Winter Survival Kit


View of the Lefka Ori Mtns from our village

Winter view – Lefka Ori Mtns towering over grapevines and olive groves

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.)

Omalos plateau

Omalos plateau

“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!

Marathi Beach in January

Marathi Beach in January

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

Omalos in the White Mnts (Lefka Ori)

Omalos in the White Mnts (Lefka Ori)

Better yet, grab some friends and bike in spite of it…

Biking on road to Omalos

Biking on road to Omalos

2.  And speaking of biking, take advantage of the cooler temps and grab your bike to explore some amazing terrain

Biking Therisso Gorge

Biking Therisso Gorge

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.

Agia Kyriaki

Agia Kyriaki outside Hania

4.  Orange picking is an easy winter outing with sweet rewards

Oranges in Modi

Oranges in Modi

…or olive picking if you’re a glutton for a brutal workout

Bags of toil ready for pressing

Bags of toil ready for pressing

5.  Stroll around the empty streets of Old Hania, then grab a hot lunch of mouthwatering Cretan cooking at Kouzina – a local favorite.

Hania

Hania

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!)

Paddleboarding at Marathi

Paddleboarding at Marathi

Or for the more adventuresome go for kite-sailing at Falasarna, Elafonissi or Agia Marina like our friend Gio who lives for wind!

Gio = water = joy!

Gio = water = joy!

8.  Stay warm inside and out by sharing a cup of raki around a beach fire with friends

Sharing the fires

Sharing the fires

9.  Get up in time to enjoy the chilly mornings and contemplate the ever-changing sky.

Winter sunrise on the Akrotiri

Winter sunrise on the Akrotiri

10.  On a bad weather day go to the beach and enjoy God’s thrilling show.

Winter storm

Winter storm

Rainbow at Blue Beach

Rainbow at Blue Beach

And on a nice day, sit on an empty beach, and soak in the quiet.

Stavros beach cove

Stavros beach cove

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…

Wisconsin - December 2012

Wisconsin – December 2012

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About slow food for the soul

Quote: "The best journeys ask questions that in the beginning you never thought to ask." (Anon) Here's my journey: Enjoying my short life on this earth one moment at a time by being intentional with God, family, traveling, cooking, gardening, Colorado living and all the perks that come with it, playing guitar, listening more and talking less. I've discovered that both cooking and travel can be messy at times but the risks can have some amazing results. The same goes for life lived with passion.
This entry was posted in Biking, Crete, Festivities and Events, Hiking, Musings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Winter Survival Kit

  1. Chuck says:

    Good job, made us homesick. Our computer crashed and we lost all our pictures, so enjoyed seeing familiar places again. Thanks.

  2. I visited Crete in October and it didn’t occur to me how different – and beautiful – it would be in the winter. Reading your posts makes me wish I could have spent more than just a cruise ship stop-over on Crete. Such a special place!

  3. Lynda says:

    Hi Melanie…well, I know there are some frustrations in being “stuck” on an island, however It looks like you’ve chosen a lovely one to spend your time on. Enjoy!

    Enzo and I are teaching an Italian Conversation class at MMS…just one hour a week but the students also work on Rosetta Stone 2 + hours a week. They are going to put on two Comedia del Arte skits in a few weeks so we are busy working on pronunciations and exaggerated movements! Wish you were here!!!

  4. Nikos says:

    Hello! I would like your permission to use some of the beautiful pictures in my page about Chania: http://www.facebook.com/ChaniaCreteByNikos
    Of course there will be a reference to your website!

    Sincerely

    Nick
    ChaniaCreteFB@gmail.com

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