Knock, knock…Here comes winter…
There’s nothing but goodness about winter in Crete when the citris trees bear fruit, their branches heavy with juicy oranges, sweet mandarines and fragrant lemons. An afternoon in the orchards is just another way to enjoy what Crete has to offer during its “low” season. We stayed close to home this year and our holidays were filled with some very memorable moments.
Christmas Day was spent with the Daskalakis family in their home along with other dear friends. Marina is an amazing cook and her Peri-peri chicken (made with her homemade spicy sauce) is perfection on a plate. Not to be outdone, Nick is living proof that some Greek men are very comfortable in the kitchen whether it be stirring the soup or uncorking the bottle. (And we always have lots of uncorkings thanks to Nick.) Our many wonderful friends here made this holiday not only tolerable away from our families, but downright enjoyable. Pair these friends up with some great Greek food and it’s always a winner!
Our weather this winter has been unseasonably mild with the very welcome absence of the harsh winds that are normal this time of year. The day after Christmas was a perfect day to get out and do some biking. Richard and I started out in Hania and headed west on the old highway that hugs the coastline. It was surreal to pass through Platanias (the area of tourism-on-steroids in the summer months) and see the hotels completely empty, locked up and waiting for maintenance and repairs in preparation for the next onslaught of tourists. In Meleme, we biked along the old runways from the now deserted Allied Air Base from WWII. Our trek ended at the fishing port of Kolymbari where we indulged in a much needed coffee and spanikopita.
New Year’s Eve – back at the Daskalakis home – they just can’t get enough of us…or maybe it’s the other way around. The evening ended with our large group walking down the street towards the Hania city center and being in the middle of fireworks and festivities all around us. Keep in mind that there is no “fireworks show” per se as in the US. Instead, everyone has their own stash and so the whole city is lit up from every back alley and home terrace. As we approached the indoor market area, the mob scene was impressive and the party was just starting. Richard and I said our Kali Kronia’s (Happy New Year) and headed to our hotel room. Every year we have treated ourselves to a New Year’s Eve night at a nice hotel in Hania. This year we stayed at Casa Leone, a beautifully restored old Venetian mansion right on the old harbor. (My Trip Advisor rating gives it a five star for the accommodations but a one star for the breakfast.)
Shhh….don’t tell anyone, but Crete in the winter is so amazing. Yes, we do get an occasional cold snap and sideways rain, but winter here is mostly known for its sleepy, relaxed way of life that chugs along happily as we all enjoy cooler temps, no crowds, great hiking/biking weather, fantastic fruit and every excuse in the world to hang out by the fireplace at home or in a cozy taverna with friends…or just with each other.