Today I’m taking you on a road trip with me.
But don’t worry – I’m not driving, I’m conducting only with my words.
If you’ve been following my stories recently, you might know I spent a month (more or less) working in Crete and during this month I only had ONE DAY OFF.
Bunch of crap right? (If you want to read more about my horrific Crete experience click here)
Even though Crete was a complete sh*t show for me – there was one ray of light that was shining happiness to my soul. It was the day when I was FREE. It was the day when two of my cousins came to visit (same cousins from the Iceland story btw) and we rented a car to get the hell out of my hotel and the deserted ghost village.
It was the day when I saw one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.
This, my loved ones, is the story of how I met the magnificent bay of MATALA.
THE MORNING OF MY DAY OFF…
…started with a massive hangover I got from drinking wine and raki the night before.
Raki btw is a liquid I’m never consuming again. Period.
But luckily my boys had the best remedy for curing my headache- nice cold Bacardi and Coca-Cola.
I sat on the balcony to admire the sea view and enjoyed my first “cocktail” as a tourist. Not as a season worker. Not today. Today I’d only be a happy tipsy tourist.
The clock struck 10 and it was time to start the journey. We had three places on our list, Rethymnon, Chania and Matala.
WHAT IS MATALA????
Here’s a copy & paste history lesson for you, powered by Wikipedia.
After this little read we’re going to continue our story.
Matala (Greek Μάταλα) is a village located 75 km south-west of Heraklion, Crete, GreeceThe artificial caves in the cliff of the Matala bay were created in the Neolithic Age. Matala was the port of Phaistos during the Minoan period. In the year 220 BC., Matala was occupied by the Gortynians, and during the Roman period, Matala became the port of Gortys. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, the caves were used as tombs. One of the caves is called “Brutospeliana” because according to the legend it was frequented by the Roman general Brutus.
Matala was then a fishing village. In the 1960s, the caves were occupied by hippies
who were later driven out by the church and the military junta. Now Matala is a small village living mainly from tourism.Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell‘s experiences with the Matala hippies were immortalised in her 1971 song “Carey“.
And a little mythology: When Zeus seduced the princess Europa in the form of a white bull, he crossed the sea and brought her to the beach of Matala. There he changed into an eagle and flew her to Gortys where he had sex with her.
Sooooo yeah. Now you know more or less what’s it about. The only thing I knew about Matala before going there that “It was some sort of hippie place back in the day” and that there’s a music festival and a booming music culture. So, obviously I was interested to go there. After all, ever since I was a child I felt there’s a little hippie living inside me.
Even thought Matala sounded pretty awesome, none of us knew exactly how awesome this crazy little village would actually turn out be, since we were not in a hurry to get there…what a bunch of losers.
We spent like THREE HOURS IN STUPID BORING RETHYMNON where there’s NOTHING to do except shopping, and not properly even that. And I was not in a mood to spend my precious time in boring places since I only had 24 hours of VACATION.
I’m getting annoyed just thinking about it. Moving on….
GETTING TO MATALA
I’m happy I can’t drive, so no-one can force me to be the driver during a road trip.
I know, I’m the WORST road trip companion right? But get this, I tell the most AMAZING jokes, I sleep very QUIETLY on the backseat, and I sing along to the world’s most horrible disco songs!
But yeah, I was especially happy this time for my non-existent driving skills, cos there was no way I would’ve survived the drive. So hats off to my cousin for not getting us killed!
The road from Rethymnon to Matala is mostly covered in asphalt, but the roads are very narrow with very tight curves (tight curves, like mine)
and the fact that the roads are going up and down on the massive Mediterranean hills doesn’t help at all.
Oh, and also it was raining like crazy while we were driving.
And after the rain – it got so foggy we could only see 2 meters in front of us.
We were PREEETTTY sure it wasn’t going to end well for us, and I managed to infect my cousins with Crete-hate as well. I was oozing negative energy.
After the rain stopped, the sun decided to finally show up. We had to have a little break from sitting in the car so we drove to a nice little panorama-cafe.
It wasn’t called a panorama cafe for nothing: There was an amazing terrace, facing to the bay of Matala which lies between too majestic hills. The rays of sun hit the sea making it look like a diamond blanket and I felt everything around me just started sparkling beauty.
“We have to go there. Now.”
“The sun is about to set”
“We have to go there. NOW.”
So we ran back to the car and drove to the bay without any fear of driving too fast.
As soon as we got to the parking lot of Matala beach I bursted out of the car and ran to the shore. I stopped and I gasped. So beautiful.
AND WE WERE THE ONLY ONES AT THE BEACH.
I almost started crying. Not because of sadness. Because of joy.
I was surrounded by beauty and positive energy. It’s strange how one can feel energies, and this energy was something that filled my soul with happiness immediately.
The sea was right there, sun was going down creating an amazing soft orange light and somewhere in the distance there was reggae music.
CAN I WORK HERE???
I was so happy I wasn’t in my horrible hotel or anywhere near it. I felt like I was kind of somewhere I was supposed to be. It was almost the same feeling I had on my first day in Rhodes. I walked around the beach taking pictures and singing songs alone when no-one was on the hearing range.
It started to get a little cold since it was only early May, and the sun had already set.
I wish I had a ukulele with me, and the skills to play it, so I could’ve sat by a bonfire and entertained myself and people around me with the gift of music.
But we had to go with what we had, and what we had was hunger.
Hunger for life. Well, for food actually.
We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant called Hakuna Matata (I KNOW!!!)
and even our waiter guy was the most handsome thing I had ever seen.
I ordered a lovely cocktail and it tasted like heaven. I ate veggie burgers with tzatziki and it tasted like perfection too! IS THIS WHAT HAPPINESS FEELS LIKE?!?!
After the dinner we went to the town to see what’s up.
Lovely little restaurant-bar-cafes here and there, tons of tourist & souvenir shops,
tour organizers, and just a chill positive vibe all around the place.
I asked for a job from every shop or bar I went to, but I luckily I didn’t find anything I liked, because the next week a MIRACLE happened and I got a job from Rhodes.
I think the magic of Matala put a good aura on me, since after my visit,
my life got extremely good.
It’s funny how life gives us the best life lessons unexpectedly.
I just needed to see something beautiful, and experience a place with positive vibes to remind me why I came to Greece in the first place and why I shouldn’t give up and leave just yet. The best was about to come. Thanks to Matala, I stopped complaining.
For a day anyway.
- The drive from Heraklion or Rethymnon to Matala takes about 2 hours.
- Hope for sunny weather for your stay and just LIVE on the beach, everything you need is RIGHT next to it, all the restaurants, groceries, shops…
- You can ACTUALLY SLEEP IN THE CAVES if you want to, just like the hippies did in the old days – but obviously it costs money
- But if you only want to visit the caves just to see them – you still got to pay.
- Spend the day on the beach, and experience the variety of live music they have up the hill on the town at night
- Eat PITA SOUVLAKI or PITA GYROS
- Drink cocktails
- Take a swim
- Love life
And let mother nature take care of your soul.