It’s funny how I can recall the exact moment I fell in love with Crete and decided it would be a destination I would want to visit again and again and again- but I realize now it did not come easily.
Earlier in the day, we’d gotten into the rental and were trying to manage directions (without a GPS because I like to think we’re on The Amazing Race), adjust the radio, and make sure we weren’t breaking any of the country’s laws while navigating those twisty roads. I couldn’t even take in the spectacular scenery that drew me to visit in the first place!
I had been uneasy all morning long, having been told when checking in for Athens that our return flight would probably be cancelled. It’s something they do since we were not going to be making the connection we’d initially booked. That left me on edge as we went from Beirut to Athens and then to Chania.
Added to that, we landed just as a storm had ended and the clouds did not signal the situation would improve anytime soon. Sure, I knew we were risking rain by travelling at the end of March, but isn’t a person allowed to dream of blue skies and sunny days on their vacation?
Oh, and the radio didn’t work. I couldn’t even get Greek music on.
And those directions that I was so proud to have? Yeah, I accidentally printed them from the hotel TO the airport, meaning that once we got past the highway, everything just became one long street to us.
We must’ve driven around in a loop trying to find the street that led us to the harbor for close to half an hour before we somehow figured out that we’d been going the wrong way.
Then when we eventually found our street and parked, a middle-aged woman started yelling at us in Greek while we stared at her, expressionless.
As you may have figured, neither Ahmad nor I are fluent in Greek beyond Kalimera, Yassas, and Souvlaki. Eventually, we discovered we’d parked in a “Residents Only” zone but that there was dedicated free parking just down the street.
Upon my insistence, we dragged our bags up the cobblestone hill to our accommodation. Now, here’s the thing, I knew it wasn’t a traditional hotel when I booked it- but I had no idea it didn’t have a front desk or even proper signage. When we finally located it, we knocked and knocked at the door but no one would open.
A kind neighbor across the street noticed this and came to our rescue. In broken English, he explained that he was calling the proprietress and handed Ahmad the phone, going about with his morning chores as we clarified things. She’d mistakenly thought we’d be arriving at noon, instead of early morning, and couldn’t make it to the property before at least an hour.
We were hungry by then, and although I craved a tiropita (it’s cheese and pie, what else can a girl ask for?), we settled for a cafe near the “hotel” so we could keep an eye out if our host arrived. It was not the greatest breakfast either one of us has had, but bread was involved- and I guess that’s good?
Ariadne would arrive exactly an hour after we’d first gotten in touch, and she arrived all apologetic, bearing all kinds of maps and guides on Chania and Crete. She’d explain all about the property, how it was her grandmother’s home and all the renovation they did to keep it in the family. She would also recommend places to eat and things to see- we later followed on every single one of them. I was liking her already!
Then, she threw us the ultimate curve-ball. Our room was still occupied and housekeeping would need more time to get it in shape, before we could settle in.
How about we stay in the large suite for the next two nights at no extra cost?!
Considering that the large suite was more of an apartment, complete with a fully equipped kitchen that rivals the one I spent a year designing, a massive bed with the most comfortable mattress I’ve slept on, a sitting area, and even a balcony, we were not going to say no. Plus, under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
Our luck was finally turning around!
It was when she left and I went out on the balcony, a chill still in the air but the clouds beginning to slightly disappear, that I would come to fall for Crete, realizing that all the trouble had been worth it.
It was there on that balcony, overlooking the prettiest street in town and views of the sea, as kind strangers went about preparing for the start of the day, I thought, why would anyone want to leave?