Balos, Crete

Crete: A magical land

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Anthropologist and traveller

29/3/2016
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I visited Crete for the first time on the five-day  trip that traditionally marks the end of one’s school years in Greece. In the craze of my youth back then, I remembered little of the island that was destined to become my second home since my partner back then who became my husband is Cretan.

 

Together we started travelling to and around Crete in 2006 and since then it has been one of our destinations every summer. Crete wins you over easily; it will enchant you from the first moment and seduce you with its beauty.

 

Crete wins you over easily

I will never forget our first big excursion on the island. We set out from Heraklion and ended up in Chania with the car windows down so we could enjoy the scent of olive tree and thyme travelling in the wind. All my senses were awakened. I enjoyed the changes in the landscape from lush green to bare rock in the blink of an eye, until at some point the endless blue of the sea around this island came into view.

 

Our first stop before descending to the southern beaches was Vrises. We ensconced ourselves in the village square and enjoyed the babbling water, the shade of the plane trees and the tastiest Greek coffee, made over the embers.

 

 

Our final destination was Loutro, a small, historic village, hidden in a cove, which can only be reached by boat or on foot. In Loutro you will not find cars, mopeds or anything else to disturb your peace. You will find only a small beach and the sea. But we were not bored even for a moment. We read books, leafed through magazines and newspapers, tasted great home cooked food and iced coffees while we enjoyed the wild landscape, we rented a canoe and discovered the caves and coves nearby, until we reached Marmara. We climbed to the only tavern there to enjoy the view and the delicacies we were offered.

A small, historic village, hidden in a cove, which can only be reached by boat or on foot

 

A few days later we left Loutro, passed through Palaiochora and headed towards Elafonisi. The moment you first see Elafonisi from up high is unique! A place of unparalleled beauty, so special it takes the mind some time to conceive what the eyes see. We walked and explored the little island with the white sand, tiny sea shells, wild lilies surviving in the sand under the burning sun, and after our exploration we dived into the translucent, cool waters.

 

You cannot get enough of Elafonisi but the days were passing and we had to accept it was time to go. On our way up to Chania, we spent the night in a tent in Falassarna and enjoyed the unique sunset.

 

Our round trip ended with a short visit to Balos. We chose to go by car rather than by boat. At some point the road turns into dirt track and things get a bit bumpy but the experience is unique. As unique as the moment we descended to Balos on foot, gazing at this small paradise. A lagoon, all in turquoise, spread before us and I was totally enthralled by the view. After a quick dip into the emerald waters, we walked back up a seemingly endless number of steps and at the top I bought a slice of watermelon to cool myself down. In the end I had to share it with a rather impertinent goat!

I am certain that there are many more hidden treasures waiting for us to discover

 

We returned to Heraklion feeling content with a summer loaded with memories and since then we have travelled most of the island. However I am certain that there are many more hidden treasures waiting for us to discover…

 

If you ever find yourselves on Crete, do not pass by the local producers, who set up their stalls on the side of the road, without stopping. Thanks to them I have tasted the most fragrant honey, the tastiest Cretan olives and their herbs have seen me through entire winters.

Happy travels!

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  • Gabi Ancarola

    I am in love with Crete, its people, its landscape, its food. Elafonisi was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. And I am longing to return soon to connect with nature and with myself, there is no place as peaceful or genuine as Crete. I have fallen in love with it years ago, and it’s a non-stop feeling.



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