1467-1470: No Chaos/Chios in Turkey

1467:  In Search of Oil!

Monday 9th March 2020

The engine oil light had come on on 28th February … just as we were leaving Crete and all our contacts who could have helped us to find a suitable garage.  We’d had our eyes open whilst at Itea etc, but not seen suitable garages and google was not helping.  J had not managed to find anywhere that could do an oil change in Porto Rafti whilst I was away … not commercial enough,  So we decided to move to another spot we’d used 2 years ago, Varkiza, Ag. Marina, nearer Athens and more built up … we really wanted to find somewhere before arriving in Turkey.  On the way, we did a Lidl shop, which included a little pork!  Just before our destination, I spotted a Castrol sign, but it was now closed for the evening … we’d head back early next morning.

1468:  Oil and a Ferry

Tuesday 10th March 

The Castrol chap spoke good English … couldn’t do a van our size, but up the road, was a lorry garage, opposite the toy store, try there.  Google translate was our friend here … no, he made lorries, could not do an oil change and sent us back down the street to opposite Eko Petrol station.  Feeling slightly despondent, I ran across the dual carriageway … the young lad spoke good school English … yes they had the right oil and could do a change.  J was beckoned, drove and did a U turn …

As well as the oil change, the mechanic checked the oil filters, topped up the coolant and changed the remaining old windscreen wiper, which the young lad had to run down the road to buy.  He also jet washed the engine.  And where our bumper is hanging off slightly, courtesy of the recovery / tow in Corsica, he drilled 2 holes and neatly cable tied it together.  The bill was £163, and bear in mind the oil was EUR65 for each of 2 5 ltr containers and we’ve brough about 2 litres away with us.  So pretty good for a mini service, I think.

A coffee and pastry to celebrate for lunch.  Our ferry to Chios was not until 8.00 p.m., and en route, another quick shop for wine, as Lidl had only bottles …  I cleared out the shelf of bag in box, only 5 x 5 ltr of white.  Will we cope?  That’s only 45 litres on board, as we’ve read that Turkish wine is not up to much.  Interestingly, all the wine we have is from Crete, although some was bought on the mainland.

Ferry was typical Greek … it seems like chaos boarding, but they know exactly how to organise it.  We and one car were the ONLY non commercial vehicles, in fact there were hardly any vehicles, just container trailers expertly reversed on.  We were shown to our cabin by staff and Result!  It was a 4 berth with bunks.  I was able to sleep in a top bunk without CO2 joining me!  They had their own bunk underneath … J, who was on the other low bunk, did say that they tried to join him during the night … but I didn’t know anything about it … zzzz’s.  Supper was chicken I’d previously cooked with salad … must prepare more salad meals now the weather is improving.

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CO2 waiting for the oil change to be finished.

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The overnight ferry route from Pireaus to Chios

1469:  The Resin Island – Chios (Hios)

Wednesday 11th March 

We were woken not by a discrete tap on our cabin door, but by someone actually opening it an poking his head in.  We later spotted him doing the rounds again … a thankless task of checking all the cabins had been vacated.

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We had to wait for all the trailers in front of Jez to be hauled off before we could get to Jez.  Then we were told to hurry up and get off  foot passengers for the return leg were already on board!

Arrival in Chios was at 0500 hours and it was still dark.  We drove though the super quiet and narrow streets out of Chios, grateful not to meet any other traffic.  We parked up at the Mastic Museum

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A huge car park that was out of sight and we had it all to ourselves.

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From the parking, CO2 and I climbed up to the viewing platform; CO2 were tied to the base of the rickety and rusty spiral stair case.

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View from the top.  

After a solid sleep for a couple of hours we went into the Museum.  One of the first places for a while where J was given a 50% discount. Good value at EUR6 total.  My guide book (eBay, of course) was published 2006, and hadn’t mentioned this museum, as it was opened in 2016.  It was a gem and we thank David and Karen, thegreygappers.co.uk, for telling us about it.      When petroleum products replaced a lot of the uses for mastic, the locals organised a cooperative and started manufacturing chewing gum.  We’d come across mastic as a flavouring on Crete, when there was a limited ice cream flavour choice … I’ll stick with vanilla.

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As well as the usual static exhibits, there were short films about the mastic trees, growing, and harvesting, the production processes and the arichecture of the mastic villages.

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Chios is the only place in the world where mastic is grown, due to its climatic conditions.

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The resin is the product of the tree sterilising the wound cut into its bark.  It is harvested during night time as the sun turns it to a useless honey.

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Even in the modern chewing gum factory, one process is still the hand cleaning of the resin.  Growers are paid according to weight and a laser examination as to the cleanliness of the mastic.

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The brand Elma stand for Greek (Elinka) and Mastic.  The museum stated that it the only gum made with natural products.

From the museum we drove to Pyrgi, one of the mastic villages.  Knowing that villages have notoriously narrow Jez-unfriendly streets, I’d identified a car park next to the village stadium … my assumption that coaches can drive there is usually correct …  It was a little tight, but the car park had a big closed gate across its entrance, next to a house.  On the balcony of this house were some very friendly ladies with no English.  They indicated we could park across the entrance, applauded J’s reversing and laughed at Oscar’s over excited barking.  More lovely Greek people …

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Geometric patterns are cut into white washed walls to reveal a layer of black volcanic sand underneath. Even on the underside of balconies.

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Wise decision to park Jez outside  this was relatively wide!

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The central square and coffee stop.

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Corrie trying to blend in with the houses.

We attempted to go to a beach car park for our overnight, but it was seriously sloping and there were no restaurants open there.  We about turned and stopped roadside at a restaurant we’d passed.  Then back to the Museum carpark over night … moonlight and stars … no orange light pollution.

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True to form, we ordered too much food … baked aubergine with feta, baked local cheese and a hock of slow cooked pork.  Then the excellent salesmanship of the owner / cook persuaded us to have her slow cooked beans … all really delicious.  Only beans made it home to form the basis of the next nights dinner.

1470:  Mesta and Chaos Ferry

 Thursday 12th March 

We read that Mesta is considered one of the finest examples of mastic village architecture.  A central tower, single storey houses, later built upward, then a protecting village wall.  Really narrow alleyways and passages, often with arches, where houses extended sideways.  Indifferent coffee in the square, quickly joined by a vocal tour group.  We later realised they were Turkish as they were on the ferry that evening with us.

We drove the non direct route back to Chios town, filling our tanks at a water station on the outskirts of town.  Loads of locals were using it, some with bringing a pickup flat bed full of containers.  Why, I have no idea.

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Very barren landscape, the mastic trees are low growing.  Other trees were destroyed in fires or used for boat building.

Onto a disused harbour, 1.5km out of town, but quiet for J to nap.  I walked into town to collect our boarding passes.  A slight moment of concern as the lady declared she had just printed the passes, but none with our name.  After about 5 mins, she realised that all the agency tickets were in a drawer …. duh!  Oh and by the way, the ferry leaves half and hour earlier than advertised!  J received a phone call from me to make Jez ready and picked me up roadside.  At the dock, it was all minor chaos.  A few trucks with police (riot gear inside the busses) as there were about 150 immigrants on the dock.  Only about a third were families; most being young men.  I don’t know how long they had been there, but they’d set up a washing line.  Chios and Lesbos have both been in the news as they are so close to Turkey and have had more than their share of migrants and locals have just about had enough.

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On the walk into Chios town.

At the harbour it was really unclear how to proceed and where to go.  We headed through Passport control, down a tiny gap in fencing, then onto the vehicle control.  We reversed ourselves back out, whilst foot passengers went forward.  The vehicle registration lady would open the gate  so we could load Jez … but a truck and police car had to be moved first!

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Jez on the ferry to Turkey.

On arrival in Cesme, Turkey, a friendly dog handler spoke excellent English and he told us to park up, and go though passport and vehicle control … the latter took a while as the lady ended up needing help working out what to enter from the V5 and insurance.  Then it was 300m back into the port and up onto a ramp for Jez to be X-ray’d.  He only just fit and it was a bit of a clonk as he descended.

At the final gate, all the documentation was checked again and I was asked if we had anything to declare.  Magically our bag in box wine shrunk to about 15 litres. And whilst waiting I learned how to say Thank you.

We pulled over in Cesme town, almost immediately to identify a cash point.  I tried to withdraw 2500 Turkish Lira and was told I’d exceeded my car limit.  A slight concern s it had not been used.  I then tried with 2000 TL … and it worked.  I received a huge wad of TL50 notes.  The exchange rate is just under TL8 to £1.

About 8km further south in the now dark and down a dirt track to a lovely wild spot, tarmac but right on the beach.

 

1462-66: Special Birthday Home

1462-66:  80th Birthday Trip

Wednesday 4th-8th March 2020

I had a special reason to fly home … Mum’s 80th birthday celebration.  

I arrived late on Wednesday and left Sunday lunchtime … the days were packed.  As was the bag that I had checked into the hold with EasyJet.  I returned home with some thick woolies, Crete guide and walking books, Christmas decorations etc. On the return leg, I had to ring EasyJet to up the checked bag from 15-23kgs … I’d been a busy eBayer before I arrived and then had a day in Swindon outlet shopping centre and a mop up shopping session in Guildford. Plus various items I routed out from one of our storage places … the Aged P’s attic.  On the return leg, my bag weighed in at 22.7kgs (phew!) … my hand luggage rucksack was pretty heavy too!  And amazingly they did not charge me for increasing the booked weight.  They were, however, having to deal with quite a number of travellers whose hand luggage would not fit in the test frame … solution by one young man … wear and carry 3 fleeces so the bag would fit.  Other people were having luggage removed from their grasp … not sure if they had to pay.  

In fact the return flight was ‘interesting’ altogether.  Various people changed seats and were told off by the steward.  He was also unamused by the gloves worn by two elderly Greeks as he tried to explain that these would spread infection.  Someone else got into trouble for standing up to retrieve a bag from the overhead locker … just as we were coming into land.  But the piece de resistance was the departure from the plane (almost said the exiting the aircraft … but Dad would take issue with the Americanism!).  The loading bridge / walkway malfunctioned and the pilot informed us that despite 50 Greeks trying to get it to move to the plane doors, it would not budge.  We were all going to have to exit via the rear door and steps … BUT only in rows of 10 at a time to prevent all the passengers rushing to the back OR the plane would tip up!!!  They then decided to off load the luggage first.  

Maddy is on a new fitness regime and ran a 3 day bootcamp at her gym.  I did 3 days of arms, legs and HIIT, which I now know is High Intensity Interval Training.  I ache in lots of new places.  We both ‘acquired’ new fitness clothing in Swindon!

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I know why I was smiling.  I was on baby weights compare to Maddy.

I got to watch the England Wales rugby game in Twickenham.  Not at the stadium where the game was played, but at Gill’s house.  My best oldest friends (Poly days), Gill, Bron and Al met up and watched the game and then stuffed our faces … we’d all contributed a course.  Bron is a vocal Welsh lass, Gill, Al and I are English BUT the shame of it, Gordon, Gill’s husband, is a Scott and was very much supporting Wales!  Even James, who normally sides with the Celts, has finally realised that if he is married to an English lady and lived much of his life there, he ought to support England.  Much as we all appreciate each other’s husbands and offspring, it was really good to have an evening without them!

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An uninvited guest  he flies in daily for his supper. at Gill and Gordons.

On Sunday morning, before Maddy drove me to Gatwick, Dayna (Maddy’s bestie) and Mum Caroline (good friend of mine) came for a cooked breakfast .. we had 1.5 hours!  I really was packing it in.

Covid-19 … A few people were wearing face masks in the airport and on the flight, but they were noticeable for being in the absolute minority.  The UK has experienced supermarket shelves being emptied of toilet roll, pasta and hand sanitiser.  Not so in Greece, although on our return I did a minor stock up of tomatoes, frozen veg and a spare bag of toilet paper … you never know!  We can easily self isolate should the need arise.  

The main event was Mum’s 80th.  Maddy drove the Aged P’s and I up to Grosvenor Square to Tim’s London house, where we all met.  He, or rather wife Sarah, did us proud … champagne and canapés and they’d ordered 2 large cars to take us around the corner to the restaurant … the Boudin Blanc. We had a private room with a round table, so we could yell across it to each other without disturbing other tables.  Excellent food, efficient staff who seamlessly re-filled wine glasses … I slept in the back on the return.  A really lovely evening, with only one of Gran’s grandchildren missing (skiing).

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Im the middle generation. before the comments start that Mum looks younger than I!

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B-i-l Chris, Niecey, Mum, Tim and Zozo.

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Dad, Louis and Ellie.

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And James?  Someone had to hold the fort back in Porto Rasti … he looked after CO2.  

1458-1461: Greek Party Time

And James back scribing … I’m on pix

1458: Monastery and Blossom

Saturday 29th February 2020

The crossing from Heraklion to Piraeus was a bit rocky – I was up at 4:30 to shower!!!  We were due at 6:30 but it was actually 7.30 before we set wheels on Greece mainland after 4+ amazing months on Crete…..  We piloted Jez to Louis Ost monastery and stayed the night – beautiful almond and cherry blossoms in full bloom – slept much better than on the ferry. Strange to be wilding not by the sea…

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Our overnight parking at the monastery amongst almond blossom.

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The Osios Loukas Monastery houses now only 5 monks, is set overlooking a valley amongst the almond trees.  And February is when they are all in bloom … lucky us.

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According to the guide book, it was the precursor of that last defiant flourish of Byzantine art that produced the great churches of Mystra (previously visited).

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The mosaics were damaged by a 1659 earthquake, but those that are left are considered very fine.  This is Jesus naked reaching for the cross in a swirling mass of water … the illusion heighten by the curvature of the roof.

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I have an issue with religion, it’s wealth and pomposity …and these clips were part of a display!

1459: Delfi-nitley Not!

Sunday 1st March 

Delfi was the intended destination – but being a national holiday, it was so packed with cars and people, we inched our way through (eventually) – maybe another day.   On to Itea – a pleasant seaside town – a long seafood lunch – nice to have fish for a change.  

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Itea – Morning coffee on our convenient bench.

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The afternoon procession, despite the Government decree cancelling all major gatherings.  Children were all dressed up … mostly as princesses; aren’t they all?

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This was an anti smoking section.

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He blew me a kiss! 

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 And he handed me a glass of red … like these kind of festivities!

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Don’t think these pirates will do much pirating … their car had to be pushed off and abandoned!

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Captain Sparrow?

1460: Not so Clean Monday

Monday 2nd March 

On to another town – Galaxidi – celebrating the start of Lent – we intended to overnight – but like Delfi, cars were queuing to get into town!  Found a parking space perched on a verge – a km from town. K, Oscar and Corry did a recce and phoned me to join them. I had attempted a nap – at a 45 degree angle – not good. In town….. hands up those of our few readers who celebrate Lent by wearing hazmat suits and firing flour bombs at other folk!!!  “Fast food to go!”  K caught a little bomb…..  Because of the crowds, we Jezzed it back to Itea for the overnight – seafood supper again with potato and aubergine salads – “Noshtimo”

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We were surrounded by families kite flying in Itea … well, attempting to. Not sure how many children were allowed to tool the kites!  Later in the afternoon, one landed on our roof.

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 It was rammed … coaches parked on the verge and having dropped off their passengers had a long reverse back up the road.  Fortunately, just as we were leaving, a coach left and we could do a 5 point turn to get out.

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Galaxidi – a pretty old port.

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A walk around the bay to the fisherman’s wife and child – recognising their contribution.

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Not a bad price  I should have bought the job lot just for the masks!

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A feeble attempt to protect the car from …

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 flour bombs!  The air was thick with it.

1461:  thegreygappers.co.uk

Tuesday 3rd March 

Water en route.  Omelette for lunch.

Move to Porto Rafti  David and Karen – Grey Gappers – met in Spain at a manzanilla tasting Nov 2016 and kept in touch.  Both heading into TAGA (Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.  Wine and meal out … only D got what he asked for!  The rest of us got alternative dishes!  Great to have some good company not too far away in TAGA.

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We found a Park4Night free spring water point right in front of a taverna … the owner happily told us to fill our tank with the good water.  And as it was lunchtime, a coffee turned into a lunch omelette  and chips!  No wonder, Ive been gaining weight.

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!