Crete, more than just beers and beaches…

I’ve been in Crete for just over a week now, and with only one more full day ahead of me, the time I have had has been pretty darn special.
I came to Crete on the pretence that I would work for my board, and work I have. This all came about through the Workaway system, where I was linked up with a German lady named Ana, who wanted some work done around her house. It’s fair to say what has transpired is a bit of a home makeover. The work started at 9am the day after my arrival and has come to a close today with the paint brushes being hung up at 2pm. Once again I was blessed in not working alone but I was joined by a young English fella named Gill. We made the time between 9am and 2pm fly by with light hearted banter, whilst also reaching “new heights of intellectual profundity and spiritual wonder” to quote the great man. We pruned trees, the thorniest of thorn bushes, weeded weeds, and cleared a good few years of overgrowth and debris collection. We lay weed matts and then covered it with a good 4 truck loads of small stones. I should have taken a before picture, and I suppose I could take an after picture, but I guess you’ll just have to take me at my word, that we worked very hard. I have worked a total of 6 days, Gill will probably have another one before he heads away, but tomorrow we share one last adventure.
So Ana is a tour guide, which meant she was the perfect person to stay with as it is just a natural thing for her to want to show the great and amazing stuff Crete has to offer.
Each day after work, we would either venture out with her taking us to some interesting attraction or she would give me the keys to her car and say take care.
That’s one thing I’ve noticed about the Greek attitude towards driving, its fairly cavalier. I first noticed it in Athens with cars parking pretty much anywhere they fancied on the side of the street (sometimes not), it continued when I saw that they drove a lot of scooters or motorcycles at great speeds with no helmet nor even eye protection. I felt anxious for them, it was crazy.
So Crete being an Island, it has that cavalier nature but in an even more relaxed nature to it. Speed is a relative thing, as are following the road rules, or wearing seat belts. I’ve been pretty happy with my driving though, as it has been a while since I drove on that side of the road. Only once did I realise after perhaps 100m, that I was on the wrong side of the road. Gill noticed at the same moment too, it was a collective ‘ummmm ooops’, but the nearest car was a little way back and it was a narrow road, so the centre line (which wasn’t even there), is subjective.
Having a car to drive around has meant we could explore the town of Rethemno again, visit a sweet gorge, and just head down to the beach after work to just relax, and plan a nice day out for tomorrow as well.
On Easter Friday, Ana took us West on the Island to the area around the city of Chania (Hania), we spent the morning exploring the caves behind and beneath an ancient Monastery, then swam in possibly the most beautifully remote beach in Crete or perhaps Greece, its hard to say. But the Devils Beach (a Turkish name) is just gold, the water is so very clear, and a little cold, but because it resides in the recesses of an old massive gorge that cuts its way to the ocean, you’re somehow able to put up with it. I tried to teach Gill the intricacies of a bomb comp off the rocks, but his English sensibilities couldn’t swing it.
Yesterday we packed into her small car and ventured over to the south coast, over perilously thin roads that weaved their way down the step gorges and mountain passes. There are a lot of mountains in Crete, I did not know this, but there are again plenty of rocks as well.
So the purpose of this journey was to end up at Sfakia, where we hiked along the coastal path next to the Libyan Sea to a small and secluded village in a beautiful bay. Such a nice walk, and the swim at the end of it was beauty too! It was a funny thing to notice that the track we took in the morning, where I nonchalantly bounced my way along without any caution in my mind, on the return, I noticed it was cut into the sides of cliffs, high above more rocks and the ocean well below. They don’t fuss about with fences much in Crete, well only when sheep or Goats are involved. So yes, the return trip was quite a lot more respectful.
Staying with a local has been great as she has taken us to many of her favourite drinking spots, at which they became my favourites. Now Ana is a German convert to Crete, which in turn meant that a good chunk of the lovely and lively folks we met at these places were German or close to it.
To be honest, that’s the only thing I could be disappointed with, the lack of actual Greek people I’ve not had the pleasure of spending extended time with. Sure I’ve had some fun interactions in shops, cafes, bars and such, but not for extended periods. Perhaps in the remaining time that I have this may change.
Being in Crete for the Easter period has been great for the shortend work week, and also, it gave me the chance to see how the Greeks do Easter, which is with a lot of church, food and gun fire… Often we would be surprised by the sounds of gunfire, often a shotgun and sometimes an automatic. Later we found out that the loud booms were also the old double happy’s (fire cracker), remember those? Fun times. Apparently they’re not overly legal here too, but by the sounds of it the police are not terribly fussed. Regarding the guns and what not, I have been told two things, one is that it’s all to do with celebrating independence from Turkey, and two, its an Eastern Orthodox thing, which is too complex for this. But when considering last night, where some young fellas were setting some double happy’s off next to the Taverna we were enjoying, to their amusement, and mine and Gill’s mild panic, there didn’t appear to be any reason, so I cant be sure.
So I have a flight back to the mainland on Thursday morning, from there I have 8 days to fill before I get to my next work away on a Farm near Belgrade in Serbia. So yeah, we have the car tomorrow, and since the weather is great here and pretty cold the further north you go at the moment, I’m looking to enjoy the beach as much as possible. So we’re heading back to the Libyan sea, but this time I’m going to remember my goggles. Should be fun.
Until next time.

The south coast
Gill and me are not amused
I was prepared for caving
A Pool inside the cave

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