All Crete to me

After a week on the beautiful isle of Crete, I’ve revised the expression ‘It’s all Greek to me’ to mean something completely different. And I simply must share a few of the things that are all Crete to me.

One of the things I love about living in Europe is how close you are to so many amazing destinations. Crete was a bit far for Easyjet: it’s fine for a quick hop but the seats aren’t all that comfortable for a flight of almost 3 hours. But the low-cost airfares make this an affordable destination for French travelers.

There are just so many things to love about Crete. Here are my favorites:

IMG_2426The weather.  We were worried that mid-October might be a bit late for the beach. We need not have feared. It was mostly in the mid-20s, although there were a few clouds and windy days with cooler temps. That did not keep me out of the water. I love the salt water of the sea, and there were waves enough for a bit of body surfing.

I am fair skinned and usually have difficulty staying put in the sun. But as the sun was weaker at this time of year, I was able to stick it out and have actually got a nice tan on my legs. Too bad it’s just in time to cover them up for winter back home!


IMG_2507The beaches. The sand on Crete is like brown sugar, and there is very little else underfoot. You can walk out a long way in the crystal clear water before it gets deep.






IMG_2456Under the changing skies, the sea has more shades of cerulean than I ever imagined. The crashing of waves and cooling sea breezes were wonderfully relaxing.

IMG_2531 IMG_2532 IMG_2545




The food. This is Cretan health food: Feta that fêtes the sheep, tomatoes so ripe they taste like sauce off the vine. Ubiquitous olives and honey and thyme.




Yummy yoghurt thick as whipped cream.





Pastries of fine phyllo filled with spinach and cheese.






The drinks. Some very nice wines: Crisp whites, round rosés and reds of surprising depth. And damn good beer – Mythos – for me, the only drink on the beach.






The fauna. Everywhere, cats. Feral, feline and offering hours of free entertainment. And kri-kri, the little mountain goats that give us such beautiful goat’s cheese.





The fishing. Harbors filled with fishing boats of every color. Who bring back the wonders of the sea.

Tiny fish in a marinade. Savoury sardines. Fresh sea bass. Squid and calamari…






The Flora. Surprising in its colour and variety. Red earth and porous rock. Forests of tamaris trees. Dried golden stems and deep purple petals, sage green and yellow stars.





I returned from Crete restored and replenished, feeling like this plante grasse (succulent) that grows wild on Crete – plump little green stems all rosy on the tips.


Have you ever been to the Greek islands? Do you have a favorite holiday spot?

How to be a bon voisin

Following last week’s post on la politesse, here are some real-life examples of how far the French will go to remain polite while telling off their neighbors. They may lose something in translation but hopefully the humor remains intact. And to all those who thought the French had no sense of humor, think again. Although it’s perhaps an acquired taste…



Dear neighbor (male) across the way:
I have seen that you have a really nice ass.
You can go ahead and put up curtains.



Voisins4Dear (female) neighbor,
There’s really no need to wear a thong when watering your plants.
However, if your only conception of gardening is butt naked, would you at least have the courtesy to cover your lady parts when our children are dining just next door?
A bit of modesty won’t prevent your jasmine from flourishing.
Thanks in advance.

Voisins3Dear (female) neighbor,
I regret to inform you that it is not out of pleasure but necessity that we set
our alarm clocks to go off so early in the morning.
FYI, it is not surround sound 5.1 but simply our Iphone speakers.
However, we will advise our employers that you are a light sleeper
and they will undoubtedly adjust our working hours to suit you.
Kind regards,
Your upstairs neighbors


Madame Cxxxxxx,
Our most courteous requests having resulted in nothing more than a pathetic “I’m not taking orders from the Chinese,” I must resort to this public notice.

Your filthy little dogs are getting on the nerves of everyone in the building. If you do nothing to keep them quiet at night and clean during the day, the “Chinese” will take care of it.

My wife cooks wonderful ravioli. Our children adore grilled Yorkshire.

A word to the wise,
Jean-Yves Txxxx

Voisins5To the young lady on the 5th floor

Several of us share in your fulfillment with your partner, both night and day, ever since you moved into our building or at least since you found a very talented partner.

We agree that one person’s freedom stops where another’s begins… To be woken by your cries at 7:00 in the morning as well as those at 3 a.m. infringes upon my freedom to sleep and to awaken at the time of my choice in my home. Do you think that’s right?

There are many students in this building but there are also many families with young children. Would you please show some consideration for your neighbors and discuss with your partner how you might:

  • Reduce the noise level (music, pillow, gag…)
  • Choose a more appropriate time
  • Do your cooing at his place
  • Show respect and common decency

P.S.  You should consider post-coital urination – given the frequency and length of your love-making, you may come down with severe cystitis

Reply (on post-it):
Do excuse us for the disturbance this may have caused. I will try to be more careful from now on. Thanks for suggesting the gag. My boyfriend was quite flattered that you consider our lovemaking too long 🙂 Please accept my sincere apologies.

Now that’s la classe!