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  • Writer's pictureBill Loumpouridis

Crete: A Universe Unto Itself

People often approach me about travel to Greece.  Most conversations tend to focus on the Greek Islands, each of which is a tiny outpost of civilization taken to a unique pinnacle.  But all conversations eventually lead back to Crete, because I am in love with Crete.

Crete is not just a destination, it is a gateway to the soul.  Every time I visit Crete I get closer to my true essence.  My most recent visit in March of 2019 was no exception.  For the first time I was lucky enough to visit Crete in the spring.  It is during this time of year that you can literally feel the land embracing the lengthening days - the soil warming, loosening and expanding as the sun beckons wildflowers and insects.

In Crete you will find a dizzying number of climates and microclimates…a beguiling topography that is defined by surprise, implausibility and hospitality.  There are mountains, valleys, forests, gorges, beaches and deserts.  Everything beautiful the earth has to offer is both within reach and simultaneously infinite.

Crete is self-sustaining.  Farms grow multitudes of crops while goats and sheep graze the hillsides.  Trees provide olives, nuts and fruits.  The olive oil of Crete is unsurpassed, and the honey of Crete is unmatched in its variety and splendor.  The surrounding seas provide a bounty of fish, shellfish, salt and minerals.

The land sustains a population on Crete that is in tune with nature and the universe.  The people of Crete are impeccable hosts…they are capable of small acts of kindness that regularly confirm your faith in the goodness of humanity.  They routinely transform the riches of Crete into meals that available nowhere else. As a result the food of Crete is like no other.  

Every meal I have in Crete is an affirmation that food is more than just sustenance - it is the nourishment of the soul.  In Crete food is a way of accepting the best of what nature has to offer us - it is communion with each other and with mother earth.  It is life itself.

Whether eating, sitting still and contemplating the vast beauty of nature, hiking through the endless trails or swimming in the sea, every action or inaction on Crete brings you closer to your true self.

Wandering through the hills of Crete is both a journey beyond and a journey within.  The land of Crete has a never-ending  history and a solemn eternity - the present as it should be forever and of a past that has always been.  On one particularly magical hike during my last visit I reached a cliff that overlooked the sea and I felt the spirit of Icarus lift me high into clouds like the eagles so within reach.  Far below was the sea that inspired so many journeys, myths and imaginations.

Getting to the sea is never arduous, and swimming in the sea that surrounds Crete is to experience the weightless embrace of eternal time and space.  The ebbs and flows of the water remind us of our insignificance as we are carried by the whims of tides, breezes and endless currents.  There is nothing beyond that matters, only the present moment and the infinite possibilities of discovery that is Crete.

Chania harbor at sunset.

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