Day 2 - Crete (in its detail)

Selfie Stick

A big, YES before any of this starts. Yes, I have a selfie stick. Yes, I use it. Maybe I'm proud? Just wanted to be upfront.

Trident

Trident is large in this country. In the United States, we have those piddly little half or third pieces of gum to deal with. HOWEVER, it's Trident, so it's become to be expected. I picked up two packs here thinking it would last me forever, only to realize it was two five-packs of regular sized gum. WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO? Honestly, I found it overwhelming having regulated my mouth to the US version. Trident is not fucking about.

Ladies and Gentlemen


First off. You should know that I did not make much of an attempt to learn Greek before coming to Greece. I'm actually somewhat disappointed in myself that I didn't learn a few phrases. I dislike being that ignorant tourist. BUT. Shit happens. So. On the plane(s) (SO MANY PLANES!) they kept repeating the announcements for both English and Greek speakers. So I learned quickly what, "ladies and gentlemen," sounds like in Greek. I cannot do it justice actually with this alphabet, which proves to me why the Greeks have a different alphabet. Please just look it up. Okay, okay, for you lazy folk. It sounds like, "Keeriskee keeri." But still, look it up. It's a magical language.

Nevertheless. I've been repeating, "[Ladies and gentlemen,]" to myself for the past two days. It's my jam. We'll come back to this later. It's just an ongoing theme.

Driving

Driving here is not as nuts as I was expecting. But it is nuts. As one compares it to Iowa. I am such one. Honestly, no one on Crete is a bad driver. On the contrary, they're all very deftly skilled. Here's the thing I've noticed most. In the US, we have these things called, "shoulders," which is basically an extra lane on either side of the road/highway for people to use to pull over to take a call/change a tire/have an emergency/whatever. But here? Here there are no such thing. They are a separate lane. No, they are not always the appropriate car width, but if you're driving and dragging your ass, you'd better move over into it as much as you can, because the folks behind you want to get by. This was GREAT. 1) It worked in my favor when I encountered slow cars and 2) I didn't have to wait for a pullout to move over as I have had to in other parts of Europe. Now, this does mean that sometimes folks are slightly over the middle line when passing. Phshhh. No big deal.

 

Here's the only time it almost became a big deal for me. I honestly don't know how much over the speed limit is appropriate here according to the police. In the US, basically, if you're 11mph over or the speed limit, they'll let you slide. But here, I have no idea. So I was passing someone, right? And.. I didn't wait for the passing dotted lines. Nope. I gunned it and passed someone while driving over the double center line. I DID NOT NOTICE til later that folks here don't really do that. They respect the double middle lines. I know, my bad. 


But a few cars back was a Jeep. I thought nothing of it as the cars I'd seen that were cops so far had been sedans. Not that long after, I passed someone going the other way getting pulled over by a cop driving a JEEP. I looked in my rear view mirror and there was a Jeep following me. I slowed to the speed limit and he pulled up close to my bumper. In the US, this is code for, "I'm going to be pulling you over very soon and I want you to sweat about it." 

But he passed me. Phew.

However, I wasn't that worried. I don't know why.

Here's the thing. When I rented my car, the guy at the desk handed me my receipt and contract and said, "Hand this to the police if they pull you over." He said it so casually, almost insinuating that I'd get pulled over. So... I kind of assumed I'd get pulled over. And I'd do that stupid American thing I do so well.

 

Music

I didn't bring an AUX cable with me. I meant to, but I didn't have an extra one. And the only one I had was in my car in Chicago. And honestly. I was like, "I'm not going out to my car to get that!" Yep, sheer laziness.

So. I've been listening to the radio here on Crete. It's hit or miss. And it's really difficult because throughout the island you pick up different signals. None of them last that long. And at some parts of the island, there are no radio signals. So sometimes I'd just have SCAN going for ten or fifteen minutes.

I've found that my favorite station(s) are the ones that play EDM (or electronic dance music). They do this in Greek, which I find amazing and hypnotizing. So that's what I search for. I find it depends on the side of the island and the time of the day. But whatever the case, as one does when they are alone in a car for most of the day, I came up with my own words to these foreign sounding songs. 

My Greek EDM masterpiece goes as such:

Ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo. (This is the beat. See? I did it 8 times.)
Keeriskee keeri, (my butchered version of "ladies and gentlemen," but go with it) bring me some tzatziki.
I want some tzatziki, keeriskee keeri.
Baklava is what I want, after some moussaka.
Bring me the moussaka, then bring me some baklava.
Ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo, ouzo.

Um... guess you had to be there. But it's amazing.

More about driving.

I'm always amazed with road signs about the world. Some of my favorites:

Exclamation point on a yield sign: EXTRA CAUTION! (Maybe. I couldn't quite find a pattern. But I love punctuation. And the exclamation point has gotten too much flack lately.)
Sheep: Cool. I actually saw some. So, I'm happy with this.
Roller skating car: I assume this means, "Watch your shit on this turn," but I also miss roller rink limbo, so I had some nostalgia and didn't pay too much attention.
Wind sock on a yield sign: WINDY. This is amazing. In Colorado, they have a sign on Highway 93 that says, "Gusty winds may exist," and that always felt too existential to me.

What the hell did I do today?

Drove.

I went to two beaches: Preveli and Elafonisi

They are not  near one another. I saw a picture of the amazing palms and strange lagoon area at Preveli and headed that way because it was closer to where I'm staying. Showed up. You have to hike down. It was actually quite the hike. I had one of those moments where I was wondering about by myself and thought, "Well, if I hurt myself here, there's no one to help me and no one knows where I am today. So..." But all turned out fine. Picture will help. I left this beach after about an hour, however, due to the fact that it would hurt my feet to go in the water and there were boxelder bugs all about. Ick. As I was putting my shoes back on to climb back up the trail, a shirtless man I'd seen jogging about said, "You are leaving? You just got here! Is this beach not beautiful?" It is beautiful. But I want to swim and not have my feet hurt and not have to swat away BUGS. So, I climbed. It didn't take more than 20 minutes, but this one woman and I passed each other a few times, both taking turns to rest and breath. At one point I just laughed at her and said, "YEAH!" which is understandable in any language. Translation: I'm out of shape too. Good luck.

So. I then decided to go to Elafonisi, which I was afraid was too far away... because it's at the very southwest corner of the island, while I'm staying near the northeast. BUT, when in Greece. So I drove. Along the way, I got stuck behind a semi. A semi on twisty-turny mountain roads. It was friggin amazing. Annoying because I was going slowly, but amazing nonetheless.

That beach was totally worth it. You can't even imagine a more pristine, beautiful beach. White, black and pink sand. Blue and clear water. And such a friendly crowd. Families and couples and friends playing games. The water. The water was cold. I can't lie to you. I dunked down a couple of times and it actually did take my breath away with how chilled I was. BUT, when I got out, it was still 80 degrees, so I can't complain.

After lounging there for a bit, drove back. Along the mountain roads, there were all kinds of local restaurants. "Taverns." I stopped at one and frickin feasted. I hadn't eaten all day. It was my first real Greek feast. I ordered a 1/2 liter of rose wine, bread, olives, tzatziki and moussaka. I lingered, enjoying it, as one would/should. There were couples about and it was really beautiful.

Before... 

Before... 

Drove home. 

Highlight of drive home: heard Wonderwall by Oasis.

Now I've been here at the hotel for three hours concocting all this friggin writing. My ferry to Santorini tomorrow morning has been cancelled... so I have to figure that out in the morning, but so it goes!

Getting down to the wire

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I had last minute invited my parents to join me on my upcoming trip to Greece. It did not go well. In the dream we were six days into the trip when I shouted at them, "I regret ever inviting you! This was supposed to be my trip so that I could discover me!" There was nothing to be done about it really because logistically, what would they do? Fly home early? Nay. I was mostly upset because they were taking over the itinerary and had managed to leave behind a beautiful Greek man/god with whom I had become romantic.

Luckily I woke up.

The trip is still on and I leave in nine short days. My parents are not coming. And fingers crossed that I find that Greek god.

It's happening

A few years back (let's be honest, it was eight years ago), I decided to take a solo trip to Greece. That didn't happen. It turned into a different adventure, as did my life. And it's be haunting me ever since. A lot has happened to me in the last eight years. And at the same time, it feels like not much has happened.

Excuse the awkward passport photo, but revel in the power.

Excuse the awkward passport photo, but revel in the power.

So a couple months ago I finally pulled the trigger and bought the ticket. I'm going. (May 25th, baby!)  I'm going alone and I couldn't be more excited. I've never traveled solo - aside from a few road trips. But this will be my first solo vacation and my first solo trip out of the country.

I'm making my father proud by having an overall itinerary in place, but keeping my own spirit afloat by not planning the day to day activities until I'm there. I'm looking forward to the freedom. If I wake up and feel lazy, maybe I'll go back to sleep for another hour or two. If I want to go exploring with no destination in mind, so be it!

I've spent most of my life focusing on other people. I've been neglecting myself and pushing my own needs to the background. In the past year I've transitioned into living alone again, I started a greeting card company and I feel like I'm finally getting acquainted with who Sara is and what she needs out of life. So while not sounding too grandiose, but just grandiose enough, this trip is a big symbolic step in my life that I'm finally focusing on me.