I am joining in with Andrea at Momfessionals, Narci at Grace and Love Blog, &Erika at A Little Bit of Everything Blog for Friday Favorites. And sharing my favorites from my Greece trip, Part Two! (If you haven’t read Part One, you totally should!)
I think the second half of my time on Crete was my favorite. But that may not be fair. I truly loved every moment. But there is something magical about adventuring alone. I never understood it, as I have never been alone. But when I visited the Acropolis and had Wednesday, a free day, I felt a freedom I have never experienced before. I learned more about myself, relied on myself. And found how strong my comfort zones really are. I look back and wish my solo day came later in the trip, so I could have felt more at ease really exploring each alley, each street. But I know I will be back.
The second half of the stay also held visits to my Yia-Yia’s ancestoral homes. Seeing where your roots are, where they come from is powerful. It was always something I held onto loosely, but seeing the home my Yia-Yia was born in caused my heart to leap. The connection ran deep. Deeper than I ever imagined, even with the strong connection my Yia-Yia and I share.
|| DAY FOUR: WEDNESDAY ||
That said, Wednesday was clearly an exploring day. I woke up early and visited the lighthouse in the harbor. The lighthouse is actually one of the oldest lighthouses in the world. Walking to the lighthouse, there is an elevated sidewalk reaching across the harbor. It is beautiful. And gives you an amazing view of the harbor, the city,and the Sea. On the way to the lighthouse you pass through/by the St. Nicholas Bastilion.
After the lighthouse, I strolled around the Venetian Harbor. I explored the shops and the streets. And then, I rested. I sat, I read, I enjoyed the quiet. I watched the travelers and the shop owners. I felt the sea breeze on my skin, in my hair. I listened to the sounds of this new place. I met my sister and her family for lunch and enjoyed the walk from the Harbor to our home, meandering along the water.
There is just so much history and surreal beauty everywhere, I think it is actually one of the things I loved most about Chania.
|| DAY FIVE: THURSDAY ||
Thursday was a day I had been looking forward to since I planned on coming to Greece. That was back in February. Thursday was the day of the Samaria Gorge hike. A 13km hike. Completed in 5 hours. (Though I think we could have finished it slightly faster, but that wasn’t the point.) Honestly, this hike was amazing. Simply amazing.
Hiking on rock falls. Trails that are not trails. Seeing evidence of God’s workmanship in every step. Entering different habitats as you continue down, up and through the gorge. Beauty. Simply beauty. Mountains, forests, streams, old stream beds – ones that clearly flood during the winter rainy season and ones that are have been dry for years now. These old stream beds are host to beautiful and surprising pink flowers. Sprouting, growing, thriving within these large boulder beds.
As you hike, you pass a stream. It is pure and drinkable. The stream provided beautiful relief as our parched bodies refueled. Glorious breeze and shade greeted us throughout the hike. Welcome graces from God under the afternoon sun. Wobbly bridges provided relatively safe crossing of the river. That and rocks.
Half way through the gorge, lays an old town, Samaria. There are old buildings and walls, remnants from life long ago. Reminders of time past. Reminders of my smallness. Welcome reminders.
The gorge hike ends but then a new hike begins. The 3km hike to Sougia. Another half hour of walking. But we felt stronger for it. We remembered our Yia-Yia’s lack of modern day transportation as we exhaustedly continued hiking. Choosing not to relent to the inexpensive bus that would take us to town. This town is not accessible by car, so we took a ferry back to the awaiting bus. The ferry ride told of a side of Crete untouched by man. Beautiful black beaches, hidden in mountain coves. Breathtaking beauty.
That night, dinner was amazing. I’m torn if it was actually amazing or if it was more the exhaustion and hunger from so much physical exertion. Either way, it will live forever in my mind as the best dinner ever.
|| DAY SIX: FRIDAY ||
Friday was a day I had waited for. I explored the Venetian Harbor and Old Town with my mom. We enjoyed lunch at a hidden cafe. We shared our trips moments and continued to walk. To explore. Until we ended back at home.
That evening we went to the family reunion. It was at a restaurant with an amazingly beautiful view, filled with people related to me. I think 50 people came. As videos and pictures played, a slideshow of memories, I was was brought back to the days of my childhood. Remembering family gatherings. Remembering time gone by, people now gone. And it was beautiful. Far more precious than I would have guessed. Seeing my Yia-Yia see her cousin. A cousin she has not seen for 60 years, since she left Greece all that time ago. The joy on her face. Talking to family. Pure joy.
The delicious and abundant food. And seeing the intentional love for community by my family. Something I had missed all those years growing up. Seeing and understanding the roots of my family. Something I had always run from. But they are real. And they run deep.
|| DAY SEVEN: SATURDAY ||
Sunday was the walk. The walk to my Yia-Yia’s old homes. The ones she grew up in. The places she lived, farmed, worked, cared for her siblings. The places that spurred her to leave this place. This beauty. Our first stop was Fones. Her ancestoral home was built in 1900, the prior home had been washed away by severe flooding. So the new home was built on the mountainside. The stone walls have since begun to fall and parts of her home seemed like nothing more than ancient ruins. As we all sat, huddled in their small home and on the side of the mountain, my Yia-Yia and her siblings shared their stories of growing up here. Facing the Nazis here. And fleeing their home, their life here.
Then on to Nippos. This is the home my Yia-Yia was born in. And it was amazing. Though I could not enter inside, something about it made my heart and soul leap, just by seeing the door. I stood transfixed, marveling at the building as I stood in the courtyard. The beauty of this place. I felt home just standing there.
|| DAY EIGHT: SUNDAY ||
Finally, I have become like the locals, and slept in. Finally understanding rest. Sunday was a lazy day of wandering the city with my Yia-Yia, my mom, my sisters, and my cousins. We wandered the stores and I purchased the final trinkets for my children. Simply enjoying time. Shedding tears over a wooden elephant (which I had to purchase for Baby Boy). Buying my Yia-Yia a “wedding ring.” Dipping my feet in the Mediteranean Sea. And getting drenched. A reminder to not take myself too seriously.
|| DAY NINE: MONDAY ||
Leaving. As the sun rose behind the mountains. Pink streaks filling the sky. My eyes watered. Tears filling my eyes, streaming down my face as my plane took me farther from this place. This new found place that is home. That does not simply feel or seem like home. But instead, this place that is, at it’s very core, home.
Thank you for joining me as I remember this trip. The beauty in it all. My path to discovering the importance of family. The roots in family. And that I absolutely must get back there in the next few years!
Be sure to checkout Greece Favorites: Part Three