Travelblog 2003

Thursday, August 28, 2003
Weather: ± 17 degrees, cloudy

Tonight we packed our suitcases with much fuss. After the first time packing we found out we had far too much overweight. So we had to go through everything again and split up what we could take and what not. So we took fewer pants with us and will have to wash them more often. In any case, it is much warmer there than here, so we won’t wear long pants that often.
After packing and unpacking several times, the suitcases and backpack have reached their maximum capacity. Just a few more things and then everything is in. Even our thick books can come with us. I hope the books are enough for us. We can always buy books there. There is a bookstore on Beach Road and it also sells Dutch books.
I am glad we have already done this tonight. I don’t like to do things at the last minute. You find yourself stressing at the last minute to get everything done. Tomorrow I will iron some clothes and put the last things together. And that will be all.

Friday, August 29, 2003
Weather: ± 18 degrees, cloudy with occasional showers

It’s the day before departure. Today we just slept in first. Everything is basically ready. Got the last things together. Ironed 1 more blouse and T-shirt. René’s red pants were made again and were brought in the afternoon by Daan (René’s father) and Fenna (wife of René’s father). So I can pack these as well. We are now slightly over the weight limit, so I hope they won’t be too hard on us at check-in. Daan and Fenna also took the paper for the people back home. Tomorrow Erica (my sister) and Wim (her husband) will also get a copy of that. Today we just ate pea soup. Real Dutch food. Soon Greek food for three weeks. Delicious. It was quite cold and rainy today. So also really weather for pea soup.

Saturday, August 30, 2003
Weather: ± 19 degrees, cloudy with occasional showers NL, 25 degrees and clear sky GR 

Today we will finally leave. The Talen family (Erica, Wim and their daughter Linda) will pick us up at 13:00. Linda wants to look around at Schiphol. She has never done that before. And those big planes are really nice up close.
We have no delay with the car, except for one downpour near Lelystad. And of course the much needed smoke break for Wim and René. Check-in also went smoothly. Our flight left on time. At 11:10 p.m. local time (1 hour time difference with the Netherlands) we were at the airport in Heraklion. Even at that time it was still 25 degrees. The luggage took longer to arrive. Probably due to a faulty luggage belt. The area where you now had to collect the suitcases was also a lot more modern than last time and also at least twice as big. Then we went outside and looked for the right bus. That was not so difficult. At this time only the Sunweb buses were still waiting. At 0:20 we were finally on the bus. This time we were not the last ones to get off the bus. At the fifth stop we were able to get off.
After a while Georgos recognized René from 2 years ago. He had more trouble with me. That was not so strange. Last time I had long blond hair and in the meantime I had changed into a short-haired brunette. But after some talking he again knew exactly who we were and the ice was broken again. I arranged the papers further with Katerina in the little office. She had more trouble recognizing us. But that will come when we are there a little longer. After all, we are staying three weeks this time.
We also asked for a remote control for the air conditioning. This costs extra, but doesn’t seem a luxury given the temperature. After we put away most of our suitcases and turned on the air conditioning, we went downstairs to the bar. It turned out there were some other guests at this time. Some Brabanders and Drenten (both prefectures in the Netherlands). At 02:45 we went to bed. Tired of traveling.

Sunday, August 31, 2003
Weather: ± 40 degrees (!) and sunny

We had set the alarm at 10:00 am. Then we just got the rest of the stuff out of the suitcases. We didn’t feel like doing that yesterday. Then we took a shower. But that turned out to be in vain, because when I sat down outside on the balcony (on the north side overlooking the sea) I immediately discovered that it was very hot. According to our neighbors, it was 40 degrees! And the reports are that it will stay that way for the rest of the week. And when you left with about 18 degrees, it takes some getting used to.
So we first went to get water and, of course, toilet paper. For those who have never been to Crete. The sewage system is too narrow. Therefore, you are not allowed to throw the toilet paper in the toilet, but must put it in a trash can that is next to it. This is emptied daily. It seems dirtier than it is. It’s just different from what you are used to Only is some luxury hotels don’t need this, they use grinders before it ends up in the sewer.
We were in the village anyway, so we had breakfast at our usual place DR. We each had a large omelet (René with bacon and I with mushrooms) and freshly squeezed orange juice. Then I bought René a carton of Lucky Strike. And an air mattress for the pool.
Well first cool off at the pool. By now it is a quarter to two in the afternoon. We spent the rest of the day by the pool. Lots of swimming and bobbing on the airbed. The water is not heated, which takes some getting used to with this high temperature. We both got quite sunburned right away. Rene had not applied sunscreen at all, but I did use factor 10. But factor 10 is absolutely insufficient with these temperatures. We’ll have to get a higher factor tomorrow.
At half past four we went to the room. Slept a little and then at about 7:30 we had dinner at the restaurant Cretan Family Taverna. Rene had mixed grill and I had Grandmother’s recipe, which consisted of large pieces of meat with green beans in a kind of tomato sauce. Very tasty, but very salty. And for dessert ice cream. Georgos gave us ouzo. Then we walked back to the apartment complex and sat at the bar for a while.

Monday, September 1, 2003
Weather: ± 40 degrees and sunny

The alarm clock went off again at 10:00 am. An excellent time to get up. The top of my legs, just below the shorts, is still terribly burned. My own fault, because I forgot to cover that part. So today I will cover it with a shirt or T-shirt. René is now in the shower and when he is finished, we will go out to find something to eat. I am not in the mood for omelet, so for me Greek yogurt with fruit.
After breakfast we went in search of a rental car. We ended up renting it from the same company as four years ago, Minoan Cars. I think it is the exact same car. It was very inexpensive. 10 days driving, 5 days paying. It’s a Suzuki Samurai 1.4. One of those little 4×4 cars. It’s a little higher on the wheels, which with the roads here is no luxury. The main road is in good condition, but as soon as you leave the main road, you can expect anything. We can’t get the car right away yet, but we don’t have to. Tomorrow we can pick it up.
It is still very hot, but later in the day the wind came from the west and that made a big difference. We spent the rest of the day by the pool. Rene is not bothered by the heat, but I really have to get used to it. I always get dizzy and nauseous right away. But after a few days that’s all over. So just take it easy for the first few days.
We went back to the room at 4:30. First we got some sleep. That is very common here. Almost everyone does that. And in any case dinner is eaten much later than in Holland. It is very common to have dinner at half past eight or nine. That is a little too late for us. We always try to be in the restaurant around half past seven. Then you also have the best chance of getting a table. The restaurant is full every night. And that’s unusual. The restaurant is located outside the center.
Let’s eat now and pick up the car tomorrow at 10:00.
Rene had lamb chops and I had Soutzoukakia (meatballs in tomato sauce). After dinner we walked back to the apartment and sat at the bar for a while.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003
Weather: 38 degrees and sunny

Today we picked up the car. We went for a short drive right away to get used to the car. Well, we? René drives. I don’t like driving at all. And the driving style here is very different from what I am used to. It’s more like survival and the law of the jungle. The clutch of the car responds very slowly and there is no power steering on it. It is not exactly the same little car as last time. This time it is white instead of gray and there is no hood with it or on it at all. Not that you need one here. It is usually dry here and since the car has no air conditioning, the wind around your head is nice.
We spent the rest of the day by the pool again. Tomorrow we will go to Sissi by car. We got even more sunburn, despite the new factor 8 sunscreen. We could not find a higher factor at this store. There were all kinds of vague brands, but I prefer not to use those. I prefer sunscreen of the brand PizBuin.
After our daily nap, we had dinner. Rene had pork chop and I had gyros. After dinner we had a metaxa (5 star, for Rene) and an ouzo (for me). Then we walked back to the apartment and counted lizards along the way. We do that every time we are in Crete. Those creatures sit on the white painted walls next to the road. But every time we are in Crete the number we see becomes fewer. This time again there were not that many, only five.
Once at the apartment complex we played with the dog for a while. His name is W, pronounced Double U. He is a cross between a collie and probably a shepherd. He stands higher on his legs and has short hair, but the color, narrow muzzle and slender build of a collie. His favorite toy is a barbie. Not that he has much choice. They hardly sell any pet toys here. Only for very small dogs and he is definitely not that. He is 5 months old and already bigger than a Malinois shepherd.

Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Weather: 38 degrees, sunny at first with occasional clouds later.

Today we went to Sissi by car. The town is nice, but it was disappointing. I had expected more of a village with a real center. But that was not the case. The harbor was very nice though, with palm trees and all. It seems you can also walk along the coast from Malia to Sissi. We had fresh orange juice at a tavern by the sea. While we were sitting there a kingfisher kept flying around.
From Sissi we drove on to Milatos. There was a cave you could visit. It was also a bit disappointing because there was no guide. You were given a flashlight at the beginning of the path to the cave (you had to rent it for 2 euros) and that was it. Inside the cave was a little chapel and a transparent chest with bones. Presumably of a saint or something. I myself suspect from Milatos. And there were also an awful lot of wasps and bees. So quickly out of the cave again. René is allergic to wasps, so it was not wise to stay there for a long time. But it went well.
After the cave we drove via Tsambi to Latsida. Through very small mountain villages, the road was just wide enough for the car. From Latsida we wanted to go via Neapoli to a monastery near Kourounes. But no matter how we drove, we could not find the right road. Finally we drove to Agios Nikolaos via the new main road and then back using the old main road. At first we also drove the wrong way. Presumably we took the wrong exit at Drakos, resulting in a garbage dump in the middle of the mountains. A lot of car tires, old refrigerators and other garbage. Sand over it and the valley is less deep or the mountain a little higher. Nobody sees it except a lost tourist.
Finally, via Houmeriakos through the olive plantations back to Neapoli. By now we were more than fed up with that place. No matter how we drove, we always ended up in that town. So we returned to Malia. And more clouds had appeared. Tomorrow would be cooler, but later the clouds were almost gone too.
Once back at the apartment, we had a swim. Then rested a bit and then went out for dinner. Rene had mix grill again and I had Souvlaki (a large meat skewer and this was a very large portion) and a Greek salad (tomato, cucumber, red onion, olives and feta). And for dessert each had a banana split.
Upon returning to the apartment complex we waited for those who had walked the Samaria Gorge today. This gorge is 18 kilometers long. You start at the top, then descend steps to the riverbed. You then have to follow this until the river empties into the sea. At its narrowest part, the gorge is 300 meters high and only 3 meters wide. The guests who walked the gorge arrived an hour and a half later because their bus broke down on the way back. They were very tired, but it was worth it. They had walked fast! 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Thursday, September 4, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees, partly cloudy

Today the intention was to go to Rethmynon by car. At least that was the intention. We were already 30 kilometers past Heraklion (about 50 kilometers to go) when the car broke down. None of the gears worked anymore. We had power, but it didn’t move. We were no longer moving forward. And it stunk! A typical Bakelite smell. And there was also smoke coming from under the car. So there we were, along the main road. In the middle of nowhere. Only a cell phone, photo camera and sunscreen with us. No driver’s license, no papers from the car. No water either. Fortunately, it was partly cloudy. Well and then. I try to call Minoan Cars. Turned out that number had changed. The tape I got did say first in Greek and then in English that something had changed. But what exactly I had to change was not clear to me. So I tried the mobile number. That was also on the sticker on the car. The mobile number also appeared to have changed, but from the tape I heard again, I understood that I had to replace the zero with a six. Finally connection, but because of all the passing traffic I could hardly understand her. Finally I understood that she was going to call Road Service and she wanted to know where we were. Later she called back and said it was going to take about an hour. And after about half an hour to three quarters of an hour, a towing company did indeed arrive. That man (he didn’t speak a word of English or German) also tried the car, but it didn’t move any further than a meter either. Kaput was his answer. Then with hands and feet he tried to ask whether we wanted to continue to Rethmynon or return to Malia. Going on made no sense, because how would we get back. So we would rather go back to Malia. The car was then pulled onto the truck with a winch. We could sit in the cabin with him and so we drove back to just before Hersonnisos. There we were given another temporary car. An Opel Corsa. And with that we drove first to the apartment complex, to pick up the papers and then to Minoan Cars. We were allowed the little car today and tomorrow the jeep should be ready again. And since today was a lost day, we were allowed to keep the car an extra day.
So no Rethmynon today, but quite an adventure. The rest of the day we stayed at Cretan Family Apartments. By now it had become quite cloudy. And the wind was also starting to get stronger and stronger. We both wore long pants and blouses for the first time tonight. René and I had chicken Souvlaki today. Very tasty in itself, just incredibly salty. That was a pity.
Since Thursday night is movie night at the complex, we watched two movies. I Spy and Lord of the Rings part 2. It was already half past two when the movies ended.

Friday, September 5, 2003
Weather: ± 28 degrees, partly cloudy

The clouds have moved away slightly, but there are still white dots in the sky. The wind is howling around the apartment complex. From the balcony I can see the waves splashing up on the shore, which is at least 500 meters away. The sea is also full of white heads on the waves. After breakfast we went to see if the car was ready again. And it was. It turned out that the clutch plate was totally broken. After we got the car back, we drove straight to the excavation of the palace of Malia.
This was built around 1900 BC. Impressive to see how advanced they were in those days. They even had a kind of sewage system. Then we drove back via the coast. And we stopped briefly to look at the stormy sea. The waves were very high so there were red flags everywhere.
Then we sat at Cretan Family Apartments for a while behind the screen out of the wind.
In the evening we had a surprise menu at Georgos’ restaurant. A very large platter with a little bit of everything. But it was really way too much. Almost 3 full portions. So we really couldn’t finish that. And the consequence was that we didn’t have room for dessert either.
Upon returning to the apartment I put on something warmer. I was chilled by the strong wind from the sea. But after a few mugs of hot tea and some amaretto I did feel better. Later in the evening Georgos gave me some Greek lessons.

Saturday, September 6, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we left for Heraklion a little later than planned. It had gotten rather late last night. So we left about eleven o’clock. In Heraklion there is a gypsy market on Saturday. Huge crowds and all sorts of things for sale. Vegetables, fruits, fish, clothes, accessories, rabbits, snacks. And all the fruits and vegetables here are so big. Cauliflowers that you can easily eat four days’ worth of. Potatoes as big as your shoes.
Then we looked at the Venetian fortress and the harbor. The sea was still a little upset from yesterday’s storm. The sea was three different shades of blue. The fort was very beautiful inside. But inside we couldn’t take pictures very well. It was rather dark, so not all the pictures we took turned out sharp. But it didn’t get any better than that. In the harbor there was another old wreck rusting. They just leave that too. It will disappear by itself, they must think.
Then into the center. First to the famous lion fountain.
This one was not really easy to photograph. No matter which way you looked, you kept getting those big billboards on it. Then into the small streets. A lot of expensive clothing stores. But then again, the prices of some things weren’t too bad. Then we had something to eat and drink on a terrace. That is always nice here. In a narrow street there are tables and chairs on both sides, with cozy checkered cloths on them. Then we went to the archaeological museum. That was very impressive. As detailed as the objects were. Also a lot of gold jewelry or stone. And the colors on the pottery can still be seen so well. And to think that a lot of the things here are thousands of years old. They also had a lot of statues. Especially of bulls and of a goddess with her hands up and a dove on her head. See also:
Then we walked back to the car and drove back to Malia. I forgot to write down what we ate, so unfortunately no report on that.

Sunday, September 7, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we didn’t do much. After breakfast we went to an Internet cafe in the village. There we checked to see if any shocking things had happened. Then we sent a message to the home front and checked the rest of the email. Then we bought postcards. The man at that store ran out of stamps and since it was Sunday, the post office was closed. He would have the stamps again tomorrow.
We spent the rest of the day at the pool. The water was freshened, so incredibly cold. The water is not heated, so then the temperature is around 15 degrees.
In the evening at the restaurant Georgos said to us that he wanted to go out with us and Katerina on a slightly quieter evening. By now Katerina also knows again who we are and the ice was broken right away. I have no idea what Georgos meant by going out. Just some drinks or also some food? We’ll see. But it’s incredibly nice. They really don’t do that to everyone.
Back at the apartment we pooled. First I against Rene. Then against Rene and Jos. Later I together with Harry Potter (Georgos) against René, Jos, Pieter and Edwin. And won most of the pots!
Anyway, it got very late (four o’clock).
Dinner: Spaghetti for 2 people and very tasty and very mighty.

Monday, September 8, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we were supposed to go to Rethmynon….. hahahaha We did indeed go to Rethmynon. We had some doubts because it was so late yesterday. And it is a long drive. Rethmynon is very beautiful. A beautiful old center, with almost Italian-looking streets. With balconies and everywhere you look overgrown with greenery or flowers.
Even the smallest street has a tavern or store hidden away. We also walked along the old port with all its eateries. René almost hit his head on a squid hanging to dry on a clothesline. Then we went to the Venetian fortress. This fort is very large and on top of a cliff. Inside the walls you find yourself a kind of forest and garden and such and various other buildings. Then walked back down and back to the center. We had a bite to eat at a tavern in the backyard. Sitting in the shade of the lemon trees. And a little fountain in the corner. René’s burger from the grill was a little disappointing. My Greek salad was very tasty, though. Just a lot. And I’m not so fond of olives yet. I am starting to, but I don’t need as many as there were in the salad. After dinner we went back to the car. This one was in a parking lot where it was allowed to park all day for 2 euros. We did not drive back via the new main road, but via the old main road. This one winds much more. You drive through olive groves and orange plantations. Here and there you find streams of water, river is too big a word for it. The quality of the road is a little less and on some stretches you can absolutely not see if there is oncoming traffic, but the road is definitely worth driving. You end up back on the main road just before Heraklion. At 5:30 we were back at the apartment complex. At 7:30 we went out for dinner. René had Souvlaki and I had Filet a la Crème.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Weather: ± 37 degrees and sunny

Today right when we got up we noticed that the wind had changed. It was quite strong again, but this time it came from the south. The Chirocco wind. It’s like they are turning a hair dryer on the highest and hottest setting on you. The air you breathe is all warm. And at least it was already a lot warmer than yesterday.
So today we didn’t go out that far. We ended up going to Hersonissos. This village is close to Malia. Only the village of Stalida is still in between. Although nowadays it is so full of apartments and hotels that it has become more like one long village. In Hersonissos we wanted to see if they sold basketball jerseys so we could buy a present for Linda. It’s her birthday tomorrow. But everywhere you see only soccer shirts. Hersonissos has quite a few stores, but no nice beach or anything like that.
Later we went back to the pool. We asked Georgos for the best way to drive to Matala tomorrow. But he recommended another place for us. It is a little further west. According to Georgos it is the most beautiful beach in Crete. So we are going to see that for ourselves. He drew a whole route on the map which we can do in 1 day. First we have to go to Rethmynon, from there south to Preveli. Then a little way back and then via Agia Galini to Matala and then the way back north. Then you end up at Heraklion again. And then back again to Malia.
The food in the evening was Toppie again. Rene had Gyros and I had lamb chops. We didn’t make it late because tomorrow we want to leave on time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Weather: ± 35 degrees and sunny

Today we left at a quarter to eight already. First we had to take the car back in the direction of Rethmynon. At the same exit where you can go to the town itself, we turned left. In the direction of Spili. Until we saw Preveli on the signs. The scenery was very varied. And the road was nice and winding. On the road to Preveli, you come by car through the Kourtaliotiko gorge. You just turn a corner to the right and suddenly you are in the middle of it. Gorgeous!
Then continue to the old Venetian bridge,. From there there are two ways you can drive to Preveli Beach. You can drive through and then park the car on top of the cliff and then clamber down a path. Or you can cross the riverbed with the car and then follow a very bumpy path. You’ll end up in the bay next to Preveli and then you can hike to Preveli via a path.
We crossed the river by car and took the bumpy path to a tavern in the bay next to Preveli. The road was so bad that we already had to take it very slowly. Sometimes the road was just wide enough with a deep ravine next to you. The only fencing they have next to the road here is some rebar with some chicken wire. It is also recommended to do this with an all-terrain vehicle. But to our great surprise, there were even scooters and Fiat Pandas driving. One steering error and those tires are flat. Or your axles break. With nowhere to change a tire or get a tow truck in front of it. Life-threatening. Too idiotic for words. But yes, we did get to that Tavern. From there you then have to climb a rocky path along the coast and then you get to Preveli beach. Fantastic!
You can really see the river flowing into the sea. First we just put our things by two beach beds. Already a stray hippie arrived and charged us 2 euros per chair. When you have paid, you get a clothespin on your chair as a sign that you have paid. So that’s still pretty primitive. Then we quickly took off our walking shoes and went for a swim in the sea. It is very blue and calm here. We also went into the river which flows into the sea via the beach. Ice cold fresh water. And huge huge fish. I suspect they were trout or something. At least that’s what they looked like. After about an hour we drove back to the Venetian bridge. Georgos had given us quite a long route to drive. As a result, we couldn’t stay at one point for very long. From the Venetian bridge we continued to the monastery of Preveli. Just before that you can also possibly park the car and then walk to Preveli Beach. We were just in time to see the monastery before prayers began. This monastery played an important role during WWII. The monks made sure the Allies were able to escape from Crete back to their boats.
After we viewed the monastery and the monks went into prayer we drove back towards the road to Spili. Via this road we drove to Agia Galini. This is also a nice cozy place. After drinking some fresh juice (we were tired of water for a while), we continued on the road via Timbaki to Matala. The route there runs through a kind of delta. This delta is full of greenhouses. As a result, there is an irritating rotting smell.
Matala used to be a world famous place where hippies lived in the rocks. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay here for long. We ended up not even seeing the rock wall with the holes. We did quickly drive through the town and then quickly on again. We then passed Festos where there are also excavations. These also seem to be very impressive, but also here we lacked the time to stay longer. Georgos had told us that we had to drive by Agii Deka before four o’clock if we wanted to get out of the mountains before dark. So quickly back into the car and via Agii Deka and Agio Varvara back towards Heraklion. The road passed through fields of grapes. From these grapes raisins are made. They do this by hanging the bunches to dry over little lines. That is an unusual sight. Instead of laundry, they hang grapes to dry. Eventually we were back in Malia at about a quarter past five. So plenty of time before it got dark.
In the evening, René had a very large steak for dinner (about 800 grams) and I had a local Cretan dish consisting of stewed meat, leeks, sliced olives in a kind of broth-like sauce.

Thursday, September 11, 2003
Weather: ± 32 degrees and sunny

Today we had been given another mission by Georgos. First we had to take the car again in the direction of Rethmynon. Then drive on until just before Vrisses. There we had to turn off in the direction of Hora Sfakion. Halfway we had to stop in Karés. There we had to visit the war museum. This was very interesting. René finds everything related to WWII interesting. That man had really collected a lot of stuff. Bullets, bombs, helmets, eating utensils, everything. There was tremendous fighting here in Crete in WWII. It turned out that the man himself had helped in the war as a little boy. After the museum visit, we had to go to a tavern. Although there were no signs in the village pointing the way, we couldn’t miss it. There is only one tavern in this village. The owner Sofia is a good friend of Katerina and Georgos. But she doesn’t speak any languages other than Greek. So we had been given a bill with her, explaining on one side who we were and on the other a lunch of local dishes. This was very strange all around. Fortunately, her daughter was also there and she did speak some English, so we were given explanations of exactly what we had on the plate. The first was warm condensed whey. We tried this with bread, fried potato and with salt, but it was not tasty. In fact, we found neither of them edible. But yes, it seems to be loved by the locals. Likewise, I’m sure we will eat things in Holland that they find very weird here again. The second thing we got was smoked pork. This was tasty. It was eaten cold and had some kind of jelly on it. The third dish was large pieces of fried potato. The fourth dish was stewed goat meat. This was okay in taste, just very fatty (even for Rene) and very tough. The last course was a small sweet pancake topped with honey. René just doesn’t like honey, but ate half of it anyway. It was separate, for the most part tasty and very much so.
Although I don’t think we were supposed to actually eat everything either. But we felt honored that Georgos had sent us here. Sofia used gestures to tell us how to eat some things. I suspect this is where Georgos or Katerina originally came from. After dinner we were given another raki to calm our stomachs. That was no luxury with that somewhat fatty food. I normally don’t like raki. But now I was happy with it. After visiting the tavern, we drove the same route back. On the way, we suddenly saw smoke in the distance. Eventually we got very close to the smoke and it was probably a forest fire near Vrisses. Not inconceivable because everything is incredibly dry here. The fire was being watched by two planes and a helicopter flew back and forth to scoop water from the sea with a bag. But those were only such small bits. I hope it worked out.
We left at about 11 and returned at about 6. Refreshed and changed clothes and then went to the restaurant for a bite to eat. René had Gyros and I had chicken breast.

Friday, September 12, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we first slept in. Then we went into town to have breakfast at DR. Then we started looking for the right excursions. In the end we booked with Artemis. Monday we are going to Santorini (departure at 5:50) and Wednesday the Samaria Gorge (departure at 05:00). So we have to get up early both times then. But both things we wanted to do for a long time.
We spent the rest of the day baking in the sun. And at 19:00 we had to return the car.
In the evening is the restaurant René had a mixed grill and I had Stifado. Later Irini (the daughter of Georgos and Katerina) came by the restaurant. She is 6 years old. She sang with her father. And then she did the Sirtaki. She dragged a lot of people with her. And plates were also broken. They rarely do that.

Saturday, September 13, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we really did very little. We laid by the pool all day. We didn’t even leave for breakfast. I didn’t mind, because I wasn’t feeling very well. I had diarrhea and my blood pressure was very low. That usually happens to me at some point during vacation So the bag of Venco with salty licorice came in handy after all. By the time we went to the restaurant for dinner in the evening I didn’t feel so weak anymore. Just extra salt on the potatoes later.
Food: we got a Greek salad and a two-person dish of stewed meat with rice and Greek potatoes. The sauce was gravy with broth. Very tasty. We just got it finished, so no more room for dessert.

Sunday, September 14, 2003
Weather: ± 33 degrees and sunny

Today we had breakfast again in Malia at DR. Then we walked down Beachroad to the bookstore. René had nothing more to read. In that store they also have Dutch books. Then we walked back via a different route. We spent the rest of the day by the pool. At 4:00 pm we went upstairs to sleep for two hours. Georgos wants to go out with us tonight, but tomorrow we have to be at the excursion desk at 05:40. Tomorrow we are going to Santorini. So I guess it will be a short (or no) night. In the evening we ate at the restaurant, forgot to write down what we ate, so no report on that.
The party was in Old Malia on the basketball court. And it was great! All long tables with benches. You just order drinks and food with a group. Usually Coke, a bottle of whiskey and a bowl of fruit and bread. And on a stage a group of musicians played. It lasted very long, so at 03:00 we left. We didn’t sleep anymore.

Monday, September 15, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

We did not sleep. We just had a quick shower and changed clothes. I did some more reading and René did some more dozing. At 05:00 we walked towards the center. At 05:45 the bus came to pick us up at the supermarket. At 07:00 we left by boat from Heraklion to Santorini. We had breakfast on board, but it was not much. At 11:15 we arrived at the first port, after an impressive entrance by boat into the crater of the volcano. Santorini is a volcanic island that exploded 3,500 years ago. As a result, only the rim remained. And in the middle of the crater is now an island that still shows volcanic activity. Those who had booked excursions on board had to disembark at the first port. So did we. We took a bus first to Pyrgus. There we then had half an hour to walk around and take some pictures.
Then to Ia. There we had an hour to walk around and take some pictures. Then on to Fira. Here we had about an hour and a half before we had to go down the long “stairs”. Every little place was fantastic! Really those typical white houses with blue doors and windows. And the little churches with the blue chapels. So we took about 50 pictures. Wherever you looked, everything was beautiful.
A lot of calendars of Greece have pictures of Santorini.
At 5:15 p.m. the boat would return. Before then you could be taken to the boat by a small boat. And right on time we left. We had also accidentally gotten a card for dinner. We were not actually entitled to that. But we made grateful use of it. That too turned out not to be very spectacular, but I was very hungry. So a little pasta and some meat. And a pear for dessert. At 9 p.m. we arrived by boat back in Heraklion harbor. There you had to look for your bus again. At 10:30 p.m. we were back at the supermarket on Mainroad. By now I was also completely over my sleep again. When we got back to the apartment we showed the pictures on the TV and even played pool for a while. But that didn’t really go well for anyone tonight. Everyone was a little more giddy than usual anyway.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we first slept in. Then had breakfast at DR in the center. Then to Old Malia to possibly take some pictures. But the nice spots were disappointing, so in the end only one picture was taken. Then to Katerina’s parents’ supermarket. There we stocked up on three bottles of Metaxa. One for Rene’s father, the other two for Rene himself. Rest of the day rested from yesterday and fixed in advance for tomorrow. Because then we are going to do THE gorge. In the evening at the restaurant, René had mixed grill again and I was lucky again. I got that Cretan specialty again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees, first cloudy and later sunny

We got up at 03:30. At 05:00 we were picked up by the bus at the supermarket. Off to the gorge! When we got there we were in the clouds and there was a strong wind. But once in the gorge the wind was not so bad. And you were walking under the clouds. The gorge itself was beautiful!
Very impressive. René found the gorge very easy. I found it difficult. But that was mainly due to my weak ankles and knees and my fear of heights. It is not really a flat path that you walk. It’s all different size boulders.
Some are as big as a decent-sized car. Others are as small as a marble and everything else in between. I was pretty devastated when we got out. It took us about four hours. Our guide told us before we started the hike that you shouldn’t sit down for the first seven kilometers. To avoid souring your muscles. And so we didn’t. The guide himself had walked it 628 times. One woman was so broken from walking and probably she had also not drunk enough. The guide felt she was no longer able to travel. So she had to stay behind at the first aid station. Only the next morning could she then return to her apartment or hotel. At 18:00 the boat left and at 19:00 we were on the bus back to Malia. At 10:30 pm we were back at the supermarket on Mainroad.
We had already eaten at the end of the gorge, but had another sandwich at the apartment complex. And of course told everyone how it had gone. We also showed the pictures.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we first slept in again. Then we went into Malia for breakfast. And the rest of the day we hung out by the pool. I had muscle pain in my calves and my knees hurt. Rene also has a little muscle pain, but not too bad. Swimming was therefore nice, because then the muscles become a little more flexible. We had something to eat by the pool. René 2 sandwiches and I a hamburger.
In the evening with dinner we laughed a lot. Aristo (Georgos’ brother) had mistaken the table, so we suddenly got two appetizers. But we had been tested so many times with the food, that we just got on with it. And thought this was another test. One was Tatziki and the other was mashed and smoked eggplant with paprika. Tasty though, but pretty much. I didn’t know the second one, so I asked Georgos what it was. You should have been his face. Turned out this was not meant for us at all, but for another table. Aristo completely shocked. In the end, we could all laugh about it. And we just paid for both dishes. Of course, the rest of the food was again perfect. Spaghetti a la chef. We had had that one before and it was delicious. Just a little mighty.

Friday, September 19, 2003
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today is the last day here. And I hate that! I don’t want to go home yet, even though we will soon have been here for three weeks. First we had breakfast at DR. Then we went to SPAR. I wanted to get Gyros seasoning and the like. There we also bought a mascot from the 2004 Olympics and also a cap from the Olympics. Both in the Basketball theme.
After that we laid back and baked by the pool. I have never been so tanned. I almost never get tan and certainly not as tan as I am now. At 4 p.m. we went upstairs. We packed the suitcases as far as we could. At 6 p.m. we went first to Malia to get money from an ATM. As we walked that way we ran into Mike. We knew him from the apartment complex where we had stayed before, Studio Marianna. This time he recognized us. He asked if we were coming for drinks in the evening.
We first went to eat something in the restaurant. First Tatziki, then we both took Gyros. You can’t get Gyros that good anywhere in the Netherlands. I even had Greek yogurt with honey for dessert. After dinner (which we were not allowed to pay for at that time) we went back to the apartment. At about 9:30 p.m. we walked toward Mike. He was not there, of course. So we talked for a while with Maria and Yiannis (his parents and bitch owner of the apartment complex Studio Marianna). We got our asses kicked right away for not stopping by earlier. Mike was supposed to be back at 11 p.m., but was late. We therefore went back to Cretan Family first. There we then said goodbye to Petra, Georgos and Katerina.
At 01:30 we went to Mike’s again. This time he was there. It was very pleasant and he too said we should have come more often. René got a lot of whiskey shots and so by 02:45 he was quite tipsy. It took him half the way back to the apartment.
Arriving at the apartment complex, Katerina turned out to still be there. René wanted to say another heartfelt goodbye, also to the dog W. I was ashamed to death. At )3:15 we were finally in bed.

Saturday, September 20, 2003
Weather: ± 28 degrees and sunny

As I write this in the notebook, we are at the airport waiting for our plane. We were picked up by the bus at 07:55. Before that, we cuddled with W. I gave him a quick brush and we also gave him a bowl of kibble. We will miss him very much! He was already waiting at the bottom of the stairs when we came down with the suitcases.
The vacation went way too fast and I can’t wait until we get back here.

For the rest of the vacation photos see HERE