Loutro: Perfect, as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve been to many places in Greece but the place I first went to, to which I always return whenever I can, is the village of Loutro-Sfakion, on the Southwest coast of Crete. It’s not easy to get to – you have to hike or take a boat – but it’s well worth it, assuming you like peace and quiet and aren’t the type who needs generic five-star hotels. A beautiful village, there’s nothing to do there except eat, drink, swim, fish, hike, talk, read and sleep. Perfect, as far as I’m concerned. I first went there in 1985.
I remember, the winter of that year, when the fifteen or so people left in the village ate together almost every evening, and when, during storms, they’d stay up at night playing cards and keeping an eye on their boats, anchored in the harbor but bobby wildly in the tempest.
The scenery that made an impression on me was the green-grey cliffs of the southern Cretan coast tumbling directly into the sea.
A beautiful village, there’s nothing to do there except eat, drink, swim, fish, hike, talk, read and sleep
The taste that I loved was yoghurt made from fresh sheep’s milk. In large quantities. And stuffed zucchini flowers — kolokithia gemista.
Each time I go to Loutro, I take home with me a goat or sheep bell – koudouni, or “leri,” as they are called in Sfakia. In New York I have a shelf full of leria. I also used to take home Mediterranean conch shells from the fishing nets, but these days they are harder to come by than they used to be decades ago. I have them lined up on the window sill in my sitting room.
My next destination: Loutro, of course!