Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My second big, fat Greek swim holiday

When you have the opportunity to pile into a boat with 13 other kindred spirits...halfway around the world...do it! I'm so tired of hearing people make excuses for why they don't GO DO EPIC SHIT. Last December I saved up and bought myself this swim trip to Crete via The Big Blue Swim, and lucky for me a handful of friends and THEIR friends...and a couple UK swim friends all signed on to go. We just had to wait nine months until it was time to swim.
Cheryl, Christine, Martha, Colleen, me, Sara and Susan - Hidden Beach Mermaids Represent!
I brought along my New Wave Swim Buoy, which was great for a group to sight on.
The rash guard was probably the smartest thing I brought to prevent sunburn!

Sfakia is a lovely port town on the SW coast of Crete. Unlike other parts of Greece, the hills look barren and austere by comparison. In reality, plenty grows there and many goats roam free. Known for its wild thyme honey, culinary Sfakian pie, local island cheeses and wine and a fantastic bakery...we ate like royalty for very modest prices. Loutro, Marmara and another spot called Akrogiali were favorite villages where we swam to/from and enjoyed.

The Big Blue Swim (www.thebigblueswim.com) expanded its swim excursions to Crete last year. In 2014 I took its Lefkada trip with my pal Anne. How it works is the fee covers the boat/snacks aboard/breakfast/hotel and your swim guide + swim analysis (video'd and reviewed 1:1). I think from British pounds to US it was something like $900 US for six nights - which is awesome. The airfare wasn't that much more. From London there are many charter flights or British Airways into Chania (say Hawn-Yah). Our esteemed guide was a fellow named Noa; we loved him. All the guides were great and they watch over specific speed groups. This trip I was in the fastest "pink" group which is relative to your company on the trip of course!
Three Vashon Islanders on the other side of the world:
me, Martha and Dana in the front row...we swam to this ancient temple.

Trying a moment of Synchro: why not?!

Our group for a week! So much fun. All abilities.

The rhythm of the trip was like this: wake up, pack a swim bag, sunscreen up, chow down brekky, board the sailboat, motor off to somewhere gorgeous, jump off the sailboat, swim 2-3k on the coast (poke into some caves), get back on boat in the deep, motor to a taverna in a village - no booze during lunch of course, get back on boat, do another 2-3k swim, board boat again, go back to the hotel, happy hour (optional), clean up, dine on the waters edge and go sleep like a baby (if you like REALLY STIFF mattresses, that is).

Christos (in red), Adonis (white tshirt), and Noa (2nd to far right) were our guides.
Just gotta say that the food in Crete is second to none. It's wholesome, satisfying, healthy and flavorful! I loved the Boureki (a veggie gratin) so much I replicated the recipe at home and it will become a regular dish for me. Squid, octopus, grilled sardines, spanikopita, dolmadakia, and roast chicken with potatoes just totally dazzled. Even at night our group tended to dine together, alternating the love to different family tavernas (our hotel each night was the same; Xenia Hotel in Sfakia).




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