This is the first post of several for my trip to the Greek Island of Crete earlier this year.
Social media is such a scary beautiful beast. On the one hand it is wonderfully amazing, connecting people that might otherwise never meet. And on the other hand it is, at least to me, so strange and a little bit scary for the exact same reasons. It is through Instagram and of course our shared love of photography, that I came to know Betty Liu of bettysliu.com. It all started with liking each other’s posts on and off. You know the game, a poke here, a poke there. Nothing serious. The typical social media friendship. But when we did finally meet up during Saveur Magazine Blog Awards last year when we were both nominated for best photography, it was immediately love, for me at least. So when Betty asked if I would be interested in going to Greece with her to teach a workshop, I immediately jumped on board. This was my very first time in Greece and I absolutely loved it.
Ah Milia, where to even begin to describe this gem of a retreat and the wonderful people who were unfailingly generous. This is not the Greece that is blasted all over Instagram. This is not the brightly white and blue beauty that we, rightly so, often associate with Greece. Instead this is the wild and moody mountains that I imagine the first, rather barbaric Cretans, saw and chose for their home. The lush green hills allowed the abundance required to sustain villages and the treacherous mountains proved to be perfect barriers to guard against invaders. Hidden deep in the folds of the Topolia gorge in the western foothills of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains), lovingly restored original 16th century stone settlements now make up an environmentally sustainable retreat. In the 20th century, the tiny settlement was used as a hideout by WWII resistance fighters but later abandoned and completely left in ruins. 30 years ago, the owners of Milia began to realize a dream to revitalize this area of Crete with a focus on preserving the traditional circle of life, both the human traditions and environmental history of the land. Livestock was reintroduced and terraces replanted with local herbs and greens. It is truly inspiring the love and respect that can be seen and felt in the restoration of this land. If you are looking for a holiday where you will reconnect with the most basic fundamentals of life, this is the place to go.
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