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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

The Island of Crete: Local discoveries & travel tips.

Taking the car for a ride around South-Eastern Crete is … a very good idea indeed. As with many popular Mediterranean destinations, I have been warned about the signs of mass tourism in Crete, the countless hotels, the shopping streets – exactly a reason not to travel there. However, the East of Crete, the largest among the Greek islands, just under an hour’s flight from Athens, does offer alternatives. There are many “small beaches” left, i.e. lots of short beach sections with only a handful of people, some of them even offering excavations of ancient temples & towns, mostly free to access. Add to this, a feeling of “local siesta” in the nearby towns and villages, and you will get an authentic feel for what Crete is, or can be, all about: When, I muse right then and there, will I be able to come back ..?

Magische Küstenstraßen in Kreta ...

Check it out: “Roadtrip feeling” in Crete …

 

... dazu einsame Strände wie aus dem Bilderbuch ...

… plus empty beaches, such as this one just a little bit north of the famous palm beach Vai …

 

... und ein Gefühl von Gemütlichkeit, übersetzt in die Sprache der Einheimischen: Hier, im kleinen Ort

… as well as a feeling of unhurried-ness, local comfort & welcome: Palekastro in Eastern Crete.

 

If there’s one place not to be missed, it’s “Moni Toplou”, or Toplou Abbey in the very East of Crete, close to the small town of Siteia.

And this brings me all the way to why I have travelled here in the first place: From Thessaloniki to Athens, from Corinth to Kalamata and now to Crete, I have been sent to research, and assist with, the development of sustainable cultural tourism in Greece. A huge task, only possible thanks to a network of excellent friends and colleagues in support. Greece, and Crete of course, is a fascinating tapestry of local area identities, (his)stories, and monuments worthy of your visit – and of being preserved for future generations to come. What an honour, therefore, to be sent here supporting the EU and Greece in researching such prominent places as Toplou Abbey in the East of Crete, among others. Check this out:

 

Dazu zählen umliegende Strandabschnitte wie der von Vai, ganz im (Nord)Osten der Insel Kreta ...

Vai Beach, in North-Eastern Crete …

 

... mit seinem berühmten Palmenhain ...

… features a peculiar palm tree forest, protected and respected by its guests …

 

... oder Strand (und Stadt) von Siteia, ebenfalls im Nordosten Kretas gelegen.

… in close proximity to the city of Siteia …

 

Nicht verpassen dürft Ihr diese Köstlichkeit(en) hier:

… where, just as anywhere in Crete, you should treat yourself to a delicious local version of “Dakos”, featuring fresh sweet tomatoes, flavoursome olive oil, creamy feta cheese, as well as lots and lots of herbs served on a bed of dry rye bread … oooh, I’m so hungry for it again!

 

Das Kloster Toplou selbst bietet dazu den entsprechenden Wein ...

Toplou Abbey has the wine to go with …

 

... und bei der Überprüfung der Trauben des Klosters mit dem Abt höchstpersönlich ...

… and being shown around by the abbot himself …

 

... sowie beim Rundgang durch das Kloster mit meinen griechischen Kollegen, spüre ich die Offenheit und Begegnungsqualität hier ganz deutlich.

… as well as right inside the monastery walls, I feel an aura of welcome and openness in this beautiful place.

 

Danke für diesen herzlichen Empfang hier im Kloster Toplou in Kreta !!

Thank you so much for this warm welcome and our precious talk !!

 

Do not miss the two towns Ierapetra and Mirtos, on the South Coast of Crete, either: Especially Mirtos will have you fall in love.

Stopping at the traffic lights in Ierapetra and what do I see? A sign saying “Mirtos”, 14 kilometres. My eyes light up at the memory of having read my dear friend & fellow travel blogger’s article about it, not too long ago: What a sweet coincidence! I know I must go, and thus having finished all work and meetings for the day, I land myself in Mirtos, in what is perhaps one of the last “untouched” and authentic Cretan villages in the age of mass tourism. There is but one small parking here, no big hotels, an estimated number of a few hundred local people, many of which offer private accommodation, and some local shops, restaurants, as well as a little beach promenade. The beach itself is neither very full, nor empty. Everything feels just about right. It takes only half an hour for me to decide to stay here. Lovely. Check this out.

Spontan sein heißt : Gerne auch mal beim Gemüse- und Olivenöl-Händler um die Ecke kanisterweise flüssiges Gold einkaufen ..!

Don’t miss out on buying heaps of the “liquid gold” Cretan olive oil straight off the local producers, while you can ..!

 

Ruhige, bunte Straßen ...

… a midday stroll through some of the quiet backstreets …

 

... zieren mein Ortserlebnis von Mirtos ...

… the lovely, colourful flair of Mirtos …

 

... die Strandpromenade ...

… a stop at one of the beach bars in Mirtos, looking out onto the sea and all the way south towards the African coastline ..!

 

Auch die Weinregionen im Zentrum der Insel Kreta sind von hier aus in gut einer Stunde Fahrzeit leicht zu erreichen:

Wines, too, are big in Crete: The network “Wines of Crete” features well sign-posted roads leading to some of the island’s most prominent wineries.

 

Ierapetra selbst hat mich dann noch mit diesen charmanten Herren hier zusammengebracht :

Ierapetra then had me meet with the Archbishop of Ierapetra himself, as well as Professor Kopanakis of the BIC research institute, one of the most exciting work meetings during my entire research time in Crete & Greece!

 

Last but not least, I would like to share a few more personal travel tips with you …

… all of them hand-picked, or should I say, “hand-lived”? Among them is the tiny little village of Myrsini, located pretty much halfway between Agios Nikolaus and Siteia, in north-eastern Crete. If you are familiar with Crete, you might have heard of it before; to me, however, Myrsini represents some of the essence of a traditional Cretan lifestyle still untouched and unchanged. No wannabes in this 200-people-town, what with nature being centre stage …

... um beim Blick auf solche Sonnenuntergänge beispielsweise anzukommen.

… to playing out magical sunsets like these.

 

Vielen Dank, liebe Marina, dass Du mir diese Bar, diesen Ort, diese Eindrücke ermöglicht hast!

Thank you so much, dear Marianna, for having shared your beautiful home with me on this trip!

 

Weiters hinzu kommt das entzückende kleine Hafenviertel von Agios Nikolaus ...

Do make sure you wander around Agios Nikolaus and its pretty little harbour, too …

 

... die herzlichen Erinnerungen an den Besuch des klösterlichen Weinkellers mit dem Abt von Moni Toplou ...

… love recalling my meetings with the abbot at Toplou Abbey …

 

... sowie einfach nur, der Blick auf den Hafen und die alte Stadtmauer in Heraklion: Kreta, ich sag' es Euch wie es ist, zahlt sich einfach zu jeder Jahreszeit aus!

… as well as simply gazing out across the old town and harbour walls of Heraklion, the island’s capital city.

 

Want some more? Here you go … 🙂

 

See you soon in beautiful Crete!

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

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Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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