Chania and the Samarian Gorge, Crete
Sep 16, 2007
|Walking the Samarian Gorge
We returned to Chania from our villa, dropped off the rental car (by just leaving it on a pre-arranged street, with the doors open, and the keys on the floor. My Canadian mind was aghast.), and set off the next morning for a 16km hike through the Samarian Gorge, from Crete's interior out to the southern coast.
This introduced one of the most difficult tasks I've face so far on our adventure. Not hiking the gorge - that wasn't that tough. But remembering to type and say "Samarian" instead of "Sumerian". Even some little bit back in the depths of my mind kept thinking about the Sumerian gorge, and when were we gonna see some Hittite ruins, darn it.
(Factual note: Samarian comes from Sainta Maria. Absolutely nothing to do with the Sumerians, who lived in the ancient Middle East.)
So we bussed up to the top of the hike, and started our descent. The gorge entry fee was 6 Euros each, and the first part of the trip consisted of walking steeply down, and dodging slower hikers.
Sidenote: I expect lots of angry Teutonic emails over this, but I have to say it. In my opinion, Germans are the most selfish and self-absorbed hikers that I have ever met. I know you have all of the correct gear, and the little poles, but you need to look around you occasionally. Turn around. In fact, if you are German, and are reading this blog right now, please just turn around. Right now. There may be someone right behind you trying to pass, and you keep taking up the entire hiking trail. Turn around!
It wouldn't have been such a bother but there were scads of Germans descending as slow as molasses - not that everyone needs to go quickly, mind you, just that if you are going that slowly, pause occasionally so that the much faster hiker can go by. And then don't mutter under your breath when I have to jump down at a switchback corner to get ahead of you. Reminder - I am much faster than you. There is plenty of room for passing, if you didn't sway back and forth with your poky hiking poles.
Anyway, we broke away from the cholesterol that was the Germanic bus tours in the blood vessels of the Gorge hike (hmm... anyone want to parse that sentence?), and got to lunch. We had a little picnic lunch, with the oval sesame bread that has become a staple of our diet. Unfortunately, the bread is also appears to be a staple of the deadly wasps that inhabit the Gorge, waiting for unwary hikers to open up their lunches. So we ate on the walk...
The hike took about 6 hours from top to bottom. At the end, we reach Agios Roumeli, a small tidy town that can only be reached by boat or on foot through the Gorge. We had a great time at our little hotel (Faragi), where we drank Mythos beers, ate tons of food, and went for a swim. The town sees hundreds of people a day passing through, waiting for the ferry on to the next town, but after the last ferry left, there appeared to be only about 30 visitors left in the town, split between about 15 hotels and restaurants. We ate at our restaurant alone, sharing another litre of homemade Cretan wine, and then heading down to the deserted dock to watch the moon set over the Libyan sea.
The next morning we took a ferry east to Chora Sfakion, where we spent 5 hours on the beach swimming, napping, and reading, waiting for the bus to take us back to Chania. The 70 km bus ride took 2 hours - through incredible switchbacks and tiny mountain roads. At one point three buses converged on the same point, only to be resolved by a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissor" between the drivers - ours won, so the other buses had to back up on the tiny road.
We spent the next day in Chania puttering about, and then said our goodbyes to my parents, Mel and Judy, who were taking off back to Canada that afternoon. We hopped on a bus and headed east, to Iraklion.
Alright - seeing as how I did live in Deutchland for 8 years I feel the need to follow-up to Nick's surprisingly strong assessment of the German situation on our hike! (Who is this man that I am travelling with?) Firstly, perhaps there were some self-centred individuals from Germany on the hike but there was an entire busload of them and I believe that if you put enough people from anywhere on one bus, there will be some self-centred ones and those will be the ones that stand out and you won't recall the courteous ones!
Secondly, they were in their SIXTIES!!! They likely couldn't see or hear us!
Nick writing again
One of the weird sights we saw a few times in Crete were huge cement triangle things, piled up in great numbers on a few beaches (Agios Roumeli, Chora Sfakion, and at the breakwater in Iraklion). We've included a picture of them in this entry at #8. My dad figured they were anti-landing-craft deterrants left over from the war, which certainly makes sense, given that they were all at fairly strategic beaches, and would definitely make it difficult to bring a landing-craft to shore if they were all at the water's edge. However, we don't know whether they were put up by the Allies, or the Germans, and who moved them, and how they got to be piled up in huge clumps and used as shade by tourists who didn't want to splurge the 6 Euros on a beach umbrella.
If anyone wants to do some research for us, I'll buy them a Fanta when I get back. Fanta - the official 20% orange juice fizzy drink of Nick and Kyla's year around the world.