1434-1443: Nudism, Diet and Silly Sat Nav

1434-1435: (More) Medical Appointments!

Thursday 6th – Friday 7th February 2020

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

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

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

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

1436: Move to Matala

Saturday 8th February

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

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

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

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Well signed to the Red Beach.  

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Matala and the Caves.

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Heading down into Red Beach.

1437: Agio Farago Gorge Walk

Sunday 9th February

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

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

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Church in the gorge.

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Sunny picnic spot.

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  Better to remember to carry a spade then!

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And again, we clearly cannot remove our clothes!

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1438: Lunch in Lendas

Monday 10th February

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

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Silly Sat Nav found us pretty decent dirt track …

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which ‘wendas’ to Lendas!

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

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

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

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Known for its rock arch.

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The return trip over the mountains above Lendas.

1439: Votomos Lake, an Aborted Walk and Monastries

Tuesday 11th February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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With its massive plane trees.

1440: Three Goats and a Banjo

Wednesday 12th February

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

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

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

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

1441: Another Meal Out???

Thursday 13th February

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

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

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

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

Friday 14th February

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

1443: Wet, Wet, Wet and a Recovery

Saturday 15th February

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

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

1041-1048: Oozing along the South East Coast

 1041 – Tuesday 10th April 2018:  Ierapetra

Vet needed for Corrie’s booster injections and rabies blood tests – so straight to Lerapetra to vet Michael and his team…..3.5 hours later all done and the vet missed his lunch, for the first time ever apparently!  But such a thorough examination: ears, teeth, paws skin etc.  Huge thanks to Michael and his team. 

We were starving by now – so where to go?  The answer was obvious – right across the street – “G-spot bar” with ‘playzone’!!! Not a “G spot” in sight and the plays were cards and board games ……  

An evening wander – buzzing town – and wild parking on a town street with a not noisy fairground nearby. 

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Ierapetra.

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Any Greek coastal town of any import has one of these …  A Venetian Fort.

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Napoleon spent one night here … according to the map and vague direction of the rusting sign … this is it!

1042 – Wednesday 11th April: Mirtos

Morning – I ran on a real running track for the first time in 2 years. Repetitions x6 – a 250 metre short track. If I put my fast laps together – it would be 4 minutes for a kilometre!  Quickest for several years…..  K shopped – lamb and sea bass – and wine from a shop/local vineyard.  K:  I had to send for reinforcements to carry it all back to Jez .. J deployed the trusty shopping trolley.

We kept meeting a ‘interesting’ Dutch/Norwegian lady whose Greek finance had died – she seemed very concerned that he’d died in the street with one show off.  She’d seen the police photos  She’s buying a house in nearby Mithi, uphill from here.

 

 

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Pyrgos Ancient mini site looking down to Mirtos.

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Mirtos:  very pretty but too twee.

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 Gourmet supper:  Parchment backed sea bass, with spinach drizzled with oil and garlic and Fava (a puree of split peas).

1043 – Thursday 12th April: Sarakinas Gorge & Gortys

In the afternoon, we drove to the Sarakinas Gorge for our overnight – completely secluded…… Early-ish morning, we set off to walk the Gorge – but after 20 minutes the way became too difficult for our doggos so we aborted. But we had a real flavour of the steep sides – a bit like the Syq in Petra…..

En route to our next destination (monuments to WW2 fallen), we encountered a small mountain town. The streets were narrow – ok, we’ve done this before – easily….the got more narrow – and cars blocked our way, completely. To make matters worse, 2 cars came towards us – more blockages. We had mistakenly drive the wrong way into a one-way street!  (K: to be fair, when I was shown the no entry sign it was flat against the wall so fairly invisible!) We scraped one side of Jez on foliage … hearing the nails on black board sound as we passed – and on the other side we broke a cars wing mirror!  Guess who was driving?  Moi!  K leaped out to spot – the people didn’t speak any English – and one man shouted at her – unusual in Crete….. others were very helpful.  20 minutes later, the 2 cars reversed – which they could have done much earlier and saved a lot of bother.  We scraped through and out of the town – huge sighs of relief – this was Castelbellissimo in Sicilia all over but just as stressful!!!  The joys of motor homing, indeed.

Quiet afternoon (K walked) and overnight parking in the car park of an ancient site at Gortys……much needed relaxing glass of vino or two …    

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Windscreen passenger.

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Start of Sarakinas Gorge walk.  Only possible when little or no rain.

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Really impressive high and narrow gorge.

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This is where we aborted as we’ve not taught the dogs to climb steps.  Oscar had already been scrabbling to get this far.

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A monument to one of the villages where men and boys were killed by the Germans in September 1943 as reprisals for resistance activities.  

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This monument was just outside Ano Viannos.  A huge number of names.  Very moving.

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Gortys:  A 1600 year old Olive tree; surreal as growing around Roman pillars.

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Gortys:  The Roman Temple of Apollo.  A lot of the rambling site is fenced but easy to wander around for free.  Gortys was a major city by 8BC and later co-operate with the invading Romans, so the city was not destroyed, but developed.  At one point it had a population of 300,000 and the provincial capital.

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My walk … The neighbouring village is Ayii Dheka, which means Holy Ten.  Ten Christians were martyred here in AD250, this is the tomb of 6 of them underneath a much newer church.  Christianity first reached Crete at Gortys.

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Ayii Dheka is really authentic … slightly tumble down with odd Roman pillars and stones lying around or having been used in more recent buildings.  The church is where the martyrs met their fate … sadly it was closed, so I could see the actual stone where they were decapitated with their knee imprints.

 

1044 – Friday 13th April:  Blimey It’s Hot … Sea Breeze Needed

We both ran in the morning 2k and 6k – excellent…  K visited the Gortys ancient site, while I cogitated.

It was so hot that we decided to head for the sea and shoot the breeze – at Matala. An unmanned and unmaintained campsite, but with electric, toilets and water – free!!!  A regular hippy colony with many pony tails – K suggested I grow one. Well, I remember 1968, flower power and Haight Ashbury – “If you’re going to San Francisco….wear some flowers in your hair”, etc. 

We were not the only Brits … We met Diane and John – fellow motorhomers from Nottingham. What happens when motorhomers meet?  Drinkypoos, of course! They’d come to Matala for 2 nights … 6 weeks ago!  This is something like their 18th trip to Greece.

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Flowers along K’s running route.

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Some fine Roman statues …

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Gortys ancient site – Ayios Titos Church 6AC: fenced off, but still remarkable.  It was Crete’s main church.

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The Odeion: the structure at the back houses the law code, dating from around 500BC.  

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The Law Code is an ancient Doric Cretan dialect and is written left to right and then right to left, so eyes can continuously follow the script.  The code is a series of rulings on specific cases.  For instance 5 witnesses were needed to convince a free man, but only one to sentence a slave.  The law covered rape, trade, children of mixed marriages and property & inheritance rights … giving historians a clear insight into the Gortys society.  

1044-1046 – Saturday 14th to Monday 16th April: 

K walked to Red Beach – whilst watching nakedbuttocksbathing – a nuddy beach!   K:  I was chatting to the parents of an ex-student in the cafe, when I suspended my train of thought … pert buttocks do that to one!   The campsite bins overflowing due to some campers being silly?  Solution?  A complete site community project to sort it!!!   We supplied the rubber gloves.  Diane and John admired our twin tub, so K Diane went into full laundrification mode… Meal in Jez – and first swim of the year – sans K9s… 

Matala was a hippy town, but the caves on one side have all been fenced off and people are charged to wander around them.  However, there are still occupied caves around the other side, plus a number camped pretty permanently with us.  One such cave dweller is Jeremy … adopted from the USA, public school educated, agricultural collage, chef trained etc etc … he has an opinion on EVERYTHING, but is well informed.

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Looking down onto Matala.  Many caves in the rock.

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Red beach.

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Matala is nothing but a tourist resort with tat shops and restaurants.  Great beach though. 

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John and Jeremy, who just happened to pass as we were hitting the gin.  He stayed to supper.  No prizes for which is the cave resident.

1047 – Tuesday 17th April: The Bikes Came Out

Running again…  Then for Corrie’s first bike ride – a total success – but we decided not to harness them in the Os-car OscarCorrie buggy as Corrie nearly strangled herself!   Kommos beach walk and lunch nearby – ice cream and more vino in Kalamaki… 

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Kommos:  we parked the bikes and walked the beach with the dogs.  Surprisingly busy given none of the 3 tavernas were open.

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Lunch in Pitsidhia:  Supposed to be a dry day! 

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Fine bone china coffee cups 🙂

 

1048 – Wednesday 18th April: Bike Ride Number 2

Cycle to Ayia Triadha and Festos. Entrances were free saving €18 – worth a good lunch – lamb for moi and chicken for K –  ‘nostimo’ – delicious in Greek.  Rental car booked as Maddy will arrive tomorrow – and I will depart on her Squeezyjetplane…..  Maddy will love Matala – shops, beach, restaurants – and Hippydom…..

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Ayia Triadha:  some of the best finds were vases, now in the Iraklio museum.  Another site where you could wander at will.

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Festos:  Busier and larger than Ayia Triadha.  The original palace was used as a foundation for a later one.  The central court had amazing views.

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