I'm pretty sure I sprinted to the top, threw myself off the top to the bottom, just to get to the beach part five minutes earlier than the others.

Moving on, Balos is this beautiful island, lagoon if you will with some pink sand, small waves (a mavericks surf competition will be held there any day now I'm sure), and in our case cloudy sky. Laying out was not so much fun, but still the beach! Like I said in Morocco it is not until you live in the mountains that you realize you were born for the beach. I'd like that quoted on pinterest now please. 

For a little bit of history we went to the Venetian Old Port at City
Center in Chania, Crete. A 45 min walk from our hotel along the
beaches. Hard life. You walk to the lighthouse, tour the touristy
 shops, and now lets get down to business... on a beach vacation you are going to do two major things the entire time... no not that. Lay out in the sun and eat. Lets be honest my traveling revolved around food.. and food only. Let's just say if I ever get lost from my group they can find me at the nearest cafe, restaurant, whatever. To me its experiencing the culture to others its stuffing your face.  Your choice. The seafood is absolutely amazing in Greece. Again Garmisch is inland when a goldfish is about as much seafood as you will ever see, so it was time to stock up! I highly recommend sharing with a friend the seafood platter. All the restaurants have this option. Squid, octopus, little fish, calamari, and more all with a slice of lemon. You have to do this! If anything you take a picture with the octopus tentacle. Profile picture for life. And if your at all like me and you like to play with your food this is great fun. I'm pretty sure that lunch lasted 2 hours too long.

   At the end of the meal sometimes they will give you a free dessert or even "better" a bottle of their Raki. To those who are Greek or Turkish I would say its a great cultural experience to those who are not my own opinion is that the stuff is vile. However, when one must take shots at 12pm one must simply rise to the occasion. However, when two of your friends tap out after one shot, the cultural experience gets tougher! Hard vacation. Get the one with honey that is much much much much much much much much much much much much  better. Everyone I met in the restaurant business where nothing short of the sweetest people ever. I'm sure it helped that we tipped, but everyone was so nice I cannot recommend Greece enough because of the people.  

Now my FAVORITE part of the trip. If you are in Chania, Crete you must go on Captain Nick's Aphrodite Glass Bottom Boat tour (look on tripadvisor- over a hundred ratings and all five star!). Captain Nick was so nice, funny, personable, and sincere. And a great way to kick up your feet, grab a beer (one is free on the 2 hour tour- reason enough right there to go!), and look at the scenery aka all the blue.. and then you will casually snorkel. He will snorkel with you looking for starfish and other sea creatures. So he calls us all over to this one area and he is holding something that just looks like a huge thing of brown snot. But suddenly the big bowl of snot has tentacles and starts moving around. Why yes he was just casually holding an octopus... well what does clever Debra say? Can I hold it? When your mom brings you up telling you to think before you speak I must have been napping during this one.. suddenly he is swimming toward me with a big bunch of snot! I stick my arm out and he latches the octopus onto my arm. I don't think the best writer in the world can describe this feeling. The octopus was gooey and slowly moving its tentacles up my arm onto my shoulder.
This is the part when I start squirming and screaming. Its like a gooey spider wrapping it's legs around you and just moving up. My reaction is like Ron's in the second Harry Potter. Nope nope not okay! Anyways you would think he would just grab the octopus off right? Well let me just say those tentacles with suction cups work! I think the octopus had a crush on me cause he WOULD NOT let go, Captain Nick had to peel all the tentacles off one by one. I'm sure I didn't help because I was trying to swim away while screaming the entire time. Welcome to the world little guy sorry for the rough awakening. Like I said those suction cups work, I had lines of hickeys all over my arm. Trying explaining that to the waiter at dinner afterward.

A great way to bring in one more year of my life- eat, lay out, and have an octopus climb up my arm. Where do you go with life after that? You can tell you should diagnose yourself with a case of wanderlust if you are writing a blog on a past adventure while taking short breaks and looking up flights for the next adventure. I will never be done! I cannot recommend Greece enough- so beautiful, the people are great, the food is delightful... just beware of that Raki it will sneak up on you!

You can always make more money, but you can't buy more time