The people were warm and friendly. I've always remembered the month spent there as a very special time, and when I realised my artsy fellow writer and friend Sannel in Sweden had plans to go there it just seemed like the perfect thing for her to do. It was dark, gloomy with short days here, and oh, I kept wondering how she was enjoying her little, timely vacation on the island of Crete. So I did what any journalist does - I asked her!
V - Sannel, I've been so curious, (and envious I must admit!) when I thought about you on your Crete getaway. Why did you choose to go there, and where did you stay?
Vicki, the thing about going to Greece is that it’s so much more than a vacation to me. I see it as going back home for a visit. I used to live in Greece for many years, and while I lived there I had the opportunity to travel all over the mainland, and to many of the Greek islands. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and it provides much to explore. On my prior trips to Crete, I had visited mostly the western part of Crete. So on this trip I wanted to explore the eastern quarter of the island.
I enjoy traveling with company but I also enjoy travelling alone, like I did on this trip. I shy away from places of high impact tourism and big, fancy resort hotels so I stayed at this small, charming hotel. It was 1.2 miles walking distance to a seaside town, named Agios Nikolaos. From there I planned to do my daily excursions around the Eastern area of Crete.
Agios Nikolaos is situated in Eastern Crete, 45 miles east of Heraklion and is the capital of the nomos of Lasithi. The town is built around a picturesque lake which is connected to the sea by a short canal. Agious Nikolaus, even if it's a small town, has a cosmopolitan ambience to it, and the modern marina can hosts up to 255 boats and yachts at one time. The narrow streets are filled with small handicraft shops and souvenir shops alongside modern jewellery and designer shops. Small cafes, taverns and restaurants flourish on every street corner, as well as by the lake and seaside.
V- What was your favorite thing to do on your holiday? What event was most memorable as you think about it now?
My favorite thing from the years that I lived there has always been the same. Waking up early and bringing my cup of coffee outside to watch the sun slowly rise while enjoying the coolness of the morning. Listening to the peaceful sounds that are so unique for Greece, such as the gentle waves rolling onto the shore while hearing the distant bells from the goats that roam the thyme and sage covered mountain hills. No matter where I am, there's always a rooster somewhere doing his wake-up call, informing whoever is awake, that a new day has arisen. I love my mornings there, and I feel so connected with the nature and the ancient history. So much so that I kind of expect that a God or a Goddess would appear from behind the olive trees to pay me a visit. :)
I'd say my most memorable moment on this trip was perhaps my visit to the island of Spinalonga. A few years back, I had read Victoria Hislop’s bestselling book, ‘The Island’ where the suffering of the lepers who inhabited Spinalonga was immortalised in her novel, which left me with a strong desire to visit the island some day.
The small uninhabited island is situated just off the coast in the Mirabello Bay. It can be reached by a short boat trip from the small Greek seaside village of Plaka. During 1200 AD the Venetians built huge fortifications on this island rock to guard the entrance to the sheltered bay and the fortifications still dominate the north face of the island.
From 1903 until as recently as 1957, the island of Spinalonga, was a leper colony and lepers from all over Greece were shipped on their one-way journey to the island.
V - I know you appreciate beautiful scenery, and I'm also aware that Crete is a large island with many different types of terrain and surroundings. Could you describe the environment of the area you were in and which aspects of it draw you most as an artist?
Vicki, Crete is filled with natural beauty, fascinating history and culture. It's an island of such immense diversity, one could spend months and months here and still have barely touched the surface of the place. The variety of things to do and places to see is amazing. Just like the rest of Crete this area did not disappoint me. It provided exotic sandy beaches, turquoise, clear water, forbidding mountains plunging towards the Mediterranean sea to the north, and towards the Libyan sea to the south. Lush, green plains covered with olive, fig and citrus trees, alongside plants and flowers that are unique to this island.
I always find the striking scenery, the magic radiance of the light and the ever-present scents of wild herbs an inspiration to me as an artist, as well as healing power to mind and body.
V - I wondered about Freddie’s reaction when you you returned!
To Freddie it doesn't matter if his Mom have been gone for two hours or two weeks, or so it seems. He always greets me the same. He'll start howling in pure delight as soon as he understand it's me. Jumping up and down like a yoyo, going absolutely nuts, and be all over me with "OHMYGODITSYOU!" enthusiasm. Haha!
V. - Apparently, a picture is still worth a thousand words! Now I'd love to show some of the delightful spots on Crete that you've fallen in love with!
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