Good Friday (Greek Orthodox time) - set out to go to a small village on the south coast which the owner of the house we are staying in recommended. Some of the scenery along the north coast is breathtaking. Mountains coming, seemingly, straight from the very blue sea; small bays and islands. We have avoided the bigger tourist resorts and the smaller resort areas are, in the main, not too terrible – and the views!! Stopped at a small village on the south coast that we had considered staying at – very pleased we didn’t because apart from the beach (grey sand and pebbles) there didn’t seem to be much to do and quite inaccessible to much of the rest of Crete. Allowed the Tom Tom to take us to the recommended village which was not the most direct way but on a winding road through steep and quite spectacular mountains – and wild flowers are out everywhere (including orchids to Dave’s delight – pity no children in tow to make them appreciate the flora). The seaside village we ended up in was very small with a couple of tavernas overlooking the beach (still grey sand and pebbles although very pretty pebbles) and water. And we ended up in one of the tavernas for lunch (which is around 2 – 3pm in Greece). Very pleasant.
The south (at least the part we visited) is much drier and more barren – but it appears to be where much of the vegetables for the island are grown – in plastic hot houses. These completely ugly hot houses are everywhere and what might be a delightful view is ruined by plastic hothouses. In the hothouses you can see growing tomatoes, beans and bananas. Presumably there are other vegetables growing but it was hard to see.
Ate at home listening for the sound of chanting and singing so we could go and see the pier carried through the streets to the main church. The only thing we heard was fire crackers going off – many outside our cottage. At about 10 o’clock at night we decided to go for a walk to see if we could see any action. We found people out and about but no ‘action’. Walked past the church to see the decorated pier in its place of honour in the church – we obviously missed anything that was going on.
Nikos and the calendar. In our last email contact with Jonathon who owns the cottage here in Latsida he asked us to bring an Aussie calendar to give to Nikos from the better of the two local tavernas. We bought one at Tullamarine and dutifully carried it all the way hoping it wouldn’t get damaged on the long trip. It survived OK. We then went to Nikos’s taverna for dinner on our first night here, and after being welcomed warmly by a friendly chap (our Greek was non-existent this first night – we now have a few words) we ate some great, simple Greek fare – the essential Greek salad, calamari and tzatziki (bloody amazing) and we tried a goat stew. All washed down with the standard 500 ml (or as they call it ½ kilo) of local red wine. We asked our host if he was Nikos, and yes, he was. We said we had a calendar for him from Australia and he was so delighted. His English is OK, and we got a long story about Maria who lives in the village who has a brother who lives in Australia (who we now know from our second visit runs a fish and chip shop in Sydney), but we’re still not sure why he asked for an Aussie calendar? He was so excited that he could talk to Jonathon (Yani) the owner of our cottage one day and just a few days later these foreigners arrive bringing him a gift all the way from Australia. We took the calendar to dinner on our second night (how could we not go back?). It’s now on the wall along with the nice brown paper bag it came in that says “Australian Way” on it. We had more good food and again given fresh fruit (just OK) and free Raki (the Cretan local spirit) to drink to finish off the night. It was very busy the second night (it’s a popular local eating place it seems) and he didn’t get to talk to us much and when we left he was a bit concerned we may not be back again – we assured him we would be! It’s a fun place with good food – and the free raki’s not bad either.