California and its coast

Well, I’m back to my blog writing. It’s been a very busy last few months, as I made the big move to California and started a new job. It’s funny how the entirety of my experiences can be summed up in a single sentence, that somehow doesn’t even begin to explain the infinite list of things to do in order to transplant myself into a new world. It’s starting to settle down, though, so I think this is a good time to get back into my normal swing of things.

I had a particularly relaxing weekend last week, when the boyfriend and I went down to Monterey and Carmel. It’s an area that I’ve wanted to explore for quite a while, but the extra day of the long weekend gave us the opportunity. It was definitely worth it.

Monterey Harbour

One of my favourite things was the coastline. As a Vancouver girl, I’m deeply and madly in love with the ocean, and it’s been a little sad not seeing blue every day. (I have to admit, the blue sky is a nice substitute, though).

Carmel beach

We did the 17-mile drive near Carmel, which I would highly recommend. It’s a loop that goes through everything from extremely fancy houses tucked away in the woods, to golf tees hovering perilously close to cliffside drop offs, to the actual drop offs that turn spectacularly into the beautiful seaside. It’s very easy to stop anywhere for a walk and pictures, which is exactly what we did.

Coast

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The town of Carmel was also very cute. You could tell it was touristy, but forgave it because it was so charming. We ate some delicious pasta at a place called Yafa – trying to find a restaurant on Saturday night was crazy! We didn’t realize most places were reserved until 8 or 9, but the very nice waiter at Yafa squeezed us in.

The next day, we visited Point Lobos state park, which was also very beautiful. One of my favourite things was seeing sea otters playing far down below in the water. They were too far to photograph, but my boyfriend had to drag me away, or I would’ve stayed there watching for hours.

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Later in the day, it started to get really foggy, which made the views both picturesque and a little eerie. Looking out at endless blue and white from on top of a cliff gives you vertigo like nothing else.

The last day, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I had been extremely looking forwards to. I thought it was a very nicely done aquarium, and they had a special jellyfish exhibit. My favourite were the blubber jellyfish, which seemed to have no other purpose than collide aimlessly with one another, causing giant clumps of rapidly pulsating jellies.

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Overall, a really neat trip, and a welcome break from the normal work-weekend schedule. Though this weekend we made homemade cabbage rolls, and I played with my Kitchenaid and made snickerdoodles, so ordinary life isn’t so bad either.

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Swept away by Santorini

Well, we’ve reached the end of the Greece portion of our trip, and I am writing this from Bodrum, Turkey. The boy and I agree that though we greatly enjoyed Greece, we’re excited and ready to move onto our next country. However, I must dedicate some time to Santorini, which was my favourite Greek destination. Santorini is essentially what you think of when you picture Greek islands – whitewashed buildings standing on the cliff of a beautiful blue sea.

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Our first afternoon, we took a trip up to Oia, which is the more “traditional” village. I found it very similar to Fira, just a bit sleepier. The view was astounding, though, and watching the sunset was amazing.

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Fira was also fun to walk around, though we got rather lost in the twisty streets trying to find a particular restaurant (figures that’s what we’d be doing). Lots of tourist shops, but the higher you climb, the quieter and prettier it becomes.

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We also visited Perissa, a black beach.

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Our last day was spent visiting the excavation site at Akrotiri, which was very cool, and made even more interesting because we had already seen a lot of the removed frescoes and objects at the archeological museum in Athens. We then tramped over a small mountain to reach a red beach, which I maintain was red-black and therefore a teensy bit disappointing.

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We then spent a killer overnighter on a ferry heading to Kos, then to Bodrum, and are currently both sleep-deprived and ready to hit bed early.

Oh, and how could I forget the food? Santorini was pretty good food-wise, we had some yummy eats.

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Crete-cation

Destination number two completed – we have conquered Crete! (More like half of Crete, but I like the alliteration).

Our visit to Crete consisted of three spots – Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, and Heraklion. We decided to stick to one section of the island because of limited time, and sadly didn’t see any of the western side – another trip, perhaps. My overall impressions of Crete are positive, but in a strange way I think I was slightly disappointed by the amount of tourism here. In both Agios Nikolaos and Ierapetra, it’s obvious that the entire town caters to the tourists, which leaves you feeling like you experienced zero of the actual local culture. Heraklion is also pretty touristy, but there’s more to do, so I didn’t feel that quite as much. The island itself is pretty cool, though – quite arid, very hot and dry with mountains, but with beautiful crystal clear aqua water that makes you want to fling yourself into it at every moment.

Starting with Agios Nikolaos – we spent an afternoon here, and that’s pretty much all that was needed. There’s a beautiful harbour and bay, and that’s about it in terms of interesting sights.

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We actually had a much better time in Elounda, which is a 30-minute bus ride from Agios Nikolaos. Elounda is this sleepy little fishing village, and it was much quieter – perfect for a stroll by the ocean, a drink, and some down time for us.

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Our next stop was Ierapetra, which is on the southern side of the island. Ierapetra, like Agios Nikolaos, was very touristy – though we did discover a fortress! Our main activity here was swimming to prevent overheating. We also had a gorgeous hotel here, El Greco, where we had a free bottle of delicious Cretan wine. Does life get better?

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The next day we did a day trip to Chrissi (Chryssi?), an island about 45-60 minutes away from the mainland. Chrissi is this entirely deserted island that makes you think of the kind of island people get stranded on – there’s nothing but trees, sand, and breathtakingly beautiful water. We had an awesome day swimming and lounging. Nothing quite like the feeling of being caked in salt for five hours.

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Our final destination on Crete was Heraklion, the capital city. Heraklion is definitely much bigger than the other places, and there’s a bit more to do. We saw the Natural History Museum – notable only for its ferocious fruit-consuming tortoise – and the Palace of Knossos, which was very cool. The boyfriend and I couldn’t stop mocking a review we saw on trip advisor, which said “there was nothing to see – just rocks”. Just rocks that are thousands of years old. No big deal.

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Palace of Knossos:

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Overall, I liked Crete, but I think it’s time to move on to Santorini. Also, I can’t forget my food shots. Food here has been average, with the exception of two meals – veal/baklava in Elounda that was to die for, and a pork knuckle in Heraklion that was delicious.

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One week down, and we still want to be together. Yay! Two more weeks to go! :)