Crete Beach

We have spent the last couple of days at the beach. It is about a 10 minute drive down the mountain from our Villa. They have chairs set up that we rented, and we spent the day hanging in the water and lounging on the beach (or doing as much lounging as James will allow).

The beach is very large and the water is so clear. Also, it’s a bit warmer than the water in Naxos.

Today, we decided to go to Balos Beach. This beach is typically only reached by a dirt rode and very long hike down the mountain (followed by the inevitable hike back up). However, we were able to take a boat/ jet ski to the beach. Justin and James rode on the jet ski, and I rode in the boat.

It was about 30 minutes to Balos Beach. It was a beautiful ride around the mountains on the Crete coast. James was loving the jet ski ride after being a little hesitant at first.

It was overall a great day, with one little hiccup. On the way back with the jet skis, James busted his face and lip. He looked pretty beat up when we arrived. Of course, he blamed his dad’s driving.

We closed out the day with an incredible meal at Captain Nicolas.


The ferry was about 2 hours behind schedule to pick us up from Naxos. Not too big of a deal, but it did make our arrival in Crete later than we had hoped. Justin upgraded our ferry tickets to the “platinum” level for this ride since it was longer (about 3 hours), but it went by really fast.

The platinum level really wasn’t anything fancy except that we had a big table where we got to play cards. James enjoyed 2 pieces of pizza followed by a donut and the time flew by.

Donut sugar high
Iodine swabs that we put in our nose for the ferry ride. We didn’t wear masks (they were not required). James refused the iodine. Whatever

When we got to Crete, it was about 9:30pm. Our rental car was waiting for us at the Port. After a brief explanation about the car, we were on our way. It was about an hour and 15 minutes to Rethymno. The drive would have been fine during the day, buy it was a little nerve racking at night due to the lack of street lights.

We got to our hotel, The Ionia Suites, just after 11pm. James was passed out in the backseat. The hotel was very nice and in a great part of town. We unloaded our stuff and went to bed.

After a nice breakfast, we checked out of the hotel (the was quick) and walked around Rethymno. It has a large beach and an “old town area.”

One quick thing that I have noticed about the Greek people that we have come across (whether in hotel, restaurant, shop etc) is that they are extremely generous. You never feel “nickel and dimed.” They are always throwing in some kind of freebie. Almost all of the meals have ended with a free dessert. The Ionia Suites gave us some handmade coasters. The ceramics shop gave us a magnet.

Free handmade coasters
Old Town Rethymno

After we left Rethymno, it was time to head in the direction of our Villa for the next 5 night. We had one stop along the way at Lake Kournas. This is a fresh water lake between some mountains. We rented a paddle boat and enjoyed the beautiful views.

After a bit of confusion, we finally made it to our Villa.

We are looking forward to hanging in Crete as we close out the last leg out our Greek vacay.

Swimsuit Optional

The main thing that happened yesterday is that we seemed to stumble across a nude beach. Or perhaps that’s the norm, and we were just staying in a more conservative area? Either way, we decided to walk down Plaka beach from Villa Paradise towards an ice cream shop that was recommended to us from a family that James takes karate with. At first it was just a few nude people, but then the number seemed to increase. I’m talking fully nude. Men, women, good body, bad body….. all if it hanging out.

James didn’t say anything (surprisingly), but we decided to turn back before he got too much of an eyeful. I quickly explained that different cultures do different things, and tried to play it cool. He didn’t question it, and we went on our way.

Today, we take a ferry ride to Crete. The ferry schedule is fairly….loose (as in, we are not EXACTLY sure when it’s going to arrive and leave). We turned in our rental car and sat at a cafe along the the water where we aTe a salad, Tzatziki, and drank some wine.

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but all of the food and wine is extremely reasonable. We got a liter of white wine for 12 euros.

The ferry to Crete is about 3 or 4 hours. We are staying in Rethinmo in Crete for just 1 night (about an hour and a half from the ferry).

The next day we are going to drive to the West side of Crete where we will stay 5 nights.

Then a flight to Athens did 1 night and back to New Orleans!

Everything is going great so far. We have loved Naxos.

Some thoughts on blogging….

So, I have some mixed feelings about blogging/ social media posting. On the one hand, the blog gives me the opportunity to keep a journal of sorts on all of our travels. On the other hand, as an introvert, who can’t stand narcissistic influencers (not that I put myself in that category) and “over-sharers”, I’m kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I’m aware that the things that I have the opportunity to do are unique and a privilege. Maybe people want to see them? Maybe people are thinking, “this braggy bitch thinks she is better than us?”

I don’t know.

I do know that in light of the recent school shooting, it feels icky to post on social media right now.

So here is James…… just being James

I’m trying to hold on to this innocence for as long as possible and keep him sheltered from actual reality.

Beach Days and Old Towns

We spent the last couple of days in Naxos hanging at the beach and visiting some old towns. Surprisingly, the water is not as cold as it felt on the first evening we arrived. We all enjoyed swimming in the super clear water.

The villa has some chairs set up, so it was very simple to spend the day lounging on the beach. They even had some snorkel equipment that James could use. There aren’t any real reefs to check out, but James liked swimming around and looking at the few fish that passed by. There is no current and the water is super calm.

After the beach, we went to “old Town” Naxos and visited Apollo’s temple and ended the day with dinner by the water.

Apollo’s temple
At first, they sent out 3 limoncellos…. then realized James is a kid and traded it out for Satsuma syrup.
Cocktails with Citron (liquor of Naxos)

Quick little aside about breakfast at Villa Paradise. It is soooo good. There is no menu. They just start bringing things out. Justin said that it was a little extra to get breakfast included (like 28 euros/ day) but super reasonable. We have enjoyed it so much and learned that James is a huge fan of Greek yogurt with honey and Quince marmalade. They also bring out fresh fruit, eggs, pastries, bread, and mini pancakes.

One more thing…… this villa smells like Jasmine, and I don’t want to leave.

Naxos Adventures

Today we spent a great day exploring Naxos.

First, we ate breakfast at our rental (which is included in the stay). The wonderful property manager, Stefanos, serves the breakfast and does a great job making you feel relaxed and taken care of. He brought out a beautiful bread basket with pastries, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with honey, muesli, and Quince marmalade, plus scrambled eggs. It was all wonderful and a great start to a long day.

Breakfast views

After breakfast, we headed out to explore the island. Our first stop was Demetres Temple. I believe it was built in 560 bc (or around that) as a temple to a God for fertile land.

Next, we stopped at a handmade pottery/ ceramics shop. They had beautiful vases, flower pots, mugs etc. We bought a few things and watched the potter make a vase. Of course, James suggested that we order him a pottery wheel from Amazon when we get back. I’m sure the results will be about the same

After that, we stopped at a town called Chalki. We stopped at a distillery that makes an alcohol called Citron out of the leaves of a fruit plant.

3 different colors of Citron: green, clear, and yellow to designate the alcohol content.

We also stopped in a shop and sampled some Greek candies and honey.

After that, we headed to lunch at Poterou. It was a strange time (around 2-2:30). The place was empty with just an older Greek gentleman in there. He said that he could make us a Greek salad with some Tzatziki. Perfect. It hit the spot. James pretty much just ate a loaf of bread, but whatever. At the end, he brought out a complimentary dessert. It was a candied fruit (like a lemon rind) in a sweet syrup. I don’t know what it was, but we all loved it.

James with his dessert.

After lunch, we visited another town called Apiranthos. This is referred to as the marble town because all the walkways are made of marble stones.

Our next stop was Kouros. Here, there is an artifact statue. According to James, he was be excited to see this.

On our way back down the mountain, we saw a marble quarry. It’s hard to see in the picture, but I can’t imagine how many counter top slabs were cut out of this mountain.

Lastly, it was time for dinner. We ate at Georgis. It is a charming restaurant where husband and wife are the chef and waitor. It was delicious and we left totally stuffed. They even made James some fresh squeezed lemonade.

Top: complimentary fava puree, grilled bread, eggplant with red sauce and cheese.
Bottom: cheeses from Naxos

James eating the eggplant starter. I’m so proud of all the different foods he is trying.
Complimentary dessert: Greek orange pie (it was delicious). After a quick Google search, it’s made with yogurt, egg, phyllo, orange, and spices.

Back to the rental where James jumped in the pool for a little while then took a bath.

I think we are going to take it a little slower tomorrow and spend the first part of the day hanging at the beach.

Travel to Naxos

We spent the rest of the time in Santorini relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views. James and I did some souvenir shopping and Justin took some long walks to take pictures. Overall, we had a wonderful time and none if us were ready to leave. My favorite part was sitting on the upper deck in the morning drinking coffee and enjoying the incredible scenery. There was also some great people watching.

James loved the little loft that he slept in. It was his special nook.

The food has been incredible. Vine leaves, tzatziki, meatballs, octopus. We are eating it all.

On the last evening, Justin took out his tripod, and we attempted to take some family pictures of the three of us. We MAYBE got a couple good ones. We spent most of the time laughing.

We took a ferry from Santorini to Naxos. It was alot like hearding cattle to get everyone on the boat, but it was mostly organized chaos and an uneventful trip. It was about an hour and a half ride. James got something to eat, which he enjoyed.

Waiting for the boat
Enjoying his pizza sandwich on the ferry

Our car rental meet us at the Port, and we drive to the Villa Paradise where we are staying in Naxos. It is absolutely beautiful. Naxos is known for its beaches and there are plenty of them.

Stefanos, the property manager checked us in and showed us to our room. The only small issue was lugging my huge suitcase up the many steps. Stefanos (who is somewhere in the 50-60 year range) threw that suitcase on his shoulder and powered up the stairs. Wow.

The villa is gorgeous with 3 bedrooms, an infinity pool, AND a washing machine (no dryer).

Sunset views from the villa

We got something to eat (over ordered as usual) and hit the supermarket for the essentials: water, wine, and coffee.

A quick visit to the beach before the sun goes down. The water is freezing.

Looking forward to exploring this island!

Greece 2022

International travel with James…… it’s been a while. But, when Justin pitched the idea of Greece, I thought it would be a great trip to bring him on. He is much older and MUCH easier than he was when we went to Spain/ France in October 2016. He carries his own suitcase and tends to his own things (mostly).

On the way there, we went from Dallas to London to Santorini. I’m sure Justin will give alot more detail on the trip/ flight planning, but I’m glad our “points fairy” could figure out a way to get us first class/ business class status. It just makes life easier and more comfortable. I know that we are very lucky.

There was a Harry Potter store in the London airport, so, obviously, we had to visit that.

Harry Potter store, Heathrow

It was an uneventful trip to Santorini. James and I probably slept a solid 3 hours of the 9 hour flight. It’s about 4 hours from London to Santorini, and James slept most of them, so not much to report there.

I would have to be put in traction if I slept in some of the positions that he sleeps in.

Justin arranged with the vacation rental for a driver to pick us up from the airport. We got to the rental without any trouble

We are very centrally located in the Oia area of Santorini. Directly outside our vacation rental seems to be a hot spot for selfies. Lots of good people watching.

Random woman taking a selfie right outside our rental…..not me 🤣🤣

We forced ourselves to stay awake with some walking around and an early dinner in order to avoid major jet lag issues. And, mostly, we were successful. James slept until 11 am the next day.

The following day, we were excited to get up and start exploring. We headed to the Ammoubi area which included a very steep downhill walk to the coast. Each view was more beautiful than the next.

📷 by James Ittmann

After walking around a bit by the coast, we got lunch at a restaurant by the water. We probably over ordered, but there is so much to try! We got Taramasala (fish roe dip), grilled feta, octopus, mussels, and Greek salad (along with some other things). Everything was so delicious and so fresh.

James trying mussels
Grilling up the fresh seafood
It doesn’t get fresher than this. Right off the boat to the restaurant.

So, after lunch we decided to take a taxi to Thira and attempt to walk back to Oia. Justin presented this as a 1.5-2 hour walk. Supposedly, this is a great thing to do with kids in Greece. Well, not my kid.

After about an hour of walking (largely uphill), Justin checked and we had only made it about a quarter of the way. That’s when the group started to fall apart. The idea of taking the bus back was presented, and after alot of internal struggle and a few tears, we decided to go to the bus station. Long story short, the bus didn’t work out, but we got a cab and made it back.

We hung out for a little while then it was off to dinner. We ate at Elinikon. We didn’t have reservations, but they squeezed us in early and said we had to be out by 7:20. No problem. We had some delicious hummus, stuffed grape leaves, calamari, and other things. Everything was delicious. I’m so proud of James for trying lots of new foods today. We were done in plenty of time and they even sent us off with a taste of sweet Greek wine.

We passed on dessert at the restaurant in favor of gelato at a nearby shop.

After that, James had his heart set on going to a souvenir shop to buy something that caught his eye yesterday.

I guess you can never have too many knives 🤷‍♀️

Overall, a very successful first full day!

I’m not sure how much I’m going to blog. Probably not every day, but maybe every other day. Looking forward to exploring this beautiful country.