Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Wish I was here ...
And now that I have the photos to illustrate what I'm saying, I will say now that Crete in the spring is amazing. We were there in May; the week before we arrived had been horrid, apparently, but we had fine weather the whole two weeks and by the time we left summer had arrived, with the temperature on our last day up to 38 degrees in the afternoon. We seemed to pass through the Spring weather in our first week, in which we were able to enjoy breakfast on our terrace in the sun (towards the end of our stay the butter tended to melt before breakfast was over) and go for proper walks.
The biggest of these hikes was my third walk down the Samaria Gorge (17 k) - a lovely experience this time as only 700 people were in the gorge on that day as opposed to the 2,000 we'd been among four summers ago. We were able to be alone for long spells of the day, and to hear the birds singing in the trees through which we walked. We also traversed a shorter gorge on the Akrotiri Peninsula, where we visited a deserted monastery deep within the gorge and boasting an extraordinary bridge and a chapel in a cave. Now only the goats were there to hear me ring a trinity of notes on the hanging bell.
Another walk, supposedly lasting two and a half hours, took us all of 7 hours because we were lost. The Sunflower Guide to walks in Western Crete was very specific about leaving the road past a church and striking down a path across a gorge and back to the road over a hill - but hey, there were two churches in the village and the path had disappeared under masses of fragrant but rather jaggy herbiage. We struggled on for a bit, soon becoming rather bloody and coughing our guts up in the clouds of pollen which engulfed us, but admitted defeat and returned to the road which we had already used. I think all the locals now use mopeds and trucks rather than mules and donkeys - and they use the roads and forget the jaggy paths.
We also were able to swim in the sea by our second week. The air was warm but the sea a bit like Tighnabruaich on a fine August day - chilly till you were in. It was never crowded.
Writing this on a bleak June evening just before the longest day - the temperature outside is 10 degrees celsius - has transported me back a month. It was wonderful. I love Crete. I shall go again.
But my next wanderings will be to France. Watch this space ...