Efharisto is the Greek word for thank you, and we said it A LOT on this trip, because people were so nice! Each day, we continued to bond with the amazing hotel staff. There were lots of amazing people, but Roula, Elena, Christo, and Nikos were admittedly our favourites. While we’re on the subject, I can’t recommend the Royal Sun Hotel enough. Beautiful view, well-appointed room, welcoming staff, great food… it was everything we had hoped for. We gave up being right near the beach to get the view, and with the free shuttle into town it was completely worth it! And nope, no endorsements from the hotel, it was just that fantastic. 🙂
After a healthy serving of breakfast at the hotel, we caught the shuttle into town. From Chania Harbour, we walked along the coast and through town. Spring is the perfect time for this city, when vibrant flowers dot the coastline and the breeze is still refreshing. After about an hour and a half of walking, we found ourselves at what we thought was Iguana Beach. After all, we’d climbed over and around the two rock outcroppings that we remembered from the map. It was quiet and pristine, and we spent a couple of hours soaking up the sun, playing in the waves, and swimming around.
As the afternoon sun got a bit intense, it was back to town and to the hotel, where we found respite in our air conditioned hotel room 🙂 I think a mark of how great this vacation was is that we have very few photos! We left the good camera behind because we were determined that relaxing should also mean being present, and not spending too much time behind screens. We did notice a few beautiful flowers on the way for those of you craving more visuals 😉
When we got back to the beach, we learned that we’d actually never left the main beach: Neo Chora! We had zero clue how very long the beach was, and the two outcroppings we’d passed were miniature in comparison to the two we would have passed en route to Iguana, but we had a great time so no complaints from us!
We took our vow of relaxation to the max and did not leave the hotel all day. We napped, we watched Greek TV and tried to interpret (yes, it was as hilarious as you might imagine!), and we napped some more. When we finally made it out of the hotel around 8 pm, we spent a bit of time wandering the markets again.
This time, we picked up a set of Delphis ceramic bowls. Each piece is handmade and hand-painted with a unique design, carrying on the Byzantine traditions of their ancestors. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us: on each trip, we buy one special item that we can use at home, instead of going crazy with t-shirts and touristy purchases. In Luxembourg, it was the handmade wooden Christmas tree that we watched the artist make in front of us; in Scotland it was a wool blanket in my family tartan (MacKenzie); in Barcelona it was a ceramic toothbrush holder that was the perfect size for our tiny medicine cabinet.
As we emerged from the market onto the edge of the harbour, we were greeted by another sunset. It was almost surreal in its beauty- we took a couple of photos of each other and we look like we’ve been superimposed in front of a green screen or something!
Dinner was inspired by Elena, one of our two favourite servers at the hotel restaurant/bar. We asked for some local suggestions to get away from the mediocre harbour tourist traps and she really delivered. Salis is just a few minutes’ walk further east into the old harbour, and provided our favourite meal of the trip AND my favourite red wine of all time. Yes, all time. You probably want to go test this for yourself though, so you don’t have to take my word for it 😉
Our experience began with Soutzoukakia, a dish of grilled meatballs, served with a flavourful tomato sauce, cumin, and yogurt. We were hungry, and excited- so we forgot to take a photo 🙂 For our mains, I went with the Lamb Osso Buco, a slow roasted lamb served with truffle oil risotto. T chose the special: a perfectly cooked and seasoned steak, alongside a fresh salad topped with vinaigrette, and parsnip puree. While they were both fantastic dishes, T’s was the clear winner of the day. Every bite was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the flavours were expertly paired.
Dessert was a rich, chocolate covered salted caramel cake. It was a bit decadent, even for me, but everything was of such a superb quality that we still ended the meal feeling wonderful.
What brought it all together was the wine. I loved it SO much that it gets it’s very own paragraph. It was a Greek wine from the Manousakis-Nostos Winery in Chania (that’s about as local as it gets when you’re staying in Chania!). It was a 2013 bottle of “Blend,” a rich red comprised of syrah, grenache, and mourvedre and was recommended by our server. I didn’t start to enjoy wine until I was a server at Earls and did the wine tastings to better be able to recommend wine pairings for customers. Even then, I stuck to sweet whites. Over time, the wine palate develops, so I’d heard, but my affinity for sweet wine stayed with me into my 30s and I was beginning to wonder if the wine palate was a myth.
This wine singlehandedly changed my mind. It was rich, full-bodied, and smooth and I wasn’t just politely sipping it, I was SAVOURING it. The winery describes it as having “youthful purple notes,” a “complex character,” and “notes of leather with finesse and freshness,” with a “long finish that accentuates the freshness while maintaining its richness.” Well, I am no writer of wine descriptions, but I’m just going to go ahead and agree. And that’s probably enough on that! Ha! Food and fabrics are usually what most capture my attention- so I’ll allow myself this indulgence.
Now, blame it on the fantastic wine, or on the raki that came after it… I was a wee bit tipsy walking back to meet the shuttle after dinner. We missed it by mere moments (we saw the shuttle sitting at the red light a few meters away, but the driver didn’t hear us) and my dinner/wine euphoria was rudely interrupted. There we were at 11 pm: no phones, no shuttle for at least an hour, and an early bus to catch in the morning. Luckily, I had the ever calm T at my side. He quickly hailed us a cab and we were back at the hotel and I was back in my happy place in no time. Bring on day 5!