Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crete - Eating in Plaka and Almyrida

My family loves to eat. I would almost go so far as to say that we live to eat but perhaps I should exercise a little restraint... Anyhow,  getting to eat all the great Greek dishes was a major factor in our choice of destination.  Generally, the food in this region gets a big "thumbs up" from me because I could happily eat fresh bread, olives and lamb chops all day, every day.  We didn't take any pictures of our meals because...I guess we were too busy eating and I always feel weird about taking pictures in restaurants but trust me, you wont be sorry if you eat in these restaurants.

While all the Tarvenas near the village square in Plaka will deliver good food and a gorgeous atmosphere, Elpis gets our vote for lunch and early dinners. They have the best freshly baked bread and their chicken (served with honey and oranges) and lamb chops are so well marinated and moist without being over cooked. Also tried and approved are the liver with apples and onions that blew my husband's mind.  You can always tell when things are freshly made and with good, natural produce. They also have a great garden and playground so we could watch our daughter burn off some of that "toddler high" while we waited for our dinner. The service there was excellent and the owner, seemed to know everyone by name and by the 2nd night we felt like regulars.

Our favorite place to have breakfast in all of Plaka and Almyrida is Francoise ( by the beach in Almyrida). From the name, you can rightly guess that they aren't exactly serving Cretan food but my goodness, the french toast is amazing !!  You could get a good english fry up with baked beans and tomatoes or a simple yet strangely addictive croissant, both with huge freshly squeezed orange juice and fantastic coffee. The owner, Mira was lovely with our daughter and brought her a special kiddie plate and high chair.  You also have free Wifi and an english language library so I got to catch up on all the in-depth UK tabloid reporting ( don't judge, tabloids are great on vacation anywhere). Francoise is also great for sandwiches, smoothies, cocktails and all round chilling out in the evening.

We tried a few other places but kept coming back to these two. What can I say, we know what we like.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Visiting Crete - Plaka & Almyrida Edition

Kalimera guys !! That's good morning / good day in Greek.

We are here in Crete and its beyond wonderful, I want to say its "amaze balls ". The water is so unbelievably blue and the views ? Breathtaking.  At times like this, I curse my inadequate photography skills...(shakes fist at sky) and I wish you could see how really beautiful the Atlas mountains look from my bedroom window.

This morning, we jumped in our little rental car (standard here = compact in the US) and went in search of breakfast and the local supermarket.

Plaka is a pretty small village located uphill from the seaside town of Almyrida and its the perfect place for a quiet, beautiful beach vacation. The village square is the center of the social life in Plaka and most of the restaurants are located around it. There's also a pretty good supermarket but all the real amenities are 5 minutes away in Almyrida.

Almyrida is rather busy and has many tourist amenities but in a good way. So, no Starbucks or McDonald's but many locally run small cafes and restaurants.  There is a also a pharmacy, butcher, laundromat, bank and large supermarket so pretty much all you need for a self catered holiday.

The town also has a lovely beach within walking distance.

Great for swimming

Or digging,

Or just paddling around,

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Crete with a Toddler - Where to stay?

Traveling with a toddler has its own special set of challenges.  Gone are those blissful days when I could just strap her into my Baby Bjorn and be on my merry way, stopping only to nurse.  She slept through hours on the plane, brunches, garden parties and even open air concerts.

My daughter now needs loads of entertainment, exercise and space to explore. She also only sleeps well on her own (probably because we moved her out of our room at 6 months) and so this makes sharing a hotel room a bit tricky.

After a sleepless long weekend in Prague earlier this year, we decided that our days of staying at design boutique hotels would go the way of sleeping in on weekends - a thing of the past that seems so impossible now, that I'm not sure it ever really happened. So, its goodbye hotels and hello, holiday apartment rentals.

After we settled on Crete as a destination, I spent endless hours trying to chose a place that worked for our family. We needed at least 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, washing machine (essential because my daughter still runs through at least three changes of clothes a day), a pool and close proximity to the beach.

We had our doubts since we had never used this rental company before but it was exactly as described on the website.

Welcome to our temporary home in Plaka, Crete.

 The view from the upstairs terrace.

The Cretan sunset on our first evening in Plaka.

We debated long and hard about having a pool because well, the obvious risks with toddlers near water  but we really wanted our daughter to start learning to swim.  In the end, we brought along a portable baby gate for her room and will make sure all the doors leading outside are locked at night.  And can I just say, from the look on her face when she saw it, it was the right decision.

Fun times full speed ahead !

Friday, June 14, 2013

Two weeks in Crete, Greece.

Next week, we are heading off to the beautiful island of Crete on holiday. I'm so excited to be in the sun as Bremen weather has really been a disappointment this year.  This will be my first time in Crete and I'm looking forward to visiting all the small towns, eating yummy Cretan delicacies and just generally recharging the old batteries.

Via Real wanderlust

Crete is the biggest island in Greece and its weather is somewhat between North African and Mediterranean, yippee. It also has loads of gorgeous mountains, gorges,warm blue seas (the Aegean on the south and Mediterranean in the east) so its perfect for hiking, bird watching and beach bumming.

Culturally, Crete has so much to offer from really great museums and historic monuments to great art, fashion and design.  I'm really looking forward to visiting the towns of Chania and Rethymno for their fantastic shops and old venetian harbor towns.  Fans of history and Greek mythology will be thrilled to hear that Crete is also home to Knossos which is an amazing archaeological site and the center of Minoan civilization.

The island is pretty large and has so many interesting sites, so we decided to split our time between the eastern and the western parts of the Island.  For the first week, we will be based in Plaka, a small village near the beach and about 20 minutes from the city of Chania.  The next week, we will be in the soft welcoming arms of the St. Nicolas Bay resort in Agios Nikolaos.

I'm off to do some ruthless packing as we are flying with Ryanair (lord, give me strength) so just the essentials !  I hope the internet access is good so I can blog from the beach.  Any restaurant recommendations will be seriously appreciated.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Flea Market - Arm Chair

Its finally flea market season in my city and I'm torn.
I love flea markets and the discovery of new - old things but I have a serious follow through problem. You know, where you buy that old cupboard and tell yourself that you will spend the next week stripping, repainting and polishing it to its full shabby chic glory but erm, its three months later and nothing. Or the antique tea set that just needs a spot of cleaning and polishing( why is polishing always involved) and its ready for fabulous garden tea parties?  Do you guys know what I mean? Anyone? It cant just be me, can it ? 

Looks sheepishly into the blogosphere.

Anyhow, i visited our local flea market last week and while i mostly managed to avoid temptation, here's what I got for 20 Euros.

I can change, this time it'll be different. Why? Because I am armed. With tons of inspiration pics and an easy- peasy tutorial on arm chair uphosltery,  I can turn my sad looking chair with good bones into this:

Or this,

Or even this.

I have some Kilim fabric from my trip to Marrakesch and that might just do the trick.  But first, I have to figure out how much fabric I need to upholster this chair. Any ideas?

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Precious.

Envy is an ugly emotion. It makes you want to take something that belongs to someone else and try to keep it for yourself.

This was the exact feeling that washed over me last weekend when I laid my eyes on the slice of gorgeousness dangling from the delicate wrist of my friend at our sunday brunch date in Hamburg.

Okay, so I'm not proud of it, but maybe you'll understand when you see these pieces designed by Marjana von Berlepsch.

The "Mogul" is a leather adjustable bracelet with faceted gemstones plated in silver and 18 carat gold, with citrine, brown and blue chalcedony and a little bit of rose quartz.  And I want her. Now. To dress up my denim and flats uniform for the school run and add a little personality to my business suit and pumps.

Just so that she won't be lonely, I might just have to bring these along too.

At around 300 Euros, she doesn't come cheap so it'll have to be a treat for when I've been good or very bad..