My Crete

I'm flying to Crete on Saturday. My experience with Greek islands tells me that I should expect the island to be heaped with rocks and chockablock with incredibly friendly waiters. I can't wait. The bad luck is that I'm leaving an unusually sunny Munich (90 degrees on Saturday) for an island that hasn't exactly opened for the season.

Do you like surprises? I do. A student asked me today how much I'd read about Crete to prepare for my trip. Which airport are you flying into? The north or the south one? What's your hotel like? What's the GDP? Hell, I don't know. That's what I'm going there to find out. I need to be awed by new places.

How much enjoyment does a traveller get out of a place when he's already read four books about it? I live in my head 365 days a year, so I enjoy the palpable moments of discovery when I visit a new city. I don't want to spoil it with knowledge. Is this an American mentality? We do like our dumb.

It's not that, though. When I travel to a new place--Bilbao, Crete, Ibiza, and Tokyo this year--I want to feel like an explorer. I know that's stupid, but bear with me. Our generation is completely deprived of this feeling. The world has been explored. There are a hundred books, a thousand websites, a million blogs about Crete. I don't want to read before I see Crete for myself. I want Crete to be my Crete. It will probably by filled with karaoke bars and sunburnt Brits, but at least I tried.

I've been to Mykonos (of course) but off season when the hordes of gay men weren't there. I've been to Athens, Santorini and Pátmos--so I know I should expect a barren island with lots of whitewashed houses and red wine that gives you a whopper of a headache the next day. I've decided to drink only water at the weekend. Let's see if this holds water.

When I get back: In May, I have two INCREDIBLE expat author interviews for us: Tania Hershman, whose new short story collection, My Mother Was an Upright Piano. hits the streets on May 3, talks to me about her experience as an expat. Marcus Speh and I have done two interviews--one in English and one in German--for the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival coming out on May 14. I hope you'll stop by for these interviews. Tania and Marcus are lovely people...and bursting-with-talent writers. Here's a taste of who they are:

Husk of Hare (art by Jennifer Noel Bower)

In June expect something completely different. I'm publishing a book, and Jennifer Noel Bower has done the cover art for it! If you have a blog and you want to be part of my virtual blog tour, let me know. 

I must be off (to Crete),


Christopher Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.


  1. I am like you in that when I travel I want the sense of uncharted territory and discovery. Give me a map that I need to figure out and just point me away from the seedier sides of town. I do always scope out the equestrian facilities though, and try to explore an new area via horseback or carriage when I can.
    Thanks for the shout out!!!! :) Gah, that illustrations show me HOW FAR someone can grow in 2 years. Zeesh! I still like the striped socks though...might have to revisit that one.

  2. Hey, Jenn!
    Greetings from Crete! This interface irks me. It's hard to find the comment box. I need to say something louder to Blogger. Hope you're doing well. :)


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