Sunday, July 14, 2013—Sitia, Crete, Greece
Sitting in the bus stop in Sitia. It's 2:40 PM and I'm waiting for the 4:00 PM bus south, to Palakasto; I just got off the ferry from Karpathos, hit the ATM, got a little bite to eat on the run, and then headed over here on the chance that I could catch a bus without too much waiting. I was planning on spending a couple days in Sitia, checking out some things I've missed around here, but I got a message from some friends of mine from Paris that this is there last night in Crete before heading home and that they were just down the road. So I thought I'd hang out with them while I have the chance.
I suppose I should backtrack a bit, as I haven't made an entry since I was in Diafani. After my time was up there I caught the tourist boat down to Pigadia in the south of Karpathos. Because of the times the ferries run I was stuck there for about two-and-a-half days. I wasn't in the mood for a little solitary time so I didn't do much beyond taking a couple of short local hikes and reading. This was just as well, given that there really isn't that much on that part of the island that really interests me that I haven't seen yet. Pigadia itself is a pleasant but fairly bland little tourist town (that seems to be getting more upscale—there are some fancy-ass hotels popping up just outside of the main part of town, along the beach). It's got pretty much all the same touristy stuff going on that other towns of its kind practice, but it's low-key about them and overall it was a nice little rest stop for me (though I wish it could have been just a day or so—I'm entering the last three weeks of my trip and time is starting to seem quite precious.
Pigadia does have a pretty decent little archaeology museum, which I checked out. As island museums go it's definitely not in the league of, say, Nisyros', but it does have a nice amount of Minoan and Mycenaean stuff, both of which really interest me. There explanations are pretty good too. The museum was just a bonus, though. Like I've said, I really just needed a little bit of down time (I seem to hit these walls about every three weeks). What made this work out especially well is that Pigadia is cheap: rooms there go for nearly half of comparable places in other part of the Dodecanese (I saved ten euros a night from what I was paying in Diafani for a bigger place with a kitchen, which my digs up north lacked). Now that I'm feeling refreshed, though, I'm glad to be out of there—I'm really itching to explore some new places in Crete, to be back on the road in a more proper sense.
Speaking of which, my itinerary for the last few weeks suddenly took shape in my head while I was hanging out in Pigadia. I’m going to spend the next seven or eight days exploring some fairly far-flung places on the east coast, Kato Zagros (which also features a major Minoan archaeological site) and then Xerokambos a little out there beach area that I'm going to have to hike 10km from Kato Zagros (the busses don't run that far). My only goals in these place, besides checking out the Zagros archaeological site, is to swim and maybe to some light hiking (my ankle and knee really need some time off); I really just want to get very laid-back for this coming week. After these two spots I'll do one of two things. After hiking back to Kato Zagros I will catch the bus to Ierapetra a city on the southeast coast. If the busses don't run that way (and I don't think they do) I will head back to Sitia and get the bus to Ierapetra from there (if I do this I will probably hang out a day or so to check out the aforementioned places around there I still would like to see). I have no interest in Ierapetra itself, but I need to get there to catch a bus to Myrtos, a little village to the west of their that sounds really cool. I want to go there for the place itself, but it also sounds like it will make a good transition into the next part of my final Cretan dash, as it’s not back-of-beyond like Kato Zagros or Xerokambos, but it's still a relatively small settlement.
After this things will get far more crowded, I'm sure. I plan on heading over to the region north a Matala (a very busy and touristy beach area) mainly because clustered there are several of the island's most important archaeological sites, none of which I want to miss. Not sure where I'm going to base myself there, probably inland a bit at a place called Kamilari, which sounds pretty nice and should be a lot mellower (and maybe cheaper) than the beach towns just to the west of there.
Once I've had my fill of archaeological sites it will be back to the beach. I'm determined to make it to Frangokastello (the high-season south-coast busses are running now so I should be able to get there from either Hora Safakion to the west or Plakias to the east. After this time will be the biggest arbiter as to how I end things. If there's enough of it left I'll be heading down to Gavdos. The problem is I have to allow a few extra days if I do this, mainly because if the seas kick up I could get stuck out there; you can't plan on hanging out there till the last minute without taking a chance of missing your plane home. If I don't think I have the time for Gavdos I'll probably just camp on the beach in Sougia or something, until the day before I fly out, when I will head up to Hania.
Not a bad sounding three weeks, if I do say do myself.
The Road to Pigadia - The last time we saw Rob happy (see following post)
Weird "ranch" I found just outside of Pigadia