Summer in GREECE

On this blog I will post drawings I made in CRETE. My husband Greg and I also visited the island of Santorini. To see the drawings I made on that unbelievably BEAUTIFUL island, come visit

Most of my month’s stay in Greece this summer was spent on my mother’s native island of Kriti. Crete. I hadn’t been there for twelve years and it really was a special experience. While there I made a few drawings, and I think I’ll start with the center of the village of Kalives, which of course, is the church. Agia Paraskevi.


Walking through the village where so many of my beloved family lives, and where I spent so many memorable summers, I see familiar sights. People who I haven’t thought of in many years, and people who I can never forget. This woman was familiar, an aunt? a distant relative? As she approached I couldn’t place her, and when she returned my glances, we both smiled. And as she walked past, I remembered. She is Kalives herself. Personified. Strong, gentle, rugged, beautiful, and slowly moving forward.


Other sights along the the way are the Bougainvillea or Paper Flowers. And a typical front yard of a Greek home, full of all kinds of plants. Cats and dogs are also not a rare sight.

bougainvillea2avli2Next up is the “Deti”. That’s where my cousins, friends and I would run up to and run, hide, laugh and be free. My brothers say it was alot like being Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. My Yiayia would pack a small lunch for them and off they would go for day long adventures among the farms, olive trees and thyme flowers. Meeting a scary dog or two on the way. Life was certainly different back then, to say the least.


Even though it was starting to get uncomfortably hot, we enjoyed pausing during our hike to talk and make drawings. One of the things I love most about Greece is the dry terrain. It makes it feel so very old. So you really get the feeling that this land has been around for ages and ages. The wildflowers and the mountains existing so close to the sea makes for a very unique feeling. Also, the smells are incredible.


So the mid-day hours were quickly approaching, and I wanted to show Greg the great view of Kalives from one of the highest points in the village. I remember proudly announcing to him that I remember these paths like it was yesterday! I spent so many summers here, “trust me”. Well, that’s when it happened, of course. I got us lost up there in the mountain, in the heat, with barely any cover from the brutal sun above. Even worse we had no water.

But we finally made it. At least the view was as I remembered it! Just as beautiful as ever. But the problem was that we were spent and parched, and we needed to get back to town! So we took a few shots and I made the quickest drawing ever:


After making it down safely, we sat in the courtyard of the village’s smaller church. The lime trees kindly offered their cool refreshing shade, and we gladly accepted! I returned the favor by drawing their loveliness. I thought it was sweet when Greg asked me why all the tree trunks in Greece were painted white. I remembered when I asked that question for the first time. And I remembered helping my grandmother whitewash the classic white walls of her home. Details like that are what nostalgia is made of.


After getting some nourishment and rest, we planned our trip to Chania. The beautiful “Venice of Crete”. Chania has a rich history and has been influenced greatly by the Venetians and the Turks. I had not spent too much time there as a kid, so my first experience there was much like any other tourist’s. We had such a lovely time exploring and drawing the Old Town of Chania. The view from the Old Port was gorgeous.


This next drawing is of the famous Mosque in the harbor.


I kind of like this sketch of it as well.mosquethumb

Another famous spot in Chania is the lighthouse. Here is a typical Cretan with his worry beads, or komboloi.


We sat down to eat, and had yet another conversation about how the Greeks really do smoke alot! It’s really incredible.smoker


Our next Cretan destination was to go to the famous Gorge of Samaria. Again, the day was HOT, and the land was so dry and I couldn’t help myself from trying to imagine how old this place is. It was the theme of my trip I think. Anyway, Greg and I did not attempt to make the 6-8 hour hike through the Gorge. Instead we took a ferry from the town of Sfakia to Agai Roumeli, where the Gorge ends and there are beautiful views and great places to eat. Here are some drawings I made on that day:farangi2



And then we went to Lake Kournas. It’s a fresh water lake nestled high in the mountains. Beautiful. The ducks were so sweet, James got a kick out of them!







On yet another day we visited the Cave at Melidoni. This is not the biggest cave in Crete, but it was beautiful to see. Crete has many caves. Each with a story and/or myth attached to it. This particular cave is a site where Turkish atrocities against Cretans took place. That is why there are crosses and a tomb inside. There are so many shrines and mini churches in the mountains of Crete! I like to think of them as embedding the history into the earth, changing the topography and shaping the island just as the stories changed the people.





We had an incredible time, and hopefully you enjoyed browsing through my drawings as well.Greg made some beautiful work. Check out his blog.

Comments (3)

  1. greg betza

    your words are just as great as the drawings. Chania in color is my personal favorite.

  2. Danielle

    wow Despina these are just so great!-danielle

  3. Tarna Na

    wonderful !!!

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