Time flies – it’s already been more than three months since we’ve been living in our little village! If someone would have told me years ago that we would end up here, in this small community in the heart of Crete, I would have never ever believed it. Yet, through time it became more and more clear that we just had to get our own little piece of slow life in the village. And so far, we are not regretting it at all!
It’s now been a while that we’re here and that it all starts to feel like “home”. We’ve been frequently documenting the process of our home renovation on instagram, as well as writing a couple posts about it here on the blog (Kinlake House | Our New Big Creative Adventure + Kinlake House | Our Kitchen In Progress), but I thought that it would be nice to tell you a little bit more about village life itself, what it’s been about, and how we’ve adjusted to it.
I want to be completely honest about one thing: the guiding vision – when deciding to move here on the island – was to find a place where we could life slow, in tune with the seasons, where we could be ourselves, create, dance naked, do anything our soul craves. And when we first pictured that, we thought that it would be an old house in the middle of nowhere, on a mountain overlooking a lush green valley. Where we could be by all by ourselves and yell if we wanted to. Yet, we had to be realistic about it and find the right compromise between romanticism and our real needs.
- Although it’s doable to live in the middle of nowhere by being self-sufficient, that’s not something we had in mind. Such a homesteading lifestyle is 365 days a year, which is a huge commitment. We want to be able to leave that behind if we feel like travelling away for an undetermined amount of time. So -> we need to be able to do our groceries or head to the farmer’s market rather easily when we are around.
- Much of our work and the creative projects that we develop together require a stable internet connection. We haven’t been lucky with it so far (more on that later) but sadly, in remote places that’s even worse, or even impossible to get at all.
- The energies in a city overwhelm us. Yet although we are quite introverted, we do love to meet other people and feel the community life around us.
So that’s how we settled with the idea to look for a house in a little village.
This seemed like the perfect way to be able to live in the quiet of the countryside, having access to both nature and the everyday things that make life comfortable. The village that we ended up with, wasn’t something that we picked based on previous knowledge. Although we had been coming to Crete for years, we didn’t know anything about this particular place – we just found it because our dream house was there. As we were progressing in our decision, we were happy to find out that the village that we picked has the best of everything – and since we have been living here we also have some funny little anecdotes and stories to share, about what life here has been like 🙂
Access & Surroundings
Crete is quite a big island, with a very mountainous landscape, so outside of the main cities, many of the villages here can be quite remote. Some folks live as far as an hour away from any conveniences such as the smallest grocery shop, pharmacy or post office. And even further away from the airport. Although the villages that are closer to cities, feel a little more like a “suburb”, are more crowded and sometimes lose the charm of a quiet little hideaway.
With ours, we are quite lucky, as we hit that sweet spot “in between” remoteness and convenience. It is located about a 5-minute drive away from a larger village where there is a weekly farmer’s market, where we can buy groceries and hang out at small cafés. Yet, it’s in the heart of a quiet green valley where we can have beautiful mountain views and access to hidden walking paths and trails (many of which we have yet to discover, how exciting!). And we are basically located at the heart of the island, so our position is in between the sea, the mountains and the larger cities. Anything that we want to experience, whether it’s a brunch, a lonely hike on a foggy mountain or a swim in the sea is usually just a 30 minute drive away. That can feel quite long to some, but given the size of the island, it’s a decent timing. Especially in a place like this where no drive feels boring! I’m not yet tired of filming these scenic views as we’re going somewhere, and neither of us are ever fed up of going on spontaneous roadtrips to explore further 🙂
Having said that, I sometimes miss the spirit of going everywhere “on foot” like we would during our travels abroad (especially in Kyoto). If we would want to do that, it would take us hours to get somewhere because of the rugged, mountain landscape. And public transport around where we live is not really an option either. I remember one time when we had lost the keys to our rental car at the beach – and we had to get around by foot, through the mountain roads in the heat. Wasn’t fun! I guess the only thing we could have tried is hitch hiking… but I guess we were a little narrow-minded back then!
It’s fair to say that the experience of having neighbours in a cretan village versus any modern northern country (like in Luxembourg, where we used to live) is completely different! And a much more warmer one. Surely, one has to be open to that – this is not a place for introverts to come in and out without saying hello. Village life is pretty much a life in the local community, and this obviously comes with its ups and its downs.
Here, people care about each other. When we first arrived, we felt overwhelmed by the attention given to us by our neighbours: everybody introduced themselves and was more than eager to point out that we could go to them if we ever need any help. A few neighbours also spontaneously invited us for coffee (or raki) and some neighbours always come by and kindly drop some goodies from their garden. I will never forget the day when we were tired from renovating the house and got a visit from our neighbour who wanted to offer us some of her homemade stuffed vegetables. It was such a delight and honestly, I couldn’t think of anything better than home-cooked food as a welcoming act of kindness, especially during the tough time we went through at the beginning. Sometimes I feel bad, because we do not have time to always “return the favour” but I always love seeing these people around us. It really does feel like a community.
At the end of the day, everybody goes to their own house, but yes, people do want to feel involved in each other’s life. We were told that we also had to be careful of this – because there will always be villagers also like to gossip and spy on each other. I know it happens, and I know that sometimes people may talk behind our backs, too. Although it makes me feel uncomfortable, I try not to think of that too much – after all, we came here to live “our” life, and it doesn’t feel natural to us to be closed about it. There’s also a positive factor in that: having people watch over you means that the place is safe and we’re much less likely to get robbed or in any danger at all.
Another factor of neighbourly life here in Crete: Most houses here are kind of cramped together – pretty much the complete opposite of a US suburb where all the houses have their own driveway and surrounding yard complete with their dividing fences. Here, we don’t talk so much about “property” or “personal space” – every house is simply one’s own little shelter in the middle of a communal place that we call the village.
It can be one’s house on paper, but what happens in real life is another story. As our house is divided into several parts connected through outdoor passages, we had a few funny encounters when we first moved in, as we noticed that neighbours were using the outside of our house as a shortcut to get to the other side of the village, or just unexpectedly showing up to our place when we could be hanging there butt naked. It sure made us feel quite strange and we did not want to offend anyone by telling them we were not really ok with that, and that our house is not a “public path”. Best part: when I googled the greek word for “privacy”, I did not find anything. There is no such word in our language! To be honest, that freaked me out even more, and we had a good laugh, but thankfully, everything was sorted out in the end and we stumbled on anybody doing this anymore.
One thing we will never really manage to fix is people staring over at our place – especially when something new happens like when we invite friends over, but I guess this happens in every village around the world, doesn’t it? 😉
A village like ours is very quiet, but it can also be a very busy and loud place at times. Since we live close to other people, we hear the life in the village: grannies yelling at each other, kids running in the street, dogs barking, roosters in the morning, bread trucks and their cretan music. Even more so in August, when the village fills up with families on their holiday and there are many folk music events going on. We find that all of this sums up the charm of living in a village. It feels safe, alive… happy.
David and I also love the quiet moments in between. When the villagers have their “siesta” between 2pm and 6pm, the only sound we hear then is the wind. Just so soothing. That’s when I love doing most of my focused work (like writing or designing).
Other than the few funny stories with our neighbours, and outside of our own project routine, well, truthfully, we do not have many more distractions around here, or things that occupy our mind at all. Living in a village really feels like going back to the root, to the core and the most simple way to live a life. We can focus on what matters to us, and instead of being bombarded with opportunities and stimulation everywhere, we can allow ourselves to reflect inwards and to live live more mindfully, at a slower pace. Our days here are regulated by the sun and the seasons – that is exactly what gives rhythm to our daily routine and what will, throughout the year. A morning in the summer is not the same as a morning in the winter. According to the light and the temperature, we will have a whole different experience of brewing that morning coffee, and taking time to do so…
Slow life here comes hand in hand with having a simplified lifestyle where we practice self-care, prioritise and do not spread ourselves too thin. We do not freak out if something has to be postponed, if we wake up a little later or if some plan got cancelled – the lifestyle we have in this place is very much about going with the flow and mindful slowness, quality over quantity. It’s not a hard thing to get accustomed to, when the whole mentality of the place is like so – in fact a famous local saying is “siga siga”, which literally means: slowly slowly.
Surely, that also means we sometimes have to deal with a slowness that we do not really want or that doesn’t really suit us – our internet connection at the house, for example, is taking ages to get. And appointments with people usually happen about an hour later than they were scheduled, or not scheduled at all, popping up “whenever”. That was frustrating at first, but we adjusted to it as well!
Nature & Sustainability
Village life is very much ruled by nature, her rhythms and her seasons. Here, we are surrounded by greenery wherever we look – whether we walk in the village streets through the fruit orchards or take a hike on the outskirts to be surrounded with olive trees. Nature in general, has become a centerpiece of our lives, and most of our activities revolve around it, exploring it and taking it all in, from the mountain paths nearby us to the coastal cliffs where we love to watch sunsets.
Spending quite some time here allows us to witness the marvels in nature and everything that it provides us – which makes us feel so appreciative of the environment.
We’ve always wanted to make sustainable choices as much as possible, and live consciously but this certainly feels more powerful when “actually” living in nature. We see everything that is valuable, and all this precious beauty and abundance happening right in front of our eyes. Wild fruits and herbs of all kinds are always there for us to forage and harvest, so our awareness is raised and we take more care to not destroy it with our choices. Here, we have a chance to apply our intentions to live more sustainably, so it becomes a more central part of our lives. We have started embracing many more rituals to live a more zero waste, plastic-free life, have started switching from conventional products to making things from scratch (especially when it comes to keeping our house clean), and we regularly make preserves and good use out of our food scraps. It’s not only a mindful thing to do, but also really fun! Right now we are particularly obsessed with fermenting our own kombucha, kefir, making our own pickles and crafting all purpose cleaner using vinegar and local essential oils. By the way, if you’re interested in knowing more about these things, I would totally be into writing a post about it in the future!
Food & Healthy Living
By living in a sun-soaked island in the heart of the mediterranean, it’s fair to say that we are getting access to some really good local produce. Here, even the simplest dishes like a tomato salad can taste so mind-blowing, because every vegetable packs a ton of flavour. Pair that with some local herbs and slow-pressed olive oil and you’ve got bliss on a plate.
It’s not hard to eat healthy here – without spending much money at all. I am thankful that greek cuisine, and particularly cretan food honours vegetable dishes. From colourful fresh salads, to roasted vegetables drizzled in olive oil, to delicious wild greens with lots of lemon – we can have so much variety of it on the daily! We also eat a lot of fruit here without even paying attention, simply because it’s always served at the end of every meal, and because we usually grab all kinds of yummy seasonal fruit on our way out from the market.
Obviously, there are also plenty of “not so healthy” dishes and choices too. We have access to some devilishly good pastry shops and bakeries, and we both have a sweet tooth that feels in heaven with all the greek sweets and snacks that I remember from my childhood! But yes, it’s a question of balance – and given that we maintain a mostly healthy way of eating and cook even more wholesome dishes at home, we don’t feel too bad about it. It will also be easier to make healthy substitutes when our full kitchen will be ready, or at least we like to think so 😉
Much of the socialising and making new friends here happens naturally, as people are very open – however I feel that the last few months we have been so busy with our house and our personal projects, that we’ve been a been more closed on our end for that to happen organically.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I believe there’s a time for everything. A time to reflect inwards, a time to get shit done and a time to make new friends. All comes when it should come, it’s not meant to be forced. We’ve always met made friends here in Crete, locals and foreigners. And I’m very much looking forward to having friends over to visit us from all over the globe. In fact, that has already started and it’s becoming so much fun to share this part of the world with people that we love connecting with. Our future plans of how we want to use the house as a place for communal creativity also keep that in mind!
Creativity & Intuition
All of these factors in our life here are a work in progress, that we choose to record now that we’ve just started – so our opinion might change. But of course, one thing is certain: Crete is our soul place and inspires us greatly, so deciding to have a base here has been one of the most important decisions in our lives. There’s something incredible about this island – it is packed with strong energies, which mesmerise us at times and keep us grounded and rooted at others.
Here, we can live slowly, simply, free of unnecessary layers of noise. It makes for some intense emotions and feelings. There are days where we feel very spiritually connected, totally aligned with the whole universe, feeling so small yet so nurtured. Everything that we have ever thought of in this place, and everything that we have started or experimented with has always been a step further than it could have been if we started it somewhere else. The most important turns in our lives years ago, happened right here, and rightfully so. Here, we can hear the sound of our own intuition. And as I believe that intuition is essentially the starter fuel for all human creativity, well, that explains how we feel most creative, aware and enlightened when we are in this place.
Creating a house here, a base of our own, is teaching us so much, and it’s obviously the biggest project we’ve ever gotten our hands on. It comes with so many challenges but we are open to them and each one of them teaches us something. This itself is an amazing exercise for our minds, as it prepares us to adjust this way to any new ideas and projects we’ll embrace from now on. Everything feels “figureoutable”. And while we’re at it, we are learning a whole lot on how to take care of ourselves, how to tend our minds and not spread ourselves too thin. So that the things we “do” take up are done with full heart and full purpose only.
We are looking forward to see our vision of this house coming together and to create a good setup for us to express ourselves and make the rest of our ideas come to life. Living simply in a village and being close to nature recharges us wholly and I cannot wait to see what will come out of it, from the times that we’ll be here to make use of slowness, to the times that we will be away from this place, travelling in far away places and longing to be back.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and that sharing these experiences inspired you in some way, or helped you visualise something for yourself, especially if you too, happen to be interested in living close to nature or are already doing so. David and I are excited to share more about our village life and our experiences here, and we are looking forward to meet like-minded souls in person in this special place. And we are more than eager to hear about your story if you have made such a move in your own life. Place is an important factor in living to our full potential, and finding one’s soul place is really an incredible experience worth sharing.