I came to Crete without much of a plan in mind. The island of Crete is known for its beautiful beaches, and my only hope was to explore as many of them as I could. I came to Crete now, in March, because my frequent flier miles were going to expire, so it was now or never. What I didn’t research was that it would be barely sixty degrees, and none of the buses start running to the island of Crete beaches until May. In fact nothing really happens until May, not even the food tours. So, I’ve explored Chania town, where I’m staying, with its beach that is just OK. I even took my beach towel and wore my bathing suit even though I never took my swimsuit coverup off, as I was shivering so much.
I did befriend the bus driver who drove me from the airport, and he invited me on a quaint ride to Paleochora. He invited me to sit shotgun and because of this, I had the job of leaving jars of olive oil and other supplies on the side of the road in the small villages that we passed through on the way. (More efficient than leaving deliveries up to the post office.)
The driver even slowed down, so I could get up close views of olive and orange trees. He stopped the bus, so I could take pictures of the beautiful beaches. It was a very stunning day indeed.
It happens to be wildflower season here in Crete, and I have never seen so many flowers. The driver even stopped the bus, so I could pick a few. Riding the bus was like having my very own taxi!
In fact, everyone in Crete aims to please. The people at the front desk of the Akali hotel are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. They ask me everyday what I did that day and listen with interest. Last night, though, I was lamenting that most of the buses to other areas aren’t in operation yet, and in the typical Greek way of, “I will tell you exactly what I’m thinking” fashion (which I love), Nikos, the front desk guy told it to me like it is. He said, “Valen, you travelers, you think you know it all. You think you can find everything yourself, but you have not asked my advice. You need to ask me where to go.” He pulls out a map, pours me a drink, and so our evening begins. He tells me exactly how to take the bus to go to Agioi Apostoloi beach, only 3 km away. And so I did.
Agii Apostoli beach did not disappoint. Of course, I arrived in my summer outfit of blue and white linen, looking like I had just stepped off a cruise ship while the locals sat at the beach café huddled in their coats, sipping coffee.
Now, being the explorer I am, I was not content to just sit shivering on the beach. I saw a wildflower-covered hillside, and I saw a trail. I was going hiking, flip-flops and all.
After the desert barrenness of Mexico (I used to have dreams at night of dancing barefoot in green grass), I was so excited to see so much green. Of course, I had to laugh because the first thing I saw was some cactus and agave plants.
I explored some abandoned farmhouses that were full of street art and graffiti. They were a beautiful contrast to the sparkling blue sky.
I was delighted to discover that there was another beach on the other side of the hill. I didn’t discover this until I reached the last house and saw it through the windows.
Scents of thyme, orange blossoms, and pine guided my way, as I couldn’t get over the many hues of brilliant wildflowers that I was seeing. This place was an absolute Paradise!
I rejoiced in this beauty and took the time to just be. I watched the sailboats gliding by. I watched the bees pollinating flowers. I felt lucky to be alive.
Every step that I took on the path revealed more and more beauty. I would have never seen this if I had just stayed on the beach. The even better part was that I had this stunning hillside all to myself!
I even came across an amazing fig tree!
I found a fascinating area where the tide had gone out, and saw all kinds of sea life in the tide pools including a very cool sponge!
Once I was back at the beach, the gentle lapping of the waves made me contemplate how often times we try to plan how we are going to do things, but if we let life guide us, it will often give us exactly what we need. Yes, I had been disappointed that the weather wasn’t warmer. I had been disappointed that I couldn’t see many of the areas of Crete that were further away that the buses weren’t going to this time of year.
But, if I hadn’t been here now, I would have missed the green lushness, the beautiful wildflowers. I would have been so busy venturing to the further away beaches, that I very likely would have missed the very special Agii Apostoli beach that was only a 15-minute bus ride from my hotel.
How can you hope to travel the whole world, if you are missing what’s in your back yard? Sometimes life is about choosing what shows up. It’s about being in the now. Taking off your flip-flops and standing on holy ground. Sometimes, life isn’t about waiting for the conditions to be perfect. It’s about venturing out in the cold wind, and going to the beach anyway. It’s about choosing now.