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Published: April 16th 2011
A view from our suite
We have flown from Rhodes to Crete and arrive around 8:30 at night, it was quite a sight to watch the sun set over the Aegean from the seat of our Dash 8.
It was thought best to hire a motor vehicle and drive to our accommodation, as it is about 30 minutes by car and most places are already shut and the taxis' are relatively expensive and the bus has finished for the evening.
The people who own the car rental firm are extremely kind to be waiting for us, as they are not young, but then inform us that they have another three flights to wait on. The weather is not warm. We are somewhat taken aback when they suggest that we refrain from driving at night, don't leave visible luggage in the car (which is pretty standard) and that the drivers in Crete are "mad".
Our GARMIN once again proves to be a wonderful piece of equipment, but I think the people from the car hire company have underestimated the driving prowess of the locals. We have read that the police are quite tough on driving offenses, but I think they have forgotten to tell
the police and the local drivers. More on this latter on.
We find our accommodation reasonably easy, due to excellent directions from our hosts, despite the lack of signage and lighting. Villa Bellevue, which is located high above the beautiful coastal resort town of Agia Palagia, will be our home for the next few nights.
The owners have upgraded us to a suite, overlooking the bay, and we are informed that they have filled the pool. (still too cold for us). We will awake to a breathtaking view.
Crete is the largest island of Greece and fifth largest of the islands of the Mediterranean. A strong cultural history surrounds Crete, as does all the islands. Much of north coastal Crete was decimated by a huge tidal wave, reportedly 75 meters in height, in the Minoan era, after a major eruption of the volcano on Santorini (around 3,600 years ago). Crete also played a distinct role during the second world war in which Australian troops and local resistance forged a life long bond.
Our hosts greet us before we head off to explore the northern coastline and we are once again cautioned to be wary or the
Cretan drivers. Again the information underplays the driving technique of the Greeks.
Crete is an island of rugged snow capped mountain ranges, clear azure waters and (to-date) some of the worse drivers I have ever encountered, but I have their measure and try to beat them at their own game. I get some interesting looks and the odd shake of the head, we survive.
On the start of our next day we receive a phone call from the ferry company to advise that our ferry, from Crete to Santorini, has been cancelled due to bad weather (the sun is shinning and the seas are flat) and the next boat isn't due for another 4 days. This, we find out later, is quite the norm during the off season and has more to do with the lack of numbers than the weather. We make our way back to Heraklion (the capital of Crete) to make alternate arrangements, as we have a flight booked from Santorini to Athens, that cannot be cancelled. We have been able to book a "fast ferry" with a smaller company and they have virtually guaranteed that they will depart regardless of weather conditions. Boy, Michelle
will be really impressed.
We spend the next few days exploring the rugged interior and beautiful coastline and survive the dubious driving techniques of the locals. But, we are of their measure and are more than once rewarded with "respectful" salutes and nods of approval from our fellow commuters.
About a 45 minute walk, down a winding road "aka, goat tract" from our villa is the seaside village of Agia Palagia. It is here that we find an inviting taverna, "Zorba's - an original Greek name wouldn't you say" and befriend the owner, his chef and three young North Americans' (also fulfilling a dream). It is here that we will spend most of our evenings, sitting less than 20 metres from the waters edge, watching spectacular sunsets, shooting the breeze and spinning the odd yarn. The food is traditional Greek fare and the hospitality is what memories are made of.
We are treated like family and this is one of those places where memories will long remain in our hearts.
The sparkling waters are inviting, but the looks on the faces of newly arrived tourists are priceless as they take their first plunge into the refreshing
waters of the Aegean. Our time will have to wait, for the moment we are content to enjoy the hospitality of our new friends and reflect on what is to come.
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