heraklionI’m sitting on the beach in Matala as I write this. Leon has gone over to the store to buy a snorkel and mask. The clear turquoise waters are hard to resist. The water is warm by the way, maybe 28c? We’ve been in Crete for 4 days. 

Our first night was spent in the capital of Heraklion. We arrived by ferry from Santorini that evening and picked up our rental car. Once at the hotel, the receptionist checked us in and recommended a great restaurant with traditional food and reasonable prices. We sat outside and feasted on lamb, Greek salad, dolmadakia and stuffed peppers. After we asked for the bill, the waiter brought us a small carafe of raki, some fruit and cakes. I felt bad leaving that nice offering behind, so not wanting to be rude, I helped Leon finish off the raki. Truth be told, I rather like the taste of it, not too different from grappa.raki

While we were having dinner, a whole lot of Greek drama unfolded. There was the family of four that parked their car right beside a stop sign and then changed tables 4 times over the evening until they found the one that suited them. And then a young couple from Austria that I recognized from the hotel who asked for their bill 3 times before going into the restaurant to pay. Too bad, they missed out on the lovely complimentary dessert. On the other hand, I was a bit sorry I indulged in the drink as it gave me a headache all night. I’ve been far more moderate since then.

The next morning we drove to the Palace of Knossos where we waited in line for 15 minutes. Seeing that we were barely progressing towards the ticket booth, we decided to try visiting it on our last day in Crete and quickly drove on to our hotel and base camp in Matala, south Crete. This area has a cove with cave dotted rocks in which hippies resided in the 60s. The caves are not natural but rather ancient tombs the Romans used. At some point, living in the caves was outlawed and they are now just a tourist attraction.  The rest of the cove has a sheltered beach and lots of fun bars and restaurants. There is still a group of hippies living in a cave but I think they are just there for tourists to see.

In the days we have been here, we’ve tried some of the waterfront restaurants. I’ve discovered a local dish that suits my food restrictions perfectly – the lowly fava bean. They make it in a tomato sauce with carrots and onions, like a stew. Delish!