Beachy time

Musings

I’ve been in Chania for a whole year, and spent most of last summer there too, but it wasn’t until this August that I truly discovered some of the great beaches we had at our disposal. All it took was renting a car. We were thrilled at first because we had a means of transport and could pretty much pick any point on the map and head for it. Sounds like a great way to spend a week with visiting friends, right? Packed like sardines in the not-so-spacious Huyndai Atoz is one thing; doing the whole road trip transfixed in one position with no radio is quite another.

You see at first we didn’t notice that there wasn’t a radio affixed to the car, because it’s something you take for granted. The antenna was there. The radio? Nowhere to be found. I actually stumbled upon this little detail when I mechanically made for the turn on / volume knob and hit a flat surface. Then I tried to pull it off, thinking it’s a cover. But no, no such thing. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, here’s what it looked like:

It looked like a freaky skeletor-style face

It looked like a freaky skeletor-style face

Luckily we had one of those cassette / CD players which we loaded with batteries and connected to our iPods. We were so bad-ass.

We headed to the nearby beaches, testing the waters, but soon enough we ventured out to a big tourist attraction, Elafonisi. An island is connected to the mainland from a tiny stretch of sand. On some days it tends to be windy there, with lots of waves, but luckily the sea was calm when we were there. As the wave washes over the sand on the shore, the color of the sand is pink from the shells. We took a leisurely walk along the coast and kept stopping to collect shells. I have so much material for new beading adventures!

Looking for shells

Looking for shells


Infecting others to do the same. I enlisted my boyfriends help too!

Infecting others to do the same. I enlisted my boyfriend's help too!

We were pretty lazy at Elafonisi, because the later it got, the less people on the beach and the calmer the waters. And the colors in the sky? Magical!

Dive in

Dive in

And then we looked on the other side as the sun set and we ran across the beach to take photos. The golden hues were to die for!

My favorite hour

My favorite hour

After this great beach, we thought we’d head out to Balos, near Gramvousa. The photos we’d seen of the place told of a very exotic location that looked nothing like the Greek beaches we were familiar with. And let’s be honest, how many of those postcards for sale aren’t entirely changed by photoshop? So we were skeptical but curious. In fact we were so curious as to follow the map instructions even though part of the route was marked as dirt road. But hey, we were on a road trip, right? And next to dirt road, the route was labeled “scenic”. What more could we ask for? We wanted adventure, and adventure we got.

The dirt started out…dirty but drivable. As we progressed in our average 10 km / h the size of the rocks on the ground increased so that it was bad enough we were ascending at an angle on a dirt road, we also had to manoeuvre our tiny radioless car around those huge boulders. It all seemed like a bad Atari game, really.

Bumpy road ahead

Bumpy road ahead

On our way there we came across a lot of friendly free-roaming goats. They posed for us too.

Friendly goat

Friendly goat

A mere 20 km later, we arrived at the parking area, because what followed was a 2 km walk on a footpath. We had to descend our way on the other side to find the exotic beach of Balos.

On the footpath to the beach

On the footpath to the beach


Our first sight of the beach right at the top

Our first sight of the beach right at the top


The breathtaking view!

The breathtaking view!


More of the beach

More of the beach

Spot that boat over there? Well, in case you ever visit Crete, this beach should be in your list of sights not to miss. And that boat is your gift from God. Forget the dirt road, the walking all the way down to the beach (don’t even get me started on the steps we had to go up!). A mere 50 minutes cruise and voila! You’re at the beach. Unless you’re more the adventure type. Like our macho group.

Then again, on our way back we had the full moon and despite the rocky ride, it was a great view to enjoy the whole way home. Radio or no radio.

Full moon, the sea and a perfect ride home

Full moon, the sea and a perfect ride home

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Nowhere near you

Musings

So my blog has been dominated by this vast sense of empty space. Every day I write out all these colorful entries in my head and I’m very dutiful with Math Mondays and Friendly Fridays. But they never reach you.

I’m sure you’re wondering why.

Remember that move I mentioned? Well, it finally happened and we got out of it in one piece. The apartment is small and cute, and will serve its short purpose well. Come December, it’s au revoir Chania and back to Cyprus for my boyfriend too hopefully. I’m making the big plunge over on August 15th. Until then, I’m afraid my life will not regain any sense of internet normalcy because there is simply NO internet.

Transferring a phone line is much too complicated for our phone company, so they issue us with a new number, a procedure that takes about a month. By then, I’ll be long settled to Cypriot rhythms and happy to be with you again. Right now, all I have is this permanent state of no connectivity that I can’t say is all that bad.

After the tiring move, all I want to do is kick up my feet, grab a good book and read away. Or watch old seasons of Project Runway over wine. Or wander around Chania, the town I’m about to bid goodbye and cram these last two weeks with as many fresh, wonderful memories as I can.

There are a lot of things I want to share with you, but at the moment I figuratively have my hands tied. No beads, no internet and no typed blog entries. We’ll catch up again in two weeks.

Until then, know that I write entries for you in my head on a daily basis, while I have my nose buried behind a book. It usually means I have to re-read a page or two, but that’s a small price to pay for sending thoughts your way, don’t you think?

Technically speaking

Jewelry

Just when I was convinced that phone / internet companies were truly incompetent and would never actually get the technical problems sorted, I got a surprise.

I had come to terms with my indefinite absence from the online community, and had moved on to other things that made my days more colorful: beads! I was sitting in my little corner, inspired by hot pink and blue and had jazzy music in the background, when I suddenly get a text message. It read: Your technical problem has now been resolved. We are at your service, should you have any other problem.

A text message! Internet! Whoaaaaa!

But the past few days without it snapped me into shape. I briefly checked Etsy and my e-mails and then promptly closed the laptop and finished the necklace. First things, have now reclaimed their order and must come first again.

Here is the new necklace:

Plain tribal

Plain tribal

What followed, was of course a celebration that came in the sweet form of strawberry cupcakes. Incognito cupcakes, that is. Why? Well have a look at them yourself and see if you can spot what’s wrong:

Straight out of the oven

Straight out of the oven

Still can’t see it? Well, how about now?

Adding some color

Adding some color

Well, the whole mixture made 6 mega-cupcakes. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, cupcakes come in small, pretty shapes. Well, not in Greece, they don’t — because apparently, in Chania at least, there are no cupcake paper cases in sight. Only some gigantic aluminum ones, that look so wrong. But better than nothing.  At least I had this huge sweet pink delight to satisfy my evening craving.

This had my name all over it.

This had my name all over it.

So cyber world, hello. I’m back and it’s sweet to see you again.

Hitting the streets

Jewelry

It’s often that I lose sleep over some seemingly brilliant idea that merits black circles in the morning. Sometimes, looking like I came straight out of a Tim Burton movie is worth it, because the idea is actually a sound one. My decision to come to Chania was one of those late-night light bulbs over my head: Bright and hard to ignore. It’s turned out to be a good one, because I’m loving the Cretan life, which isn’t without its own share of idea light bulbs. One such energy-spending bulb flashed over my head last night, and there was no switching it off.

The idea? To take plain bananas out to the streets.

Let me clarify: Greek islands are known for the street artists that pepper the popular locations, and in the summer you really get a chance to see a lot of talented people. With this in mind I couldn’t help but wonder: Could I be a pepper speck too, just to spice things up, so to speak?

So just for the fun of it, I decided to hit the streets and give it a go. But first I had to prepare enough packages because you never know, do you? And by preparing, I mean adding that extra splash of magic:

A secret message for each package

A secret message for each package

Supplies ready

Supplies ready

Armed with these bananas, I set off for the old harbor and landed myself a spot that proved to be too far away from passersby. It made for a cool photo though:

Spot the banana

Spot the banana

The view from where I was sitting

The view from where I was sitting

I was sitting right next to the horse carriages, but they didn’t seem to be enjoying much notice either. While sitting there, looking frazzled from the insomniac night before, I had one of those moments where you sort of look beyond your tiny spot and appreciate the whole situation.

I saw: Me, on the pavement, my jewelry in front of me, a wonderful view ahead and my boyfriend who came along for the support and to take photos of this adventure.

Not where I thought I’d be a year ago, for sure, but what a surprising journey it has been all the way to the streets of Chania. I didn’t make a single sale, but boy am I glad to be here. Sure I look like death occasionally, but some ideas are really worth losing sleep over, right?

Summertime and the living is easy

Jewelry, Musings

Ok, so it’s technically not summer yet — we’re still a week or so away from entering the summer month triad. Yeah, sure, go ahead and convince me that with 30 ℃ there’s still a week left until summer. I won’t buy that. It’s here — I can smell it, feel it and even sweat it. Out come the sandals and dresses, the summer hats and sunscreens and bring on the ice, will you please? It’s boiling out here.

But out here, is where I want to be. I find it hard staying indoors when the weather is treating me to this abundance of sunlight. Cleaning our relatively big veranda was a task we’ve been postponing for a few weeks, but with mercury rising, Saturday had us doing the unavoidable. And today, I’ve been doing nothing more than laze around outside, drinking my coffee, reading my book and enjoying the evening breeze.

My summer table

On the veranda, where I pretend I'm at a coffee shop

I couldn’t even bring myself to stay indoors and work on my little beading corner, even though I really wanted to create today. Solution: move the beads outside and create to my heart’s content.

Last night, on a walk down Chania’s old harbor, I suddenly realized how buzzing every place was — so many tourists, so many locals out for a drink in the cool breeze of these early summer nights. The island is dressed in its summery persona already and I felt lucky to be living the island life, so close by the sea.

Inspired by these realizations, you won’t be surprised to see that the result of my beading efforts led me to island colors and beachy themes. Sea-shells definitely couldn’t be absent from these leg bracelets I made:

She wears seashells by the seashore

She wears seashells by the seashore

I will be listing these on Etsy as soon as I take some more photos on a beach location near me. I have to say, I’m in love with the colors, and I’m so glad it’s summer.

On a different note, the first plain bananas package has safely arrived at its destination. I will be mapping the plain bananas’ journey across the globe (though after much frustration, I’m still looking for a map to do this online – open to suggestions) with buyers’ pictures. It’s an open invitation to help me with the project and already the first item has been mapped. Thank you Gigi for the love and the photo. Plain Bananas loves you too.

Here’s where these earrings have gone:

(If you would like to see a map of this, you can always check my flickr account, which is the only place I have input this, so far).

plain bananas travels to Philadelphia

plain bananas travels to Philadelphia

The journey will continue.

Summer, welcome back.

Let’s face it

Musings

I need to face the fact that sunny days can also be extremely windy. It is a national holiday here, and there was a parade just outside our apartment, so it was a perfect excuse to go for a walk. I think I was most amused by a little kid, held up by his dad waving a Greek flag which said RESPECT in blue, on the side. I tried to take a photo of him, but at that point the wind wasn’t on my side. I mistook that for a sign of a hot summer-like day, but no, moments later the wind roared “Eat this you fool”, and by this, I mean my hair. I walked on with a halo of frizz and a strong sense of denial.

I also need to face the fact that I’m never going to drink a frappe (iced coffee) at a coffeeshop, the way I like it. I don’t ask for much: no sugar, a little milk. But no, milk here, is concentrated and used sparingly; coffee on the other hand is scooped with a shovel. A shovel. And yet I’m still naively optimistic every time I order coffee out.

I have recently been wishing for summer to come, and along with that, ice cream, or to be more precise Italian ice cream, which entered my life last summer and has since become a serious addiction. There’s an Italian guy who owns a little gelateria here in Chania and operates it in the warmer / hotter months of the year with his family. I simply LOVE this place, and all his flavors, but perhaps I’m more fond of the whole idea of having two homes throughout the year. About a month ago I spotted a sign on the shop declaring the gelateria would be up and running again in March. I’ve been thinking that it’s pretty much almost April in my fast-forward-inclined head, so have kept wondering “Where are you my Italian friend?” Today, due to my unwavering hope and curiosity, I discovered that it’s back in business! I got a scoop and a smile of recognition. So now it’s sealed: The Italian family has made the move and I need to face it that summer is fast approaching. Finally.

And coming home, my eye always falls on an object in the most peculiar disguise. It makes my day every time and I dare you not to laugh when you have this staring back at you as you wait for the elevator to come down to ground floor.

I'm looking at you

I'm looking at you