Tag Archives: beach

Chania, Crete – Greece Day 2

29 Oct

This post is part of our adventures in Greece in September and October of 2013.  To see other posts in the series, click here.

Chania, Crete is not nearly as well known as Athens – or even the other more famous Greek Islands of Mykonos or Santorini.  Chania is a beach town, known for a beautiful harbor, a mosque and a tangle of streets that draw you in with restaurants and sweets and vendors.  Crete is the cradle of civilization, home to the Minoan ruins which are even more ancient than the temples we had seen the previous day.   We would see ruins the next day, but first, Chania itself.

We woke to a beautiful morning overlooking the sea.

Day break from the balcony

Day break from the balcony

After a long walk to enjoy the fresh air and sand between our toes, we headed out to explore the town.  The town is situated on a harbor which is surrounded by restaurants overlooking the water.  There was a breaker protecting the harbor that curled out into the water where I would guess there had been a fort or perhaps a guard post.

I don't often find octopus hanging on my way - made us smile

I don’t often find octopus hanging on my way – made us smile

Initial view of the main harbor

Initial view of the main harbor

Church in the square

Church in the square

We wandered until we found lunch.  After lunch we checked out a maritime museum with exhibits on making rope and filling holes.

Looking back at the harbor from the other side

Looking back at the harbor from the other side

A street performer on the way to the museum

A street performer on the way to the museum

There was this cool exhibit of the lights used in lighthouses as well

There was this cool exhibit of the lights used in lighthouses as well

We then walked all the way to the end of the breaker – a long walk under the pounding sun but worth it for the incredible views.

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Finally we had some frozen yogurt – mine with peaches and honey and then wandered back to the hotel to watch the sunset.  The owner of the yogurt shop was extremely friendly – even insisting that we not pay until we finished the yogurt and making sure it was up to snuff.

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Sunset over we returned to the town and found a restaurant where we could view the lights of the harbor and eat seafood.

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The next day we would take a bus to the capitol and see ancient ruins, but for that day we were happy being beach tourists under starry skies.

Both of us agreed that Chania had caught us under her spell.

Have you visited a less famous town during a trip and had it enchant you?  Those are the places that you talk about first, before the ones that everyone recognizes, the secret that you want to share – or go back to.  Crete was that for us.

Hualien Beach, Taiwan

12 May

I recently took a trip to Taiwan with my colleagues – the annual outing once again.  Two years ago, it was my trip to Zhangjiajie that led to the first post on my blog.  Last year I headed to Tengchong and then also slipped in a weekend in Korea with my colleagues.  This time we had 20 people on the bus, none of whom (myself included) had been to Taiwan before.

We had a very full schedule over the trip and it was the end of the second full day that we headed to the eastern side of the island to the area called Hualien (花莲).  It had been raining off and on all day and just before we stopped for dinner the bus pulled over to a rest stop by the sea. It was one of the scenic spots on the two lakes bikeway that winds itself across Taiwan.   We made our way down to the beach and walked along the surf.  This wasn’t a sandy beach, but the rocks were polished and the waves crashed over the edge.

Clouds breaking over Hualien beach in Taiwan

Clouds breaking over Hualien beach in Taiwan

The mist from the rain lingered but the clouds broke a little.  I snapped a photo of a lone fisherman down the beach casting into the water.

It was one moment that stayed with me during the rest of the trip.

This post was inspired by the Travel Theme: Beaches – over at Where’s My Backpack.  To see how others illustrated a beach, please click the link.

I have published photos of other beaches over the last several years – a beach vacation is one of my absolute favorites.  To see some of those posts, you can also click here.

Where’s your favorite beach?  Are you an umbrellas and a pina colada fan or do you look for deserted coastline and sea spray?  Is it the closest beach or the one half a world away that calls to you?

Wherever it is – may you have time in the next several months to take a visit.  I hope I will!

Boracay

12 Feb

Boracay

An exotic word, linked to an exotic place.  Only accessible by boat.  A place where shoes are optional and blue sky days stretch into starry nights accompanied by acoustic guitar music.  The neighbors in the next room are Russians, Singaporeans, Americans, Europeans, Filipino, Chinese, Australians… all laying beneath wicker fans and listening to the rain beat down at night on the tin roof. A place where the white sand beach continues, uninterrupted.  Mango shakes, fresh coconut, mussels, lobsters and cuisine from around the world.  

I enjoy beach vacations.  Over the last three years I have gone to Honolulu, Hawaii, the Chinese island of Sanya, the beaches of Sabah in the Malaysian part of Borneo and Phuket, Thailand.  They all have been beautiful.  Hands down, Boracay wins. 

When I spoke to colleagues and friends about my planned Chinese New Year get-away, I got mixed comments – “I went in the early 90s, it was perfect then, unspoiled… now I’ve heard it may not be the same.”  “I went around 2000, it was great – but I’ve heard too touristy now.”  “I went last year, it was wonderful.”  Places may or may not have been better in the past, we only have our own sliver of experience to judge.  From the tourist advertisements in the airport, Boracay has been rated the second best island experience in the world by international travelers after Santorini, Greece and I can see why, though unfortunately that now makes me want to go to Greece!

Looks pretty idyllic to me!

Back now and thoroughly ensconced in Shanghai’s winter, I can see that it is a combination of the Filipino hospitality, the beautiful scenery and the difficulty in getting there (I wasn’t kidding that it is only accessible by boat) that have maintained this place as a jewel in the South China Sea.  The Chinese name 长滩岛 literally translates into long beach island which is a literal description of the locale.  The next few posts will touch on some of the beauty of the island and our short stay there.  Please enjoy and share any other places that you believe would make me reconsider Boracay at the top of my list!

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