Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's All Greece to Me: Crete

Our two days and nights in Crete can be summed up pretty easily: car wreck, beautiful beach, 16 km hike. 

After a choppy ferry ride over from Paros, where we were among the lucky few who didn't lose their lunches, we rented a car and made the two hour drive to Chania Town, Crete and eventually found Hotel Doma; our home for the next two nights. When we arrived, they gave us a welcome drink that basically tasted like cough syrup and double the sugar kool-aid. I imagine it tastes similar to the orange stuff that you have to drink for the gestational diabetes test during pregnancy, but I've never done that and can't be sure.  Needless to say, I dumped mine out. Again, the room was pretty simple, but we liked how the common areas of the public area were full of unique Greek antiques. Also, the complimentary breakfast included Greek yogurt, honey, melon, a selection of dried fruits, meats, cheeses and even made to order eggs. It was served in a quaint, antique filled room with beautiful sea views and definitely the best hotel breakfast we've had yet. 

After filling ourselves with the complimentary breakfast the next morning, we loaded up in the car and headed out to a nearby beach that we'd heard was beautiful.  As we were leaving town, I had the brilliant idea to drive through the town center since we hadn't seen it yet.  Unfortunately, the streets were tiny, crowded and confusing.  We turned up one street only to find that it dead ended, without warning, in front of a building. As Luke was reversing back down the one way street, a car that had previously been parked on the side of the street started to pull out of the parking spot and.....CRUNCH! Luckily, there wasn't much, if any, damage to our rental car, but the other guy's car had a pretty big dent in the driver's side door. As the other driver was a local and the insurance people coming would also be Greek, we pretty much thought that we'd be screwed seeing as we don't speak any Greek.  But again, we got lucky.  The guy we hit pretty much agreed that it was his fault since he didn't look before pulling out, and the insurance agent was in agreement as well.  We didn't have to pay anything and never heard anymore about it. The worst part was that we had to sit in the tiny street for nearly three hours, no exaggeration, waiting on the insurance agent to arrive and wasting precious hours of beach time.  

The scene of the accident.

The tiny little scratches to our car.

Dent in the other guy's car.

Finally! The insurance agent arrived, took a few pictures and heard both sides of the story before we finally got to leave!
After the events of the morning, arriving at the beach was even sweeter! Luke said that the car wreck was kind of like stinky cheese. It's just kind of gross until you take a nice taste of complementary red wine, but then the stinky cheese makes the wine even better. :) The car wreck was the stinky cheese and the beach our nice red wine. We enjoyed a few hours on the beach before taking the "old road" back to Chania Town. On the journey back, we stopped for a few sunset pictures and bought some olive oil, honey, olives and some type of Greek liqueur from a guy on the side of the road. 

Warning: Luke spent a lot of time photographing on this beach and playing with some different settings on our camera, so I'm going to share lots of pics. Potential visual overload below.









Pink sand beach.





video





The next morning we got up nice and early to catch a 7 am bus that took us up, up, up on an 1.5 hour climb through the mountains of Crete. Our final destination was the Samaria Gorge National Park, where we started a 16 km hike that would take us down through the Samaria Gorge, ending in a unique black sand beach on the Libyan Sea. The gorge was created by a small river running through the mountains and much of our hike was spent walking through the rocky river bed, which is why the park is only open for hiking from about the end of May through September when the river is mostly dry. Since we were just wearing semi-soft soled tennis shoes, the rocks were pointy on the bottoms of our feet! If I remember correctly, I think it took us about 6 hours to complete the 16 km walk. It was a hot, strenuous but beautiful 6 hours, and the reward at the end was totally work it. Or as they say in Spanish, "Vale la pena!" The black sand beach, which was more like little pebbles than sand, was so cool and like nothing I'd ever seen before. The water was absolutely gorgeous and the waves were gentle. It felt so nice to relax in the water after a long, hot hike; it was definitely the most time that I spent in the ocean instead of in my chair on the beach! It was also pretty neat knowing that you were in the Libyan Sea so close to Africa and a completely different part of this great big world!

After catching a ferry and then a bus back to Chania town, we were worn out. We ordered a pizza to our hotel room and then fell right asleep.  The next morning we had to rush off to the airport. Like always, we didn't give ourselves enough travel time, so we were pretty worried about missing our flight.  Luckily, though, they gave us priority passes to skip to the front of the luggage check-in and security lines, and we made it just in time. Volvimos a Madrid!

Excited to start the hike!

 A beautiful morning in the mountains of Crete!


Just a donkey tied up on the side of the trail.
Part of the area we walked through were covered with little figurines made of stacked rocks.

We made a few of our own stacks!

A small waterfall where we rested along the way.

Holding up a 1 ft measurement for scale.

Luke and the Giant Tree.

One more with the giant tree.





1.2.3...Jump! (Camera woman's timing was off!)


Narrow walkway.


At the most narrow point, only about 3 yards separated the towering cliffs.

Enjoying a well deserved cold one.
We saw these baby sheep being loaded into the truck and taken to town. When we got to the town, we noticed that many of the restaurants boasted roasted baby sheep as their specialty. :(

Black sand. Blue water. I think the water in Greece was the inspiration for the Crayola color "Cerulean Blue."
Like quick sand. You sunk right through the black sand.
You can see here how the black sand stuck to my feet was more pebble like than sand.

This man totally dropped his drawers and very thoroughly dried himself for like 5 minutes! Too funny not to photograph.
The Libyan Sea.

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