Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sitting in Sitia

'Wednesday, June 19, 2013—Sitia, Crete,

(2:00 PM)

Catching up . For whatever reason(s), I haven't felt like writing anything lately, not even quick notes. I think this is a healthy sign. I have a tendency to turn everything in my life into a job. During my last Greece trip keeping a diary essentially became another form of work for me—I began to feel that I had to do it. Maybe my current attitude means that I finally am beginning to  learning how to relax a bit …

OK, a fair bit has happened since I last wrote. First off I'm now all the way in Sitia, in northeastern Crete. I'd been planning on coming here to catch the ferry to begin the Dodecanese part of my trip, but I've made it here a bit earlier than I'd planned. Why this is so is a fairly long story. I'm not sure how interesting of a one it is, though.

I was hanging out in Sougia relaxing a bit and getting lazy even. Because of the later, I was also feeling like it was time to move on. My plan (which was changing almost from hour to hour, so don't try and figure it out from my previous posts here) was to get down to Gavdos for a few days, come back to mainland Crete, and then start heading east to Frangokastello, an area I missed my last time thru Greece. But I fucked up, mixed up the boat times, and missed the boat from there to Gavdos. There wasn’t going to be another boat going from there from Sougia for another week and the ones from Paleohora and Hora Safakilon arrive at Gavdos in the middle of the night. Now Gavdos is backwoods—it doesn't really even have much in the way of lighted public spaces—and setting up a camp there in the dark was not something that thrilled me. So I decided to hit to head for Frangokastello and hit Gavdos on my way back home (I fly out from Hania).

I've mentioned that Frangokastello is one of those places that I can never seem to get to from where I am. It's outside the south-coast boat routes, so my options were to go Hora Safakilon and then hike there (about five or six hours on the trail, I estimate), or go to Hania, from there get a bus to Rethymno, and then take a couple more busses from there. I choose going to bus route, mainly because, even though it would have me covering more ground, between the time lag on the boats and the hiking time, the busses would be quicker (and easier). So I made my way to Paleohora, crashed there for a night, and then caught the 7:15 AM bus to Hania.

By late that morning I was in Rethymno. Then things got confusing. It turns out that my guidebooks are grossly out of date when I comes to the Frangokastello bus routes. Apparently the only way I could get to there by bus involved heading back to Hania and taking a couple more buses from there. I won't go into the details—I’m not even fully sure how it happened—but apparently the people at the Rethymno bus station sold me a ticket to a route that no longer exists. It took me about three hours there to figure this out. By this point I was over it—I had no interest in heading back to Hania and trying to sort things out there. So I decided to deal with pesky Frangokastello on my way home. Then I bought tickets to Iraklio and then Sitia. 

I ended up getting in here about ten o’clock last night (I left Paleohora at 7:15 in the morning). So it ended up being a long annoying day, a slowly unfolding, but ultimately minor glitch …

Some other changes:

My original plan upon heading into to Dodecanese was to go straight up to Patmos, the farthest north island I want to visit, and then island hop my way back down to eastern Crete. The problem is there's no airport there and taking a ferry straight up would be long boring haul (if it's even possible—I’ve yet to track down this info). So I've decided to island hop my way up, hitting the islands I for sure want to visit (and those I have to because of the ferry connections) and then hit secondary places on the way back down (if there's time and I have the money). 

Sitia. An interesting little town. Very much a locals town: it revolves around the needs of the locals, not travelers. Most of the travelers that are here seem to come from other parts of Crete. Non-Greek tourist sprinkled in lightly, like salt. But the people here treat travelers well—they're polite and helpful. A healthy situation here over all, I'd say …

I also like the size of this town—it's big enough to be interesting, but is nothing approaching overwhelming. If I were ever to come here and live for say a year, to write a book or something and learn Greek, I might pick this place as a base. The only problems would be that it's a bit isolated and eastern Crete in general, for reasons I can't really explain, seems a bit lonely to me, like it's outside the mainstream of the rest of the island. Or maybe I just like the vibe of the western part of the island better, where I've spent most of my time here.

Every thing you need while waiting for a Greek Ferry

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