1450-57: Cretan Swan Song, Wind and Geese Attack

1450: Wind in Plakias

Friday 21st February 2020

We headed down to Plakias for our last tripette before leaving Crete.  Parking was along the sea front, and it was WINDY …  later that evening we moved into a half empty car park so we could get some sleep and moved back to the beach the next morning.

A few apperatif’s in a bar and we posed the question about whether the TV could be tuned to the weekend’s rugby … come back tomorrow and ask the owners.  Supper was at a new to us restaurant in Plakias … the 83 year old mother sat and gave the old instruction to customers – choose a table closer to the fire, and to her middle aged sons – one waiting table and the other in the kitchen.  Great food.

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The wind blowing the white horses.

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Hot beetroot with mash and oil … one of our starters and we shared a chicken dish after.  We were even given two yogurt puddings and two bottles of raki … hic!

1451: AndyPandyCar Suffers Wind

Saturday 22nd February 

On arrival yesterday, the wind had wrenched the drivers door out of J’s hand, causing the door to crack against the wing panel … a terrible noise and paint damage.  So we drove up into the mountains, and along another gorge, to a garage.  EUR10 and a bit of brute force and the door hinges and panels had been bent back into place.  And a dab of paint added.  

In the bar, we asked about the rugby on TV … yes, the English lady owner would bring down her laptop with her UK TV account.  Grateful we had a coffee and an omelette there for lunch.  Back again later on for a few glasses and a French win.

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 Plakias beach in the morning with a brief moment of sun …. that threatening sky later delivered all it promised.

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But the sea was truly an amazing colour.

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I only went a few steps into the tunnel as it was too dark … apparently coal used to be moved along here.  I know the Germans used the caves for storage in WW2.

1452: Walk to Ammoudi Beach Walk and an ENGLAND WIN!!!

Sunday 23rd February 

A local dog from a Plakias hotel led CO2 and I on a walk to Ammoudi Beach … I suspected he’d done it a few times with hotel guests.  

Back to ‘our’ bar for the England and Ireland game.  It’s not often J and I are on opposing benches … delighted to see England finally find their form, however, France have most people’s money for the Tournament.  Geoff, who I’d met in Mili Gorge a few days ago (and wondered if he’d made it over the land slip) arrived in the bar during the game and then joined us at the family restaurant we’d been to two nights ago. 

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He led the way, but didn’t want to play with either of CO2.  On the return, he shot off back for home, but gave a little bark as we passed by, as if to say, what took you so long?

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View back to Plakias.  It is a low rise seaside resort with a long (windy) beach … pretty enough, but not much to hold you.

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Ammoudi Beach … would have made a good wilding spot … with a couple of permanent caravans, but the rugby held us in Plakias.

 1453: James Attacked … by Geese

Monday 24th February 

We walked from the ancient Greek / Venetian bridge, by the old Prevelli monastery along the top of the Prevelli gorge.  This part was easy walking … it got more difficult coming down the rocky path, if you can call it that, to join the steps down onto Prevelli Beach.  We planned to wade the river and walk up the other side, but as J sat down to remove boots and socks, the 3 resident geese charged over with the necks wings outstretched and attacked James, sat on the sand.  Another walker had to beat them off of James with a stick, but not before he had sustained a bite to the ankle.  Geese are known to be as effective as a guard dog … and we can concur, they are as scary.  We therefore decided have our picnic with CO2 guarding us from the geese and return up the way we came.  The negative was the climb back up the steep path, but the benefit was that we were in the sun the whole way back and the views on that side were better.

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Bridge at the start of the walk … could have been a less windy overnight parking too.

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Wild flowers in an ancient olive grove with thick gnarled trunks.

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Just fabulous views.

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First signing of the famous Prevelli Palms.  Lin, our all things Crete sage, told us that there were all burned about 10 years ago, but no signs of that.

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No sign – yet – of the killer geese!

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Fearless mountain dog on the steep climb.

 1454-55: Back to Kalives for Jobs and Another Farewell Dinner

Tuesday 25th – Thursday 27th February 

We arrived back in Kalives late morning.

As part of our getting back on the road, there’s a pressure to get everything straight first, so we cleaned and polished the outside of Jez, including getting on the roof.  Cleaned the inside and outside of the AndyPandyCar prior to returning it after 4 months of abusing it!  Some admin.  I also collected all the ‘stuff’ I want to take on the flight home … and had to head to the Chinese shop to buy a EUR15 holdall.   J on inside Jez cleaning whilst I took 5 bagfuls of laundry into Chania.  Lunch at the Souvlakerie on Thursday, which we not been to before … a couple of glasses of vino and Lars walked past … so he joined us.

We saw him again for supper Thursday evening, in what is definitely one of our favourite restaurants … 3 Cooks in Stylos.  We were joined by June & Karl, Julia & Anthony and Sue.  Far too much food, but we managed to nostimos our way through most of it.

1457: Adieu Crete

Friday 28th February 

We returned the last of the Greek gas bottles, which had been plumbed in since our regulator issue.  With heating running, they have been lasting 6-8 days and cost EUR18.  Not as cheap as forecourt LPG, but not bad.  The gas shop is also a cava … booze shop, so I supplemented the bottle refund with cash and came away with 5 x 3 litres of wine.  Apparently wine in Turkey is expensive, so we will need to add to our stocks … or go dry!  Coffee at Aris’ Fresh & Cool Cafe and farewell to him … he’s been our Ask Aris.  The latest question was where can we get a replacement windscreen wiper … it just so happened that the chap sat next to him runs a garage in the town, so J took Jez up there whilst I returned the AndyPandyCar.

I was a little concerned that I had not de-doggified it enough and with us having spent so much time locally, he must have known about CO2 …  I’d not mentioned dogs when I made the booking (naughty!).  He gave it  a cursory glance inside and out; didn’t even check that we’d filled with fuel.  When we’d collected Lars the previous evening, he’d said that CO2 don’t smell … another benefit of them not liking water.

After lunch, J rested and I wandered up cardiac hill to say farewell to Ann, who has been a gem.  June and Karl popped down with a tow rope and ratchet (ours had broken when a local tried to pull Jane out of sand in Matala) AND they’d bought hand sanitiser and face masks … generous people.  We have met some really good friends in and around Kalives … only 20 months till we will be back and time does fly.  

We arrived at Heraklion in plenty of time and as we didn’t want to go on board 4+ hours before the sailing, we ate the slow cooker supper early, literally sat dock side watching the lorries load.  Sign everywhere stating restricted access, but no one moved us on and I walked CO2 unchallenged in and out of the harbour.  

A few glasses in the cabin, a shower and we attempted to sleep.  My slumbers disturbed by the swell and CO2 (mostly Corrie) who had remembered that they’d been allowed on the bed with me on a previous crossing … my mistake!

When asked where is our favourite place, we have always replied here, where we are now … we live in the present.  But Crete has definitely caught us.  It has everything … incredible scenery with majestic mountains, history, gorges for walking and beaches.  Old villages with their cafes and tavernas.  Great fresh food and the most generous and welcoming people.  We are both very sad to leave Crete after over 4.5 months, but also excited to start on the next part of this trip.  A big thank you for Lin and Bo who persuaded us to first visit Crete Spring 2018 … it is our Happy Place.

1444- : Water, Water Everywhere and Stops Play

1444: Argyroupolis 

Sunday 16th February 2020

We’d briefly stopped in Argyroupolis when the Aged P’s were here back in October 2019, but not stayed long as a) we were en route to down south and b) it was raining.  It was forecast to rain some more today, but we donned our wet weather gear and headed out for a shortish walk and explore.  We are not feint hearted!  Much!  Argyroupolis is split into an Upper and Lower. The Upper was built onto the site of the oldest ancient Minoan city in Crete, called Lappa; very little remains.  The Lower is in a fertile valley with springs that have been channelled into interesting waterfalls and rills by the large restaurants.

We started in the Upper part, which took us past many old buildings … not the ancient Minoan ones as Lappa resisted the Roman invasion of 67BC and was consequently destroyed … another strong Cretan theme along with the Germans burning and killing whole villages in WW2.  Only a few years later, 31BC and the Lappians decided to support the Romans and so got their village rebuilt and some elements remain, such as the 1000 m3 water cistern that still supplies the village. A Roman mosaic was covered over for the winter, but we’d been there, and seen that before.  The name Argyroupolis (the g is pronounced as a a y) was adopted as recently as 1822.

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The stone lintel is from Venetian times and the script translates as ‘The world is but smoke and shadows’.  It refers to the tale of the princess Sophia, daughter of the feudal lord, who was wed the son of a Cretan rebel.  The wedding was intended to reconcile the two factions, but the brides father got the groom’s family and soldiers so drunk that they were easy prey to be slaughtered.  Moral of this story is that if you want to be a Cretan rebel, forget about marrying beautiful women, but stay in hiding!

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The step is the lid of a child’s sarcophagus.

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The second part of the walk took us down to the chapel of the Five Virgins … but you had to be at least 10’ tall to see through the window to their tombs inside.  Of more interest were the early Christian burial sites all around the church and a 2000+ year old plane tree.  All this was accessed … slowly … down a stoney and slippery donkey track.

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Thirsty Oscar imbibing grave water!

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The Whomping Willow?  The ancient 2000+ year old plane tree looks as if it has had a hissy fit a the smaller tree.

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Would have made a good picnic spot.

We’d elected to leave the picnic behind and planned to have a light snack in one of the restaurants, but ended up having a full meal … half of which is now wrapped in foil and back in the fridge for tomorrow.  We started with homemade zucchini balls and a Greek salad.  The house free offering was hot rice, cooked in stock and served with butter and lemon juice … similar to one we had in Kisamoss.  The restaurants here are known for their spit roasted meats … today’s offering was lamb’ just delicious.  And all consumed in front of a roaring log fire.  

Despite the overcast sky, cold wind and slippery paths, another successful day in the Clune household.

1445: Potamon Reservoir & Patsos Gorge

Monday 17th February

Having showered the night before, it took a quick refill of water and a coffee and Arts’ before we set off for Potamon / Potamoi Dam.  At one point our Co-Pilot for Caravans took us through a small village with a centimetre either side … as the the driver of Jez, I was thankful to get through without adding to the scratches.  I’ve sine spotted an easy drive back out.  Lunch on arrival and J rested, so I took CO2 for a walk around part of the reservoir.  Built in 2008 and the water supplies the greater Rethymno area.  In 2014 a crocodile, dubbed Sifis,  was spotted in its waters, believed to have been released by a local.  Several attempts to catch it and re-home it failed and sadly the harsh winter of 2015 caused its demise.  There is a lot of parking around here and it seems to be on a day out on the Rethymno tourist circuit.  Super quiet except for the odd 4wd trucks, mostly with olive tree prunings, that pass us to and from work i.e. early and late. 

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Oscar doesnt care what falls on top of him.

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Potamon Reservior built in 2008.  Jez’ parking in one of the many parking spaces.

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Did I do that?  I walked over the dam and the road was blocked off … subsidence all the way along.

After J arose from his slumbers, we drove to the Patsos Gorge.  One of the websites I looked at described it as being in the top 10 most beautiful gorges …. it certainly was beautiful.  True to form, we took a minor detour into the restaurant at the start!  The gorge walk was short, but slow … really pretty and lush / verdant.

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The resident parrot was extremely vocal.  A high pitched siren when CO2 got too close.  A stream of conversation otherwise … we recognised para kalo.

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Chilly out and we needed fortification … fried puffs with cheese and covered in honey!

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The path was pretty easy …

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A couple of chapels along the route.

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We didn’t leave our own wish / prayer … no paper.  Nothing to wish for anyway!!!!

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One of those walks that feeds your soul as it is so beautiful.

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The bridge to nowhere … this is where we had to turn around.  The heavy rains of winter 2019 had removed part of the bridge.


1446: Myli Gorge, A War Museum and Treats!

Tuesday 18th February

First stop was the 2010 Military Museum in Chromonastri.  A young Greek National Service conscript, with a UK Masters in English, did a private guided tour just for me.  He confirmed that military service is 9 months and the pay is EUR8 per month.  However, if you elect to go to Cyprus, the pay is EUR500 but you are committed to 12 months.  The museum was the brain child of the former Head of Armed Services who got the military to fund the museum in a former Venetian palazzo … funnily enough he came from this village.  And he’d been sitting in the office with the young soldiers.  I learned a few more facts about Greek / Cretan military history, the most revolting being that the New Zealand Maoris had cut off German penises, east, tongue etc and this had caused the start of the German reprisals.  

James won’t go into military museums, so by the time I came out it was definitely coffee time.  We wandered down through the remarkably smart village to a small old fashioned cafe / taverna.  CO2 were allowed in, so we all felt the benefit of the log burner.  Not sure about the benefit of the gritty Greek coffee.

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Our first non seaside pitch since start October!  We’ve become so accustomed the to the sound of waves and here was super quiet!

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The military museum in Chromonastri … given the tour, I was over an hour!  

A short drive to the start of the Myli gorge.  J elected to rest in the car, which, as it turned out, proved fortunate.  I set off merely expecting an easy walk down the gorge on an easy path. The winter of 2109 had been biblical in terms of rain and floods.  Crete is still repairing roads and bridges.  On the exit, I spotted a sign saying that the gorge walk had suffered land slides and to enter at your own peril … nothing at the top!  Having forced my way over the obstacles, I was determined to get to the end … so James could drive around and pick me up!  Nearly had to re-clamber my way up when faced with a major landslip.

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This path looks civilised…

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One of the many bridges washed away.  Kind souls had either relaid planks of wood or thrown rocks into the stream to make stepping stones.  

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Oscar that is not a zip wire for you.  The way the cafe half way along gets its supplies.  Not sure how many customers they had last summer or will this, given the state of the path.

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The sign states ‘The power of mother nature – winter 2019’.

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I’d had to bottom shuffle off a half bridge earlier, but this land slip was significant.  Some seriously large rocks and no clear route over.  After a couple of false starts, I found a way down … slithering on my behind down a dirt slope to rejoin the path. Not for the nervous or infirm.  

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I knew the rest of the path would be ok, if horse and pond could get to the cave.  A chap I met, English called Geoff, who we later bumped into, said that he’d spoken to the NZ cave resident who had lived there for 20 years! 

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By the time J found me, I had sunk the best part of a large glass of wine.  So he had to join me … we moved our tray over to the small church to sit in the sun … lovely.

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Having started, we continued, soaking up the sun on the terrace of the bar just 50m from where we’d parked.

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From the bar, we could just make out the snow covered peak of the tallest mountain in Crete – Mount Psiloritis or Mount Ida … everything has more than one name or spelling here.

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The wine wasn’t marvellous, so …

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… we moved onto Metaxa and G&T … yiamas!

1447-49: Kalives Dinner and Jobs

Wednesday 19th – Thursday 20th February

Funnily enough it was a late start in the Clune household.  We are lucky that CO2 will pretty much leave us alone for a lie in.  The odd tail thumping by the side of the bed, a quick stroke and they go back to bed. 

We returned to Kalives to have supper with Ann, Emma and Warren on Wednesday.  We found them in a bar on the way to the restaurant!  J got a pizza and I had excellent Prawn Saganaki.

On Thursday J went to get his 24 hr heart monitor results … the street had a power cut … a regular feature in Crete.  Come back tomorrow.  But all good.

Other than a trip into Chania to see the hearing aid vendor (how to use the app, clean the aids and check all was good), we did jobs, admin, coffees …. the weather was chucking a lot of wet stuff down at us still.  Oh and Corrie had a pedicure!

 




1434-1443: Nudism, Diet and Silly Sat Nav

1434-1435: (More) Medical Appointments!

Thursday 6th – Friday 7th February 2020

I finally got the missing tooth filling replaced by the dentist in Vamos.  Georgeous George, as he’s known locally, was very gentle and cheap.  Only EUR50 for what he described as a ‘not small filling’.

In the morning James was wired for sound … 24 hour heart monitor just to double check the palpitations are nothing serious.  The heart monitoring was done by the cardiologist in Kalives, so no waiting or having to drive miles away.  We had to wait a week for the results and all fine … nothing to worry about.  A mild arythmyia. May be as a result of the hormone treatment … will send the results to the oncologist and doctor at home.  So the total bill from the cardiologist for the ECG, Ultrasound, 24 hr monitoring and his time was only EUR100!

Of more a little concern was the result of J’s bloods … mild anemia, so he’s taking folic acid and iron tablets … only EUR5.50 for 3 months supply … we do love Greek medical prices.  BUT of more concern, is his high LDL cholesterol.  So what is one to do … iron is in liver and red meat, but they’re bad for his chloresterol!  Anyways, fried foods, processed meats etc are all off the menu.  Quite hard to choose ‘healthy’ options off Greek menus … salad??  I might actually have to start cooking more often!  I won’t describe the effect of our increased consumption of beans, legumes and pulses is having on us!  The cardiologist did confess that diet and exercise can only improve up to 30% of the bad cholesterol reading … genetics is responsible for the rest.

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New breakfast regime:  low fat yogurt loaded with dried fruit, nuts and seeds.  Apparently 5 handfuls of almonds alone can have a beneficial impact on cholesterol, but that’s 500 calories before you munch on anything else!

1436: Move to Matala

Saturday 8th February

Whilst we waited for the heart monitor results, we drove south to Matala.  Jane who we had met in Paleochora, had arrived in Kalives and followed us down … until I, in the lead vehicle (Jez), overtook a slow truck, J soon followed in the AndyPandyCar, leaving Jane lost at a junction.  Oops.  She soon caught us up and we all installed ourselves, beach edge in the Matala carpark.  The last time we were here in March 2018, we’d stayed for free on the run down campsite … free power, toilet emptying and water.  We’d checked that it looked open when we had lunch here November 2019, but since then the campsite has been taken over and is being developed.  I guess the new owner doesn’t want a load of free loaders and hippies abusing his investment.  The lack of hippies did rather affect the atmosphere of Matala though.  It felt pretty empty, which is a shame as the pony tailed residents used to frequent the bars and add a bit of colour.

In the afternoon, I took CO2 over the hill to Red Beach … a nudist beach according to the guide book … but not a person, let alone a naked one!  We found an open restaurant for supper … so much for my cooking more often!

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View from our windscreen … couldn’t be any closer to the beach.

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Well signed to the Red Beach.  

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Matala and the Caves.

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Heading down into Red Beach.

1437: Agio Farago Gorge Walk

Sunday 9th February

We had attempted to get a previous hire car down the dirt track in November and had aborted as we feared for the suspension.  Since then, we’ve become old hands at dirt tracks and the Silly Sat Nav took us a different long route in, via Kali Limenes, with views of the oil tankers feeding the tanks on the island just offshore … consequently this area has not developed as a tourist resort.  We bumped along the dirt track to a small parking I remembered and then the 3 of us with 4 dogs, Jane has 2 whippets, walked sown the gorge to the beach for a picnic lunch.  Some interesting rocks and a church en route, but not too long and an easy walk.  A few chained dogs detracted from the enjoyment.

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The monks used to use one of the large caves as a meeting room.

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Church in the gorge.

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Sunny picnic spot.

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  Better to remember to carry a spade then!

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And again, we clearly cannot remove our clothes!

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1438: Lunch in Lendas

Monday 10th February

Jane stayed in Matala in search of a local vet, as one of the whippets had a poorly paw, so J and I set off with C02.  Destination Lendes … Brian had told us about the great scenery over the pass … we had to do that on the way back as the Silly Sat Nav found us a more direct route this time.  Along another dirt track and past a monastery … there are a lot of these (and chapels) in Crete.  This monastery, didn’t make it into the guide book, but we had a small stop … it seemed fairly affluent.

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Silly Sat Nav found us pretty decent dirt track …

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which ‘wendas’ to Lendas!

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Whilst these look like Mexican abodes, they are cells at the monastery, either for monks or pilgrims, as they were outside the main complex.

Lendas is an understated resort and reminded us a bit of Loutro, but with a pulse.  It had real people (a few out of season) and we found an open restaurant … OK the menu choice was very limited … salad and pork belly or port chops on the grill, but we got fed.  So not doing well on cholesterol reducing menus!

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Lendas reminded us a bit of Loutro, but we preferred it … a village before tourism.

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Known for its rock arch.

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The return trip over the mountains above Lendas.

1439: Votomos Lake, an Aborted Walk and Monastries

Tuesday 11th February

Having cottoned on the Sat Nav’s silliness, I navigated us on tarmac to Votomos Lake.  A manmade emerald lake just north of Zaros, where one of the main brands of spring water is bottled.  The Lake is fed from a spring, created in 1987 and is stocked with trout.  Sadly all the restaurants were shut as fish would have been a good menu choice!  As it was we picnicked by the lake on fruit – tick, and some fava (split peas) – another tick.

Our walk took us from the lake, past the Agios Nikolaos Monastery and up into the Rouvas Gorge, where we planned to walk a large section.  Once past the monastery, we quickly aborted and leashed CO2 … caterpillar pods suspended from the pine trees and cater pillars crawling all over them, dropping ….  for the uninitiated, their hairs are irritant and can be lethal to dogs.  We’ve hardly seen any pods until this area of Crete.

We stopped at two sister, or should that be brother (?) monasteries on the way home.  Shut for lunch, so we couldn’t go in.  But much more attractive than the Agios Nikolaos.

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The pic doesn’t do the emerald colour of the lake justice.

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The  Agios Nikolaos monastery was particularly unattractive … modern and right next to a quarry.

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Much more attractive, but shut for a long lunch, was the Vrontisi Monastery, so we couldn’t go inside the church.

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With its massive plane trees.

1440: Three Goats and a Banjo

Wednesday 12th February

On the previous evening Jane had got stuck in some sand that had drifted onto the car park.  A local had offered to come back today with a stronger tuck to tow her out … our supposedly 5 ton tow rope broke so was consigned to the tip when it’d been used last night.  It certainly wouldn’t have been strong enough to tow us without and sticky sand.  The local volunteer rescue didn’t show, so the 3 of us set to and dug down to the tarmac, so Jane could drive out.

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It may not look much, but I can assure a LOT of digging took place here, with one small spade and two dust pans.

We returned to Kalives to see the band Three Goats and a Banjo.  We’ve met Eric a few times and his OH, Suzanna once at the open mic nights in Almyrida.  We dined whilst listening to the folk music with Ann, a friend of hers, and Jane.  J’s menu choice was a Greek burger on the premise that feta cheese is less unhealthy … but chips still seemed to play a part!  The band exceeded our expectations, and these were high to start with.  Excellent musicianship and harmony.  And a number of well known Irish ditties.

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Three Goats and a Banjo.  Even performed the Fields of Athen Rye … I spotted J signing along!

1441: Another Meal Out???

Thursday 13th February

Jane and I headed into Chania with laundry.  You meet all the best people at laundrettes.  We met a lady of Danish origin, who’d married a Cretan, had two boys, divorced him, worked her socks off with 3 jobs and then met a Norwegian, who can only come to Crete 3 months in 6, as Norway is not part of EU … but their relationship works and works well.  We talked about Greek machoism (locking a 3 year old in a dark room to cure him of the dark!), families, love at first sight etc … one of these completely open conversations that you sometimes only have with strangers.

Jane also dragged me to a second hand shop … two items purchased for EUR10.50 and one was a long Esprit corduroy skirt, as new!  The second hand shops system works differently here … they are not charity shops.  The donor receives 40% of the sale price and only a few will donate their proceeds to charities.

Michelle and Michalis, have just sold their restaurant in Kalives, so now have free evenings … we all went to Three brother and a Cook in Stylos … amazing freshly cooked food … my chicken with veg cooked in a parcel (pouch on the menu), was only EUR5 … hardly worth cooking at these prices.   J did well … chicken patties with a yogurt sauce and NO CHIPS!!  One of our table was the lively Monsieur Georges, an octogenarian who was passed running up the hill as we drove home.

1442: What Out Three Nights in a Row!?!?

Friday 14th February

An easy day, no surprises there.  Then we moved Jez up to Drapanos, to the friend of a friend’s driveway, which we’ve parked on before.  Then took the AndyPandyCar back down to a bar in Almyrida to meet Julia & Anthony and June and Karl … to support them in a Mr and Mrs Competition.  Anthony was in trouble … they’d been practising questions and he forgot all his stock answers … they came last!  Unbeknownst to them, there was a music quiz before the Mr and Mrs … think I know the answer to 3 of 60 questions.  Perhaps I should have done the Mr and Mrs!?  Back up the hill to Drapanos and supper at one of our favourite restaurants … Eleanore’s … chicken for me and meatballs, with … chips for James … oh dear!

1443: Wet, Wet, Wet and a Recovery

Saturday 15th February

Pretty grotty weather, we may not have Storm Dennis, but we’ve had a lot of rain.  A few chores including food shopping … planning to eat in a few nights!  Jane had planned to head back to Paleochora, but her van wouldn’t start … jump leads to the ready.  Recovery for Jane … again!

We waterproofed ourselves and drove to Georgiopolis for a wet walk on the beach.  We left CO2 in the doggy dry bags … to get warm and dry, whilst we did the same in a cafe!  A quiet night in, no booze, light supper and early to bed!  Thankfully … we’re struggling to party 3 nights back to back!  Recovery mode for us before we go into limp mode.  I’m sure its nothing to do with age … just out of practice!

1425-1433: North and South Walking

1425: Move to Polyrizos

Tuesday 28th January 2019

So we drove down to Polyrizos, where we stayed when the Aged P’s were here in October.  Very different now … none of the restaurants were open, but the shop was open in the mornings.  Chrysoula, who runs the shop and the Aged P’s accommodation, recognised me, which was nice.  

After lunch we walked pretty much as far as we could westward, until a farmer told us we not could go any further … we’d only wanted to look over the next bay, but had to turn back after he waved his arms at us … ho hum.

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Would that be another beachside parking?

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Walk along Peristeres Beach, where General Kripe, the WW2 German Commander, was bundled off Crete by the British / Greek resistance.

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Hill views further on … the coast line here really is special with the mountains falling into the sea.

1426-1428 : Cleaning, Knitting, Coastal Walk and a Sun Tan 

Wednesday 29th -Friday 31st January 

J seemed to be sleeping for England, or should that be for Ireland, so we had an easy couple of days.  I cleaned van and knitted  … finally completing J’s jumper that has only been over a year in the making!

I walked along the cliff heading westward, and J did walk the same walk with me another day.  Had I kept going, I could have got all the way to Plakias.  We drove to Plakias twice and ate both times in the same restaurant … pork in lemon sauce and lamb in … lemon sauce.  Nice, but twice was enough.  They did have a huge log burner in the middle of the room, which we sat next too … toasty!  On one of the days, I was drinking … and completely underestimated how little wine it takes not for me to get pickled … I hiccoughed all the way home and then put myself to bed!  Disgraceful!

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We forgot the leads …. found a bit of string for Corrie, but tied a bag to Oscar.  Couldn’t get it off, so he bimbled around with a parachute!

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Walking in the other direction.

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It may only have taken a year, but it is finished!

1429: The Correct Results

Saturday 1st February

We left Polyrizos and returned to Kalives … we had a date!  Rugby in Plakas with June and Karl.  I was driving (an easy decision after the other night!), but the other 3 made up for my abstinence.  Two good results for Wales and Ireland.

1430: The Incorrect Results 

Sunday 2nd February 

Lunch with Lars in Drapanos and England game.  This was not a good game, although the lunch was!  Lars had never watched a rugby game before and asked some very pertinent questions.  When explaining the rules, you realise how strange some of them are!

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Way to go …

1431: Cardiologist & K Walk Around Stylos

Monday 3rd February

James has been having a few heart palpitations, so we decided to get him checked out.  ECG showed a one second blip and the ultra sound showed, and I quote, a ‘nice heart’.  To rule things out J was then sent for blood tests.  The results were sent directly to the consultant and showed, that he is a little anaemic and has high cholesterol … the bad sort!  No more fried foods and pastries then!  He has also worn a heart monitor for 24 hours … had to be careful when going to the toilet with all the wires!  The cardiologist had a quick look and couldn’t see anything of worry, but it goes off to be analysed and we get the results back next week.  The likelihood is that the tablets J is on are causing the palpitations … but worth getting it checked for peace of mind.

Whilst J rested, I took CO2 for a slightly longer than usual walk around Stylos.

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Enough cinnamon breakfast rolls to last us two scrumptious mornings.  Also managed to force down the sugar cake he made!  We’ve got some nice friends here.

P1180230Stylos spring.

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Intensive pruning.

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An old Byzantine Church still under repair … my guide book form 2012, said it was under repair then.

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And whilst they are still repairing some churches they are also building others … this one was 2012.

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The mouth of Diktamos Gorge … apparently you can only venture a short way up it before it becomes unsafe … so I didn’t.

1432: Interesting Wall and Path Walk

Tuesday 4th February

We both planned to walk this morning, but ended up having an extended coffee whilst chatting to Judy and Captain Dino, who moved here a year ago … I’d also met them on the beach clean a few weeks back.

Eventually we set off in the AndyPandyCar and we climbed and climbed.  Once we got out of the car near Malaxa, we climbed some more.  It was a long and slow steady uphill, but great views.  Given how late we’d started, we decided to take a short cut back to the car.  Maps.Me let us down … or I as navigator did!  We ended up following a sheep / goat track for quite a way till we eventually found the correct path.  

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We were quickly up to about 300m in the car and then had a long, slow and steady climb up to 550m, with vews looking back over towards Kalyves and Plaka.

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A new long wall had been built … not sure what to surround, but someone had a sense of humour.

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Oscar found, not one, but two sheep’s skulls.

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And J emerging triumphant from the sheep path we followed.

1433: Flora and Follies Walk with Lars

Wednesday 5th January

Lars has walked this region a lot and said he would lead us on a “beauty” walk.  I was rather hoping that I would emerge from the walk beautiful!  It was a lovely walk … some early orchids and other wild flowers.  And lunch at a stone built folly.  Lars has met the creator several times … and he only took 3 months to create the edifice where we picnicked.  

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Anemones

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Early orchids.

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 With all these wild flower, so wonder the honey is so delicious.

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 Lars had informed us there were benches at our lunch spot … we were not quite expecting this!

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Real attention to detail.

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And another section both side of the road further up.

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Apparently the garden has just a small patch of grass, the rest has been built on.  The creator has to find something to do with his hands …

 

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Look at what my oh so charming daughter sent me!

1418-1424: Southern Scenery Wows

1418: Farewell Dinner

Tuesday 21st January 2019

We returned north to Kissamos to spend the evening with Brian.  He had booked the daytime ferry for Wednesday morning which would take him to Glythio on the Peloponnese.  We had booked the restaurant in Kissamos that J and I had eaten at twice before, and bespoke a special meal … the daughter / waitress had told us that it was her favourite dish after I’d said how good her mother’s flavours are. She’d given me her mobile number so I could contact her to let them know when we were coming!

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Morning CO2 walk up in the hills behind Sougia. 

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Wild flowers creating a New Year carpet.

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Farewell dinner with Brian.   Chicken cooked in the pressure cooker for 45 mins.  The rice cooked in the chicken broth and run through with sheep’s butter and lemon juice.  The rice, particularly, had a lovely delicate flavour, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy old chicken again.

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We played cards … J tried to focus as Zoa straddled his lap.  As soon as anyone passed the fridge … Zoa was all attention – he’s quickly leaned that frozen kongs are an evening treat.

1419: Kalives … High Maintenance Woman This Time

 Wednesday 22nd January 

Quite a few people had picked up colds at the New Year’s Eve dinner.  J and I very rarely get colds, due to our fresh air lifestyle.  But when I do, it usually goes to my sinuses and I cant shake it off.  So I paid a visit to the Kalives doctor … they know us quite well now … wonder if they have our address down as … Camper, Beach Car Park?  UK doctors will reluctantly give me 5 days of Amoxycilin (I know the reasons why!), but I always have to go back for more.  This doctor gave me 10 days worth, probiotic for my tum and a nasal spray.  EUR 20 for the consolation and EUR25 for the meds.  Very happy with that.  And thank you for asking … the antibiotics are working already.

1420: South to Sfakia

Thursday 23rd January 2019

I drove to Chania and topped up on our Lidl shop, whilst J sorted Jez and CO2 out.  Showers and services.  After lunch we convoyed to Chora Sfakion … it really is a stunning route over the White Mountains.  The snow we went looking for, a week or so back, has largely melted.

We are parked up at the entrance to the harbour, which is mostly full of boats lifted from the water, advertising day trips to Gavdos and Loutro.  Coffee with the locals … the toilet was interesting … a portaloo perched on the edge of a cliff with the wind howling round!   Amazing stars again, given so little light pollution.

1421: Top Gorge Walk

Friday 21st January 

A pretty rubbish night’s sleep … before bed we had moved Jez to face the wind, but in the night the wind moved.  A late start!  J slept worse than I, so he rested whilst I took CO2 off in the AndyPandyCar.  I had a BIG smile on my face the whole trip.  Stunning views from the switch backs up and then down to my parking at Livaniana, which had no sign of life other than free roaming goats.   A narrow road down, covered in red dirt, that then gave way to a dirt track.  Oh well, done these before – just concentrate!

The actual gorge walk is described as strenuous with plenty of climbing over rocks and ladders … not one to do with CO2.  Apparently descending from Livaniana would have meant I could have walked the easier part and done a circular walk.  Had I been able to find the path!  So I followed a path I could find, with CO2 strapped to my waist … far too much goat temptation.  I didn’t feel at all hard done by as the the views of the gorge were simply stunning and I got to walk in the warmth of the sun.  

On the way home to J and Jez, I did a slight detour to nearby Aradena … I’d read about a steel and wood bridge spanning the gorge.  It’s installation was paid for by a wealthy business family whose village would have been cut off else.  The village access being a very steep foot / donkey path down the steep gorge and back up the other side … gotta bring James here tomorrow.

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Up the road moving west from Chora Sfakion.

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The Aradhena Gorge clefting its way across the landscape.

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The gorge approaching the coast.

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CO2 and I stopped for an H2O and sun break at the chapel.

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Enough shell cases to smelt into a church brass bell.  And BBQ fire pits … CO2 trying to consume all the cooked bones left behind!

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 On the way back down … this is our destination in a few days … park at the bottom and walk over to Loutro … accessible only by foot, donkey or boat.

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 Aradhena, perched over the gorge.

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Distant view of the steel and wood bridge.  Built in 1986 by a wealthy international business family, as a lifeline to their village further on. I’m sure it dips in the middle!

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The guide book states ‘Rumble across it in a car and the terrifying crack of the wooden boards against the metal thunders around the gorge below”.  It was surely a stomach in mouth moment, to walk it too, as there are cracks between the boards, and the boards move …  I will take J back for the experience tomorrow … he will want to inspect the rivets!

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And now you can see how deep the drop below is!!!  In the summer, you can bungee jump off!

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1422: Wood and Cave Walk

 Saturday 22nd January 

I was a bizarrely a tad disappointed that J who is not over keen about heights, was absolutely fine on the bridge.   He won’t do the platforms on the Willis or Hancock Towers.  I should have remembered that he knows bridges.  Not even a single rivet inspection.  What I found particularly strange was the lack of max weight sign … was it OK to hold a 15 ton lorry then?  Would not have wanted to drive Jez over at around 4.5 tons. 

We drove onto Agios Ioannis on the road to no where.  At the end of the road, we spontaneously decided to respond to a walking sign heading to Kormopos Cave; Loutro could wait till tomorrow.  Although we had no views until near the destination, it was interesting as it was wooded, whereas most of the landscape is low scrub.  The height we attained … and it was a looooooong up, and then a looong down, meant that we found both cloud and snow.

We picnicked over looking the cave, not chancing the wet, steep and narrow path down to it.  

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No need to check the rivets … J’s a bridge man!  I did spot that the last one had popped up, but we were over by then.

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CO2 reluctantly set off over the bridge, thinking this was the way we were headed … only to have to come back again.

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A curious gaze and a very large bell.

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A totally different landscape and we found snow.

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Picnic spot overlooking the cave, our target.

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This is Chora Sfakion – you can see Jez’ nose poking out behind the rock.  Our home for 6 nights. 

1423: An Interesting Journey to Loutro

 Sunday 23rd January 

Loutro today.  It is named as one of Crete’s gems … inaccessible by car.  A lot of trippers catch a boat here for the day.  A scenic drive to Finikas, brushing the donkey with the wing mirror as we inched past, and then down the super steep and nerving road / track down.  A really pretty walk around the head land, with views and passing and archeological site. 

We had been ripped off at cafe in Sfakia … tourist prices and had been using a taverna up in Anopoli for the last few days for our morning and afternoon coffees.  There was a restaurant open in Sfakia, but TripAdvisor had mixed reviews … so we went back up the hill to Anopoli for supper.  Really excellent quality and good prices.  On the way back down the head lights picked out lots of boulders … no the goats were all tucked up on the tarmac, so we chicane’d around them.

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Unmovable object blocking road.

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Tarmac to start, but a good half is dirt track…

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… narrow with sheer drops.

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Looking back to Finikas, the hamlet, where we left the car.

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Walking around the headland; the archeological site is behind the church bell.

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Chora Sfakion is just in the distance.

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Loutro.

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We climbed a bit and then decided it was too hot and too steep, so we returned the way we came.  Loutro is not inhabited … it is all restaurants and holiday accommodation.  They day trippers pile in on boats.  The beach is TINY … so where do they all sit?  In high season, you must physically be rubbing shoulders with neighbours.  

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Loutro picnic spot.  All the awnings and verandas removed for the window.  We and a chap, painting the mandatory white, were the only living souls.

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Lots of large birds of prey near the gorge, and the odd one came for supper!

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Amazing quality food at the Anopoli Taverna … J said they were the best meatballs and my pork with peppers was just yummy.  We ate the lot!

1424: Chania Jobs

 Monday 24th January 

The weather forecast was not marvellous, so we decided to drive back across the mountains to Chania … 3 full loads of laundry, e juice for J, a new phone screen protector and woolly tights for me.  On the way back down south, we stopped off at Icarus restaurant in Kalives … another yummy plateful and a good chat with owners Michelle and Micahlis.   I’ve just got on the scales … 4lbs on this week!