Travelblog 2004

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Weather: ± 24 degrees and partly cloudy

This must have been the strangest start to a vacation ever. Wim (for an explanation of the names, see the 2003 trip report) had completely forgotten to pick us up. He thought it was from Wednesday to Thursday night. So we finally woke him up with the mobile of Stefan (his son) and Stefan himself. By then it was 02:30 instead of 01:30. René then drove himself, with Wim next to him. We were even flashed! But we were still on time. The flight itself was a story apart. A man, an hour after we left, had a stroke. Fortunately, there were people on board who had some medical knowledge. A pediatrician and an internist. At first they thought he remained stable enough to continue flying to Crete. But the situation worsened and eventually we landed in Klagenfurt in a sort of diving flight. Klagenfurt is still just in Austria, near the border. There the man and his wife were disembarked. Flying straight on again was not allowed. We weighed 66,000 pounds and that was only allowed to be 60,000 pounds. First the plane had to be checked by a technician. And they didn’t have one in Klagenfurt. So it had to be flown in from Vienna. That took two hours. Transavia solved that nicely. First we were given something to drink and finally we were even allowed to leave the plane and walk around the airport. At 12:00 we were allowed to continue our flight. And then at 2:45 p.m. I was standing outside by the bus together with René, waiting for departure to the apartments. The reunion was great. A big hug from Katerina and later from Georgos in the restaurant even two and a big kiss on my cheek. As usual a delicious meal again. The same as we started last year. I had grandmother’s recipe with Greek vegetables and René had mixed grill with fries. Jug of white wine, beer and later a shot of raki. Then another glass of ouzo for me and a metaxa for René. Really inexpensive again too, € 16.83 including drinks. Really the home feeling again. I had it right away. So I closed my eyes for a while and then had a drink downstairs at the bar (tea and water for me). At the end of the evening we gave the gifts. All of them were great! But Irini’s photo was a hit! Just for your information: W is still alive and in the “attic”. He was downstairs for a bit at the end of the evening and he has really grown colossal.
His back, when standing, rises above the garden tables. Gorgeous animal. They also have a puppy now, Rico, a few weeks old. He resembles a rottweiler in coloring, but stays smaller.
At least when I look at his paws like that. At 01:39 we went to sleep. The husband, who has had a stroke, is doing a little better. He will get a catheter on Friday and if that goes well, he may go home by ambulance or train over the weekend. In fact, friends of the couple are in the apartment complex with us. And they keep us updated a little bit.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Weather: ± 24 degrees and sunny

Today we got up at 10:00 am. The meeting with the hostess was at 11:00. Normally we don’t go there, but they had to check the reservation number on the tickets now. We spent the rest of the day by the pool. The water is still very cold! By the end of the day we were both extremely sunburned. I am fire red as usual. Factor 8 is really too little. At the end of the afternoon we went back to the apartment and slept for a while. Then showered and had a drink at the bar. Then we quickly went to the restaurant. Today we got surprise menu. Tatziki and two more kinds of mashed potatoes. With Gyros and Feta from the oven and something meatball-like. At 22:15 back in the apartment. Then still sat at the bar. And finally helped clean up. We were in bed by 02:39. The husband is doing better. No surgery after all. If he passes the test Friday and the travel insurance covers it, he may even go to Crete.

Friday, May 21, 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees and sunny

Bright blue skies again today. We first went into the village to get sunscreen with a higher factor and aftersun. Both again from PizBuin. We like that one best. Rene also bought a carton of cigarettes. €2.70 per pack. Not a lot of money. Then we had breakfast at our usual address, DR. We both had a fruit salad and some fruit juice. The rest of the day we lazed around the pool. But this time under the umbrella. First to give my skin some rest. In the evening we had a nice dinner again. I had spaghetti with tomato and pork. Way too much. But tasty. René had lamb. No chops, but it was tasty. The rest of the evening we spent downstairs watching TV, doing some pool and chatting.

Saturday, May 22, 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees and sunny

Today we didn’t do much again. We went to the SPAR to see if they had any toys for Rico, but alas. Then we went to the “computer store.” SCG (former computer store in Meppel) was there luxuriously. We were going to see if they had an external USB/ISDN modem there for Katerina as well. But the store was closed. Open only from Monday to Friday, from 09:30 to 14:30. So back we went. Then had tea and espresso at the bar and ate some sandwiches for breakfast. Then baked in the sun again. In the evening at the restaurant, René ate pork chops and I Souvlaki. Delicious! And Georgos played and sang in the restaurant again. Then pooled at the apartment complex bar. This time it didn’t go for me at all. It was 02:48 when we got to the room and went to sleep.

Sunday, May 23, 2004
Weather: ± 28 degrees and sunny

Today again we did very little. We still haven’t rented a car and without means of transportation you are pretty limited in where you can go. But that’s okay, we want to rest and refuel as much as possible this vacation. Once down at the bar, we first ate a sandwich. Then we laid out in the sun. We are already starting to get nice color. In the evening at the restaurant, René had lamb chops and I had Soutzoukakia. Around an hour at 10 p.m. we stopped by Mike’s place. Mike was once again napping. So after about an hour he surfaced. Then we stayed another half hour. We promised to come again this vacation. When we got back to the apartment we found that everyone was already in bed. Most of the men were so tired. They had not taken a nap in the afternoon because they had watched formula 1. So we had 1 more drink at the bar and then we closed the bar with Katerina. Is she coming to bed on time too for once.

Monday, May 24, 2004
Weather: ± 28 degrees and sunny

Not much done again today. René took another look at the computer and telephone connection. It appears to be rather difficult to make sense of it. One is digital and the other is analog. There is also a telephone exchange for all the apartments. And a fax machine that definitely has to keep working. And a printer that prints out all the calls from the apartments. René now just wants to connect it with an analog modem card and see if it works. In the evening we ate Greek salad and Gyros. Georgos was on a roll. First he did a trick with a beer bottle topped with a glass of wine and then he stood on top of it. Then he asked all kinds of people to try the same thing. Then we started doing Greek dances. Finally, he played his Bouzouki for a while. After dinner we stayed with Katerina at the bar for a while and then quickly went to bed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Weather: ± 21 degrees and cloudy

This morning it turned out to be completely cloudy. And it was also quite windy. So we went for a walk. Along the beach to just before the excavations and then back along the road. We both thought that was far enough, because neither of us felt really fit. I even threw up in the morning. Maybe it was the heat. It is a bit warmer here than in Holland. In the afternoon the weather improved and then we went into the village. René had already finished his books, so we went to the bookstore at the end of Beachroad. There we picked out a new book and also bought a new road map. The old map is hanging together with tape. In the evening I had no alcohol and ate some chicken. René had mixed grill again, but he too was eating with long teeth. Georgos told me later that we are going out together tomorrow. Katerina probably won’t go with us. But that’s not certain yet.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Weather: ± 22 degrees and partly cloudy

Today again we did nothing during the day. Well, we rescued Rico from the pool again. That strange dog thought he could swim, but he couldn’t swim very well. Apparently he was very grateful because now he follows me everywhere. At 5:30 pm we said goodbye to Hennie, Aad, Monique, Edwin, Robin and “Grandpa & Grandma” (all regular guests of Cretan Family). Then we took some pictures of W. He was chained up downstairs behind the apartment complex today, because he would have made too much noise on the roof at night. Then we walked to the restaurant. At 6:30 p.m. we were already there. But at 11 p.m. we didn’t go back to the apartment until 11 p.m. So it was very cozy! We sat at the table with Tilly & René and Nelly & Huub (the stroke guy) for a while. They are also guests of Cretan Family. René had pork chops and I had “Aad Special” or spaghetti with chicken. I had taken chocolate cake for dessert and René took ice cream after. Delicious! At 00:30 Georgos was back at Cretan Family Apartments and pretty soon after that the four of us left for a beach club in Stalis. There we sat in a corner overlooking the sea. Georgos suddenly felt like having a big coupe of ice cream. Turned out to be even half a watermelon. This one had been hollowed out and then stuffed with ice cream. And those watermelons of Crete are much bigger than those in Holland. We all had to help him finish the ice cream. But it was very tasty indeed. Then Georgos together with Katerina took us back to the apartment complex by car. At 03:00 we were back again. It was really very nice and cozy.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees and sunny

Laughed again today. No swimming lesson for Rico today. He spent almost the entire afternoon sleeping under Rene’s sun bed. He will stay away from the pool again for now. And since we saved him, he now follows us everywhere. Even on the road. And that is just not allowed. I stayed in the shade most of the time. The sun is so bright that you burn alive. So I put on a lot of sunscreen, but even then I still get red. In the evening before dinner we rented a car for 3 days. A Citroen C3 with air conditioning. Quite expensive at the beginning of the season, € 130. We first returned the car to the apartment and then we walked back to the restaurant for a bite to eat. René got a veal cutlet. And I got Soutzoukakia. I wanted Stifado, but Georgos said it was rather dry and tough at this time of year and that I had better get something else. The restaurant was incredibly crowded. Everything was full again. People were standing along the bar waiting for a seat. We even got strangers sitting with us at our table. We were done eating anyway. And we had to pay the bill tomorrow, Georgos didn’t have time for that. At the bar afterwards we had some more drinks and at 02:00, when the last one left, we closed up.

Friday, May 28, 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees and partly cloudy

Today we first had breakfast at the bar. We take the same thing every morning. Rene a big mug of coffee, I a big mug of tea. Then both a sandwich and a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. At 11:00 we got in the car and drove towards Ierapetra. That’s quite a nice drive. It’s not that far, about 80 kilometers. You then drive on the narrowest part from the north coast to the south coast. We found the place itself rather disappointing. A little past glory. You can still see from some of the buildings that it was once very beautiful. But it is all so poorly maintained. Ierapetra is the southernmost town in Europe. What there is left to see in Ierapetra, like the house where Napoleon lived and the old fortress, we had seen within half an hour. So we drove back to the north coast. We stopped in Agios Nikolaos. We had only driven through there when we went to Vai. Then with the excursion to Spinalonga, we were allowed to look around for half an hour or so after the excursion. So now we had a nice walk around the lake.
Then we took a look at the stores in the center. Then we went to a little restaurant by the water for lunch. I had Greek yogurt with honey and René wanted Baklava. There wasn’t any. He got something that looked like it. It looked like some kind of fried angel hair. After lunch we drove back to Malia. In the evening we both took Mixed Grill. Way too much for me and I really (I’m sure now) don’t taste lamb. Or it just disappointed me this time. It’s quite a distinct flavor. Another woman fainted in the restaurant. Fortunately, a Greek family doctor was there at the time. She probably sat in the sun too much or drank too little. Or both. It was so incredibly crowded again. So again we were not allowed to pay. Later at the apartment Tilly, together with her René, went down. Cause was too much booze. Finally my René and Aristo took her to the apartment. During which she kept insisting that René was a good son of hers. Fortunately, she was not hurt. Georgos still told us not to tease her about it the next morning. Even though the couple are both already in their 70s, she is far from losing her wild hair.

Saturday, May 29, 2004
Weather: ± 21 degrees and partly cloudy

Today we got up at 08:00. We are going to Preveli again. Everything is along on the road, so after two hours of driving we are already there. This time we parked the car in the large parking lot on top of the cliff. So no more crossing that bumpy path on the other side of the gorge. It is indeed quite a climb down.
The river turned out to be wider, so to get to the beach you had to wade through the water for a bit. And the water was very cold. I had to laugh, though. René hadn’t noticed that I had changed my shoes for the flip-flops instead of just taking them off. And so he found it strange that I walked so easily over those slippery stones. Once on the other side, he understood why. And he could laugh about it. We followed the river all the way to the rapids.
We took a lot of pictures. I still think it is 1 of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We still tried to cross the river and walk back on the other side. But we didn’t succeed. René got cramps in his feet because of the cold water. And the water was deeper than we thought after all. Later I searched for pebbles on the beach again. This time I took almost only green ones. Then we climbed back up. That was not so good! At about 3:30 we were back in Malia. At the restaurant we had no choice as to the main course. Spaghetti with minced meat, ham, cheese and a little tomato sauce. Very tasty! As a starter we had Tatziki. I had coffee with chocolate cake for dessert and René had coffee with Metaxa. At the end of the evening we said goodbye to Jos and Gonnie. They are going home tomorrow morning.

Sunday 30 may 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees, sunny at first and later some clouds

Today we got up at 09:30. First we had our standard breakfast at Katerina’s at the bar. Then we put our things in the car. And we left for the Lasithi plateau. We passed through Krasi on the way there. This place is known for its immense plane tree. But it was very crowded. So it had to be photographed on the way back. This plane tree is more than 1,000 years old and is 14 meters tall. It is still alive and also has plenty of leaves. On the plateau it was one big flower.
So we took lots of pictures of that too. On the way we passed a cave in Tzermiado. René suddenly stopped the car and jumped out. It turned out that he had seen a snake and wanted to find it to take pictures of it. Apparently that snake had little liking for that, because he did not find it again. The name of the cave was Trapeze. People lived here 3000 years ago. Very impressive and the guide was very friendly! You got a flashlight at the beginning and the guide kept holding my hand. René just had to save himself. After driving around the plateau, we passed a sign of an archeological site. René wanted to check it out and turned into that road. Although road was a very big word for the path full of potholes and holes. When we got to the top, there appeared to be nothing in terms of archeology. But there was a plateau. This one is 1100 meters higher than the Lasithi plateau and is called Nisimou. Pretty and full of sheep and goats, though. On the way back we stopped at the Homo Sapien Theme Park. Kind of funny. But I found it a bit disappointing. It was all rebuilt and few original things to see. You did have a nice view on the terrace of the restaurant that came with it. Then we photographed the plane tree in Krasi.
Also the local cemetery. Daan (René’s father) wanted pictures of crooked grave columns. But that’s impossible. They are all perfectly maintained. Once back in Malia, we drove to the SPAR. There we bought Metaxa (4 bottles) and cigarettes (2 cartons). And shot glasses from the Olympics. Tonight dinner was again delicious and incredibly romantic. They had covered our table with rose petals. We made a heart out of those later. From the plumes of ice cream we made the arrow. Rene had Gyros tonight and I had Gemista (tomatoes stuffed with rice). We both had ice cream. Then coffee with Metaxa for René. And for me coffee with Amaretto. At 00:30 when everyone was upstairs, René, me and three Austrian friends of Georgos, together with Georgos and Katerina drove to Skopela. With a detour, Georgos had lost his way for a while, and after we got stuck with the cars in an alley. That alley was as wide as the car. Not even an inch on either side. After stabbing back and forth about fifteen times, we got out of there. Finally we found the party we were supposed to go to. It was very impressive. They were famous musicians. And the music was also very beautiful. There was also a lot of dancing. Georgos arranged whiskey, coke, water and fruit. But two of the three Austrians began to get quite drunk and misbehave. The other drank Coke with water. The idea was that he would drive back. But as we were leaving, one of the two drunks crawled behind the wheel. The one who was supposed to drive refused to get in. He ended up getting in the car with us. The others drove off incredibly fast. When we were just near Heraklion, we finally got them with the mobile. They claimed to be already in Malia. That turned out to be true afterwards. So they must have been driving about 160 kilometers per hour or faster. Even in the mountains! Otherwise they could never be there that fast. Irresponsible and ridiculous! We were all very angry. They could have killed themselves. Or even worse, someone else! At 04:30 we were back again.

Monday, May 31, 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees, first sunny and later some clouds

Today we slept until 11:00. That’s still only six hours of sleep, but it had to do. Katerina was still mad at Martin (the one who crawled behind the wheel with a drunk head) and hadn’t been able to sleep at all. I haven’t seen the Austrians yet and that’s for the best. I am also still angry. How immature a person can be. Besides, that’s not how you treat friends. It is an honor when Georgos wants to take you to such a party. And then you have to behave accordingly. Katerina has now told Georgos never to take them again. After all, then he can choose between her or those “friends” from Austria. We started the day again with our standard breakfast. Then we went into the village, looking for a leather bag drill me. I would like to have one for my birthday in June. I did see something similar to what I meant, but I didn’t like it enough. Spent the rest of the day by the pool. I even used oil. And I didn’t even get sunburned. I’m already starting to get a nice tan, though. After getting some sleep and showering, we went to the restaurant. Rene got a very large pork chop (or chops). I got Souvlaki with white beans as an extra. Tasty but again very much. Only while eating, René suddenly became not so good and also felt hot. So we went back right after dinner. Oh yes, Greek salad as a starter. We can pay the bill tomorrow. René went straight to bed. At 10 p.m. I went to check on him. I also took his temperature. He had no fever. At 11 p.m. he came down again by himself. For about an hour. Katerina gave him two hot cups of tea with lots of sugar and lastly before going to bed a raki. The flight time was also hanging there now. We were picked up at the apartment at 6 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m. we flew.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Weather: ± 25 degrees, first sunny and later some clouds

Today we slept until 10:30. Then we had our standard breakfast at Katerina’s at the bar.
The rest of the day we lounged by the pool. We can still do that now. Next week we will have to work hard again. René still feels the same as yesterday. His stomach is a little unstable. But in the evening with dinner it got better and better. He had lamb chops. And I had spaghetti carbonara. I had chocolate cake for dessert. I will really miss that one in Holland. Then we finished the meal with coffee and something to go with it. We also bought a new bottle of ouzo. That will keep me going for a while. The previous two liter bottle was already empty. And I find the one from Holland too sharp in taste. This one is much softer. At the apartment we had a drink at the bar. Aristo, Panos and Jordani from the restaurant also came. So there was some vigorous pooling. After we got Tilly to go to bed as well, we closed things down and went upstairs as well.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Weather: ± 30 degrees and sunny

Today we got up at 09:30. It is the day of departure. That’s always a bummer. The days just go too fast here. Fortunately we could keep the apartment for another day for 15 euros. Much more relaxed this way. You don’t have to leave the room at 10:00. After breakfast we went into the village to get some money from an ATM. At least we could pay off our debts at the bar. Then we sat and read a bit in the shade. It is extremely hot today. It is 30 degrees in the shade. At 1:30 p.m. we went to the restaurant. We got Aristo chicken breast in a sauce with Greek vegetables. Very salty, but tasty. René was also given a 0.75 liter water bottle of raki. He got to drink this one with his father. After dinner we said goodbye to Jordi, Panos, Saddam and of course Aristo. Then put the last things in the suitcases. One last shower and then waited downstairs at the bar for the bus. Georgos came at the last minute to say goodbye. He also gave us a 0.75 liter water bottle with raki. Both he and Katerina wanted to be the last to say goodbye to us. And although I had resolved to keep it dry, I couldn’t. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I will miss them terribly again! But fortunately I was not the only one who had to cry. The family from Maastricht was also crying. So eventually there were seven of us in the back of the bus sobbing. They had also had a great time. You always come there as a stranger and leave as a family. That’s the same for us, of course. Although we are a little more special. It clicks so incredibly well between us. We really are friends for life. At the airport things didn’t go quite as they should. For us, but not for Huub. That was the man who had had a stroke on the way there. It turned out that the papers he had been given in Austria were not good enough for the return trip. The woman at the check-in counter wouldn’t check him in. He first had to see the doctor at the airport. He didn’t want to give him any other papers, because basically nothing was wrong with him during the past two weeks in Crete. He thought he was healthy enough. But to make a long story short, Huub had to stay behind. He first has to go to the hospital in Heraklion to get the proper papers and only then will he be allowed to fly again. So we left without Huub and his wife. Tilly and René would drive back home with them in Huub’s car. They were suddenly without transportation. But that solved itself at Schiphol Airport. The family from Maastricht was with two cars and could drop them off in Eindhoven. There was their own car at Huub’s door. From there they could take their own car to Venlo. We were picked up by Wim and Erica. Next year we will go to Crete again. And to Georgos and Katerina again!

For the rest of the vacation photos see HERE