My first week in Greece: The things I learned

Crete 2016

  • Crete is the biggest island in Greece: And I'm the worst tourist ever. I never really do much research before going to new places. I just pack my bags and leave and let the place unfold it's secrets to me. Not the smartest way of going about things but I got away with it this time because I'm constantly hanging out with locals (read: The Bromance and his hundred thousand friends and family) who're teaching me how to swear like a pro in Greek.

  • How to swear like a pro in Greek: I kid you not, I'm pretty good at it now. It took me just two days to master the art of swearing in a foreign language. I can insult you, your religion, your family name and even your dick like a pro (#truestory) and a girl I met for the first time day before yesterday told me that I've nailed the accent too (#proud). And what's more, I started randomly figuring out how to read Greek. Remember the time when most of you were trying to learn the derivations of formulas in Physics by-heart? I spent that time marveling at the Greek alphabets that were used in these formulas and now, while The Husband (who still might be able to derive those formulas by the way) cannot even attempt to read the language, I string those characters together to read menus out loud to him. I love how surprised he gets every single time I do it so I got myself a guide to try and properly learn the language. How useful is learning Greek going to be? I don't care. All I know is that I have a natural flare for it and it's going to remind me of this holiday, every minute of which I will cherish.

  • Desserts and alcohol come free with every meal: Now go back and read that sentence again. And again. Especially the last part. Yes, alcohol. ALCOHOL! And yes, it comes free even with breakfast. When they brought some cake and 'Raki' (a local alcoholic drink that's as strong - if not more - as tequila and is served in a shot glass) after our first meal in Crete soon after we landed, I thought it was just something that particular 'Taverna' served to all it's customers. But then I realised that every single place does it. The only problem is that Greek portions are HUUUUGE...

    ...and by the time you somehow manage to finish what's on your plate, you don't have enough strength and stamina left to devour that cake or fruit salad or ice-cream they give you for free. But you do it anyway because you're an Indian who loves anything that's free. And the alcohol? How stupid do you have to be to say no to free alcohol? How dare you not respect the local culture? Haven't you heard, "When in Rome Greece..." etc?

  • Speaking of...: The staple drink called Raki also comes infused with honey (called 'Rakomelo') which not only enhances the flavour of the otherwise strong but flavourless shot of alcohol but also enhances the effect it has on tiny bodies. Also, it's really cheap. Still, 7 shots and a feminist rant later, I didn't throw up (#proudachievement). God bless our livers!

  • Kalamari here is very different from what you're used to: Some of the traditional versions even come stuffed with cheese and herbs to simply fuck with your head and blow your mind. On a related note, I tried grilled octopus for the first time in my life thinking that it was squid and ended up loving it. If I had known that it was octopus in the first place, I wouldn't have even tried it. Bottom line: Be ye not so picky when it comes to food. The worst it can do to you is kill you. But seriously, this place knows how to take seafood to the next level without even using hot Indian spices (!).

  • Food: Yeah, I'm not done talking about food yet because I think I just discovered that food is my religion from now on. Because I seem to be meticulously worshipping it here. And I really really really feel fat but it's still a good feeling because it's good food and not McDonald's that's making me fat. But being the loser that I am, I mostly dig in the minute food arrives in front of me and forget all about taking a picture for the blog. I'm fat and I kind of suck at my job. Coming back to food, they have a specialty here called 'Saganaki' which is basically a slab of cheese that's battered and fried in such a way that the surface is golden brown and the insides are soft, yet not completely molten. They mostly serve this with a lavish drizzle of fresh lemon juice and sometimes with a little honey. It's when you taste things like these that you want to strive towards being a good human being who'll be allowed into Heaven because you know that this is what food in Heaven is going to taste like.

  • So much 'Ble': Everywhere you look, you'll find clear blue waters that'll make you want to jump in and even drink some of it. Word of advice: do not attempt to drink salt water simply because it's beautiful. It's like how you shouldn't marry someone because "his eyes (in his photograph) spoke to me". But seriously, I love how I'm no longer losing my shit over how blue everything is around me. I love the fact that I'm getting used to this beauty.

  • Swimming in the sea is relatively easy here: Because the waves and currents don't want to suck you in and kill you. The waters are shallow for the most part and I, who never learned how to swim, finally figured out how to move my hands and legs under water. I was always capable of floating on my back like a corpse but in the past week, I learned how to move my limbs in order to make something happen. First I was a corpse, now I am a frog. No, a tadpole. Ankita in the ocean = a tadpole in a petri dish. A lot of energy is spent trying to move but nothing much happens. And yes, I also swallowed a lot of salt water in the process and it's not a pleasant feeling. Neither is getting salt water in your eyes and nose. And don't even get me started on what it does to your hair. By the time I get back home, I might have to chop some of it off to free the family of seagulls that's found a home on my head.

  • Four major cities: Crete being the biggest island in Greece, has four major cities. The capital is Heraklion which is the native city of The Bromance where he spent around 20 years of his life. Towards the west of Heraklion are Rethymnon and Chania which are both beautiful port cities but I personally feel that Chania is the prettiest of the two. The last and smallest one is Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas) which is towards the east of Heraklion and we'll be covering it on our trip to the East which starts tomorrow. We're planning to spend almost all of our remaining two weeks in Eastern Crete, while spending each night in the tiny village of Plaka.

  • The city never sleeps: And this seems to be true of all the three cities we visited so far. There's a laid back vibe all around as people (us included) wake up only past 10 a.m and lazily walk around the city in search of dinner only by 2 a.m. When I spoke to one of the locals, I learned that it's very common in the summer months for people to return home only by 8 a.m after their dinner festivities. This is because most of these people are either tourists, students or completely jobless with enough money to spend outdoors every single night. And I kid you not, at 2 and 3 and 4 a.m sometimes when we slowly begin to crawl back home, I'm surprised by the crowded streets and full restaurants with music playing on full blast. It's very common for some of these places to close only after their very last customer leaves. It's amazing! It's like everyone's constantly celebrating. The energy slowly begins to seep into you. Here's what 3 a.m in Chania looked like last night: And finally,

  • That thing about being a grown up: It's mostly that thing that Indian kids like me never got to do. I was speaking to this girl who was my age and living with her mom the other day and happened to mention in passing that I was going to be visiting a village called Plaka soon where all of The Bromance's friends and cousins get together every year to celebrate...I don't exactly know what. One of our friends who's been driving us around during our road-trip has been going to Plaka every August for over 10 years now. Anyway, when I told her this, and because she knows most of the people who will be in Plaka this summer, she said, "Oh, you're going this week? Let me see, I might try to make it too." and I exclaimed, "But don't you have to ask your mom?" and she looked at me like I was from another planet and said, "Ummm...I'm an adult..." and I shut up and contemplated on that for a bit. It dawned on me that for these people to have created a tradition out of this holiday get together every single year, for them to have been doing this for over 10 years now, they must have started doing it when they were around 16/17 years old. I don't know about you guys but I sure as hell wouldn't have been able to go up to my parents at that age and "inform" them that I was going to be spending an entire week with my friends at a certain holiday destination. Hell, I still wouldn't have been able to do it at this age, had I been a single (even working) woman living with my parents. I wish our country was safe enough for parents to be more trusting of their kids and of others. If I were to get into this right now, this post wouldn't end any time soon because there are just too many things wrong with...too many things. But I wish we all got to be "adults" a little more, if you know what I mean.

On that note, andio!. It's getting late here and I missed blogging too much to just go to bed. Tomorrow, we go to Plaka where I wouldn't count on the blessings of the Gods of the Internet. They say that I'll have access to wifi only in certain cafe's but if all goes well, I should be able to keep you guys updated from there too :)

Kali Nichta!

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