Today I share with you a trip to Greece which was my last attempt to catch some sunshine in early autumn days and escape the increasingly cold and rainy U.K weather. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to visit Greece, mesmerized by fascinating history, mythology and architecture. I booked this trip only for a few days but witnessed so many beautiful places, met some kind people and experienced a taste of Greek culture. Though I am aware of the fact that I barely scratched the surface of what Greece, heck even just Crete alone – has to offer, I am very grateful that I managed to scramble up enough funds for my trip there, even if it meant mainly living off watermelon and cheese toasties for the duration of the stay.
So, let’s start with the journey. I landed in Heraklion airport and while every other passenger was shuffling and bumping into one another, as if competing to get off the plane the fastest. I stayed in my seat and then after asking a stewardess for permission, headed over to the pilot cabin for a small chat. The pilot was an incredibly inspiring woman and I loved the conversation with her- in-between the episodes of me getting distracted by all the buttons and fighting the urge to press them all.
Being the last to get off the airplane had its perks, I met a wonderful mother and daughter and hitched a ‘special airport ride’ with them, all the way to the luggage pick up, which saved me some walking. We went our separate ways, only to find out a few days later that we were staying in the same apartment complex. The bus drove from Heraklion Airport all the way to a small village called Piskopiano, where I was staying. In the night hours, I was mesmerized passing all the brightly lit restaurants, hotels and the neon signs with words in Greek writing. In no time, I arrived at the Semiramis Apartments.
The moon was shining bright above the cute apartment building, which was decorated in a flower vine, the pool was casting a blue light, and the air was so warm even though it was nearing to 1am in the morning. I chose this place to stay as I couldn’t resist the beautiful setting it was in, Piskopiano village is far enough from the major party and clubbing areas which meant a more peaceful and a quiet stay. I woke up the following day and had some Greek yoghurt with honey, toast and a cup of black coffee for breakfast. It was glorious.
Stepping outside the apartment with AC on, felt as if I was stepping into an oven. I headed off -down the hill to another village called Hersonissos, to scout the area and get some groceries. Walking down the hill, I admired the dusty and rocky landscapes with cactuses growing everywhere and mountains covered in olive groves. I looked at the old trucks parked outside of people’s homes, the white houses with signature- blue window shutters and doors. Everything had so much character within it. There was a leather shop with a man sitting outside, drinking his morning coffee and reading the newspaper. There was locals dealing goods at a small market. And plenty of charismatic cute grocery shops, where I bought the biggest watermelon I ever saw. That’s lunch sorted.
I explored some of the coast and settled on the beach. Even though it was quite early, there were so many people already jumping into the sea. As the afternoon sun started shining in full glory and the heat got stronger, I decided to head back up the long hill to my accommodation. I had an amazing lunch which consisted of a cheese toasties and slices of watermelon.
After some resting, I decided to head over and sightsee some of the Piskopiano. It’s a very small village that has about 450 inhabitants and it’s snugly surrounded by three other villages. Piskopiano is settled at the bottom of Mt Harakas which I can see from the roof of my apartment. The charming streets and small alleyways surround the area, perfect for pretty photo opportunities. Although village that I witnessed is far different to what it used to be.
The Piskopiano village was founded in the Middle Ages, when pirates forced the population to flee from the coastal areas and seek refuge in the mainland amongst the hills. The first mention of the village was as early as 1379 and there is records to show that in 1583 it was inhabited by 111 people. Over the most recent years (from about 1950’s) the village started transforming its scenery to fit the needs of wave of tourists visiting the areas. Villagers have abandoned farming and started working for the tourism industry. Many of the old buildings got demolished or restored into hotels, apartments, restaurants, tourist centres and gift shops. But walking on those old roads I still got glimpses into the past.
The development of the area is apparent but there is still plenty of old houses, buildings and streets which hold so much raw character and allow you to feel as if you’re stepping back in time. I visited The Church of the Presentation of Mary. A beautiful place inside out and overlooking the sea. I really love the natural cold of the churches on the hot afternoons and the peace and quiet within them, amongst the rush of life outdoors. I sat on the bench for a little bit allowing my mind to quiet down and absorb all the beauty I was witnessing and let myself be consumed by immerse gratitude. Stepping outside I was met by some kitties who were relaxing in the warmth of the afternoon. I got surprised by how many cats I have come across, since arrival – they seemed to be everywhere and they were all so damn adorable.
I explored a lot of side streets, admiring each detail. The cracks of paint on doors, the stone houses and beautiful flowers and plants surrounding them. After that I headed back to the accommodation and watched the sunset from the roof of the apartment. The gentle pastel colours filled the scene and I stood there, watching them intensify until it got dimmer and dimmer.
After that, I rushed off to explore some of Piskopiano restaurants and taverns. Everything transformed at night, the scenery looked completely different. With bright greenery and beautifully lit taverns- some of them decorated in twinkle lights, it seemed as if the whole village came to life at night. The smells of various spices and baked goods hung in the warm air, there was music blaring from each restaurant I passed, and people sitting down, enjoying their food, drinks and laughing from top of their lungs. The atmosphere was enchanting.
After walking around different alleyways, I selected a place to sit down and enjoy the best pizza I ever had. At the end of the meal, the waiter has brought shots of Raki. It’s an alcoholic drink made out of grapes that packs a bit of a punch but also is said to help digestion. And I can vouch for that.
After food I walked around the streets a little more and found it so obscure that even though it was after midnight, most of the grocery stores and tourist shops were still open. Man, those must be long work hours, I applaud.
Then suddenly it was the next day, and for the sake of continuity I will involve the little things I did that day. Which was mostly relaxing by the pool and sunbathing. I let the sterilised pool water wash my worries away and then basked in the warmth of the sun for most of the day. I wanted to dedicate one day to just relaxing and reading my book (which I’ve been putting off for months) and this was a perfect day for it. I spent all day swimming, sunbathing, reading a book and stuffing my face with cheese toasties and watermelon combo.
By the end of the day though, I was craving some food with more of a nutritional value, so I decided to head over to one of the neighbouring villages Koutouloufari. The walk wasn’t long, I admired more of the charming streets with locals chatting away to one another, the sun was starting to set and it gave everything a golden glow. The atmosphere was so peaceful. I sat at an outdoor restaurant and ordered a plate filled with traditional Greek food. The flavours just unravelled in my mouth with every single bite and by the time I finished my meal, the place was full of people. Surrounded by various restaurants, the musicians started singing and playing music. Soon, dancers in traditional Greek outfits showed up, and I watched them dance away in admiration. The women were so beautiful, wore red lipstick which matched their outfits and were twirling away, with their dresses swishing around hypnotically. The men would dance with them, sometimes lifting them up in the air, it was such a perfect experience.
After that a woman with a powerful and thrilling voice, sang songs in Greek. Everything felt like a movie, the mesmerising singing, while being surrounded by twinkle lights and amazing food, in the warm air of the night. It was very romantic.
After another complimentary shot of Raki, I decided to head back. I saved a small piece of meat from my plate for the cat that jumped down from the roof above me scavenging for food, while her 4 kittens would peak out their heads from the top of the roof, meowing and squeaking loudly. The cat rubbed against my leg and picked up the piece of meat, jumping on the tree and climbing back up to the roof to feed her kittens.
I returned to the village but instead of going to sleep, I instead ordered a cocktail and sat down with dedication to finish the book I was reading. The couple of following days, I knew I won’t have time to finish that goal. I went up to the balcony to look at the stars and enjoyed some fresh air before heading down to the apartment for some sleep. I had images of things I witnessed that day, flow through my head and although sleepy, I felt rejuvenated, ready for the adventures awaiting me in the following days.
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See you again,