Things That Only Happen While Traveling

I once spent a whole 5 month summer on the island of Crete. This was a decade ago, I was adventurous and I needed to see the sun.

The small, not-yet-that-touristy town where I stayed instantly felt welcoming, and before I knew it, I had gotten to know some of the friendly locals there. Only in Greece have I been offered a piece of cake by an elderly shopkeeper and his sister to celebrate the sister’s name day, when I just went in with the intention to buy water. I was traveling alone and I was enjoying myself.

That summer hurried by while I was developing my tan and engaging in interesting conversations with other travelers (many of those conversations were in French and – now this is completely logical – I actually managed to improve my French, in Greece!)

A local hotel had amazing fried calamari on Fridays and I ate olives and chocolate ice cream like it was my last day on earth. I also learned to make surprisingly delicious frappé from instant coffee.

But there’s one memory in particular that I have of sunbathing on the nearby beach one hot day.

Looking for a cold drink? Not happening during siesta

It was siesta time and everything was closed. I had developed a daily habit of going to the same spot on the beach during that time. As I was relaxing there on my beach towel, with closed eyes and having almost fallen asleep, I suddenly felt a strange odor drifting towards me. It smelled like a farm animal.

I opened my eyes and saw a lonesome, random sheep hovering straight above me.

The animal was looking me in the eye with a curious expression, his face very close to mine. He had long, rasta-like pieces of dirty wool hanging from his face and he was unsheared. After a short and mutually startled stare contest, he ran off to the sea for a swim (I’m not sure which one of us won the contest).

All the usual locals were of course there, too, and they were staring at us – some of them laughing openly. As an outsider staying for a long time in a small town where everyone knew each other, I was used to being recognized and stared at – but this time there really was something to look at!

It was a very bizarre, short moment. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but I can assure you that things like this never seem to happen to me at home. As a city girl, my encounters with roaming sheep are sparse!

If travel memories were stored in old-fashioned photo albums in the brain, this story would be on the cover of my Crete album. This is what I always remember first. I have to dig a bit further for the other memories! (And the sheep would be an animated gif, running towards the sea)

Poor little lamb, he must have been boiling under all that wool on that hot summer day. After a refreshing swim, he just left. I always assumed he went back home, wherever that was (I never saw a farm nearby, though I know sheep were common on the island).

The sheep’s swimming spot at sunset, minus the sheep

When the long, Greek summer finally ended, I flew home on a Friday. On Saturday, I repacked my bags from summer clothes to winter. On Sunday, I flew to Paris where I’d decided to live for a while (and where I quickly got into a nice rhythm of eating baguettes and nutella-and-grand-marnier crêpes… but more about that later!)

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92 responses to “Things That Only Happen While Traveling

    • Thanks for reading it! 🙂 I used to work in the travel industry, so many of my earlier trips were either work related or done with employee discounts, etc. Right now I’m doing another type of job, so no discounts! All my recent travels are realised through determined saving and planning: set your mind to your goals, prioritise, and all the usual. I saved a lot of money for instance by just buying cheaper food, make-up and hair products for a longer period!

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  1. Haha…that’s an awesome encounter:) I was laughing as I read it imagining the situation with you and the sheep eye to eye:)

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  2. That was a wonderful and entertaining read. (I hope you intend to write either your memoirs or a travel book one day.) Loved the sheep story, but also all the other little details that brought your holiday to life. I’ve been to Crete (with husband and three of our children) but I don’t think we had as much fun as you did!

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  3. I enjoyed reading this post. Moving to Egypt, I have been closely looking at the areas around and Crete has been on my radar as a possibility. I wonder if it is still as quaint and charming?

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    • Haha! No, you’re kidding!!! 😀 I can so totally imagine what that would have been like! (Though maybe it’s not entirely possible to imagine it, you have to be there!) Really funny!!

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      • Nope I had 2 encounters. Once on narrow little country rounds and after I had passed what seemed to be the same donkey 3 times I realised it was and I was going round in circles. and once I had walked acrose farmland and was on a very isolated windswept wee beach, I think on Achill Island and got that funny feeling that someone was on my shoulder. Looked up into a donkey muzzle! We just sat and companionably passed the time till he wandered off again. I would love to see a see a sheep swimming in the sea!

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  4. Must be something about Greece and farm animals …! My very first travel story/post on my blog was about a summer in Greece and a little goat, but its ending was not as benign! I hate putting links in other people’s comments, but I will just this once so you can find this post if you are interested. Meanwhile, where were you on Crete? Our Greek family has a place there in Sissi, east of Heraklion on the northern coast.
    https://lexklein.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/it-started-with-a-little-goat/

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    • I’ll check out your post, thanks for the link!! 😉 Very curious about it now, haha! I loved these type of things in Crete, the whole island felt like a little village sometimes – in a good way! I was near Heraklion (also to the east). Near Knossos, which I was planning on visiting the whole time but then didn’t! (I really do love stuff like that, it’s just the crowds that I don’t particularly enjoy). So, you are lucky to have family there! Do you go there every year? I haven’t been there since.

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      • I have not been back since 2005 – way too long! I went more frequently in the past, but new lands have beckoned as the years have gone by. My parents spent almost a month in Sissi last fall and it was incredibly relaxing for them. Like you, they became part of the town and the people. I really want to go now that my aunt has inherited a nice place on the beach where we could stay.

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  5. Great story! Well told! Greece is one of my favorite places, although I have not been to Crete. I lived there for a while many years ago and did some island-hopping. Never had an encounter like yours there with a four-legged creature, but I have many great memories of all the things I did and the great friends I made. Spending money on traveling instead of material possessions is so worth it for us. The experiences and memories are something no amount of money can buy!

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    • I so agree with you!! I can happily live without a lot of possessions and save up for travelling – but it’s a matter of prioritising. Few people can have it all. Crete was really beautiful, I loved the BLUEness of the sea there, it was somehow bluer than anywhere else. Also visited Santorini, but that’s it. Where did you live? Thanks for leaving a comment! I’m happy you came by for a visit! 🙂

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  6. That must have been something waking up to a rasta-looking sheep!! 😀 I can just see it! Your stay in Crete sounds so delicious in every sense. Fried calamari and olives and chocolate ice-cream. The good life indeed. I’ve just had a holiday. How come I’m just so ready already for the next?!!!! Sharon xxx

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    • Oh yes, the Med has it all, that’s the good life in my opinion. How were your hols? Last time you said you were going to London – and maybe Nuuksio 🙂 No holidays for me, so plenty of time for blogging! Too much, maybe! 🙂 Happy to see you’re back!

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    • Hi there! I will check out your post asap! 🙂 Thanks for nominating me and for thinking of me – it’s so flattering to be remembered and noticed among all those other blogs! I’ve decided a while ago that I’m award-free, so I will have to say no thank you… I know I should advertise being award-free somewhere on my blog…. going to mention it in my About-page maybe but haven’t gotten around to that yet. Thanks so much anyway! Have a happy Monday 🙂

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  7. I love this story! Your words and story telling is great! I have got myself out of bed at 5.45am to try and get a moment for myself before the kids wake so I actually get time to read your lovely blog! ❤ Yay! Before I can finish this sentence I hear my toddler stirring so for now goodbye friend x

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    • Thanks so much for reading and of course for the comment, too! 🙂 Wow that was an early start to the day! I’m looking forward to doing absolutely nothing this weekend. Talk to you soon! Moikka!

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  8. Telling you, girl… we must be on a parallel. I was there one month, but you were five! 😮 What a summer! And your story… ahhh, the funniest. And I could just see it happen too. Do you remember any of your Greek? For me the most useful words were Psomi, krasi, psari. 😉

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  9. Wow, you travel a lot! It sounds amazing to spend an entire summer somewhere, and then just take off again to Paris! I love the sheep-story, haha! This certainly only happens while traveling:)

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    • Never happened to me in my home town, for sure! 😉 I used to travel a lot, worked for airlines etc. Now, less and less. So this blog is a bit of a memoir 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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  10. What a great memory! But I’m concerned about your eating habits. Olives and chocolate ice cream is a combination I will probably never try. But Nutella and Grand Marnier I could probably get behind!

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  11. A sheep staring at you when you open your eyes!! My my that would be a story to regale everyone 😮 I am glad you maintained your composure though. I might have shrieked or not sure what would I have did 😛 Great read and splendid pics 🙂

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  12. What a beautiful blog post – a lovely vignette of a vivid experience! Things like these are only possible while travelling – these sorts of serendipitous experiences…

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    • Thank you! 🙂 I think I’m just more aware of my surroundings and more present in the moment when I travel. I pay attention and later on remember things. Whereas in “real life” the days are so similar… 😉

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  13. This is indeed a great story, SMS. It must be so nice thinking of that moment, amongst all your fantastic travel destinations, and I can just imagine you opening your eyes and trying to ‘compute’ the image in front of your face! And I thought it funny that the sheep then trotted off for a swim. As if she was also a local, simply having a good ‘look’ at the foreigner, (like the villagers did with you), then thinking, la human like thought, similar to the sheep in that movie, ‘Babe,’ So this is the girl they were talking about – well, I’ve had a good look, now I am off for my usual midday dip”….. LOL. I didn’t think sheep would even like the water too much. Mind you, Kangaroos don’t and they have been seen to swim in the surf on usually hot summer days….. at least on youtube!!!!
    Such a great story.

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