Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crete 2014: Elafonisi

If you ever travel to the island of Crete, there's one destination you should not miss - Elafonisi beach. It's simply one of the most breathtaking beaches on Crete. 

I've been to most of the other Cretan beaches (like Vai and Falassarna), but nothing compares to Elafonisi.

Elafonisi is located on the southwest corner of Crete. It's a very popular beach, especially for families with kids since it has very shallow water. 

The water is shallow enough for even our 4 year old to walk to the Elafonisi island that is next to the beach and there is a sand path there as well. The island itself is a protected nature reserve.

Here is the said gentleman playing in between the beach and the island, which is in the background.

The water is clear and you can see little fishies swimming around, which was also a fun thing for our lil  man to watch. The water is also a bit cooler than elsewhere, kind of like a mix of river and sea water, which makes it really refreshing.

The sand sometimes has a pink tint due to broken seashells

Since the area is really large, it doesn't matter that the beach is crowded.

The island of Elafonisi

Northern part of the beach

If you go deeper, it's an excellent place to do some snorkeling.

View towards the beach

I swear I took like a hundred photos again of the clear water and amazing views, just like I do every time I visit Elafonisi :)

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random Tuesdays 07/29/2014

Lighthouse at the Venetian Harbor in Hania, Greece in 2011.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Κρήτη, Ελλάδα

We just got back from an amazing vacation in one of my favorite countries, Greece! I've been there almost a dozen times and did a summer study abroad in Northern Greece, in Thessaloniki. This time we traveled to the island of Crete, where we spent our honeymoon. This was little man's first time in Greece, so we planned our trip mainly with him in mind. I'll do some photo flooding later from different places, but here are some general photos from our trip.

While Greece never fails me, our hotel this time did. It was near the village of Tavronitis and had nice pool areas (three of them actually), but the room was horrible. We complained and the travel agency promised us a gift card as a compensation.

Husband and lil man walking to the nearby beach. The beach was a five minute walk away.

The beach was a pebble beach and there weren't that many people around. The few people that were there, well, they appeared to be nudists and really didn't want any tan lines, anywhere. To each his own, I guess.

But if we kept our eyes towards the sea, the view was amazing :)

Since the hotel was so poor, we were lucky to have reserved a rental car in advance, so we got some extra days and went roadtripping for most of our vacation. Here's our trusty rented Peugeot.

Typical scenery while driving in Crete

Gorgeous mountains of Lefka Ori

One of the places we visited was the cave of Agia Sofia near Topolia. You had to walk a few hundred steps to get there. Poor husband had the carry lil man all the way to the top :)

The cave is pretty impressive though, and the entrance is free. You can leave a few coins to support the church that offers services there. You could roam around the cave freely, which was awesome.

Inside the Agia Sofia cave

If you plan a visit there, I suggest wearing real shoes and maybe carrying a flashlight. It was really dark in some parts of the cave and extremely slippery. I almost fell several times with my flip flops and got my hands dirty with pigeon and bat poop since I had to hold on to the rocks in order to not to fall :) It was really wet in the back parts of the cave and you couldn't see anything. But lil man absolutely loved visiting the cave, exciting stuff!

We also visited the mountain village of Spili

Where we had dinner with a view :)

We were the only customers at that taverna with the exception of this little gal. 
I'm not really a cat person, but for whatever reason cats always like to be close to me. I think cats are beautiful though, so I don't mind.

Sunset near Tavronitis. 

As promised, I'll post some more photos of the sites we visited later. There are also some photos on Instagram: sugarantelope
Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Random Tuesdays 07/22/2014

Our local community park in Southern Finland, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Random Tuesdays 07/15/2014

Elafonisi beach on the island of Crete, Greece in 2011.
We are heading to Greece again this summer, can't wait!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

IR-1 visa, some progress

I thought I'd again share where we are at our IR-1 spousal visa process. 
Here's where we were last, which was a bit of a disappointing situation to be in, but thanks to one wonderful aunt, we are again on the right path.

We have now sent all the paperwork to NVC and waiting (hopefully) for a case complete email and an interview date. I might be a bit too optimistic here, since NVC might still issue us a checklist requesting more information. We are, however, keeping our fingers crossed and hoping what we sent them will be enough and we'll have an interview in August or September.

Husband has now started the job hunting process, although it's a bit hard from across the pond. He recently experienced the unfortunate Finnish tradition of yt-neuvottelut ("co-operation negotiations", where the company basically announces they'll fire a certain amount of people), which has motivated him to start looking for another job. While husband wasn't fired, he now has the workload of 2+ employees, so the situation at the office is less than ideal. If husband finds a job he likes, he will move and the rest of us will follow at a later date, if I haven't received the visa at the time of his move. 

So basically, everything is out in the open, but I'm trying not to stress too much about things I have no control over. I love my job and I have plenty of stuff to do finishing up my MBA thesis before I start my PhD studies. Now I'm on a paid vacation for the next couple of weeks and plan on enjoying the wonderful Finnish summer as much as I can :)

Wishing everyone a fabulous month of July!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Random Tuesdays 07/08/2014

Suomenlinna sea fortress. Helsinki, Finland in 2014
We had a German guest earlier this month, so we took them to see the UNESCO World Heritage site Suomenlinna. Whenever we have guests over during the summer, we tend to visit the gorgeous islands.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Random Tuesdays 07/01/2014

Anthrax at the Tuskan Open Air Metal Festival in Helsinki, Finland in 2014

We go to Tuska every summer if we are in Finland. I don't go there only for the music, there are a lot of friends with whom we meet up there every year. This year one of my friends and I realized that the first time we saw Anthrax together was 20 years ago! We were really surprised because the Anthrax dudes looked so old, but we've stayed young ;). I remember that day 20 years ago well, since it was one of the first metal concerts my parents let me go to. My dad drove me and my friend there, waited someplace outside, and then drove us home :D And my Mom had given me extra some money, so I bought an Anthrax t-shirt, which I still own :)