1408-1414: Wonderful Walks and Minor Medical Matters

Saturday 11th – Friday 17th January 2020

Still based in Kalyves, essentially riding out a spot of some bad weather and sorting out some medical issues.


Walks 

One walk took us from a new-to-us hill village – Kalamitsi Alexandrou and out through olive and orange groves, with lovely views of the White Mountains.  The destination was the Holy Monastery of Agios Georgios at Karydi.

P1180077

The monastery on the horizon.

P1180071

The entrance … EUR2, wasn’t sure where to leave the money so just left in inside.

P1180074

All this complex for just one resident monk.  And I heard his deep vibrating snores echo around.  He appeared later and got the chap who had been sat on the terrace to drive him somewhere. 

P1180069

The 12 arch oil factory 1860 within the monastery complex.  Large scale olive production started in 1829 and provided a many local families with employment.

IMG 4616

Our picnic on the terrace outside … notice the lady with her feet up … she’d been washing up whilst the monk slept … division of the sexes here.

IMG 4617

A coffee back at the village cafe and Corrie made herself at home.


Lars, our Swedish resident friend led us on another walk, part of which we’d done before … we parked up behind Almyrida and walked around Douliana and Tsivaras … mostly mixed leaf woods, more oranges and olivestwo cave churches.

IMG 4626

Lars assured us that there are no poisonous snakes in Crete.  J explained how St Patrick had banished all snakes from Ireland.

IMG 4633

Some of our route was old Minoan roads … these huge and smooth slabs have stood the test of time.

IMG 4632

Inside one fo the cave churches.  We’ve been astounded at the honesty and trust here in Crete.  One of the churches had money left on a shelf … 


Beach Cleaning

Armed with gloves and plastic bags, we did our bit … a lot of plastic gets washed up after storms.  This was a Greek and Ex-pat combined exercise.

IMG 4601

CO2 are soooo starved, that they have to wear muzzles at Kalives … people dump cooked bones and there has been some talk of poison being put down.  So much as CO2 both attempt to remove the muzzles, they stay on for their own good.  The orange ‘kerchief is part of Brian’s over sized duvet that was cut down … should get a pic of all 2 dogs sporting their orange (sorry, Brian, TANGERINE) fashion wear!

IMG 4614

The official photo of most of the litter pickers … I am there … about a third in from the left, at the back, between two incredibly tall men.


Medical Matters for the High Maintenance Man!

Let’s talk hearing loss … J had a test about 18 months ago and was told he was borderline for hearing aids.  However, I now often have to repeat myself 3 times … and usually what I say, ain’t worth repeating even once.  The handsome Dr Manos in Kalives, booked a hearing test in Chania.  Moderate loss in both ears at high frequency … no wonder he can’t hear me!!  We went straight around the corner to a hearing aid specialist.  The lovely Vera had stuck green wax in his ears to get the shape last week and we went on Monday to collect the hearing aids.  Time is NOT money in Crete.  We were there over and hour and a half, checking the programme and no echo … I had to ring James from the street with passing cars for a test.  We left with the hearing aids, having left no deposit, or print of our credit card … all Vera had was a phone number!  Take them away and come back in a few days to see how you get on.  Her English is better than our Greek but not good, so people from surrounding shops were drafted in for translations.

We returned on Thursday and another hour to go through warranty and make some adjustments.  Oh, and to finally pay!  James actually hearing what I say now…. RESULT.  And his phone is blue toothed so he can select programmes, volume and …. play his music through them … even phone calls go straight to them (sadly I only now hear half the conversation!!!).

 

A wobbly tooth was inspected by Gorgeous George … locals name for him, although I concur.  It will fall out on its own … a conversation about implants.  I went to pay … he refused to take any money!  

 

Taken on Trust

As well as the trust with us walking out with the hearing aids, having not left any means for the shop to trace us should we have absconded, I had a similar experience.  My phone battery was ‘unhealthy’, so I took it into a large shop in Chania and left it with them for a couple of hours.  Picked it up and got out some money … no, you take this paper and pay up stairs.  I had the phone in one hand and the paper in the other, passed the door to the street … I could so easily have walked out.  You’ll be pleased to know I am one of those folk who tells restaurants if they’ve forgotten to add an item to the bill, so I did pay … all of EUR28.

An earring had a stone come loose … took it into the key cutting / cobbler place next to our morning coffee cafe to be glued … no charge … 

 

 

1393-1396: Nothing Paleo in Paleochora

1393: South to Paleohora

Friday 27th December 2019

After the ritual of a coffee at Fresh and Cool cafe, we set forth for Paleochora / Paleohora.  Again a stunning drive across the mountains.  Although we could see mountain snow from our Kalives parking, we did not pass through any.  Why do I have a yen to head up into the hills and find some?  Guess it will find us soon enough!!

We really felt the benefit of the AndyPandyCar as we did a recce of the dirt track to a parking I’d identified to the the east of Paleochora …at the first soft sand we turned the  AndyPandycar around and headed into the town to check out other spots.  Bingo, a super spot between the town and the new (concrete and charmless) marina.  No-one else here and great views.

P1180010

View en route.

Lunch and whilst J nanny napped, I walked CO2 to the west and ‘sandy beach’.  Late afternoon we headed up to what was left of the Venetian fort, ransacked by Barbarossa and not rebuilt.  On the descent we stopped for a glass of vino and were entertained by the adjacent table.  Not that I was eves dropping, much!  Evidenty, a British and Dutch lady had teamed up and were renting a room in Chania and were now looking for accommodation in Paleochora.  They had spent the afternoon with a colourful ageing hippy, with an upper crust accent and a Ukranian boat owner who was largely silent… and they all had consumed a LOT of wine.  The hippy acted as broker and offered them a room on the boat … we didn’t quite establish if there was running water, a toilet, let alone a hot shower, for all of EUR7 / night.  The ‘girls’ had to leave to catch their bus back to Chania … we also left, so we will never know if they missed the last one!

IMG 4448

Fab parking with amazing views.

IMG 4456

IMG 4460

IMG 4454

P1180011

Taken from the Venetian castle ruins.  The boat goes along the coast and then to Gavdos Island.  Quite fancied this as a day trip, but 4 hours each way from here and no time on the island.

  1394: Boulder walk

Saturday 28th December 

Drove the track that we’d decided against on arrival with Jez and were very pleased that we had aborted … lots of soft sand areas and loose stones.  

Gorge walk – we had to haul CO2 up big rocks in their harnesses and leads – then faced with what looked like an impenetrable set of rocks, we wisely aborted…and the rain had just started. A young family we met also turned around.  Lunch in PandyAndy charabanc on the beach – local pastries – yummy! 

Later in Paleochora, we met Jane another camping car English lady – supplying her with some clear gaffa tape for an incident with a tree.  Evening saw us supping in Haris’ bar with Jane – really nice noshtimo – and some local wine – with Raki…… Jane navigates her van but not with coordinates!  Could see her eyes glaze over when K was explains about Park4Night etc … did later manage to get her on Maps.Me.

P1180020

Anidhri Gorge.

P1180023

Lots of boulders to negotiate …

P1180024

… and to slide down!

P1180029

IMG 4467

Anidri Beach, where we sat in the car and ate our spinach and cheese and Christmas pastries.

IMG 4469

 

1395: Pelekaniotikos Potamos – River Walk

Sunday 29th December

Today an easier river walk – with Corrie mostly on the lead as we didn’t fancy goat’s meat for dinner!  But a lovely riparian roaming…. (K: I hd to ask the meaning of riparian .. J advises associated with a river bank!)

The rain was now relentless and a rising wind with forecast of 33knots during the night – time to move…..to the local harbour with shelter from the sea wall – hunkering down for the evening as the lightning flashed around us – a couple of weeks ago, we were wearing shorts! 

IMG 4477

Not as stunning as yesterday up the gorge, but MUCH easier walking.

IMG 4481

The river back erosion looked like wood.

IMG 3956

Hands up all of you who have worn paper knickers? Jane came to the van in the afternoon bearing gifts – including paper knickers for Katherine!  Very fetching biggusknickers indeed….


1396: Magical Mountain Mystery Tour

Monday 30th December

Our harbour camping soon showed gusts of 70-80 kph! Rock and roll – but not the dancing kind, although Jez was doing a kind of jive!  At 5:00 am, K in pjs did a recce in our pandydandycar – finding a sheltered spot – on the high street!  We decamped both vehicles to outside what looked like the town council offices…..

Instead of a gale force walk, we drove on a magic mystery tour – with us, Jane and her 2 whippets. Churches, villages – some roads almost impassable – lots of 5-point turns – and lunch in a lovely cosy family taverna – with a fire!  We helped advise Jane with a gas issue and a hose nozzle that fell into the pipe of her water tank.  We could set ourselves up as gas consultants.  Amazing how much you learn when something goes wrong!

To ride out the storm, we stayed in town with all blinds closed to not draw attention to ourselves – stealth camping – but nobody complained, luckily. 

IMG 4495

View back down to Paleohora  we were originally parked to the left of the harbour, then in the harbour and then on the street going out of the town.

IMG 4488

Both ends of the rainbow  lucky.

IMG 4489

One of the many small churches on our vague itinerary … we didn’t see them all!





1388-1392 : Avoiding the Wind

1388: Back at Balos

Sunday 22nd December 2019

Nothing open for coffee en route … straight onto Falassarna, where I got hail and sand blasted on the beach last time we stayed.  A beach walk this morning in the sun and lunch.  After J’s nanny nap we drove back up to the start of the 8km track to the car park for Balos Beach.  We stopped and picked up Brian and Zoa … we wondered how the the AndyPandyCar would cope with the track and the equivalent of 4 adults on board.  We managed not to knacker the suspension!  With the sun and some wind we descended to the lagoon.  Brian and Zoa battled back against the wind along the track to his motorhome.

After fetching Jez from Falassarna we decamped back to Kissamos along the sea front.  It was windy, and I didn’t sleep well … I was also dreaming about the lovely meal we’d had.  We had been to the restaurant with Maddy and had amazing Pork with celery, greens and lemon.  Tonight’s special was cuttlefish with a dill sauce … only one portion left so Brian and I shared.  Also chickpea, lemon and olive soup … I’ve just tried to make this in Jez and it is no where as good as the restaurant’s.  I complimented the waitress / daughter and she has given me her mobile number and said to ring before we come again … her Mum will cook boiled chicken with rice and butter … sounds horrid, but she assures me it is very good … so we will have to go back!

IMG 4431

Kite flying at Falassarna – Brian trying to stay with feet on sand and Zoa trying to catch the kite!

P1170986

Track to Balos Beach.

IMG 3924

P1170988

You’d have thought this chap would have offered to move out of the way!

P1170993

P1170994

P1170998

P1180005

IMG 3925

James waited and waited, but no donkey taxi!

1389: Hunkering Down in Kissamos

Monday 23rd December 2019

We contemplated a drive up into the hills, but rain threatened and then arrived, so we stayed put. A coffee and cake stop with Brian in town.  I did a little Christmas shopping … a lazy day followed by supper chez nous and a game of cribb with Brian.

We followed Brian to shelter from the wind the other side of the sports centre … so much calmer over night.

IMG 4443

View from the front of the van, before the latest round of wind and rain.

IMG 3932

Zoa also thinks he is a lap dog!

1390: Christmas Eve in Kalyves

Tuesday 24th December 

Having had a half decent night’s sleep, I awoke with energy!  As I opened the side window i spotted a tap and hose …. so the morning became a laundry session.  Twin tub carried around the wall, one of our hoses hanging out of the kitchen window for hot water and the sports centre hose for cold!  Then hot showers for both of us.  Gotta seize the moment!

We returned to Kalyves and joined the lovely Ann and another couple at Simon’s Italian for a set meal and a rock band.  Food was good, wine mostly included and the first set of the band excellent … I recognised most of the tunes.  The second set was essentially just LOUD … a bit to heavy rock for our tastes.  But a great way to start Christmas.

 

1391: Christmas Meal

Wednesday 25th December 2019

A leisurely start … presents and my stocking brought from home.  The Aged P’s buy gifts for Clare and I on their travels this year’s stocking came from Serbia, South Africa, Sardinia, Sicily, Thailand, France …. a lot of dodgy bottles … the green walnut liqueur from the Serbian monastery was very good.

A short walk (blow!) along a coastal path set us up for the next stage of Christmas.  We then drove in convoy with Brian to Drapanos and parked on the driveway of an absent neighbour of Julia and Anthony (who’d helped us with our gas).  A short walk up to Eleanore’s and lunch.  Fava, a mayo dip and smoked sausage to start.  Brian had pork knuckle, which looked better than J and my choice … pork with chestnuts and prunes … tasty but just a little too fatty.  Our left overs, the next night were actually better.

A really relaxed meal, followed by cards … Newmarket, Sevens and Pontoon.  And the wine kept flowing.  As we were leaving, we established that they are also open New Year’s Eve and there is a Greek band playing.  That’s New Year’s Eve sorted then!

 

IMG 4444

Christmas morning walk.

IMG 4445

Looking out to the Akrotiri peninsula.

1392: Boxing Day Recovery

Thursday 26th December 

Another slow start then!  Popped into say thank you to Julia for organising the parking … we can also park there for New Year.

Back to Kalyves … no energy to move far today.  We did manage the walk we’d done yesterday … easy option as we now knew the route!  Also easy option on food as recycled the left overs!

IMG 3944

Forgotten we had this … bought some weeks ago at charity bazaar … tasty, but not as good as my mother’s!


1382-1387: ‘Ela of a Place

1382: A Birthday and Open Mic Night

Monday 16th December

Katherine’s birthday…..

Nice walk with CO2 amongst olive groves and cypress woods. K opened her gifts – from family and moi. Michelle from Icarus restaurant (and Michaelis) brought a surprise gift – a lovely Cretan necklace!

Late afternoon – we moved Jez to Almyrida for the open mic night. Lots of good music – including “Happy Birthday” for K – and a birthday candle from Capt Jacks!

IMG 4298

An Ottoman water fountain on our walk.

IMG 3912

Dodgy alcofrolic shot and candle from Captain Jacks.

1383: Castration and Dinner Guests

Tuesday 17th December.

Well, Oscar didn’t realise what was happening (just as well) – he sort of lost his ‘thingies’ – had to wear the ‘cone’ lightshade worst! But the vet was great in Kalyves.  Later in the afternoon, he was real pain in spite of getting painkillers in the morning. I drove him straight to the vets again – another painkiller – and this settled him – we muzzled him instead of the cone…..

Evening saw us entertaining Julia and Anthony – motor homing friends from Drapanos – lively chats and some vino… for James, K was dry after the excesses of yesterday!

IMG 4311

Wrinkly scrotum.

1384: Chores

Wednesday 18th December.

Kalyves again – our most visited spot in Crete – K got the twin tub out – for laudrificationing!  I washed the HandyPandyCar and cleaned the inside – oh and morning coffee at Ari’s “Fresh and Cool” cafe – chats with the regulars…..  K recce’d our nightly parking for Christmas Day in Drapanos – kindly provided by friends of Julia and Anthony!  We will eat in “Eleanoras” restaurant – our favourite in the area…booked by K.

IMG 4305

A couple of older ladies stopped to admire the twin tub  nostalgia on their part?

IMG 4306

And a conveniently closed  cafe as the drying deck.

1385-1386: Elafonisi 

Thursday 19th – Friday 20th December

Beautiful scenic drive down through the mountains – to Elafonisi……  Little did we know what awaited us! Normally, we would recce a dodgy road – alas not this time – oh no! The access road was a “Strada Horribilissimo”!!!  Craters, fissures – oh and some road surface as well. K bounced down in Jez – I followed in Pandacar and watched as she wobbled and straddled the obstacles – we have never seen such a road in all our travels! We later lay awake dreading the uphill journey – watched the forecast avidly as rain would effectively imprison us there for days…  Stunning place though – one of the very best – we’ve said in about most of Crete…

Brian obligingly cooked supper – caulifloweriness and cheesely – noshtimo!

Next morning saw us joining the road gang – repairing the ‘volcanic’ craters – or so they seemed to us – Michael from Germany had started patching already – we rolled boulders – big on top and small to fill in – in 2 different places. Not exactly Dept of Transport Chapter 8 and BD68 (I’m giving away my work background) – but it looked good!  

IMG 4320

This is a panorama shot zoomed in to where Oscar was moving  could replicate this effect! 

P1170935

Places have a light dusting of fine pink sand, from coral and shells.

P1170945

The Lagoon.

P1170947

IMG 4327

Soft fine sand  and dunes.

IMG 4326

P1170941

  

1387: Getting Out and On to Sfinari 

Monday 16th December

K had a rather early morning walk – we needed to get up the hill asap!  Brian went first and had one place where he had to roll back and have a second go – K took 3 attempts int he same place … and I andycarred uphill….  K started up – traction control on – and raised rear suspension – raised nerves and adrenaline – and buttclenchingness….. but guided by Brian and moi – it all worked ‘straddlingly’.   K:  I was shaking by the time I got to the top!

Hugely welcome coffee – and then the most amazing drive to Sfinari – now parked up along stony beach in Cretan sunshine – not a pothole in sight. We never want to see such crazy craters again. Oscar and Corrie were completely unfazed by the whole experience….

P1170954

Elafonisi in early (for me!) morning light. 

P1170962

View back from the island … sand causeway.

IMG 4420

Straddled!

IMG 4422

A little of the road repair.

P1170969

 Part of the route up to Sfinari, looking back down to Elafonisi – the hazy bit in the distance.

P1170976

Corrie on the beach at Sfinari.

P1170984

P1170980

Brian believes Zoa is looking for fish, I think he’s checking out his reflection!

P1170985

Nor see this one before … looks like cabbage leaves.

IMG 4302

 

 

1377-1381: Munchkin’s Visit

1377: Munchkin Arrives and Christmas Begins

Wednesday 11th December 2019

We coffee’d with Brian and kept in touch with Maddy … she had 1hr and 10 mins from when her plane was due to land at Athens to catch her flight to Chania; bear in mind the gate shut 30 mins before the flight departure.  And her incoming fight was a bit late.  But she made it!  Lots of benefits of hand luggage only and a small airport.

We drove in convoy to Kissamos and parked along the beach.  Maddy and I had a short beach walk with CO2 and then she and J napped … she had been awake since 3.30 am!  Supper in a family beach side restaurant … yummy pork with celery and greens.  

IMG 4252

Beach front pitch.  The puddle grew with lots of heavy rain.

IMG 4258

Kissamos Bay is 3 sides of a square.

IMG 4261

Maddy (reluctantly) brought medicines, green card, keys, phone case, hooks etc no room for toiletries and few clothes …

IMG 4266

… so she worked her way through my tops and jumpers.

IMG 4268

But she did bring us matching festive pyjamas … 🙂

IMG 4271 3

And for the third (out of four) Christmases that weve been away, she and I put up the decorations.

IMG 4272 2

IMG 4274 3

 

1378: Polyrrhenia

Thursday 12th December 

We bought coffees from the shack next door to us … Greek coffee or Nescafe?  And headed off in the AndyPandyCar into the hills to Polyrrhina.  The road stops and you walk up through the ‘new’ village to the site of the old.  Great views, but Lin (who is my All Things Crete Guru) told me had we gone all the way to the top, we would have seen both N and S coasts.  However, my fellows were not keen (point blank refusal on the part of one!) to climb further.  

Back at Jez, Maddy worked on a Uni assignment … her approach started with a message to one of the other students … what are we supposed to cover????  Why investigate yourself, if you can get someone to tell you!?
 
A wander around the centre of Kissamos and supper on the main square.  
P1170913
 
Cave dwellings from the Roman era in the newer village.
P1170917
 
P1170918
 
Another cave Church.

P1170920
P1170924
 
P1170926
 
P1170928
 
You can just make out the walls of the fortress to the left of the church .. such a long way (!!!) so this is where we stopped.
 
P1170930
 
But still fabulous views.

1379: Falassarna and Balos Beaches

Friday 13th December 

Coffee and pastry in town and then we set off for Falassarna Beach, billed as one of the most impressive beaches in Crete.  Lunch and then Maddy and J nanny napped whilst I took the AndyPandyCar up to Balos with CO2.
 
An 8km each way, mostly 1st gear drive up to the Balos Beach carpark.  Most of it was firm, but the recent rains had brought down some scree and there were divots from the water run offs, so a little hairy in places.  But worth every slow full concentration kilometre.  I was very conscious that the last long dirt track we’d driven in the car had resulted in a shredded tyre and I didn’t have James with me to do the change over!  The views down to the beaches were just stunning … and the rain held off!
 
By late afternoon, the winds started and we sure felt them as we were right in the middle of a large flat car park!  We moved after supper to shelter behind one of the restaurants.
 
IMG 4277 3
Looking down to Falassarna Beach.
 
IMG 4281 2
Balos.
 
IMG 4283 2
 
IMG 4284 3
 
IMG 4286
 

1380: Sideways Hail and Sand and Kalyves

Saturday 14th December 

A very slow start … one member of our party … and it wasn’t James or I, had stayed up till 0330hrs tracking the election results.  Before we set off I took CO2 for a longer beach walk.  Coming back, the wind got really up and then the hail started.  The wind driving the hail and sand into Oscar and I.  He started off red and white and became a lighter ginger all over from the sand, as he plodded stoically by my side.  Corrie, meanwhile, had bolted back to the van.  I must teach her how to knock at the door … she was still sat patiently waiting for admittance when we finally caught up with her.  Thank goodness for doggy dry bags … the sand fell off the dogs into these as against the floor.  And kept them warm as they dried.  If in doubt about the efficiency of these bags, their heads were still sodden when released 30 minutes later, but their bodies dry.
 
Back at Kalyves, Maddy completed her assignment and ate at Eleanore’s in Drapanos with Brian … this has to be our favourite place near here.  Yummy starters followed by chicken in raki and feta .. delicious and far too large portions, so doggy bags for all (but no sand in these bags and certainly not to be fed to CO2!).  We watched the Strictly final … my fav was crowned champion.
 

1381: Airport Run and Sunday Lunch

Sunday 25th December

Coffee and then I ran Maddy to Chania airport.  I was in trouble as she could have caught later flight, which would have reduced her wait at Athens from 5 to 3 hours … but I’d not checked that any airline other than Agean did this route!  And now her flight is running late … she must be loosing the will to live!

Back at Kalyves, Brian kindly treated us to lunch at Icarus restaurant.  Full bellies again!  And and easy evening.