1372-1374: South Coast Walks

1372:  Back to the South Coast

Friday 6th December 2019

With a gap before we have to be back at Fiat for another repair (minor this time, just a replacement cigarette lighter) we headed back down to the South coast.  A nice little spot on PJ’s Greece Stopovers, adjacent to a small Taverna and hotel and a small harbour.  We stayed 3 nights and other than 2 Korean girls who stayed one night in the accommodation and a couple of fishermen, we were undisturbed.  Just lovely.  Perfect wilding.  Oh, there was this British man, who joined us for 2 nights … we’d met Brian and his Vizsla, Zoa, on the campsite near Rethymno.  J and I had lovely drive in convey over the white mountains down to east of Choria Sfakion.

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Pitch Perfect.

Once we’d lunched and J rested we drove the AndyPandyCar into C Sfakion.  We’d visited this with the Aged P’s third week of October and it was VERY different now.  Completely closed up for the winter, bar one cafe and the bakery, which was in full production, bagging up biscuits and rusks.  I bought some biscuits and we had a lovely chat with the daughter and were given chocolate as it was her mother’s Name Day … more important than a birthday in Greece.  Coffee and then back to Jez for supper with Brian.  And he plays Cribb.  This might have been my third question to him.  One for his Nob!!!

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A shut up Chora Sfakion.

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1373:  Imbros Gorge

Saturday 7th December

I’d fancied doing the Imbros Gorge for a while, and it lived up to the hype.  It is considered the little sister to the Samaria Gorge, but has some great scenery and is only 7.5km.  We left the AndyPandyCar at the bottom and drove Jez to the top and walked down.  The plan was to drive the car back up to fetch the van and to avoid the EUR25 taxi fare.  Great walk and got to the bottom … fatal flaw in the plan.  We’d managed to leave the car key in the van!  So had to stump up the taxi fare after all!

We consoled ourselves for the waste of money with a coffee and cake (thank you Brian) back in C. Sfakia.

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Start of the walk  and tarmac.  The rest was unstable stones, so slow going for us.

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Brian and Zoa, with J and C.

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We encountered one group of youngsters and a runner who went down and up  in the summer it is heaving.

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Apparently not as deep as Samaria, but still narrow in places.  1.6m at the narrowest.

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Brian and Zoa were much faster than us.

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The dogs have all become besties and Corrie deserted us for her new friend  . Brian cobbled her to the other end of the lead to await our descent.

 

1374: Askifou Plateau Walk

Sunday 8th December

Pretty much flat with surrounding views of the White Mountains.  And the sun stayed with us until the last 20 mins when the rain came down.  We drove into the small village of Amoudari, where we found an open taverna.  It soon filled up with locals … the Greeks do make a point of Sunday dinning with friends.  

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Taverna with real fire for us to steam dry to.

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Rabbit in wine sauce for me and chicken for J … all with chips of course!  I’ve eaten more chips this trip than in the previous 4 years!  But they are generally hand cut and actually taste of potato.

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 The lunch mustve given me loads of energy as I washed the outside of the van whilst J had his nanny nap!  Only for it to rain and leave loads of dust streaks all over it two days later!

 

1375: Back to Heraklion and a Lost Corrie 

Monday 9th December

3.5 hrs drive plus a coffee stop, of course, back to Heralkion … just east to a beach parking we used a couple of times last trip.  Lunch on arrival and then I braved the supermarket to stock up a bit prior to Maddy’s arrival on Wednesday.

I take CO2 for their last night time walk and it was raining.  Whilst I dried Oscar’s paws, Corrie just disappeared.  I whistled and called, scanning the black rain for sight of the flashing bauble on her collar.  No sign.  A car drove in, paused and then left.  I was convinced, she’d been stolen.  J had to get up and dressed … he went one way down the beach and I the other.  He found her about 400m further on … she’d just kept going and not turned left at the van.  What a relief. Since then, we’ve tried 3 pet shops to buy the full lit up more visible collars … but they don’t seem to sell them here.

 

1376: Jez Sorted and Back to Kalyves

Tuesday 10th December 

We left Jez with Fiat for the cigarette lighter fix, had a coffee and dropped by the Truma agent to collect and pay for the right angle part for our gas.  The chap is so busy fixing olive tree shakers (a vicious looking long device that shakes the branches so the olives fall off) that we will go back to him sometime in the New Year.

Fiat thought we have mice in the engine bay … no droppings or chewed wires but some disturbed dust marks … I put some mouse glue on cardboard and baited it with cheese … no stuck on rodents thankfully the next morning.  And it really is glue … dead sticky.  I should know as I got some on my fingers.

Thence back to Kalyves … Lovely Ann gave us the regulator posted from Britain, so now we finally have a spare.   Brian had arrived on Sunday.  We had the decider match of Cribb … what a slaughter!  I was particularly lucky with my cards, for once.

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1359-1371: Gas Limits Play!

1359: 1371

Sunday 24th November – Thursday 5th December 2019

Being so out of date, this post is a summary …. that’ll teach me to get behind.

 

Gas Truma Trama

The replacement Truma regulator arrived, but the new version is configured E and S, ours is N and S.  Our regulator is also positioned too low down, as it should be above the top of the gas bottles … apparently the into-habitation pipes are often cut as motorhomes are imported into the UK and a cheap regulator attached.  We had met a lovely local ex-pat couple Anthony and Julia … who just happen to be motorhomers and he is dead handy, having been a vehicle mechanic.  As soon as the Truma arrived, we hot footed it to Anthony.  No, due to the different shape, it would not physically fit in our locker with the two bottles.  However, they very kindly loaned us (and fitted) their spare French gas bottle (propane and more pressure, which is why it worked with our failing regulator) so we could heat water and shower!  It felt such luxury.

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Anthony and Julias French gas bottle enabling much needed showers … and you can see the N /S regulator is too low in relation to the top of the yellow GasLow bottle.

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The replacement E / S regulator.

We then bought a Greek bottle … propane and a hose and bottle end attachment …. just needed the connection to the regulator.  Nope.  We drove in the AndyPandyCar into 2 specialist gas places in Chania … no way would anywhere in Crete be able to supply us with the connector, we were told!  GRRR!  Having bought a regulator that didn’t fit, and now a gas bottle we couldn’t use, it is definitely a case of of throwing money at a problem BUT not getting anywhere!

On the phone to GasLow in the UK and a really helpful Martin … they could send us a N and S regulator which would fit in the locker.  No crash cut off sensor, but we do have rupture thingies built into the bottles … apparently!  It would take about 11 days to get to Greece … ah Maddy could bring it out with her and save on postage.  I checked with EasyJet about a regulator being allowed in hand luggage …. no it will look like tools so must go into the hold.  Maddy not delighted with this news as she only has 1.5 hrs between flights at Athens and historically airlines have a history of losing her luggage.  I balked at the fee of £59 for a case in the hold one way!  Quickly back onto the phone to GasLow … no it had not been collected by Parcel Force yet … £30 to post to Greece, which incidentally is the price of the regulator.  Fortunately as we were sorting this out, lovely Ann, who lives in Kalyves walked past and allowed us to use her postal address.  She messaged today, that the parcel has arrived.

In the pursuit of extending the pipe so the new Truma Mono would fit, we had a local plumber look at it.  No … nowhere in Greece would we be able to get anyone to extend this pipe.  He did remove Anthony and Julia’s French bottle, which we felt we ought to return before we consumed all their gas.  In putting our two GasLow bottles back, he managed to create a gas leak!  Some plumber and EUR20 later … more money with no solution!  The system had been running the fridge and I had been using the slow cooker and Remoska on days that I did cook, but now we had no gas at all.  So we ended up at Camping Elizabeth, Rethymno with hook up for 5 nights for EUR19/per night …basic but right on the beach, a cold fridge and HOT SHOWERS!

Whilst all this was going on, I had emailed the Greek mainland Truma wholesaler who had sold us the Truma Mono regulator to say thank you, but it didn’t fit in our cupboard as the pipe is too low, but does he sell the Greek bottle connector to a regulator?  He was promptly on the phone …. he was going to send a Greek gas bottle to regulator pigtail (new term to us) and the pipe to extend our into-habitation pipe to his Crete agent in Heraklion.  This is the agent who said he was too busy to help us.

When the parts arrived the miserable Truma agent said he would fit them.  Result … not your usual motorhome service centre at all.  He is so busy at the moment as he fixes olive harvesting equipment (and water pumps etc) and as the harvest is in full swing he is working 12 hr + days.  They put a motorbike across the front of the shop to secure a parking for Jez and he worked squatting on the pavement!  But he knew what he was doing, which is the main thing.  He spotted the next problem really quickly. He could extend the pipe and fit the new regulator …. but as we have a T bar for the two GasLow tanks, one of the hoses would be pointing N and there is insufficient room!  Double GRRR!  He got on the phone to the mainland wholesaler … we now needed a right hand junction …. it’s ordered and now on its way.

BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS … he quickly extended the pipe, fitted the new regulator and the Greek bottle pigtail … so we are now on gas!  Both he and the wholesaler are adamant that while in Greece we should use the domestic exchangeable bottles as the service station LPG is low quality.

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The Greek bottle all pigtailed up.  Good to go.

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 Not convinced the service statin LPG would be too much of a problem as we have inline filters fitted.  They were replaced in September and I had checked they were clear.

Amazing what you learn when things go wrong.  If there were evening classes in motorhome maintenance, or a week’s residential, we would be the first to sign up. And I KNOW NOW that we should have had a spare regulator … but I had asked on a forum what spares to carry and no-one mentioned a regulator.  We do have a spare water pump at £125, which of course, will not fail now!  And once we pick up the GasLow regulator, we will have a spare … finally!

 

Moni Arkadhi

30th November

Similar design, but not as attractive as Agios Triadha, but interesting for its history.  During the 1866 rebellion against the Turkish rulers, the monastery was a Cretan stronghold and sanctuary for many local families.  After a two day Turkish siege, the defences were breached and the Abbot ignited the ammunition store where many families were sheltering.  Enraged, the Turks killed the Crete survivors, thus inciting a wave of independence sympathy for Crete.

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A Venetian structure Church.

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The well laid out museum included samples of the intricate embroidery carried out by the monks.

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The tree had a arrow pointing to a Turkish bullet still wedged in its trunk. 

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The ammunition store which the Abbot ignited once the battle was lost.  All the women and children sheltering here were killed … preferable to slavery and being placed in a harem.

Acroplis of Eleftherna and Museum

30th November

A new museum for only EUR2, with excellent English explaining how the ancient town of Eleftherna had been one of the largest and most significant in Crete, dating back to C8-7 BC, and then changed / adopted by the Romans.  The museum hosted a temporary exhibition of ancient coins … intricate detail and each town minted its own.  They were traded, based on weight.

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The picnic spot was the very much closed ticket office carpark for the Ancient site.

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Given all these ancient structures spread over a huge area, we though we’d get a bit of walking done, but it was all locked up and no way in. Shame as most places are left open so people can still visit out of season.

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This was the view of the necropolis from the road … as close as we could get.

CO2 Update

Locals in Kalyves warned us that sometimes poison is put down to quell the stray cat population.  The German word for poison is Gift … not much of a gift at all.  And as CO2 both like to eat whatever bones, and stick their trouts in the free food for stray cats and dogs (I know the locals feed them and the kill them!!!) and have both had upset tummies from what rubbish they’ve consumed, the muzzles have had to come out.

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Corrie is more accepting, but they are both frustrated they can’t pick up sticks!  Sadly most people seem to think they are muzzled as they are aggressive. 

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Morning walk along the beach to the small harbour and the view looking back to where we are parked.

Leich is a particularly nasty non-curable disease for dogs.  They cannot catch it from other dogs but from sandfly, in most Mediterranean countries. CO2 have been wearing Scalibor collars since Corsica, but they only last 6 months.  I nipped into the vet to check I could remove the collars, but was told that as Crete is warm and there is a lot of wind, the sandfly are around all year here.  There is also an injection and as neither injection or collar are 100% prevention, it is recommended that they have both.  Duely sorted.

Whilst at the vets, I was given the run down on why I should have Oscar castrated (again).  Poor lamb is booked in for 17th December.  It will be interesting to see how we cope with his cone of shame in the motorhome for a week!  Might be the muzzle or us being very vigilant that he doesn’t worry at his wound during the day.

Walks

We have been making good use of the local walking books Ann gave us.  I’ve done a few when J nanny naps in the afternoon.

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So it rained last night and someone sensibly wore boots and gaiters … not saying who!

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We often come across threshing areas and ancient wells.

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The beach by Camping Elizabeth looking back to Rethymno, and its fortress.  We found the non-touristy centre and liked it better than when we visited with the Aged Ps … lack of tourists, says us!

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Fully loaded but not tied down … we kept our distance!

 

1354-1358: Walks, Gas and Keys!

1354: Medical and Hair

Tuesday 19th November 2019

I needed a blood test and hormone injection – the excellent Health Centre and Laboratory in Kalives duly obliged – 5 minutes from our pitch on the beach. And cheap … EUR15 for the Drs consultation, and EUR 40 for the blood test (EUR120 was paid once in France for this same blood test!).  Good result picked up a few days later … PSA result 0.05, so hormones doing their job. 

Our gas supply is problematic at the moment – we think a new regulator is required.  Lots of gas bottles used here, but not with regulators that have an auto crash cut off sensor!  A short drive to Chania after the local gas/B&Q style shop couldn’t help. The chap at Chania was helpful but didn’t have what we needed either. We may get one sent from mainland Greece…..

K solved the issue of needing a hair wash by having a hair colour appointment!

1355: Cave and Cove Walk

Wednesday 20th November

Now then, readers – your starter for 10 – what’s an anagram of ’AndyPandyCar’?  “Paddynannyrac”?  Answers in cyber time……. who remembers Bamber Gascoigne?  Name the tv programme?  What’s the link to Crete?  Well, the answer is that Paddycar was parked at Kokkino for the walk photographed by the lovely K.  

Fabulous walk with a small cove and amazing sea cave.

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Parked the AndyPandyCar at Kokkino Chorio … the town mostly shut up but lovely views back across to the Akrotiri peninsula and Chania.

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These bulbs are persistent buggers coming up through the tarmac.

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Koutalas Beach / Cove and lunch stop.  I didn’t take a pic of her, but a lady was swimming when we arrived … did wonder if she was skinning dipping and would stay in the water util we left, but she did have a bikini.

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Koutalas Cove.

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Sea cave:  Steps down ..

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The walk book was very clear not to cross here if the rock was wet, so we sent Corrie’s across to test it!

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Amazing colours from the minerals.  

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K walked onto the lighthouse past military land, very careful not to take pix of that!  

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Oh dear.  Christmas has arrived early here too.

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My goodness … perch was ordered … and two huge battered pieces of fish and potatoes … herbs in the batter makes it healthy, right?

And we’re going to this restaurant for more food on Saturday evening – and live Greek music!

1356: Heraklion for Keys!

Thursday 21st November

!.5 hours each way to FIAT Heraklion – to pay for replacement van keys – payment can only be made in person.  K:  All my fault, I seem to have lost them!  And Murphy’s Law, when we only have one set, we will loose them!  An expensive business replacing keys … EUR265 programmed alarm key!  The habitation key was much cheaper £19 for 2 and Maddy will bring them out to us in December.  

What does “FIAT” stand for?  Not “Fix It Again Tomorrow”!  “Fabricato Italiano Automobile Torino”…. We did some shopping – a bit crowded – and lunch……   

1357: Poorly Girl

Friday 22nd November 

K was a little unwell – very unusual (we aborted our walk from Armeni)….she slept a lot during the day – Oscar, Corrie and I rallied around – and did – ‘stuff’.  Mainly dog walking and being very quiet – like that tonic water advert “Sch….”

1358: Armeni Walk Accomplished

Saturday 23rd November 

K rallied after an excellent night’s sleep – hurrah!  Drove to Armeni – coffee and cookies. Deja vue at the same coffee shop and our order of yesterday was remembered.  We chatted to a young lad whose father we had talked to here yesterday … another ex pat musician.  Oscar was much admired – not Corrie this time…..

6k walk – flat terrain – a few dogs – and terrapins in the local river. What’s a good recipe for ‘terrapin flambe’?  Pan on low heat with olive oil – carefully remove terrapin shell – heat to sizzle (not on our gas though) and serve with garnish and crusty shell  – flame with lots of raki – watch your eyebrows…..  Masterchef?  No!     K:  May I point out that J is of the school of Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook! I once considered buying him cookery lessons, but decided that was a gift for me, not him!

And off up to the hill village for local music now.

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Our walk was flat, but views of the White Mountains.

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Amongst the orange groves … and no we didn’t pick any.

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A Venetian water mill.

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No livestock until towards the end of the walk, so CO2 were off lead 🙂

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Post walk rest .. O almost camouflaged.

1350-1353: Another Peninsula and Looking for Food

1350: Another Monastery and in Search of Lunch

Friday 15th November 2019

Monastery Agia Triada was our Pandacar destination – with beautiful courtyards and accessible rooftops. We enjoyed a copious wine tasting – not amazing wines but palatable – obviously not a ‘dry’ day…  a lovely Albanian lady served us and gave us a lot of informations about the olives and grape varieties.  Sure we had more than our quota.  we really didn’t like the reds … especially the one that is a half white / half red grape and then aged in a barrel … this is the one, each monk has a supply of in their cell!  Only 6 monks live here, so presumably it never runs out.  

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We’d seen coaches here as we drove past yesterday … and more again today … fortunately we managed to avoid most of them until the end, when we couldn’t get out for the bodies stood stock still … pretending to listen attentively to the guide, and not aware they were blocking the exit!  Bah – tourists!

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The monastery was a lush huge courtyard garden, with the church in the centre.

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A couple of roof tops were open to climb.

 Loutraki Beach, a parking overnight spot, but not worth moving for.  Marathi – only a fast food van … pretty with 2 beaches.  But no open restaurants.

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Loutraki Beach … a small sandy beach with a massive hotel; must be horrid in season.

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Marathi – one of the two beaches split by the harbour pier.

Nothing open on way home either, so cheese and biscuits in Jez, back at Stavros!  In the afternoon, I walked west of Stavros, hugging the coast all the way out.  Just as well it was out of season, as I was walking over hotel complex patios and pool areas.  

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Looking back to Zorba’s mountain and CO2 made some beach friends. 

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Natural rock pool, although you can see where the Venetians cut out blocks for building the monasteries.

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Sunset view from our parking.

 1351: Kolymbari ‘ere We Kome

Saturday 16th November 

Shopping on the way … needed to make sure we had food in case all the restaurants here were also shut.  We parked at harbou and K asked the harbour master – 2 nights would be ok for overnighting. A bit noisy with harbour rock dredging.  K walked – and found restaurants open with a much quieter parking including a beach shower – we could attach a hose to save hand balling with our watering can.

Our LPG gas pressure has been quite weak recently – we may have a regulator or filter issue – one to watch. There was insufficient pressure to provide water for showering – I suggested we shower (cold) on the beach – I received a distinctly ‘Brexit-style’ veto!!!   Speaking of vetos, who remembers Nikita Kruschev using his veto by removing his shoe and hammering the table at the UN?  A ‘vetoe’ perhaps…..

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Not the prettiest of beaches, but a lot of new and being built hotel / villa complexes being built along the front.

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Very peaceful – we stayed 2 nights.

1352: Up the Rodopos Peninsula

Sunday 17th November 

Stopped for coffee – and raki was on offer!  Too early for us Purists!

In our super Andypandycar, we set off downhill on a dirt track which became more potholed and rivuletyfissured (try that with a gobful of crushed ice!).  Parked on a bend and walked the two km to St John Baptist church.

Back to the car and K piloted up the hill. On a down slope, the Panda started rocking and rolling with noise – I thought “what a nice extra Fiat put in for us”.  Just to be sure, stopped and checked.  The rocks and rolls had completely shredded a rear tyre!  The jack and other paraphernalia were extracted from the boot. When had either of us previously changed a wheel?  Down slope meant we had all anchors on and rocks wedged against front wheels…  I rolled under the vehicle to locate a jacking point – Oscar and Corrie helped by lying there and looking superior… nurse K used her excellent bedside manner by handing me the forceps etc – could be a difficult delivery!  But, the jacking point held and we got the ‘space saver’ tyre on and completed the job. Luckily, we have a tyre inflating machine that works off the car usb port, as the space saver looked a little flabby.

Why do car manufacturers provide space saving spares?  To save a few millimetres in the boot? To annoy motorists?  We have decided to field a totally new political party in the UK December elections – the “MASSTY” party – catchy eh?  The “Motorists Against Space Saving Tyre” party – stick that in your Boris, Jeremy!      

The Waves at Ravdoucha restaurant had been recommended, but sadly was shut – land slips on road was an indication of lack of passing traffic.

Drove to Kolymbari … and ditched the car long the old harbour.  Found a  lovely fish restaurant, called Argentia.  Had to choose this one as the Aged Ps and K’s sister Clare and husband Chris are currently on tour there.  It was slightly up market as they decorated Fava with anchovies and capers, normally it’s a bit of diced red onion. Hand washing to remove tyre dirt – and a little local vino to celebrate a tyre change – do we really need an excuse?

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 Corrie’s ears pricked up at the goat bells and her nose was pressed to the car window.

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Traffic jam going up the Rodopos Peninsula.  They were reluctant movers.

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Windy Gap, of course.

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We walked down to the church in the green bit … and then back up!

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Agios Ioannis Rigologous – St John the Baptist.  Within a gated compound to keep the goats out .. a small chapel and seating for 600 outside.  A pilgrim site on St John’s Name Day in August.  Surrounding the chapel was a food serving station, more seating and modern toilets … all a bit incongruous.  

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My hero at work.  No mending this one!

1353: Back to Kalyves

Monday 18th November 

Filled with water  … strip washed as the hot water is still not not working with single gas cylinder. Good job we don’t need the central heating…

En route back to Kalyves we stopped at a tyre shop – my guess was Euro 40 – K guessed Euro 70 – the cost was Euro 75!  The forfeit was to catch a motorist with a puncture and offer to change the wheel – failed! 

Back to Kalyves – becoming our favourite base in this area of Crete –  bed linen dropped into laundrette – chilled. 


 

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A FaceBook funny.





1349: Monastery Walk and Dance

1349: Monastery Walk

Thursday 14th November

After Oscar’s feline stare-off – an honourable draw in footie terms… we Panda-car’d on to the monastery of Gouvemetou – using K’s agnosticism (she went Sunday School!) to swiftly tread past the ‘no dogs’ sign – anyway they’re children, not just K9s.  The path down was mostly well paved and steep – past the ‘Bear Cave’ and on to the older ruined monastery – massive arch bridge – the pre-16th century scaffolding contract must have been very lucrative…   Once we found the next path, the scrabbling commenced – bums on the rocks – K vetoed one of my bum pics!  Not a photo of my bottom you realise…. “Does my bum look big on this rock?”  Move on James!   Down to the gorge bottom (can we avoid the bottom theme, please?) and the path was easier – Corry was goatspotting – a lot like train spotting but with goats on tracks – no, she wasn’t wearing a duffle coat…  Back on the lead, young lady!

Another great picnic perched on the rocks above the pirates cove. Before the return ascent, I attempted the Zorba happy dance (we watched the film last night) – crashed and burned, readers!!!


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We’d overnighted next to a wild cat feeding station … this little puss was not going to be intimidated by the Oscar fixed stare!

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Monastery Gouvernetou:  reachable along several km of lonely road.  Dated 1573, it looks more like a fortress than a monastery.  To start our walk we followed the gated and flowered path, which clearly stated ‘No Dogs anywhere on the monastery grounds’ … I had my agnostic arguments ready!

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The expansive view from the saddle as you leave the gardens.

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WW2 memorial.

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Bear Cave … a dripstone one.

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Inside were cathedral sized columns of stalagmites and stalactites.

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And massive stalagmite that is supposed to resemble a bear … more like a bearded St John, I think.  The steps lead up to a cistern …

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… But where has Corrie gone?  James investigates the faint whimpers …

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… aah … she jumped in and couldn’t get out!

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The walk led down to the ruins of the original Monastery Katholiko.  Abandoned due to the frequent raids from pirates who game up the gorge from the sea.

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Monastery Katholiko, with a rock chapel.

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St John the Hermit’s Cave … yes another one.  He apparently died in this one.  

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The descent down into the gorge … the only difficult part of the walk.

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The pirate landing place and our picnic spot, before the return ascent.

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Having watched Zorba the Greek last night, as we are parked up where his famous dance at the end was filmed, James’ cup flowed over, and he enacted his own happy dance …

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or is that dad Dancing moves?