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.

1425-1433: North and South Walking

1425: Move to Polyrizos

Tuesday 28th January 2019

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

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

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Would that be another beachside parking?

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

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

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

Wednesday 29th -Friday 31st January 

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

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

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

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Walking in the other direction.

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

1429: The Correct Results

Saturday 1st February

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

1430: The Incorrect Results 

Sunday 2nd February 

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

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Way to go …

1431: Cardiologist & K Walk Around Stylos

Monday 3rd February

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

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

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

P1180230Stylos spring.

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Intensive pruning.

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

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

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

1432: Interesting Wall and Path Walk

Tuesday 4th February

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

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

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

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

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

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And J emerging triumphant from the sheep path we followed.

1433: Flora and Follies Walk with Lars

Wednesday 5th January

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

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Anemones

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Early orchids.

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

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

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Real attention to detail.

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And another section both side of the road further up.

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

 

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Look at what my oh so charming daughter sent me!

1323-1329: Same Aged P’s, Different Location

1323:  Travelling South Via Aryiroupoli

Saturday 19th October 2019

We used the beach shower to fill with water as Mother did her daily fast morning walk.  She’s done more exercise than James or I!  We were 10 mins from setting off when a chap from the hotel behind asked us if we could move Jez … the new guests had complained about the van blocking their sea view and we were much higher than cars would be.  Can’t resent this, as they are probably on a week’s precious holiday and had paid for a sea view … not the not so clean rear end of a grey van!  

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This is the view we were blocking the hotel guests from!

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The Aged P’s flat was behind and to the left of Rentacar.

I drove the hire car with the Aged P’s and J followed in the van. Don’t usually like driving in convoy, but the roads here are pretty empty and the larger ones have an extra half lane so the slow vehicles can allow others to overtake … which they do despite bends and double lines in the middle of the road.  We’d planned to picnic lunch as Aryiroupoli, but got there earlier than expected and as we parked up Jez, a restaurant owner was concerned that we would park where his customers might like the shortest walk to a meal at his establishment.  He must have been expecting coach loads judging by the amount of meat barbecuing.  No, just staying for a few hours and (as and appeasement), was he serving coffee?    There are two parts to Aryiroupoli, predictably, Lower and Upper!  The Lower has Springs, water flowing trough loads of channels in the restaurants and further down.  The Upper consists of a small village centre with a few shops and some Roman mosaics.  Good olive oil products shop.  We didn’t even stay a couple of hours in the end, as the rain came down … so we set off again for our south coast destination.  

Home for the next 6 nights was a very small hamlet with a few restaurants with rooms and a small, but well stocked shop.  The Aged P’s were staying in a room at the latter.  It is a bit off the normal tourist trail (good!), being known to locals and overseas regulars.  Friends of ours have been coming here since 1980; one of the restaurants lets them empty their black waste in his toilet and another washes sheets and towels for them.  Food in the restaurants was super tasty and inexpensive.  A really restful place.  However, we did day trips out!

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Apparently this was ‘erected’ as a German kept getting his tackle out!

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Our beach.

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The next beach along.  Lots of cairns.

1324:  Prevelli Monasteries

Sunday 20th October 

There are two monasteries.  The old Lower one had been destroyed a number of times and the Monks finally moved into the new one about 50 years ago as the upkeep was difficult.  There are now only 2 monks in the Upper Monastery.  The guide at the Lower Monastery explained that there are too many tourists and not enough meditation time at this location, so monks tend to go elsewhere.  

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The Lower Monastery.

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A short drive to the Upper Monastery … a large car park with an H painted on the tarmac for helicopters.  A number of coaches at this one. The buildings were not remarkable, but the history is.  During the wars of independence again the Turks, some of the Monks actually took up arms and there are pictures of gun toting monks in the old monastery museum.  Although they did not fight in WW2, they were active in aiding the Allies.  After the Battle of Crete was lost, thousands of Allies headed south through the gorges.  Preveli hid a lot of them and then assisted them onto a submarine.  They first effort was so successful, a second was attempted, but by this time the Germans were wise to it.  They raided and ransacked the monastery.  A number of the Monks were arrested.  Intervention by one of the Bishops had them released, but the head Monk had to escape to N Africa, sadly only dying a few days before the end of the war.  The monastery continued to support and feed soldiers and the residence.

The main relic of the Monastery was being held by a Monk in the church and kissed by the coach passengers … a Cross.  The story about this cross is fascinating.  It had been captured by the Turks at the end of the C18 and sold to Genoese sailors, who later happened to be passing by.  Their boat stalled, if boats can stall?  It wouldn’t move, so the superstitious sailors returned the cross to the monastery.  Then the Germans tried to fly it to Berlin, but the plane had a fault and would not take off.  They changed plane and this one also refused to budge … so the cross was once more returned to the monks.

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The new Monastery church housing the True Cross.

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Many of the evacuated soldiers were from New Zealand and Australia and have donated / paid for monuments expressing their thanks.

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Picnic view … this south coast is stunning with mountains and gorges running right down to the sea.

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The monument to the monks and the Allies.

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Coffee and ice cream back on the deck at the Aged P’s accommodation.

1325:  Frangokastello and Up

Monday 21st October 

Frangokastello is a great coffee / lunch stop.  Good beaches if that’s your thing.  The castle 1371 is fairly impressive, built to protect the Venetian occupiers from invaders and pirates, but now just a shell.  Being badly restored at the moment … a few workmen slapping on non matching mortar and therefore not open to visitors.  

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After coffee we headed up a gorge to Kallikratis.  The guide book described the road as ‘the steepest, most winding and spectacular in Crete’.  So it had to be done.  A friend told me that she remembered it being built and had driven it before it was widened … coming down the car bonnet was over the edge of the drop.  Going up was much easier, aided by the fact we didn’t meet any other traffic until the top, and we came back a different route.

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Kallikratis Gorge.

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Picnic stop.

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Local inhabitants tormenting CO2.  How do they get up here?

1326:  Plakias

Tuesday 22nd October 

Plakias is another holiday destination, with a good number of restaurants and bars.  However, all the buildings are low rise so it has not been spoilt.

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Don’t know how or why this van had made it into the water.

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We had ice creams, but Mum had a Pinicolda!  She could taste the copious alcohol in it … yummy … for her.  No taster sips for us, as we are still battling through Sober for October.

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1327:  Chora Sfakion and Imbros Gorge

Wednesday 23rd October 

Chora Skaflion is the capital of the region, but is relatively small.  Growth has been restricted due to the surrounding mountains.  Busy with a coach park and a nearly full paid for car parking … EUR3 per day.  We arrived, coffeed, walked around and then sat on admiring the small port for and ice cream.  Not one to break a trend, Mum had another booze laden cocktail.

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The waterfront with wall to wall restaurants.  The fresh fish on display looked good … but we have a picnic.

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Whilst we ate ice cream, we watch this trip boat fill up.  Surely it is a bit top heavy and the wind was blowing!


We drove up the main road from Chania to Chora Sfakion, which goes along the Imbros Gorge.  This is the second most visited gorge and even at this time of year there were 4 coaches parked up at the bottom waiting for their passengers to walk down.  We established that a car (taxi) to drive to the top of the gorge is EUR25 … I may do this when James flies to Dublin in December.  As we climbed, the mists came in and views diminished.  It was also much chillier, so we almost descended the whole way before we picnicked.

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Did I mention the wind … we had to hold everything down, even the food.

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Goat Gate:  Oscar does like a stick and brought this one home after a walk.  He left it in his bed, where Corrie found it.  She has a habit to shred sticks, so I grabbed it to chuck it out … only to discover it was part of a goat’s leg, with hoof attached.  YUK!  But what happened to the rest of the goat?


1328:  Fish Fest

Thursday 24th October 

Our last full day with the Aged P’s :(.  We had a coffee on the deck at their accommodation and then we went to the taverna on the neighbouring beach.  Ordered a few meze to start and then ordered some fresh fish.  We’ve worked out that to make the meal last, order the courses as you want them.  The two large fish, bream and sea bass, were just beautifully cooked … double yummy.  The Aged P’s managed to NOT hold back on the booze front … whilst we are STILL dry for Go Sober for October.   

 

1329:  North and South

Friday 25th October 

A drive up to Chania Airport for the Aged P’s to catch their flight home.  Gonna miss them lots.  People seem to think that having one’s parents around for 11 nights would be a chore, but they are such good company.  More of a chore for them, I suspect!

We headed back south through the White Mountains, but a bit further along the coast east … to Kokkinos Pirgos.  We walked along the beach to the restaurant next to the small harbour … but flavourless and expensive off a huge tourist menu. Worst meal we’ve had so far.  Shame as fab location.