Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sitia: Pretty Cool

Saturday, July 2, 2011, Sitia, Crete, Greece

I made it to Sitia today, on Crete’s far northeast coast. I got in at about a quarter of two this afternoon. It took me about an hour to figure out where I was going, get a room, and get situated. I’m staying at a place called the Hotel Arhontiko, which is in a refurbished “neoclassical” building, according to Lonely Planet (someday Katie will explain to me exactly what this term means, in regards to architecture). It’s run by a very sweet German woman, who I later found out runs another place just down the street from here. When I got to Hotel Arhontiko there was nobody here, just a sign saying that Alexandra, the German woman would be right back. I waited around about twenty minutes I decided to try somewhere else, specifically a place called Apostolis, which was my second choice after Arhontiko as far as my Lonely Planet recommendations go. The woman there told me that they were full up, but that she had a room at her other place. I was then a little surprised to be led right back to where I’d before been waiting. It all worked out fine, though. I like the room and at only twenty-four euros a night it’s a pretty good deal—the back and forth was just a little strange, that’s all.

I’m in this town mainly because it’s a good place to catch a ferry to Karpathos, my next destination. There are a few things here I want to see, though, which is a good thing because I found out that the next ferry doesn’t leave until five in the morning on Tuesday, which means I have to stay here a day longer than I’d planned. I’m a little bummed out about this (I mean, I could have done a day side trip on the way here and seen someplace new), but what’s done is done; I might as well just try and enjoy this place as much as I can.

Actually my getting stuck here might not be all that bad of a thing. After booking my ferry this afternoon I went for a walk around the town, and though this place has little reputation amongst travelers (I haven’t met anyone until I’d got here who’d ever made it to Sitia), it seems pretty cool to me. It’s fairly small: according to Lonely Planet there are about 8,000 people here, more this time of year obviously with all the summer travelers. This is a nice size, in that it seems to foster a good combination of laid-backness (I think I just made up a word) and action. It’s also a pretty town. In typical Mediterranean fashion it forms a crescent around its old Venetian harbor, while scaling the surrounding hills. The waterfront is really neat. It’s dominated by little fishing boats, and on land by smaller tavernas that aren’t overly touristy. The place is also very Greek. Even most of the visitors seem to mostly be local people coming in from other parts of Crete. (On my walk today I hiked nearly the length of the town’s quite long, very crowded beach and I’d say that probably 90% of the people I was seeing were Greek.) I’ve never been in a tourist destination that was fille primarily with Greek tourists, so this will be a new experience, if nothing else.

Tomorrow I think I’ll hit the town’s archaeological museum, which is supposed to have a pretty good collection of Minoan and other ancient stuff excavated in this region. After that I’ll probably go to the beach. It doesn’t look like a particularly good beach, but at least at its far end, which is technically out of town, the crowds thin considerably, which means I should be able to go for a relaxing swim if nothing else. After that I don’t know. Again, I really wasn’t planning on being here extra day. There isn’t much in this region that interests me, but I still might try and take a day trip somewhere, just to do something different. I might also just be lazy and sit around and read. Despite the fact that Sitia’s on the water it’s really hot here—it’s the hottest place I’ve been in Crete, by a few degrees at least. If this keeps up a lazy day of heat avoidance might be the best call.

Can’t believe how much hiking the Samaria Gorge has trashed my legs. My calves and especially the front muscles of my thighs are still ridiculously sore; I could barely make it the several blocks from the bus station to my hotel, and going up and down stairs is a major bitch. I made a good call coming here instead of sitting on the south shore waiting to heal so I could do my Frangokastello hike: I would have been waiting there a long time.

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