Monday, 27 July 2009

Bathing in the Waters of Crete

Many years ago, when Jules and I first met and I started to visit her house, it was clear that Greek culture figured prominently in the life of her family. Not that her family was Greek but anyone entering the house for the first time could have easily been mistaken. Her mother was going through her ‘Greek phase’ after just returning from a holiday to Athens and the Greek Islands. Greek bazuki music would be constantly playing on the stereo, while Jules’ mum would be in the kitchen cooking Moussaka, Dolmades or some other Greek delicacies. The country had made such an impression on her and in turn she had planted a seed in Jules and later myself, so that one day we would have to visit and experience it for ourselves. The opportunity was now here, all be it thirty years later, as we embarked upon a cruise around the Mediterranean. One of our first ports of call was on the legendary island of Crete, arriving on a beautifully warm day in July. Our ship docked in the picturesque little town of Agios Nikolaos and it’s not too long before we are down the gangplank and wandering the streets. We are so impressed with the many cafes that line the harbour and it’s simply too hot to go further without enjoying the local hospitality. As we sat sipping our drinks we looked out toward the ocean and became increasingly drawn to the brilliant blue waters. However, just one catch…neither of us had bathers! Having departed from England, we had simply forgotten what warm weather was and had neglected to buy some. It was too hot to go looking now! Not deterred, we drifted down to the rocky shore and away from the tourist spots for what we thought might be ‘a quick paddle’, but after noticing the isolation of the spot we had chosen it wasn’t too long before we were stripped down to our undies and hopping in! Well, I simply can’t describe how clear, cool and wonderful that swim was! We spent quite a while just bobbing up and down in the crystal clear waters, watching the boats sail by. I sat on a rock and sketched and then after a while we wandered back into town for yet another refreshing drink. Not surprisingly it wasn’t too long before we were back to the same spot (still without bathers) to do it all again. The simple pleasure of that day was a great introduction to the Greek Islands.

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