(The other) Bali

I write this in thirty-odd degree heat, with the beach grinning at me to my right and a fridge full of rosé to my left. It seems a world away from Luzern where it snowed twice in the fortnight prior to us leaving, although technically we’re only a few hours by plane. We’re on the island of Crete in Greece, staying in a small beachside village called Bali.

Never having visited its Indonesian counterpart I can’t really compare them, but I can say this Bali is working out just fine for us. Our villa is perched just out of town, nestled in some olive groves with the dramatic volcanic mountains the island is known for rising around us. We had audacious plans to climb them one morning but the lure of the villa’s pool (and aftermath of afore mentioned rosé) has been too strong.

Addie is loving it. Her days include dangling her feet in the water, watching her father and I dive for toys she relentlessly throws into the pool, swimming, building sandcastles at the beach, timidly testing out the waves and screaming in public when she gets overtired. At this stage – almost five months old – it’s hard to say if Teddy is having much in the way of fun but since he’s not telling us otherwise, I have to assume it’s a win for him too. Neither child is wearing much in the way of clothes and our snow suits are happily a repressed memory. We stroll down to the local taverna a lot, and there’s a funny little toot-toot (train, to those of us who have fully mastered the English language) that chugs us into town should our horizons need expanding. It’s lazy, and warm, and I’ve finished one book and started on the next: exactly what a summer break should be.

We’re here with my parents, which has allowed us to indulge in freedoms we’re no longer used to. See those rocks in that snap down below? We went diving in the reef just below them. Like we used to do before the children. It was lovely – the water was clear and clean, visibility was amazing and we saw schools of neon fish, eels, crabs, sea cucumbers and all manner of interesting rock formations. But the best thing of all was the sound: the blissful, meditative inhalation and exhalation from my tank. This sound – and diving in general – used to scare me a little, but now my primary aural fears are relegated to middle of the night wailing, and the absence of these was pure heaven.

Crete, Greece-361Our town is a tiny tourist spot but we’re not too far from Rethymno, a larger coastal city where we headed one morning to check out the local markets. Our girl loves olives so she was in heaven as we trotted through sampling the local wares.

The old town – the largest on Crete – was lovely, with the winding alleys you’d expect providing welcome shade during the heat of the day. We stopped for lunch to belatedly celebrate my parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary, and feasted on local anchovies, octopus and lamb.

And enough rosé to tucker out one of our party for the bus ride home (and ensure I was looking suitably bedraggled).

Crete, Greece-331-2We also got a boat trip in, a three hour cruise around out of the heads and round the coastline. The water here is an unbelievable mix of greeny blues, contrasting dramatically against the grey rocks. The captain pulled us in to little caves and skirted around goat-roamed rocky escarpments with great skill.

Unbeknownst to us, the boat moored for swimming (and wine or ouzo, take your boozy pick) and although we were unprepared I am pleased to advise that Motsy made the most of the situation, his Bonds doubling just fine (by European standards) as swimwear. (An aside: I’d like to pretend that these snaps of our kids accurately reflect the trip; that Teddy took the voyage calmly and that Ads was keenly interested in nautical affairs. However this was not the case. Our grizzly bear screamed for a large chunk of the trip – soothed only by his father rigorously dancing the Zorba with him in the carrier, and Adelaide clutched the iPad as if it were a buoy. Which I suppose it was, of sorts.)

Still.

And not to boast or anything, but we’re about to have our second night out sans kids; we’re all set to indulge in something seafoody and delicious while my suckers parents take care of our littles. Having said that, the nights in haven’t been all bad, with Tim revisiting his grill skills and all of us reaping the benefits.

We’ve only a day and a bit left (and we still haven’t visited two of the three beaches in town), but the week has felt long and luxurious. Even our littlest guy has worked on his chill skills. Crete, Greece-394And with that, the local taverna and its nondescript cold white wines call. Antio sas!

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