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 …

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