I like my trips to be organised but with enough room for spontaneity. I never over plan or presume I know better than the locals. I would rather turn up, ask someone in the know and run with their recommendation.
I am currently in the capable hands of Nikos, owner & manager of Ammos, the hotel I am currently calling home. Each morning I turn up to the reception ready and willing for anything. Nikos always managers to conjure up some gold…I am convinced he knows everyone on the island.
On my second night he sent me to dinner at The Well of the Turk in old town Chania. (pronounced hania) Nestled amongst a rabbit warren of cobblestone streets, finding it felt a bit like a treasure hunt. Without his local know how, I probably would have settled for a more touristy spot on the harbour and missed out on something special.
You know a restaurant is really smashing when the locals eat there. The Well of the Turk is one of these places. I had a lovely chat with the owner, enjoyed the most delicious avocado salad, followed by slow cooked lamb with preserved lemons, a shot of Raki with a turkish delight or two to go.
The meal was delicious but it was the entire experience that I enjoyed. The soft light spilling out onto the street, the accordion player, the warm night and murmur of conversation. Even the journey trying to find it made it feel like a hidden gem I was privileged to experience.
Chania itself is a hive of activity. The restaurants and bars are full with people eating and drinking late into the night. I really feel like Europeans have their priorities in order; good food, good wine and good company. Mmm…sounds like the life for me.
Thank you to Nikos and his team for sharing their local knowledge with me. With their personal approach to service I felt like I was able to step outside the circle of tourists and discover a more authentic side to Crete.
I am sure Crete seems all the more exotic as a result of the trouble I had getting here. Once I arrived, it felt like someone had saved me from the pits of hell and given me right of way into heaven. I was just so relieved that I didn’t have to board any more flights.
See: My hotel is so chic it is out of control. I am taking notes for my future dream house. I am staying at Ammos Hotel in Crete just a short drive from the venetian harbour of Chania. I am loving the clean white exteriors with splashes of colour, mismatched chairs and quirky details. The island itself looks a little like Broome in Western Australia…there are even gum trees!
Hear: I can hear the ocean from my room. The most soothing sound to fall asleep to.
Feel: I can’t tell you how good it felt to dive into the ocean. Growing up by the beach, the ocean has always brought me comfort. Not being able to go to the beach on a daily basis makes me feel somewhat disconnected… It has been the hardest adjustment of city life. The water here is crystal clear. You can count on me to put in some quality floating time.
Taste: I would happily eat my way around the world. I love food but I particularly love Greek food. Bold flavours, sweet pastries and lots of creamy fetta…YUM! The food at Amos is spectacular and breakfast is practically a work of art.
So tomorrow I am hiring a car to explore the island further. Feeling nervous about driving on the right hand side of the road but I feel like I am up to the challenge. Wish me luck!
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On reflection, I may have been too harsh on British Airways. It’s possible there were greater forces at play here… – The real story doesn’t start here or now, it starts five years ago when I met a cute German boy called Chris at a beach party in Broome, Western Australia. We had a three day romance before he continued his road trip around Australia and we have kept in touch ever since.
Lately, Chris and I have been talking about catching up. I was actually chatting to him on FB at the airport in NY when he joked about trying to convince me to make a stop over in Germany on my way to Greece. I told him I should have thought that through when booking my flights. I had no idea how prophetic that conversation would become.
After missing my connecting flights in London, I was handed over to the British Airways personnel & after offering them a piece of my mind about their services, they handed over my new tickets and informed me I would be flying to Athens vis Stuttgart. Ha! Chris was getting his wish after all. We chatted on FB in London, both agreeing it was crazy and surely a sign. Lets remember that initially I had no idea Chris lived only 40km away from Stuttgart and secondly, Stuttgart is a small airport. It would have been more likely and probably made more sense for me to fly via Frankfurt, Berlin or even Zurich. But as chance would have it, the travel gods were sending me to Stuttgart. We laughed at the likelihood of this but thought nothing of it as I was transferring straight to my flight to Athens.
When my flight was delayed in London, I still thought I would make my connection in Stuttgart. It wasn’t until I arrived at the gate to watch my plane pulling out that I realized it wasn’t happening.
At this point I would like to thank the ladies at the British Airways desk in Stuttgart for being so accommodating. After what felt like a billion hours in transit if they hadn’t been so nice, I might have fallen apart. As they booked my new flights and informed me I would have to stay in Stuttgart for the night – I realized I might get to see Chris after all. I couldn’t believe that a random series of events, setbacks and failures had led me to this particular time and place. I felt like Chris had prophesized it or somehow willed the situation into existence. Or perhaps just by voicing our intention to meet up, we had set in motion a course of events that would see that happen. Where there is a will there is a way.
Chris also thought it was some kind of crazy destiny. We went out for dinner and the five years apart disappeared. I guess it is just like that with good friends.
The whole situation was so unexpected it felt like a dream. I kept expecting to wake up and still be on the runway in JFK. Or perhaps I was so jetlagged I had become delusional and the whole thing was just a crazy hallucination. Either way, I am only 50% sure it actually happened.
That is one of the things I love about travel. You can organize and plan your trip as much as you like but in the end you are at the mercy of circumstance and chance. I find it is usually the unexpected moments that make for the best travel memories. A change of plans is simply on opportunity for a chance meeting or a new adventure. At least that is the way it is for me.
P.S: I did eventually make it to the Greek Islands and my current island paradise at Ammos , Crete. Stay tuned for my Greek Island adventures.
P.P.S Below are some pics I snapped on my iphone…for more wanderlust inspiration – follow me on instagram.
Thank you to British Airways for the six hour wait on the runway in JFK. I love hanging out in confined spaces with strangers and the six hours of down time gave me plenty of time to think about all the adventures I wasn’t having in Greece. I am also grateful to you for offering me no food. After, all I am about to spend the next three weeks in a bikini… I know you had my best interests at heart.
Thank you also for the extended stay in the London airport. The Brits have such great food and the two douche bags who tried to hit on me provided me with a well needed exercise in patience. I am a better person for that experience.
I would also like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my mate in security in London for insisting on searching my camera bag. I particularly liked how you pulled out everything just to make sure. You are a valued citizen and the world is a safer place because of your contribution.
But best on ground must go to Ian, the passive aggressive fag making all the announcements on flight one from JFK to nowhere. Your complete lack of professionalism and inability to help anyone with anything was much appreciated. British Airways are clearly choosing their employees from such a rich talent pool.
Thank you also to British Airways for expanding my horizons. You were right….I haven’t visited enough countries. Why fly direct when you can travel around the world? I appreciated the opportunity to see London, Stuttgart, Vienna and Athens. The 48hrs I spent in transit was so rewarding and I am excited to see what surprises you have in store for me on my flight home. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Thank you to British Airways for knowing it is the little things that make all the difference. After a six hour wait on the runway, missing two connecting flights, the extended stay in the London airport, having to rebook my ferry TWICE, the unexpected detour via Stuttgart and Vienna….after all of that – you offered me a ten dollar food voucher to show me I am a valued customer. Thank you for meeting my needs.
It is a clear to me that you are prepared to go above and beyond the call for your customers. Your alternative take on point A to B was truly an ‘experience’ I will be sure to tell EVERYONE about.
P.S: A friend sent me this video (skip to one minute in) as inspiration. I only wish I were cool enough to have thought of this.