Oasis


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September 7th 2013
Published: September 30th 2017
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Oasis at Preveli ...Oasis at Preveli ...Oasis at Preveli ...

... very neat, with cool freshwater pools surrounded by palm trees just as the river meets the sea.
Geo: 35.51, 24.02

An oasis is something typically associated with a desert, a little pocket of paradise in one of the driest places found on Earth, with cool, refreshing pools of water surrounded by lush, verdant vegetation. It's imagery straight out of a movie, with a cliched protagonist finally finding it at the climactic point in the film, when he seemingly can continue no further, finally ready to succumb to death. It's not something you'd expect to find on Crete's beautiful coastline, but we managed to do just that today.

We were a bit like that typical movie protagonist, in that our laziness meant we had a late start to the day, and that we descended down a steep, rocky path down to Preveli Beach during the hottest part of the day. There's nothing worse than the feeling of being slowly roasted like suckling pigs as the searing Cretan sun reflected off the rocks below and behind us, and off the Libyan Sea in front of us, finally reaching the bottom dehydrated and exhausted. But when in Greece, the bad often becomes good, as it made our arrival at Preveli all the sweeter ...

Preveli truly has a special location, at the end
Preveli Beach ...Preveli Beach ...Preveli Beach ...

.. from high above, a hot ten-minute walk down, and an even hotter twenty-minute walk back up.
of a gorge where a river empties into the Sea, creating cool freshwater pools ringed by palm trees. It truly is a sight straight out of a movie, and is made even more spectacular by the rugged cliffs serving as a backdrop for this scene, and the sparkling clear sea on the other side; it's a unique combination that I can't imagine you would find anywhere else in the World.

We didn't want to leave Preveli so quickly, but rising temperatures and limited time in Crete meant that we had to, as this afternoon and evening would be our only opportunity to see another one of Crete's gems, Chania. Being over a three-hour round trip drive from where we were staying in Damnoni, it hardly seemed worth the effort to drive there for only a handful of hours, but it turned out to be one of our best decisions of the trip.

Chania is excessively touristy for a reason - the place is absolutely stunning, with its combination of Turkish and Venetian buildings, which have been converted into art galleries, boutique hotels, cafes, and restaurants oozing with character. There is no shortage of diversions here, and Chania was a perfect place to have our last dinner and spend our last full night in Crete. Normally, we would be disappointed to have left behind a paradise like we had found earlier today, but Chania's charms made us forget all about Preveli ... at least, for a few glorious hours ...


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Atmospheric Dining Options In Chania ...Atmospheric Dining Options In Chania ...
Atmospheric Dining Options In Chania ...

... many are even romantically-located inside roofless ruined old Venetian buildings.
Unique ...Unique ...
Unique ...

... Chania is known for its Venetian architecture, but this is one of the most interesting mixes of architectural styles you will see anywhere - a church with an Islamic minaret and a Venetian-style bell tower, probably the result of modifications made after the Ottoman Empire drove the Venetians out of Greece.
Crumbling Venetian Shipyards ...Crumbling Venetian Shipyards ...
Crumbling Venetian Shipyards ...

... though it hasn't quite hit this spot just yet, there is a bit of a renaissance going on at the waterfront, and some of these old buildings have been converted into hip cafes and art galleries.
Light Lunch, Relatively Speaking ...Light Lunch, Relatively Speaking ...
Light Lunch, Relatively Speaking ...

... compared to the monstrous portions we've been consuming so far! A little sweet wine from Samos, bland yellow watermelon, some local cheese, grapes, and some delicious little paprika-spiced-batter-coated peanuts that we picked up in Santorini.
Tirokafteri ...Tirokafteri ...
Tirokafteri ...

... a spicy cheese dip - rich and delicious, with a nice kick to it. Too bad they don't serve crackers with this dish, which quickly became too rich and filling after a short time, even though we ate it with a few slices of bread.
Rabbit Smirnean ...Rabbit Smirnean ...
Rabbit Smirnean ...

... in a Sweet Red Wine Sauce. Dinner at Tamam started out splendidly with the tirokafteri and only got better with this tender rabbit dish, punctuated with a nice sprinkling of pine nuts and some deliciously-crisp fried potatoes.
Hunkiar Begiendi Lamb ...Hunkiar Begiendi Lamb ...
Hunkiar Begiendi Lamb ...

... with an eggplant and tomato puree. Even better than the rabbit, this lamb was so tender you could pick it apart with your fingers, and it was fragrant with an indescribably tasty spice concoction. The highlight was actually the eggplant and tomato puree - I've never had anything like it before.
Coconut Dessert and Napalm ...Coconut Dessert and Napalm ...
Coconut Dessert and Napalm ...

... the waiter told us that the dessert was a mixture of coconut, semolina, sugar, and a few other odds and ends. Sounds so simple, but the result was a moist and delicious half-pudding-half-cake hybrid. As for the raki, I stuffed a napkin in it, lit it on fire, and threw it into the restaurant like a molotov cocktail, creating a fire and diversion that allowed us to dine and dash. That was the far better alternative than drinking more of this battery acid.


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