View towards Lakki - one of the Rizi villages and important to the Cretans in their struggle for independence from the Turks
After a hot night, the first thing to do was open the window and let in some cool air. The second thing to do was get on to the balcony and check the weather. Pretty safe to say that the wall-to-wall blue sky was indicative of a hot day ahead, even at that hour.
A lovely breakfast was only ruined by the realisation that the bus timetable had changed. Those who read yesterday's blog will realise that the Cretan bus service is exciting - and that excitement extends to almost daily revisions of the timetable, which is printed on A4 and handed out at the bus station - albeit without bus numbers.
With the timetable changed, it was no longer possible to get the bus to my day's start point without missing breakfast. In addition, the return bus would be too early for a decent day's walk. A taxi would therefore be required - although I would wait for the late afternoon bus.
And thus it came to pass that Ever Onward found himself in the front seat of a very posh Mercedes (with the steering wheel on the wrong
side), heading into the foothills of the White
Locally know as the Lefka Ori, these dominate the west of Crete, separating the north from the south and providing a safe haven in times of conflict
Mountains (Lefka Ori
) to one of the Rizi
villages - Lakki.
Watching the taxi driver head back towards Chania, I had a quick look around Lakki - Spartan and clean, with amazing views, it's not difficult to see why this (an other villages) played such an important part in the defeat of the Turks and the subsequent unification of Crete with Greece in the early 1900s.
Setting off back down the road I'd so recently travelled up in style, I soon came to an abandoned car and derelict building where I headed off-road, up a narrow track. Continuing up, I finally reached the ridge above the village, affording incredible views over the wooded valleys towards my lunch spot - the village of Karanos, its church perched defiantly on the opposite ridge, seemingly dwarfing the few houses visible.
Continuing along the road towards the village, I passed cherry trees almost certainly planted by the Turks and already bearing fruit. Green-tailed skinks sunned themselves on the hot rocks, scurrying away as I neared.
Finally, reaching Karanos, I was greeted by the kafenion owner and invited to a Greek snack lunch - tomatoes, cucumber, olives, Graviera cheese, sardine fillets,
Simple, yet stunning
eggs, herb pies, yoghurt, freshly squeezed orange juice, beer and coffee - mostly home produced.
Thanking them for the fare, I returned to the track heading towards Askordalos, walking downhill (at last!) passing magnificent chestnut trees and through the dappled shadows provided by the olive groves. Finally, Askordalos church became visible through the trees, like a white and red beacon.
Reaching the road, I made my way to a disused olive oil factory and, taking a sharp left turning, continued downhill, along a little track that eventually all but petered out, becoming completely overgrown. Searching for the little goat track I needed, I made my way through gorse, under the trees and out onto a dry river bed.
Large boulders were my companion for the next hour or so as I made my way along the river bed, every so often, avoiding the running water that appeared from nowhere!
Finally, climbing up the river bank, I made it to the road and the village of Fournes, centre of the orange growing industry. There, over a beer or three, I waited for the local bus back to Chania, before enjoying a delightful meal in the centre of
For such a small village, the church is seemingly such a large building
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