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  • Writer's pictureLucy Tugwell-Scott

Where it all began.....

Travelling the world has always been a passion for me; whether that has been for business or pleasure but as the years have gone on I have often longed for a second home in the sun.

Born in England, we are fortunate to have some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery in the world but when it comes to the seasons we just don't have any! Winter in Summer, Summer in Winter and Spring and Autumn becoming blurred grey areas in between. Don't get me wrong; there is nothing more beautiful than a crisp winter frost or a glorious sunny spring day but with such unpredictable weather i am happy to admit that at times England and its sporadic forecasts can be plain frustrating and so our journey for our home in the sun began.

So why Crete? My first visit to this Island was at the age of thirteen; a simple family holiday with my parents and two sisters staying in a small self catering apartment not far from Heraklion. I remember spending days driving around the island, over the mountains, along the seafront. Day trips to Knossos and water parks, shopping trips in the old town of Rethymo. One of my very first trips abroad. Fast forward 20 years and many many other trips to various countries and it is that vacation that still has a special place in my heart. It is not only when i fell in love with Greece, it is when i fell in love with Crete.

Unless you have experienced it, the magic of Crete can be very difficult to explain. As the largest of the Greek Islands it holds an element of mystery about it. From North to South and East to West, no two regions are the same. With stunning coastlines and what seem like some of the highest mountain tops there is nothing more breathtaking than spending time driving around discovering the hidden gems Crete has to offer. More to follow on specific must visit areas on future blogs....

So.... that was that, Crete would be my home from home. Simple..... or so i thought!

Buying or building a property abroad crosses most peoples minds at some point in their life i am sure..... for some it is a dream for others it becomes a reality but for me, actually doing it was one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life to date.... where did i start? Fortunately for me, my husband was along for the ride so i wasn't alone, but as a control freak, sadly for him, he was given very little say. Of course, i made sure at all points he was in agreement but for the most part this was my project.

So; first things first; where did we want to be? As i have already mentioned the Island is huge in comparison to many other European Islands so we had to be sure of the location for our home. As some areas are seasonal and operate from April to October, we needed to make sure the location of our villa was close enough to year round facilities (eventually we would like to be here year round). From my very first trip to the many others i had made to Crete before settling here for our new home, i had always loved the city of Rethymno. Located on the north coast between Chania and Heraklion, this beautiful Venetian city offers all I could ever want in a second home. Vibrant and lively yet still retaining its simplicity and tradition, the winding streets of shops and restaurants situated off a simply stunning old Harbor; Rethymno was for me. Now, as much as i love the city, i grew up in the country side so being in the heart of it wasn't an option, i wanted peace and tranquility at our home but still within easy reach of amenities, therefore our exploration of the villages began. Up and down the mountains we went, discovering village upon village we had yet to explore until one day we found Maroulas.

Perched on the hills above Rethymno, Maroulas is a quiet village set within greenery and is one of the oldest inhabited villages on the Island. With breathtaking views across the Aegean sea and sunrises dreams are made from, the location was simply perfect for us.

As luck should have it, fate then stepped very quickly to assist the next stage..... Having already spoke with building firms and architects, finding land and applying for building rights was starting to sound like the biggest challenge i may have faced (and i have a teenage son!). You don't often consider how different countries are until you attempt to build a property in one that is not your native home but let me tell you, its tricky! Firstly there is the language barrier, no, i am not in the slightest bit fluent in Greek! Secondly, the approach to life is much different; refreshing because pressure does not exist here, but having grown up in England it can be difficult to not get frustrated at what seems to be a lack of urgency here..... Anyway, i digress..... so, having faced the prospect of taking on a serious unknown, we happened to cross paths with an architect who had already acquired a plot of land in our perfect location and was already in the process of setting the foundations for a property..... i couldn't believe our luck!

I am a big believer in everything happening for a reason, we had actually already lost what we had thought was out dream plot of land but when this new opportunity came along, all the pieces just started to fall into place. Yes; this was it. This was where eventually i would retire drinking Raki and watching the sunset over the sea. And so it began. We sealed the deal. We were officially building our new home on the Greek Island of Crete and i couldn't have been more excited.

We knew the next few months (approximately twelve from start to finish) would have their challenging moments but we had no doubt in our minds that they would be worth every moment. And now, here we are..... It is July 2020 and we are spending our first family holiday at Villa Alexander. I have to mention this, although if he ever stumbles across this he may actually kill me, but the Villa here is named after our previously mentioned teenage son Alexander-James. Villa Alexander was built primarily for us, but it was also built for us to share with friends, family and even those we don't know but who share a love for travel, exploration and Greece in the way we do. It is a home from home, a sanctuary, a little place of happiness where we hope memories can be made and shared for many many years to come.

This is just the start for us, we have so much more to discover and explore here in Crete and i hope that we can share it with you.

We will be updating our blog with our tips on places to explore, beaches to spend lazy days on and some of the best tavernas to enjoy traditional Cretan food at and if you choose to spend your vacations at Villa Alexander, we will always be on hand to help plan your trip.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us and we look forward to welcoming you to Crete,

Lucy x

Villa Alexander

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