Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stopover in Hora Safakilon

Friday, July 29, 2011—Hora Safakilon, Crete, Greece

A quick stop here in Hora Safakilon, a little port on the southern coast of Crete’s Hania region. It’s kind of a neat looking town, basically a crescent of little hotels and restaurants encasing a harbor and a couple of beaches, with private residences climbing up the hill behind everything. Too touristy for me, though—especially after Gavdos. I get the feeling that Frangokastello will just be a more laid-back version of this, so I’ve decided to skip it and head straight for Lendas.

Sitting down to a quiet (though overpriced) dinner in a restaurant on a cliff overlooking the town’s western most beach. Tomorrow’s 7:00 AM bus can’t come soon enough for me. Gavdos kinds of ruins everywhere else, I’ve noticed—after being there everything on the mainland seems crowded, touristy, expensive, and laden with rules. Hopefully Lendas will offer a refuge …

Odds and Ends: Gavdos and Hora Safakilon Photos

The first two photos are from Gavdos. The last three are from Hora Safakilon.

Two Gavdos Entries

Tuesday, July 26, 2011—Gavdos, Crete, Greece

Back in Gavdos. This time I’m camping under a juniper tree at the base of the hill that marks off the eastern boundary of the little settlement of Sarafiniko. It’s a lot hotter here than when I first came thru in early June. It’s also more crowded—there is at least twice the number of people here as there was during my last go round. Still it’s a pretty sleepy place by high-season Greek island standards. Unfortunately Agios Ioannis, my favorite beach here, and maybe my favorite beach in all of Crete, is verging on being a zoo: there are so many campers there it’s practically a tent city. Plus, now it’s truly a post-hippy hipster kind of scene. This doesn’t bother me—they’re about as close to being “my people” as any group I’m likely to run into. But too much of anything even something you like is not a good thing. This place is now verging on that situation.

Still, I’m feeling good, glad I came back here. Like I said before, this trip is essentially over for me—I’m just drifting, hanging out at the beach until I head home. This is a great place for that. Plus it’s cheap: I’m camping for free, which means that food is my only expense here. I need this, as my funds are definitely getting a little low …


Greek women are really growing on me. As I’ve said before, there are definitely prettier women in the world, in Europe, but Greek girls definitely have something going for them. Though defining what this is is hard, I admit.

However I will give it a shot.

First off, they don’t seem to have caught the disease American women have that drives them to be as skinny as possible. Greek girls have curves—lots of them—and they’re not afraid to show them. The three Bs—boobs, booty, and belly—are on display in great abundance here, often to truly wonderful effect. I also like the fact that the Greek women tend to wear relatively little in the way of makeup. (In contrast, one of the things I can’t stand about American women is the amount of makeup they wear—about the same as the average circus clown, only arranged differently.) Added to all this is the fact that so many of them have these amazing manes of thick dark curly hair. When you put all this together I’m pretty much is heaven. Now if I could only speak Greek …

I’m beginning to think that this on-line diary might have been a mistake. If nothing else it’s limited my writing: knowing that it’s going to be read “in the raw,” so to speak, I censor myself as I’m going (both consciously and unconsciously), mostly in regards to my feeling, but in some cases events too. These entries will make nice memory triggers if I decide to write more seriously about this experience, but I’m beginning to think that on their own they might be a bit dull (I know this trip has been far more interesting than this diary shows).

The best thing about this trip is the perspective it’s given me on other aspects of my life, on who I am. At times “Too much fucking perspective,” as David St. Hubbins once said.

Thursday, July 28, Gavdos, Crete, Greece

A really hot day today. I don’t know what the temperature was, but it was ninety-plus for sure. What was the killer was that until late this afternoon there was almost no breeze. Oven hot. Still. Crete in true summer form. Most of the day I hid and read under a juniper tree a ways up a hill over-looking Agios Ioannis Beach. About three-thirty I headed down to the waterline where I cooked myself and swam until about five-thirty. I’m now about as tan as I ever remember being.

Not too much else to report. Gavdos is for beaching and for hiking—and it’s way too hot to do any hiking. So there we are.

I’m feeling refreshed by Gavdos; my burn out doesn’t seem as bad as before I got here. This has led me to revise my plans for my last days in Crete a bit. Tomorrow I will be taking the two-thirty boat to Hora Safakilon, where I’ll crash, just for tomorrow night (it’s a good place to catch boats and busses, but from what I’ve read there’s not really much to do there). The next morning I will either be heading over to Frangokastello for a day or two or will catch a bus north, on the road to Lendas, a little out of the way beach area on the southern coast of the Iraklio province (going north to go south—so Cretan!). Like Gavdos, Lendas is supposed to be one of the last little fragments that have managed to stay pretty much the way they were in the 1960s—I’m crossing my fingers that the guidebooks are right on this one too.

Later in the evening …

It’s 9:00 PM as I write this. It’s a lot cooler now, but there is still very little breeze. The junipers are the beach are clam, barely moving, as is the sea, a wine-dark lake turning to silver near shore and farther out as well, as Sarafiniko curves west and is hemmed in by a stone point. Crete is a charcoal gray silhouette on the near horizon (it looks so close I can almost fantasize about being able to swim to it—but it’s really 32 KM away), a giant Catalina closing off the north …

I want to go home—but to a different home.

The diary, I’m now sure, is a failure: it has captured only fragments of what this trip’s been about—and not the important fragments, for the most part. I guess a book calls me …

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thursday-Saturday, July 21-23, 2011, Plakias, Crete, Greece

I made the decision to head over and then down to Plakias, a beach area on the southern coast of the Rethymno section of the island. My trip here was easily me best bus experience on Crete. By this I mean the connection I had to make fitted together almost perfectly. I caught the 8:30 AM bus out of Sitia, heading to Iraklio. This took three-and-a-half hours and went thru some of the ugliest most built-up parts of the island. More importantly, for my concerns, it made the route on schedule. This meant that I only had to wait fifteen minutes in the Iraklio bus station before heading out to Rethymno. This bus ended up getting in to Rethymno a few minutes late, which meant I should have missed the Plakias bus, but that one was late too, so I quickly bought a ticket and hopped aboard it, just as it was about to pull out of the station. In other words, I bussed my way across nearly two-thirds of Crete with almost no down time! Seriously unheard of shit …

The trip down to Plakias was my first real experience with the Rethymno region. It’s a bit different from other parts of the island, mainly in that it’s better watered and therefore greener, especially in the lower-lying areas; there are probably more olive tree per square mile that anywhere else here I’ve been. There are also a lot of certain types of plants I’ve only more patchily on other parts of the islands, such as oleander and palm species. Platias itself? Well I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. It’s a bit more resortish than I thought it would be; in addition to the normal guesthouses just down the road from the main part of town are some big hotel complexes. Still it’s pretty low-key as far as resort areas go; it’s far from the overbuilt, tacky messes up north. Still, the place doesn’t quite sit right with me. It’s very much a town that you can tell doesn’t really exist in the winter—it’s just here to cater to tourists. This means that there’s very little Greek about this place. I mean, I could be in France, Italy, Spain, or Hawaii for that matter, and still be having substantially the same experience. I’m not sure why exactly, but somehow this setup seems to degrade everyone a bit, travelers and locals alike.

[The above section was written in Plakias. I got sidetracked and never wrote anymore. I’m picking things up today in Paleohora.]

Monday, July 25, 2011—Paleohora, Crete, Greece

OK, I left Plakias yesterday. I was kind of glad to be out of the place. As I mentioned before, it was really just a tourist stop. Plus, I somehow got whisked off to a nightclub by these English and New Zealand girls (who were working in the restaurant I ate in that night) and ended up getting more trashed than I’ve been in years, for which I was rewarded with a two-day hangover that kept me in that town one day longer than I wanted. I had fun, but at a high price; I simply can’t drink like that anymore. (Actually the drinking was just part of a whole bunch of surreal shit that went down with me while I was in that down, which I’m going to skip writing about, both because it’s a bit private but also because I haven’t quite sorted it all out yet. Let's just say I'll never quite forget that town, for better or worse.)

I’m back in Paleohora, mainly to catch a boat to Gavdos (I could have done this in Plakias, but I had to get out of there). The problem is that today’s boat was canceled due to high seas. I’m going to give it one more try tomorrow and then I’m going to plan B, which is to check out a few mainland settlements in this area I’d like to see but missed the first time I came thru here.

On a similar topic, I’ve decided that this trip is pretty much over, that I’m burned out: I simply can’t take in any new regions of Crete. So I’m going to finish out this trip in the general area I am, filling in some holes, as it were. Basically all I’m looking for now is beach time and a few good hikes. I‘ve had enough Greece for the time being: I’m tired and ready to go home. Still, I’m enjoying myself: being burned out in Crete is better than being totally with it in most other places. So onward! To Gavdos? To Loutro? … Only the Cretan wind gods know for sure …

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gavdos Part 2

It looks like I'll be heading back over to Gavdos Island tomorrow (I'm back in Paleohora at the moment)--I have some unfinished business there. Unfortunately I'll probably be out of internet range while I'm there, which will be at least a few days, maybe several. So no posts for a while. See you soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Photo Essay: Spikey Things on the Trail

Just a little photo essay on the various spikey things one can encounter while hiking here. There are of course many more types, but these as just a few I noticed on a short hike I did here in Plakias the other day. Greece is not place to go off trail.
I haven't been much in the mood to write lately, but I should have a new post up sometime in the next couple days,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shots from Around Plakias, South-Central Crete

Just some shots from around Plakias. They will be explained in a soon-happening post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sitia Stopover

Tuesday, July 19, 2011—Sitia, Crete, Greece

Finally made it off Karpathos, out of Diafani. This is a good thing. Even though I really enjoyed myself there I was beginning to get too comfortable in the place, too entrenched. It was past time for me to be on the move again.

I only made it as far as Sitia today, on Crete’s east coast, which is where the plane landed. Though it was a very short flight—just forty-five minutes, including a brief stop on the island of Kasos—including the travel time from the Diafani down to the airport a ways past the airport in Pigadia, I’d already been on the move for about four hours. If I would have kept going all the way to Platias, which was my original plan, I would have been on the road for at least another four-and-a-half hours. I decided that I wasn’t in the mood to spend that much time traveling today—I’m not in a big of a hurry to get anywhere at this point in the trip. So breaking things up by crashing here seemed like a good idea. The question is do I stay here more than one day. I might just get up early and catch the eight-thirty bus to Iraklio, from which I can catch a bus to Rethymno and from there another one to Plakias. My other option is to stay here one more day and see V’ai, a beach area about 26 KM down the road, which I missed last time thru and would like to check out. I’m leaning towards just bailing out for Iraklio, mainly because, though it’s pleasant here in Sitia, it’s a bit too urban for my current frame of mind and putting up with that for an extra day doesn’t really thrill me, not when the only payoff is V’ai, which is of moderate interest to me at best.

Feeling tired today—I took an almost three-hour nap this afternoon, one of those naps where you wake up all sweaty and out of it and don’t even know who you are let alone where you might be. My tiredness is not just an outcome of getting up early today—it’s that kind of fatigue one gets at the end of a trip, when one is wearying of the machinations of the road. While there are still things I wish to see and do here, the truth is I’m starting to look forward to getting back to my day-to-day life at home—with some improvements. During my time here in Greece I’ve done a lot of thinking about my life back home and have figured out a few things as to what it’s missing, what I need to change about it to make myself happier—and I can’t wait to start putting those changes into place. I’m also itching to get back to work, believe it or not. I’ve been teaching far too much this last year, but this time off has really helped me to recharge my batteries. And like my life in general, I’m now seeing ways to improve my classes that are really making interested in teaching again.

To backtrack a bit, the trip down thru Karpathos was quite beautiful. We took the twisty, sometimes dangerous road, which runs from Diafani down thru the mountains all the way to Pigadia. This route really makes one see how rugged and wild and beautiful Karpathos really is. The place also reveals itself to be greener than generally apparent; most of the run is thru patchy pine forests that extent to some amazingly low altitudes. This drive also reveals how few people there are in most places; the villages that seem to be clinging for dear life to the mountains or resting in the valleys are few and far between and really look quite insubstantial compared to the harshly attractive landscape in which they exist.

Oh well, enough for today. I’m going to read for a bit and then head off to an early dinner. It’ll be interesting to see what place name the next diary entry carries.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Last Day in Diafani

Monday, July 17, 2011—Diafani, Karpathos, Greece

My last day in Diafani. Had a pretty mellow day, mainly because I’m still recovering from my big hike a couple days ago. I did manage to hike over to a beach past Papa Minas Bay, which I tried to hit earlier in my stay here, but was stymied by high ridgelines and wind. The beach wasn’t that interesting or anything, but I hate unfinished business, so I mostly went there just to do it. Later I hit a better beach closer to home and went for a swim—and that was pretty much my day (I slept in a bit, so I got a late start).

I fly out of Pigadia back to Crete tomorrow morning at nine-thirty. I’ve managed to score a ride down there with the owner of my hotel, who’s going down to pick up some arriving guests. It’s about an hour-and-a-half trip, though, which means we’ll need to be on the road by a little after seven, which is a bummer. It’s weird how much time I’ve spent based out of here. I’d hardly paid any attention to this place when I read about it in my Lonely Planet guide and only ended up here because of a quirk in the ferry services, but Diafani, and northern Karpathos in general, has turned out to be a highlight of my trip. It makes me wonder how many other places the guidebooks wash over that are really quite cool in reality.

I’m still not a hundred percent sure where I’m heading once I’m back in Crete. I’m landing in Sitia, but I don’t think I want to stay there; I’ll probably go right to the bus station from the airport. I may just let the bus schedule decide for me. There are three main areas I want to hit before going home, but there are a number of ways I can get to each of them—so I don’t really have to do them in any particular order. I’ll probably shoot for Plakias, a beachie area on the southern coast of the central part of Crete. The annoying part of this place, though, is that there’s no busses heading west from there, which is the direction I need to go—so more fucking Cretan backtracking, up to Iraklio or Hania on the north coast and then back south, which means traveling about five times the distance than if I could just scoot west. The God damn Crete bus routes are really pissing me off, even when I’m not actually on the stupid island … Up and down, side to side, but nothing even remotely diagonal: Rob the rook returns …

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Road to Tristomos and Then Some

These are some photos from my hike yesterday. Pictures really can't capture the amazing coastal part of the hike. But I did get a nice one of the coast looking back to Diafani and a few trails shots I hope communicate something about the route. If you look closely at the hillside shots you can see the stone field terraces. They are also something that's hard to capture with a photo. I didn't take many photos on the hike to Avlona or back to Diafani: I was hot, tried, and too over it by that point.

Tristomos Hike and Beyond

Sunday, July 17, 2011—Diafani, Karpathos, Greece

Lazy morning. I got up late, ate a leisurely breakfast, and now am washing out some things and of course writing this. My plans for the rest of the day include reading and staring out across the harbor—if I can work up the energy to walk the five minutes it takes me to reach the harbor.

The reason I’m so out of it is I went on a crazy, long-ass, three-part hike yesterday. First I headed up the coast to a nearly abandoned village called Tristomos (only two families now live there year round). The main reason I wanted to head there wasn’t to see the village itself, but because the hike seemed like it would be really cool, which it was. The trail hugged the cliffs and high ridgelines along the northeast coast of the island and was spectacular: for a couple hours I zigzagged in and out of pine forests, scrublands, and bare rocky outcrops, all while the shining Mediterranean lapped against the shore a hundred or hundreds of feet below. I was so high up at one point, and in an area so few people travel, that I actually got to see a couple of the island’s rare wild goats (not feral ones, but the real wild ancestors of their domesticated brethren). The first one I saw was far in the distance; it was standing on a rock watching me. Then I got lucky and snuck up on one. Because the fact that he (or she—I didn’t get close enough to tell) wasn’t expecting anyone that high up and because I was down wind of him and he couldn’t smell me coming, I really surprise him and got within maybe thirty feet before he saw me and took off up the dry rocks to an even higher elevation. He was a beautiful animal, with long black hair offset by an equally long gold patch that started just below his neck and extended across his shoulders and down his sides. Comparing this regal individual to the domestic ones you see here is a telling experience, really makes you see how much we’ve degraded these animals, what becoming slaves of humanity does to them. The goats the people keep here are really dirty, nasty, stupid things—and we’ve made them that way! This alone might be a good reason to go vegetarian …

The trail to Tristomos eventually turns inland and heads thru massive dry valleys. Strewn throughout these valleys are the rock walls and linings of the old, no longer-used farming terraces and field enclosures. This area used to be a thriving agricultural center, but Greece’s many wars and economic issues over the last century or so has caused this place to be abandoned. Walking thru the lost world was fascinating, if more than a bit sad. So much life had been lived there, so many story were created that are now long-since lost. It reminded me a lot of western Ireland, of all the old farms there that were abandoned because of the potato famine and subsequent mass emigration to America and Australia. Like I said, this part of the day was fascinating, but not exactly pleasant, if you know what I mean …

Tristomos itself is really nothing exciting. It’s just a little crescent of buildings, most no longer in use, which line the shore of an amazingly protected little harbor that once was the main exit point for people and goods from this part of the island. Noteworthy, though, was the massive amounts of trash strewn about the waterline. Tourists who come to Greece, I’ve noticed, are really ignorant about the state of the sea that surrounds them. So many times I hear people raving about how “clean” it is. This simply isn’t true. Most of the year the beaches are heaped with trash, with human effluent that makes landfall from God knows where. As the tourist season gets going these beaches are cleaned up. Tristomos is a good example of what many places here would look like if this wasn’t done. While I’m on this subject of “clean” water, I can’t believe how uninformed so many of the travelers are who come here. The Mediterranean is extremely polluted in a chemical sense as well. It’s also become increasingly devoid of life; fish, crustation, sponge, seal and other stocks have plummeted in recent decades. Just because the water has a pretty blue-green tint and you can see thru near shore fools these people into thinking they’ve landed in some eco-paradise. This couldn’t be further from the truth. How can they not know this? (Or maybe they just don’t want to know.)

According to the signs, whose accuracy is questionable, it was just under 11 kilometers to from Diafani, where I’m staying, to Tristomos. So I was pretty burned out by the time I got there. I originally was just going to go back the way I came, but in Tristomos I saw I could pick up the trail to Avlona, which supposedly was only around 8.5 kilometers away. I decide to head for there, because it was still on my way home, more or less, I would get to see some new country (I could avoid the dreaded Grecian backtracking, which is such a fact of life in these islands), and I knew there was a place there where I replenish my water supplies (as usual I underestimated how much I’d need). This was arguably not one of my better decisions, for a number of reasons.

After a short jaunt along the edge of Tristomos’ harbor, the trail turned inland and because a stone-laden march thru the floor of a hot valley that was getting little in the way of breeze (the coastal trail I took in was nice and breezy, which kept things relatively cool). The heat, the pain-in-the-ass terrain and the fact that I’d already been on the trail for over ten kilometers made this part of the hike an unpleasant slog. It got even worse a bit later as the trail shot steeply up into the mountains, which like the valley was also largely blocked from the wind and therefore hot as hell. One funny thing did happen on this part of the trail, though. Throughout this area there are all sorts of abandoned stone shepard's houses. One of these was being used by a bunch of domesticated goats to escape the heat. I guess because I was downwind of them they didn’t notice me coming. The trail passed right in front of the doorway of the house they were using and when the goats saw me they panicked and began bounding out of the little house and into the surrounding fields. What made this funny is that there were so many of them. At least a dozen poured out of this little dwelling. It was like at the circus when a ridiculous number of clowns exit their tiny car.

Well eventually, after a seemingly endless hike, I made it to Avlona, where I headed to the town’s only cafĂ©, where I guzzled water (I’d run out a few kilometers back), downed a much deserved beer, and ate a salad, all of which I was overcharged for (nine euros)—they’re the only game in town and they know it. Still the people there were nice, old women mostly it seems (most of the men and the younger people were probably working in the fields somewhere, or have left town looking for something better in life), wearing traditional clothing and giving off the feel that it was still 1858 or something. From there I began the hike back home, which, after nearly 20 hot challenging kilometers behind me was not much fun.

The best thing about this part of the hike was the fact that the sun was going down and things were cooling off considerably. The bad part was that it was getting dark and the one thing I don’t want to have happen to me here is to still be out on the high trails in the dark, which, depending on exactly where I am, could be dangerous. So I powered over the mountain pass that leads to the sea and then down the long drainage and made it to the main road with about twenty minutes of daylight to spare. Not much of note happened on this part of the trail, except, for the first time in my life, I saw a legless lizard in the wild. It was a little thing, probably less than three inches from head to the tip of its tail. It’s interesting that I knew exactly what it was the second I saw it. I’d read that, despite their superficial resemblance to snakes these things are easy to identify because of the way they move. This turned out to be the case. They simply don’t travel like snakes—they kind of wiggle side to side, like a lizard, except they don’t have legs. I wish I could have observed it more closely, but it was getting dark, and, like I said, I needed to get off that trail. So I let him go on his way and I went on mine.

I finally made it back to town at about nine-thirty that night, after heading out about a quarter to eleven that morning. So at at least 23 kilometers it was a more than healthy jaunt. Cool, but ultimately a bit much. And I’m paying for it today. I’m glad I did it, though—I saw a lot of things most people who comes to Greece never run across. Besides you can’t spend all your days on the beach—you gotta have a little variety even if it almost kills you …

I can’t believe how long I’ve been based out of Diafani—by the time I leave tomorrow it will have been over a week. I must have found something here I like, though, or I would still be around. Heading down to Pigadia for sure tomorrow afternoon. On Tuesday I’ll either take the ferry of fly back to Crete. The trips winding down—I can really feel it now. Just a few more things to accomplish and I’m done …


Obviously this island is not as goat free as I'd thought. Still there are far fewer of these beasties per square mile here than on Crete. Still wondering why that is ...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saria photos. A Cool gorge hike. The sorrow and beauty of an Italian villiage. The beach, etc.

Saria Etc.

Friday, July 15, 2011—Diafani, Karpathos, Greece

I haven’t been in the mood to write for some reason the last few days, so I’m going to be playing some catch-up with this entry. A couple days back I took a fairly long hike Avlona, a little agricultural village, which is a couple hours’ worth of hiking to the northwest. It was an interesting trail with a nice long ascent thru a fairly dense (by southern Greek island standards) pine forest. The town itself is quite traditional; most of the few women I saw there were dressed in old-fashion garb, I’m not sure how much is going on in regards to electricity, and running water, and wheat, olives, and goats are what keeps the little place going—not the tourist trade. That said, there is one taverna there that does attract tourists. Unfortunately just before we got there a tour bus arrived and we found our Greek backwater experience people too by Germans, Italians, and whatnot. A pleasant experience still, but not quite what I was hoping for.

As for yesterday, I did very little. I had one of those days one has sometimes on a long trip where a wall is hit and laziness is the order of the day. So I just read, sat around a waterfront taverna nursing an orange juice, and then took an afternoon nap, before heading out for dinner and then drinks, with Carla, the Italian woman I met here.

Today I did something I usually don’t do and went with a tourist boat up to the islet of Saria, which is just north (literally just north—I probably could have swam from one island to the other) of Karpathos. Like I just said, I usually try to avoid these tourist excursions, but there really isn’t anyway else to get up to this island and I really wanted to check it out. Until about forty years ago there was a village there. Now, except for one ninety-eight-year-old woman (whom I did not see) nobody lives there, except seasonally—there are still goats, olive trees, and other things raised there. My tourist compatriots, who were from Slavic country, based on the sound of the language they were speaking, which I couldn’t quite place, and were a bit silly, the men especially, who, though fairly young, were really out of shape. Their kids seemed to be getting into the spirit of things, but the adults in these groups seemed to be mostly about drinking the beer booze they brought and eating chips and other crappy food, while hiding in the shade (why didn’t they just stay home if they wanted to do that?).

I got away from these folk as soon as the boat landed and hiked up this beautiful little gorge to check out the remains of the old village, which were really interesting. I also found a cool old church that really intrigued me as an archaeologist in that it seemed to be built on top of an ancient temple of some sort, and even incorporated some of the old marble columns into the walls surrounding the place. There were also some fragments of a floor mosaic visible, which Manolis, the captain of the boat that took us there, said dated to between 500 and 600 AD. (He also said that there was evidence of human habitation on the island going back to Minoan times, but I didn’t see any evidence of that, or if I did, I didn’t understand that that was what I was looking at.)

After my hike, I went for a swim in the pretty little lagoon where the boat was anchored (this is where everyone else on the boat stayed—though they were surrounded by some really cool ruins, not one of these people ventured off the beach). The lagoon had some really neat sea caves and was definitely a nice place. My hike took so long, though, that I didn’t have much time to explore because the boat was heading out. We went to another beach after this that looked good a well, but after their hard day of drinking, eating crap, and lounging, none of my boat buddies wanted to get off, so we just headed back to Diafani (I wanted to explore the place at least a little bit, but I guess majority rules on these sorts of things and so no one inquired as to my opinion on the situation).

And that’s that—I’m pretty much caught up on what I’ve been doing. Tomorrow I head down to Pigadia, mainly because I’m out of money and there are no ATMs in this village. I’ll be there until Tuesday night, when I catch the boat back to Crete. I’d like to head out earlier and at a better time—the boat dumps me off in Sitia between one and two in the morning, which means sleeping on a bench somewhere, as there’s no way to get a room that time of night and the buses to my next destination won’t start running until six of seven. When I get to Pigadia I’m going to check out what it costs to fly back to Crete. It’s a really short run and might be cheap to jump over to Iraklio, even if I buy at the last minute. If I can get a decent fare I’m really considering splurging, so I can avoid being here longer than I want and to avoid the hassle of an early morning arrival time.

Though I still have slightly more than three weeks to go on this trip I can feel it drawing to a close: for the first time since leaving I’m starting to look past Greece to heading back home. I think nine weeks might have been a bit much here; six weeks might have been better, might have made for a more taught trip. I could easily get a second wind (or perhaps third wind) when I get back to Crete, though. I have no complaints, though—for my first time in Greece I think I did a good job, saw a lot (though arguably within a geographically small amount of space, given how much time I had). In other words, I’m feeling good, happy with how things have gone.

OK, I’m outta here. It’s now about seven-thirty in the evening. I had breakfast at nine in the morning and my lunch consisted of a piece of watermelon and a shot of ouzo. Off to La Gorgona for a big dinner …

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Few More Diafini Photos

The view from my favorite restaurant. The strangest and coolest bench placement I've eve seen. Scenery.

Another Diafini Day

Tuesday, July 12, 2011—Diafani, Crete, Greece

Another good day, pretty much like yesterday. The main difference is that I attempted to hike to a beach not on the map that exists just south of Papa Mina Bay. The only way to get to this beach, by land, is to take a narrow trail that runs along a very high ridgeline and then drops quite steeply for a long run down to the water. I made it up to and then across the ridgeline. The trail itself wasn’t too tough. The problem was the wind up there, which came in huge gusting blasts, which literally almost blew me off the trail a couple times (twice I had to lift a leg higher than usual to get over an obstacle just as a big gust hit that was so strong it spun me in a half circle). I made it to the point where I could look down onto the beach, though. But I decided not to head down. I could tell that the beach wasn’t any better than a couple much more accessible ones that I could go to and that it was less sheltered and getting a lot more wind than I wanted to deal with. It also would have been a pretty dangerous descent, in that I could see trail sections that were runs across narrow spines with really long drops on either side. Given the wind situation it wasn’t hard imagining me getting blown down one of these drops. So, since the beach wasn’t that cool looking and I was in no mood to die, I headed back to the beach I was at yesterday, where I had a similar day as the day before, except that for the last part of my day there I was joined by Carla, this Italian woman I met at La Gorgona last night.

On to other topics. I’ve finally decided that I will be heading back to Crete next to wrap up this trip. The question is when. There’s no ATM in this town and so I either have to leave by tomorrow (I’ll have enough money to pay for my room until then and pay for an afternoon boat ticket south) or I can wait until Thursday and catch the morning boat down to Pigadia, get some money, and head back up here to pay my bills. The problem is that the ferries back to Crete run only on Tuesdays and Thursday s and most don’t stop up here in Diafani. This means if I don’t head down to Pigadia on Wednesday and catch the Thursday ferry I can’t get off the island until the following Tuesday. The main question is do I want to be on this island that long. There are some places I want to explore still, but another five days might be pushing it. I also have to figure out how much time I need on Crete. I think I’ve pared back that part of the trip to three for sure stops: the Plakias region on the Crete’s south-central coast, Frangokastello, the area of Hania’s southern coast I missed, and another round on Gavdos Island. If these are the only places I go I should still have plenty of time. There are a few other spots I wouldn’t mind checking out, though. At the moment leaning towards taking the Thursday—even though I have really begun to enjoy this place, I just don’t think I want to devote five additional days here, even I don't need the time for Crete.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Diafani from the Trail and Beyond

All pretty self explanatory as usual. The last picture is of the little beach I had mostly to myself today. (See previous post for details)