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Tom & Louise with champagne

We’re popping open the champagne tonight because we reserved another apartment today – this one in Chania, on Crete, in Greece, for the month of July, 2013. No, we’ve never been there.

How did we come to commit to yet another town we’d never heard of? First, we thought Greece needed our humble help. Then we thought that its miles of shoreline might provide an actual hot summer-beachy experience, which one does not get in Oregon even if you sit on the beach all year.

We get a lot of advice from online travel guides, local chambers of commerce, and tripadvisor.com (where Tom asks such beautifully crafted questions that he gets slews of answers). We check the historical averages of the weather, we read actual paper guidebooks (while huddled in Powell’s City of Books), and we peruse ex-pat sites.

We take that advice under consideration and cherish most of it — but not all. We ignored Rick Steves’ advice to center ourselves in Rethymnon (which is also on the north shore of Crete). We chose Chania because it is, we understand, the most beautiful and the oldest. It appears to have been inhabited since the Neolithic era – some 12,000 years! It has medieval castles, quaint Fourteenth Century townhouses, and narrow cobblestone streets. We require this.

We ignored someone’s advice that we should spend only three days in Chania – that we would perish of boredom if we stayed longer than that. Chania is older than dirt. We can probably deal with a month.

We ignored advice to rent slightly outside of town. We like the whole foreign-city scene: the sound of the last revelers at night and the trash cans clanging at dawn, the scent of roasting lamb, the thick Greek coffee at the Internet cafe. The ambiance of a city – especially one of the oldest cities on the planet – tickles our adventuring spirit.

Finding an apartment was the last step. We needed good wi-fi, good air conditioning (this will be summer in Greece, after all), a nearby beach, and at least a scrap of kitchen. And the apartment has to be big enough that we don’t bump into the furniture or each other every time we turn around.

We read all the reviews and everything we can find about every candidate apartment. We look at the map and the satellite view. We pull up images on the Internet. We correspond with owners and ask stupid questions. (Though I have not yet figured out how to phrase the question: “But is your wi-fi any good?”)

After a few weeks, we zeroed in on the Anastasia Apartments, and corresponded with a lovely lady named Katerina Nikoloudaki. Tom likes the looks of the spiral staircase. I had to make sure that the bed and the bathroom were on the same floor. Now the deposit is on its way.

Tom brought back our two avatars to introduce you to our July home:

There you have it. Crete in July. I’m getting the champagne flutes out of the cupboard.

PS: About that picture at the top. It’s us of course, aboard a cruise ship on our way through the Panama Canal. We were tasting champagne. We drank it all.