We are going into our fourth year of living here in western Crete with really no promising opportunities on the horizon for a job to return to in the States. When I realized we were going to be on this island for yet another wet winter, I decided it was time to get some things done that we’d put off. First order of business – a fully functional fireplace. No way was this Colorado girl going through another winter without one. In the previous years, we (including our landlord) tried everything to coax a fire out of the fireplace in our living space….without entirely smoking up the house. Last year, the landlord inspected the flue to make sure it was all clear, made a little fire, closed the glass door, announced “Endahksee!” (“It’s OK!”) and then promptly left. 10 minutes later, I opened the door to stoke the fire only to be enveloped in smoke and soot. Argggg! Oxi Kala!!!! (NOT GOOD!!) So this fall, we insisted on a fireplace expert who arrived with our landlord and after roughly a couple hours of work on the chimney, we were rewarded with a working fireplace. (The chimney work also produced 3 charred bird carcasses, a giant nest and all the metal contraptions that didn’t work – which by the way, are still in our backyard after being haphazardly tossed down from the roof. Apparently, cleaning up after the job is not included in the service.)
“Surviving” winter here is just a matter of staving off “rock fever” and keeping busy with what the island has to offer. Getting off the island is not only expensive this time of year but inconvenient as well. So, as we are waiting for Ryan Air to open up its much anticipated spring schedule in April, we look back through photos of our past winters here and have come up with some great ways to not only survive, but really enjoy this season!
Sandwiched in between ferocious winds and sideways rain are some really stellar days. The trick is to get outdoors and enjoy yourself. Here’s our top ten in no special order:
1. Go up to Omalos and play in the snow
Better yet, grab some friends and bike in spite of it…
2. And speaking of biking, take advantage of the cooler temps and grab your bike to explore some amazing terrain
3. Go hiking! Ring the little doorbell of the lower convent and ask the nuns to show you around the pristine and simple beauty of Agia Kyriaki (Sister Theolekti speaks English). Then, hike the beautiful path that ascends past gardens and cave chapels to the convent on the mountain.
4. Orange picking is an easy winter outing with sweet rewards
…or olive picking if you’re a glutton for a brutal workout
5. Stroll around the empty streets of Old Hania, then grab a hot lunch of mouthwatering Cretan cooking at Kouzina – a local favorite.
6. Take a deck of cards or pocket Farkel game and top off the day at Kou Kou Vhia cafe set high above the city while you enjoy the best view of Hania at sunset in the company of friends over a steaming coffee and to-die-for chocolate dessert.
7. On a calm day, go paddle boarding at Marathi or Stavros (don’t forget your wetsuit – brrr!)
Or for the more adventuresome go for kite-sailing at Falasarna, Elafonissi or Agia Marina like our friend Gio who lives for wind!
8. Stay warm inside and out by sharing a cup of raki around a beach fire with friends
9. Get up in time to enjoy the chilly mornings and contemplate the ever-changing sky.
10. On a bad weather day go to the beach and enjoy God’s thrilling show.
And on a nice day, sit on an empty beach, and soak in the quiet.
And on those days when the wind is howling and the sideways rain is beating at the door, grab a cup of tea and a good book and count your blessings that you’re not here…