Three days ago we drove up the coast road of Crete from Heraklion to the port of Chania. Four days ago this old Florida Boy thought he knew how an orange is supposed to taste. Today life just tastes better in an oft disappointing world.
We arrived in Heraklion via Aegean Air last week on a blustery Wednesday evening. My family, our small Pamil Visions PR team, we had been anticipating the trip for some time, years actually. So the small airport and a seaward cross wind exiting the Airbus aircraft were of no great surprise. What was a tiny bit surprising, was the driver waiting with our names on a sign waiting to pick us up. Then the phone call from the owner of Lato Boutique Hotel, our friend Lefteris Karatarakis, would begin an ongoing explanation of why there’s a special word for the people of Crete. “Filoxenia” is often used to describe a special character of the Cretan people.
The term means being friendly to foreigners/strangers/visitors, and as we’ve already found, it applies to everyone we’ve met on this wondrous Island. More on Heraklion’s most visible and noted hotel, and a city so surprising later. For now, let me tell you more about real people, real orange Juice, and long lost remembrances.
For those who have oft traveled, the actuality of a place is quite often a disappointment. In the case of the Cliffs and panoramas of the Cretan Sea we have seen in pictures of Crete, the twisting road from Heraklion, through Rethymnon, and on to Chania is a delightfully expected realization. The aquamarine of the Mediterranean here laps the sand and rock of this arid Island lovingly, the mountains dive into the sea, great olive and orange groves surround the little human habitats dot the countryside here and there. And yes, a flock of sheep or two highlight the explorative experience too.
As beautiful as this Island is, like most places you will visit, it is the people who are really impressive. Filoxenia, that Crete word for our hosts here, not even this conveys what it is like to stop and buy oranges from one of the kindly women sitting on the roadside. To share a bit of that, the reader may identify with grandmotherly figures, genuine smiles, and giving gestures. What a wonderful people the Cretans are, not at all like Greeks are so often portrayed these days in the press. When this hard working lady handed our son Paul Jules and orange, the glances exchanged, let’s just say we all cried a happy tear over genuine kindness. As for oranges, I’ll certify you’ve never tasted better, no matter where you are from.
By now, 100 such instances havé already astonished our little crew. For the first time traveler to Crete this information will prepare you for a place more welcoming than you imagined. We’ll keep you on the edge of your seat for now though, Crete and those filoxenic inhabitants are calling this writer today.
Kalimera for now, but here’s a video that reflects the Chania countryside with humor.