Last May, my girlfriend and I spent two wonderful weeks in Crete. Visiting a vineyard, going to the beach and eating amazing food, but most of all, we didn’t rush. After all, Crete is just the kind of place where you lose sense of time. It is where I could just sit down, enjoy a glass of wine and look at the horizon, simply getting lost in my thoughts. A dreamer being a dreamer.
We stopped at the Lyrarakis vineyard, our first introduction to Cretan wine. Because of the heat, we didn’t visit the vineyards for long and quickly began sampling local grape varieties like Mandilari, Kotsifali and Vidiano. Nothing I was familiar with and most important, the wines were more than interesting : distinctive, aromatic and unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Cretans are really proud and the conversation quickly shifted to many topics. I would have talked for hours about the new scent and taste I was discovering, but our host had something else in mind.
Brief lessons of history and mythology followed. When the tasting was coming to an end and other attendees were leaving, we were asked to stay. New bottles were opened and we kept talking. The landscape, the mountains, the sea. We covered every subject. Then, the legend of Zeus being born in the caves of Mount Psiloritis...
As we were leaving, I felt it would be great if we could ascend part of it by car. After all, roads and houses were built at quite a high altitude meaning that it was reachable. What wrong could happen? After a quick stop at the beach of Agia Pelagia, we were on our way to the mountains.
I was slowly losing sense of time. Nice sights, music and all the good things you can imagine led us to ascend the mountains longer than expected. The one hour and a half ride felt like twenty minutes. At first, I was hoping to reach the convent of Agia Irini (St.Irene) which seemed to be easy enough to reach. We had to go up the mountain and take a connecting road down to the monastery. For a (long) moment, the view of the sea and the surroundings, more and more arid, were capturing our attention. So much that we never crossed that road and ended up way past the monastery!
Peak at 2,450 meters of altitude
At this altitude, we had a really nice view of the Psiloritis peaks standing in front of us. A white, majestic giant of the Mediterranean. Usually, it would have been exactly the kind of scenic place where you could just lay down on the grass with a nice bottle of wine, local cheese and bread. Well, we had none of the above, not even water! We didn’t stay long, as the notion of time rapidly came back to us when we realized that the GPS could not really find our location. 13 hours were now indicated for the time to descend! And, we had to get down before sunset.
On what we hoped was the right way back, we drove for about 30 minutes without any sign of life. As I remembered seeing a family having lunch outside, I was hoping that somehow we would magically land in front of their house again. And that’s exactly what happened! They were really friendly and took their time to explain to us how to get to the main road. We were on the right way.
When we finally got closer to sea level, the sea breeze quickly took us back to the Cretan notion of time: relaxed, unhurried and delightful. As life should be.
By Maxime Fortier