As we settled into our economic no frills hotel apartment in Crete (near Heraklion) we were ready for a week of beach and waves and sun. Little did we know that we would meet some of the most interesting people of our whole travels here.
To begin with the owner of Mike's Apartments greeted us asking where my partner was from... Colombia - little did we know that Columbia had just defeated Greece during the World Cup game! Mike pointed his finger and said "I don't like you."with his heavy Greek accept. I chimed in that I was American and surely Greece would beat us! Mike replied that he did like me. from that moment we knew we would be having some interesting encounters with Mike.
Our relationship grew with Mike over the week. He was warm and funny and very helpful. He introduced us to his daughter and girlfriend; he shared his wonderful homemade raki with us, and fed us the most delicious olives and other tasty treats. We even had the opportunity to celebrate St. John's Day with him and his daughter.
St. John's Day was a simple celebration that included taking the flowers that had been gathered on the first of May, digging a shallow hole on the beach to put the flowers in, set the flowers on fire, leap over the flames. Eat dinner. Drink raki.
Getting to know Mike and his family and the waiters at our local restaurant where we always ate or drank at (it was connected to the apartment building after all) coupled with the fact that all we did for the week was enjoy the beaches prompted us to stay an extra week thanks to the blessing of a flexible schedule.
In the second week, we rent a car to tour the island and see the sights. Our rental agent, Dimitri, was a wild eyed Greek who had an opinion about all the things we should see. But most important to him was visiting his friend Nickolas who owned a restaurant with authentic Greek food cooked on the open fire in a stone oven. His restaurant was in the mountains near a 2,000 year old tree and on the way to the birth place of Zeus... yes, that Zeus.
The twisty turny road led us up and up and up. The Fiat with the duct tape key and navigation system which did not understand the multiple ways the Greek language were translated into English (spelling really does count kids when talking to machines!) handled the curves quite nicely and was small enough to pass the large buses coming at us from the opposite direction.
Driving into the appointed town, we saw three restaurants on the square. But one of them had staff waving at us to park. So we did... we spied the wood burning oven and the well in the front (clues we received from Dimitri) and sure enough Nickolas approached us and "Did Dimitri send you?"
" Yes... yes he did."