The Samaria gorge, located in west Crete in the White Mountains, is the second most visited tourist attraction on Crete (following the Minoan palace of Knossos) and it's definitely the most popular hike. The locals call it the “Farangas” or “Great Gorge," in admiration of its beauty and to differentiate it from the other smaller gorges of Crete. The Samaria gorge was continuously inhabited since antiquity. Due to the good quality of its wood and the greatness of the landscape, Samaria became a center of economic activity. Its timber was exported to Egypt and other countries and it is believed that pillars in the palaces of Knossos and Mycenae were made of cypress trees from Samaria. Ancient temples were found not only in the ancient city at the exit of the gorge, but in many places ... [Continue Reading]
When I was growing up and we traveled as a family, my father always got up early in the morning while we were all still sleeping. He'd go for an early morning walk alone before whatever town we were in truly woke up. He particularly lived boats and harbors, the funkier and more run down the better, even though he never went to sea. Often he'd come home from these outings with a local newspaper word that there was going to be fireworks or a county fair--or both--that very day, a cup of coffee from the local greasy spoon in his belly. When I travel, I love solo early morning walks alone. And I wanted to take you on one with me through these images: the Chania waterfront before the tourists, when all is still and the early morning light is soft on the harbor. The only people I saw this ... [Continue Reading]
This morning, as homework, I asked my students to write an ode to our home for the past four days, Milia Mountain Retreat. This is the ode that Jean West from Port Orange, Florida wrote: Even though I arrived when you were busy, quick hands extended fragrant coffee and toothsome cookies, making me feel as if it was a homecoming instead of a visit. You embraced me between arms of limestone and slate like my grandmother, earthy and earnest, and caressed me with herb-laden breezes and butterfly wings.
On my Write, Travel, Transform trips, I always begin by talking about some core attitudes that make traveling (and traveling in a group) more successful. One of these attitudes is flexibility and letting go of irritations and a second is respect for peoples' differences. I also ask people to take a risk every day. It can be a small risk, one that would be invisible or insignificant to others--like attempting a greeting in Greek, striking up a conversation with a local person, or trying an unfamiliar food. Or it can be be something bigger--sharing something intimate in writing class or going on a solo adventure. When I was explaining this concept to the group in our first orientation session, I gave the example of eating olives. All my life, I've hated olives. Don't ask me why. I pick ... [Continue Reading]