Spili is one of those things that shouldn’t really be a thing. It shouldn’t be a big deal. You’re not supposed to know what it is. You’re not meant to be able to point it out on a map. It’s not that special. It’s not worth any fuss. It is small village up in the Idi mountains on Crete that you often pass through on your way to the south coast of the island. But to me, it is a thing. It is worth the fuss, always.
This dates back to my first season on Crete in 2010. Here’s how Spili became a thing:
(Randomly, one day as we were looking at road map of Crete:)
My boss: You know, I always wanted to go see Spili. I heard it was really nice. They have some sort of ancient springs there.
Me: Oh yeah? Where’d you hear that?
My boss: I think it was one of the bus drivers.
(One week later.)
Colleague: Everyone keeps talking about Spili; I want to go there so bad! It’s supposed to be amazing.
Me: Really? Are you sure you didn’t just hear that from me…? Cause I just heard it from someone else.
Colleague: Oh yeah, maybe it was from you. Huh. Do wanna go to Spili?
Me: Nah. I’m good.
(Two weeks later.)
Everyone: We should go to Spili!
Me: I know, right?!?! I’ve heard it’s supposed to be so cool! Let’s all go!
In reality, there was only one person ever who said that Spili was something special – a local bus driver who was probably from there and wanted to get some customers to his mother’s taverna. But somehow I started to believe that Spili really was something special, and I couldn’t be more excited to go see it.
The first time I went there I thought, “Huh. Well, this is nice. I mean… Not quite the spectacle I was expecting, but nice.” And it truly was. Spili is actually just a tiny village in the mountains with nice cafés and tavernas, and it’s a place you stop on your way south. It also has a beautiful monastery, an old aqueduct, and natural mountain springs. It’s pretty. It’s serene. It’s small. Just like all other mountain villages on Crete.
Maybe the reason I love Spili so much is because of the memories it represents. It really is the gateway to the south coast of Crete (if you’re situated in the western part of the island). I’ve stopped there countless times on road-trips with some of my best friends, and it’s always the first stop of the day – right when you’re giddy, excited, happy to be on a road-trip and pumped to reach the gorgeous beach waiting for you on the other side of Spili. So many memorable days and exciting adventures have started off with a freshly squeezed orange juice in that village.
Old friend, I can’t wait ’till we meet again!
(I imagine what happened 2 seconds before this picture was taken was that my friend said, “Christine- look here!” And then I said, “I think it’s officially time to break out in dance. Opa!!”
And then I started dancing the zorba.
What? You don’t look like that when you’re dancing? Liar.)