Villa Dionysus, Sissi, Crete - Pure Heaven

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July 25th 2015
Published: July 26th 2015
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Our drive to picturesque Sissi was down main highways and along the breathtaking coast. What a spectacular drive along the white, pink, and magenta oleander tree-lined roads! On our way we stopped in Rethymno and walked along the coast, watching as the waves crashed to the rocky shore. We continued on down to the port, which was filled with seafood restaurants. We walked around the streets, stopping in stores for souvenirs. Curtis, Kellan and Garret all bought leather bands with the Greek symbol for eternity, while Shawna and I indulged in taste testing various flavours of liqueors and raki (well it was noon somewhere!). It was very hot so we would often find mom and dad sitting in a shady spot while we roamed around.

As we arrived to the beach town of Sissi, we made our way through the narrow streets to our villa. Audrey, the property manager, met us there. She is an enchanting person, full of life, very friendly, and helpful. After showing us around and sharing some information she left and we were on our own to divide up the rooms. The best part? Every bedroom has air-conditioning!!! After unpacking, Shawna, Curtis, and I went off in search of a supermarket where we picked up a few necessities. We were soon back and enjoyed sitting around the warm pool lined with palm trees on one side and a large olive grove filled with the sounds of cicadas.

Again, much of our week was spent relaxing under the hot Cretan sun, punctuated by half-day trips to various places in the area. In this villa our pool area is out front and beyond that is a beautiful pergola, outdoor grill, and a magnificent stone bar, complete with a huge refrigeration unit! Talk about living the life! Guess what my husband wants to build 😊? Another party night ensued with some of the boys heading off to town. Antics were shared and laughed about the next day and for several days to follow as they regaled us with their experience of Greek karaoke. Several times after that night when we were in town, young Greek men would greet them with big smiles, recognizing them from that night.

Shawna, Steve, Garret, Shawna, Curtis and myself headed into town one morning in order to visit the butcher. Audrey had told us that they would cut the meat right in front of us and since the grocery stores only stocked frozen meat we were anxious to have something fresh to barbecue. We ventured into the tiny shop only to find that the display case was empty of meat. Confused, we left and went next door where a butcher sign was also displayed. This shop was closed up and looked like it had been so for a while. We went back to the first one where we had one of our funniest experiences. The "butcher" was a young man in his early 20's. He was very sweaty and a bit slovenly. When we asked him if he had meat he just looked at us and said, "Huh?". Now to truly understand how he said this you must raise one nostril, making your voice quite nasally and have a look of total confusion on your face. He picked up the phone right away and made a call. When he was done we said, "Do you have chicken?". Off he goes to a big walk in refrigerator and comes out with a whole chicken in his hand! We just kind of stood there and looked at each other. Through hand gestures we indicated that we wanted it cut up into pieces. Another couple of "huhs?" later and he flopped it unceremoniously down on the large barrel shaped butcher block and pulled out, what turned out to be, a very dull cleaver. He then began to literally hack the chicken apart. While chopping he turned his back to us where we were treated to the largest amount of "crack" you have ever seen as he pants rode down and his shirt up!!! We all had to walk away, bursting with laughter. Evidently hygiene was of very little significance to him as he never washed his hands once throughout the whole ordeal! Once it was butchered, he weighed it. We asked him how much it costs to which we received another "Huh?". After a bit we found the whole chicken was only 9 euros so then we asked him to do another one for us where we were entertained once more by his lack of skill and view of places that shouldn't be seen in public! After this one was wrapped up and weighed we thought we would ask if he had any other kinds of meat. Each time we asked for something we received

Dad Standing in the Shade
the usual look and grunted answer followed by a "No". We asked for sausages, pork, beef, and lamb (to which I made a baaing noise and he just looked at me somewhat stupefied). When we went up to pay he rang in the amount (didn't wash his hands) and drops of perspiration were dropping off his brow onto the floor. Let's just say we boiled the chicken before grilling it. Every time, for the next few days that we saw him he was still wearing the same clothes! Our best guess is that he was NOT the actual butcher but just the guy watching the store. The phone call he made was likely to the actual butcher who told him to just cut it up. That evening we grilled our "chicken chunks" and laughed at our experience.

One morning everyone, except Amy and I (she wasn't feeling well) headed off to explore the Palace of Knossos. The first palace of Knossos was built in 1900 BC but was later destroyed by an earthquake around 1700 BC and later rebuilt on a grander scale. It was partially destroyed once more between 1500 and 1450 BC and it was another 50 years before it finally burned down. The new palace, built in its place was constructed to meet the needs of a "complex society". They wandered throughout the palace ruins, getting glimpses of remnants of what it must have looked like hundreds of years ago.

Another day had us travelling to Agia Nikolaos which stands on the shores of Mirabello Bay. We found a place to park and walked down to the harbour, another spot lined with places to dine. It was stifling and we soon found mom and dad a restaurant under a cooling fan while we went off to find the market. This weekly market was situated on a hill, a hard walk in the heat. There were tables filled with dresses, t-shirts, and trinkets. Of course the produce was right up at the top! We purchased some tomatoes and several varieties of olives before heading back to our cars. Our next destination was Plaka. To reach this beach village we travelled through the mountains. As we climbed hills and made more hairpin turns on narrow roads we were treated to the most beautiful view of the water far below. When we reached the bottom we went to the Delphini Restaurant right on the water. We sat and enjoyed the view of Spinalonga Island, a former leper colony, made famous by the television series To Nisi and the novel, The Island. Lunch was another spread of good food, however the service was interesting. Several had finished eating before others even received their meals! Nonetheless we thoroughly enjoyed everything! Later we found the actual butcher shop where we received freshly chopped, thick pork chops that were to die for!

One evening everyone but Mom, Dad and Amy, walked into town to do some shopping and to have a crepe while enjoying in the cooler temperatures. We were welcomed by the chef to walk through the kitchen on our way to the main part. We all enjoyed delicious chocolate and banana crepes. Shawna and I then made reservations at this place for Garret's birthday dinner. The chef was lovely and we affectionately named her, "Mama". She asked where we were from and when we told her Canada, she said, "Wow, very far away!". We soon headed back to villa via a dark road.

Our final place to explore was Malia, a lively beach town a few kilometres down the coast. We wandered through the quiet streets of the old town, snapping pictures of the beautiful houses that boasted gorgeous bougainvilla cascading down the sides. On our way out we stopped at a fish market to buy some large prawns for our final meal the next night along with buying some soaps and olive oil.

One afternoon around the pool my mom suddenly let out a yell as something wet rained down on her. My dad said it was nothing but her imagination. This happened several other times. She was sitting beneath one of the small palm trees. Shawna and I went over to sit with her and shortly after she got sprayed once again, this time I watched it happen. It continued to occur every 5 minutes or so. Now there was a cicada sitting on the trunk and so Mom googled info about them. It was then we found out that the water was not coming down the leaves as we assumed. No, it was the cicada urinating on her!!! We nearly died with laughter, tears filling our eyes as we watched it actually stream out of the critter's body!!!

Thursday evening we went in
Drinking Bora, Bora Drinking Bora, Bora Drinking Bora, Bora

Happy 13th Birthday
to "Mama's" restaurant for Garret's 13th birthday dinner. They had set up the table and had a birthday banner and bows decorating where he was to sit. The meal was fantastic and he was even given a gift of a wine stopper and hand made bowl. He and I went over to thank her for their kindness. She exuberantly kissed Garret and told him the gifts were so that he would always remember Crete. After kissing and hugging me as well and wishing us all the best we strolled the streets for a while before heading back to the villa.

Our final day began with Dad, Curtis and I chatting with the pool guy, Wayne. He told us that last winter they had snow in the mountains, sleet down below and that the Greeks froze! That day was spent going in to town to the "real" butcher for delicious kebabs and picking up last minute souvenirs. Bill, Bob, Kellan, and Sadie ventured off to check out a nearby beach while the rest of us lounged around, enjoying our last day around the pool. That evening we grilled up an octopus (which my brother-in-law had on his head earlier), the prawns, and kebabs.

We had an amazing time in Greece. From the busy, historical city of Athens to the laid back atmosphere of Crete, we can't say enough of how beautiful the landscape and how wonderfully friendly and charming the Greek people are. We had lots of laughs, drinks, good food, and plenty of sunshine. The sights on this island are absolutely glorious, from the white mountains of Crete to the brilliant blue water, which was as clear as glass at the shore. We will miss the loud sounds of cicadas ringing out from the break of dawn until the sun went down each day. We will miss buying freshly made tzatziki and pounds of feta and olives. We will miss being able to slip into the warm water of the pool in order to cool off. We will miss the outdoor grill and huge dinners around the table each evening. There are so many things we will miss, but we are bringing home so many memorable moments and experiences as a family that we will forever treasure.

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