Missing Almyrida’s Tourists for the Second Year Running

How strange and sad it is to see everywhere so quiet and deserted for the second year in a row. Both Almyrida and Plaka would normally be buzzing at this time of the year, yet there are barely enough tourists to warrant all the restaurants and shops being open. Indeed everywhere is open but everywhere is almost deserted!

Available from my Etsy shop SeashellBeautyinArt

They look good together! The last of my new tropical fish designs in Seashell Mosaic Collage 20x20cms each – available seperately or together as shown on my Etsy shop, SeashellBeautyinArt.

I feel the same as I did last summer, chomping at the bit to set up my stall and start selling again. I am missing Almyrida’s tourists as all the local businesses here are. But it’s more than that, it’s the buzz and the atmosphere I’m missing.  I am pinning all my hopes on a possible late season starting in July. With regard to the UK tourists – sadly I think the UK Government’s decision to keep the Greek Islands off their Green List, is weak and unjustified, like last year. Still what can we do except to remain positive for the later summer months.

A small part of beautiful Elafonisi

A small part of beautiful Elafonisi

On a much happier note – on May 1st, Lisa, Debbie and I had our wonderful beachcombing trip to Elafonisi. It’s a long drive but absolutely worth it! We were surprised to see more people there than we had expected. But it was a warm sunny Saturday which meant that many Greeks were there too. You are hard pushed to explore the whole of Elafonisi in just one day. It is too vast and there are so many coves and beaches to cover on foot. Nevertheless we made the absolute most of our precious time there and we all came away with bagsful of ocean treasures to use in our crafts. It was wonderful to cool off by walking through all the shallow lagoons.

Falasarna

Collecting Seashells in Falasarna

In the following weeks Debbie and I visited Stavros, Bali and Falasarna again. Lisa was unable to join us because of work commitments. When we arrived at Falasarna we were surprised to be approached by a film crew! A Greek filmmaker had come to Falasarna to make a short documentary about the plight of the Greek tourism industry here on Crete. He wanted to interview me after Debbie told him we were there to collect seashells for the art pieces I create and sell to tourists. He said he was making the documentary for the BBC and I thought, really??
I actually asked him if it would take long, because I was itching to get down to the shore! Afterwards they followed us around for a while, also using a drone. But we ignored them and just got on with our beachcombing.

Falasarna beaches had lots of seashells and pink sand. Just gorgeous!

Falasarna beaches had lots of seashells and pink sand. Just gorgeous!

Two days later Nick was at ours doing a job on the roof and he told me he’d been quite shocked when he saw me on the BBC News the day before! I honestly never expected that! They had edited the interview down to just a few sentences but the written version of the full film was published online, where my name and mention of my Seashell Art appeared in dozens of news journals around the world. Wow.. I really did underestimate that Greek filmmaker and all this is good for raising my online profile. If I can find out how to put the YouTube link into this post, I will.. because the film is only 1 minute 16 seconds long.

20x20cms Scallop in Seashell Mosaic on White Sand, available to purchase from SeashellbeautyinArt

This 20x20cms Scallop Seashell was made from tiny pink scallops that I’ve collected over the years. Available to purchase from my Etsy shop SeashellBeautyinArt.

So we have finished with beachcombing now until at least October or November. It is far too hot to be walking in the full sun all day and anyway – the seashells are just not there anymore. Falasarna was the best of the last few beaches we visited. Stavros and Bali had very little to offer.

Also it is too hot now for power walks and so I have swapped them in favour of a long refreshing swim in the sea instead! For the last two weeks I have been feeling like a tourist myself – every time I nip down to Almyrida, usually mid afternoon for my swim.  I never had time to do this pre-covid as I was always either selling or working on my Seashell Mosaics at home.  I’ll take my book and Sudoku with me and spend a blissful two or three hours by the sea. A long cool drink from the taverna behind guarantees a free sun bed. All of a sudden I am on holiday! Often I have the company of friends but sometimes I am just happy to be by myself, appreciating the wonderful surroundings, my lifestyle and thinking of how lucky I am to be here as a resident and not a tourist. I get to stay here!
I finally picked up my new Biometric ID Card, so I am safe to remain here on Crete for the foreseeable future. Oh lucky lucky me!

Enjoying the sunset on my balcony sofa after my swim!

Enjoying the sunset on my balcony sofa after my swim!

Happy Days! We Can Go Beachcombing Again!

I know that I have done some beachcombing this winter but I don’t really count the local beaches because I can visit them anytime! Crete is jam packed with gorgeous beaches and all of them are different and all of them are so stunningly beautiful! All of these beaches I have missed exploring because of lockdown restrictions. However, at the end of the first week in April the Greek Government lifted the restrictions on travel for personal fitness – for weekends only!

Lisa and I on one of Frangokastello's Beaches

Lisa and I on one of Frangokastello’s Beaches

Lisa, Debbie and I have all taken full advantage of this extra freedom and visited all the beaches in Bali, Falasarna and Frangokastello in three consecutive weekends. The weather has been great and last weekend we were all in shorts and strappy tops, getting a really good tan! A beachcombing day involves countless squats and lots and lots of walking, over a period of about 6 hours. So we were keeping fit and getting an even suntan all in one go. Not forgetting the pleasure of finding so many beautiful seashells. You find different shells and ocean treasure on different beaches and we never tire of showing each other our cherished discoveries. I must start taking photos of some of our beach finds. I get so absorbed in the exploring – that I don’t even think of taking photos… and I should.  Needless to say, we always have a great time with lots of fun, lovely picnics and plenty of chat too! Tomorrow we are all going to Elafonisi for the day and really looking forward to it!

Debbie on aonther beach at Frangokastello

Debbie on aonther beach at Frangokastello

Aside from the beachcombing, we’ve all been busy with the changes we have to make as expats living in Greece, as a result of Brexit. Firstly we have to apply for the new Biometric ID Card. This entails at least three visits to the main Police Station in Chania. On the first visit you have to bring a long list of documents, then two weeks later you have to return for your fingerprints to be taken. When I went to the police station last week, I was expecting to place all my fingers and thumbs onto ink pads. Of course it’s all electronic and digital these days and so I had to place my digits onto left and right pads. There appeared to be a problem with my prints registering on these devices and the young police officer told me to go and wash my hands and after that it seemed to work. Anyway then he said, “I don’t like your photo”! I didn’t know what to say! There was a brief silence before he indicated my forehead and fringe. I remembered the photographer asking me to pull my hair back and show my forehead. I swept my fringe to the sides as best I could, but it kept bouncing back. However, I don’t have a thick fringe and you can clearly see my eyes and my eyebrows in the photo. So what’s the problem?! “Well,” said the police officer, “Just beware they may reject it.” If my photo gets rejected, I’ll have to take some grips and pin all the fringe back… and I won’t even look like me anymore!

Deserted Chania, as never seen before!

Deserted Chania on a sunny day in April, as never seen before!

Because of Brexit, the other thing we have to do is to change our UK driving licenses to Greek ones. I never wanted to give up my UK license and when I first heard of this possibility about two years ago, I thought I had found a way round it. When I was in the UK I bought an International Driving License from the Post Office and thought this would solve the problem. Turned out I was wrong! The application process is, as usual, bureaucratic and complicated. In addition, you were obliged to visit any doctor and optician you chose from a long list in Chania.  I won’t go into all the details but can say that most of us are so baffled with all the procedures (only explained in Greek), that we have saved on the stress and paid 50 Euros to the lady at Creta Services to handle it all!  It’s a small price to pay for all the wonderful benefits of living on Crete.

Chania as never seen before - totally deserted!

Chania as never seen before – totally deserted!

Last week when I had to visit the optician and doctor, we decided that as we were already in Chania, (and we had permission) we would take the opportunity to spend the rest of the day there. We visited the harbour front first and were shocked to see how deserted it was! It felt as though it were a great privilege to be experiencing Chania without any people there. Like a ghost town… it is as so many cities around the world are right now. We bought takeaway lunch and fresh ice cream, then decided to walk to Neo Chorio beach, which is just beyond the harbor. There we found lots of tiny seashells and some really nice beach glass. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and we had a lovely time with Chania all to ourselves!

Seashell Mosaic Collage - 20 x 40cms - Available to purchase from my Etsy shop

Tropical Goldfish – Seashell Mosaic Collage – 20 x 40cms – Available to purchase from my Etsy shop

On the work front, I sold the underwater scene with the Angelfish to a local lady and managed to have enough shells to make another one for my Etsy shop. I also decided to make a smaller version of the underwater scene featuring tropical Goldfish instead of Angelfish. I have also spent the last few weeks working on an important seashell order from the USA. This incorporates 2 separate suppliers that I’ve been using for over 10 years. I would normally have made this order around November last year, but have delayed it because of the Pandemic.

Debbie took this photo of Lisa and I in Georgioupoli a few weeks ago

Debbie took this photo of Lisa and I in Georgioupoli a few weeks ago.

It is the Greek Orthodox Easter and it’s Good Friday today. I do feel for the Greeks as this is the second year running that they have not been able to celebrate the most important tradition of their year. It seems particularly harsh that Easter Sunday falls on 2nd May, but everything does not open up again until the 4th. The government has laid on an extra 10,000 police to make sure that the Greeks do not travel over the Easter period. I do not know of any other country that has been in constant lockdown for 6 whole months, but it shows just how seriously the Greek Government has handled this pandemic, to ensure that Greece is a safe place for tourists to visit again. It goes without saying that we are all super excited about being able to visit tavernas and coffee shops and to socialize and dine out again.  We will all be celebrating next week for sure!

The Far Beach in Georgioupoli

The Far Beach in Georgioupoli

So What is There to Write About?

We’ve been in lockdown here on Crete for almost 5 months and everyone is feeling totally fed up! A couple of weeks ago they tightened up the restrictions even further and we are now only allowed to shop locally. No more trips to the large supermarkets in Chania. Also we are not allowed to travel by car to exercise, which means we shouldn’t be going to Kalyves for our lovely walks along the beaches there. Curfews are still in place from 9pm until 5am and you must always have a valid reason for leaving your home. Continue reading

Enjoying Weeks of Sunshine and Warm Weather!

I am loving the mild winter we’ve been having here on Crete. A noticeable indication of just how much sunshine we’ve been enjoying shows visibly on the mountains, where almost all the snow has melted. The fact that we’re still in lockdown is frustrating but is nowhere near as limiting as it is in the UK. I have been making the most of the hours of sunshine and warm weather by getting out and about on walks, because there is always somewhere close by to explore on foot. Continue reading

Warning! Never Book Anything Through Lastminute.com!

The only reason I am even telling this sorry tale is to let people know that Lastminute.com should come with a health warning! It is a long narrative if you can be bothered to read it. But they are a despicable company and should no longer be allowed to conduct their illegal business practices. Covid is no excuse for their total lack of customer service and outright lies to their customers!
Lastminute Customer Service is not fit for purpose and I hope I persuade anyone who reads this not to go near them! Continue reading

A Christmas of Joy Worth all the Stress of Covid

I arrived home to Crete on 2nd after leaving a very cold UK and I am blown away by the wonderful weather I’ve come back to!  I am amazed to be sitting here on my balcony with warm and tranquil sunshine washing over me like a comfort blanket. It’s been blue skies and sunshine ever since I returned and it’s forecast to be 24 and 25 degrees at the weekend. Wow!  Despite having a list of stuff I need to deal with – I just have to sit here and enjoy it!  My view is magical and my recent memories are magical… so I am perfectly placed to write all about them here and now. Continue reading

Wild Horses Won’t Stop me from Spending Christmas with my Family!

Having been in lockdown ever since my last post, there is very little to talk about and so this is just a short post before I leave for the UK for Christmas. It is only 3 days till I go yet I still have not had confirmation of an alternative flight I accepted after yet another was cancelled 2 weeks ago. I knew that because of this pandemic, trying to get to the UK for Christmas was never going to be easy. I expected cancelled flights but wild horses aren’t going to stop me from trying! Continue reading

Happy Beachcombing Trips with my Friends

Despite all the awful consequences of this Covid Pandemic, I have had such a great summer.. that the bubble was bound to burst at some point! For the last few years October has always ended up being a month for sorting problems out and this year was no different. But always being positive by nature, I’m not even going to mention what these problems were. There is no need to because I have resolved them all and anyway, I have far nicer things to talk about! Continue reading

UK’s Quarantine List Didn’t Spoil Holidays with my Family

Despite the UK adding Crete to their quarantine list – it didn’t stop my brother, Mark from enjoying his Cretan holiday with me. He works in the film industry, which like everything else has been greatly compromised and anyway, Mark has been working from home on his book and so the quarantine restrictions on his return to the UK weren’t an issue for him. Continue reading

Back to a more normal life.

What an unexpectedly busy August it’s turned out to be! I started selling by the beach in Almyrida right after Emma, Ash and the kids left Crete, and because it is still so quiet in Almyrida – especially for August, I decided two days a week was enough. Yet those two days have proved to be really profitable. I have sold a total of 29 Seashell Mosaic Paintings this August and I am more than happy with sales, given these unprecedented world circumstances. Continue reading