In September 2010, we rounded our first year of living in Hania, Crete. This adventure has truly been a once in a lifetime experience packed full of surprises. Emersing ourselves into the local culture has given us the opportunity to enjoy many beautiful moments as well as a few frustrating trials. Such is life anywhere. Now we look forward to maximizing our last year here by living each day to its fullest. And what better way to do that than enjoy the company of each other and good friends.
This autumn we had a full schedule of dear friends from the States that blessed us with their visits. First off the plane was the Nelson family from Kentucky. Lindsey and his wife, Anne and three kids (Brianna, Tessa and Rowan) were great fun!
We had some memorable times together (see previous grape-stomping blog) including a day wandering around the old port of Hania.
Richard especially enjoyed seeing his "old" buddy "Nelson". They go a loooong way back and Lindsey was in our wedding.
Another outing with the Nelsons included a boat ride to Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay.
The Nelsons wasted no time getting settled in to the local beach and taverna scene. Thanks for coming, you guys. It was really great to see you!
Next off the boat (literally - off the ferry from Santorini) were Mel's girlfriend Gil (AKA Gertie) and her sister Leslee (AKA Lola). First stop, dinner and a visit to a local wine cellar where they sampled their first taste of raki. (This photo must have been taken BEFORE their first sip because they're still smiling and their eyes aren't watering!)
The three girls spent a relaxing day in Hania's old city shopping and visiting Mel's (Mabel) friend's art studio.
By far, the highlight of the girls' visit was a road trip to Paleohora on the south coast where we stayed a couple of days doing some serious beach time, tiki hut meditation (OK that's really just fancy wording for hanging out on the beach and doing nothing).....
....and raising our glasses to every sunset and every memory we made together that day.
After leaving Paleohora behind, we drove along the beautiful west coast road and leaded north to to Falasarna.
We pulled into the Panorama Taverna just in time to toast yet another grand display of God's creation.
Lola, Mabel and Gertie made a vow to keep laughing ("who are you and why is your arm around my shoulder?"), loving (in spite of wrinkles and cellulite) and learning (thongs used to be something you wore on your FEET to the beach).
"Stini yiasas" and skinny bottoms to you, girls!
Thankfully, Mel didn't have much time to feel sad about Leslee and Gil's departure because a little over a week later the Lafata's from Colorado arrived. We had a blast together doing all kinds of couples activities including dinners out, sightseeing and traveling.
We spent a couple of days and nights in Paleohora where we had lots of laughs and great fun. One memory included renting four P.O.S. bikes from a chauvanistic Greek ("Sorry, ladies, this is Greece so the men get served first.") and riding up a steep gorge to the little village of Amidri where our labors were rewarded with phenomenal views and food at a charming taverna. The trip DOWN was hugely popular with the girls.
We also rode the bikes to the Venetian fortress and took photos of the village and the pebble beach of Paleohora from the top.
Our last day there warmed up enough to jump in the water at Gialiskari Beach where laying on the black pebbles warmed by the sun felt like a spa treatment. Tony and Kristi were wonderful friends to share some of this island with and we wish they could have stayed longer!
Positively, the best part about having visitors was that they each brought a taste of special friendships from home. It was such a pleasure to share our piece of paradise with them reminding us that once again, it's not what you do or where you go but who you're with that counts. And if you happen to be with some amazing people doing amazing things in amazing places that's a real bonus! Love you all!