As I touched on previously, I've managed to successfully adapt to the slow-pace of life here in low-season, Crete. With the weather comparably fantastic for this time of year, I've spent the last couple of days relaxing down by the sea which isn't a bad way to spend time in mid-November.
Speaking of this time of the year, and despite not currently being a parent, I've come to appreciate the frustration families can face when wanting to go on holiday with their kids. First, they're confined by school-friendly dates only to then be financially exploited by profiteering agencies happy to capitalise on this.
When I was growing up I was lucky enough to enjoy a high-season family holiday but many aren't. However, as an adult, and having now experienced a couple of months abroad during low-season, never ever again will I yearn for a high-season vacation.
If my understanding is correct, schools in the UK have one or two weeks off in mid-October? As I've shown this year, you can still get scorching weather in most of Europe in October and as prices should be seasonably cheaper at that time of the year, you're on to a winner by deferring your summer holidays until then.
As we all know, waking up in morning with the sunshine warming your face is a divine feeling and it's one I've enjoyed each and every day since arriving in Crete six days ago. In fact, I've enjoyed so much sunshine this year that I feel a permanent connection to the sun - like an invisible umbilical cord is connecting me and our star. In fact, in the last three weeks alone I've had just four days of rain and so having enjoyed this magical feeling for so long, I know it's something I won't forget in long time or indeed be something I won't want to let-go of, ever. The future, then, remains to be uncertain...
Back to the present day of which I spent the first of these previous two days in my own company. On the second day, it was the complete opposite as I was 1 of 5 jam-packed in a local hire car. Such variation is pretty normal as any social backpacker can confirm.
It was on my solo beach day that a friend e-mailed me from back in the UK as he was stuck in a traffic jam! A bad one too so time was on his side to write - and send a sat-nav image of just how far he had left to go - 134 miles! Ouch. By contrast, I responded that my biggest moan of the day was that the sea was at three degrees colder than I would prefer it to be, lol. In fact, at the time, I was Internet-connected in an outdoor cafe whilst over-looking golden sand and crystal clear sea about to devour a hot panini and hot chocolate before an afternoon swim. But I chose not to go into that level of detail, better for his blood pressure.
The point? As per recent e-mails from three or four close friends, I honestly do try to appreciate every day 'in this bubble' and I promise to continue to make the most of these final few weeks.
Oh yes... something else I've just remembered and want to run by you is a rather strange phenomenon I've not encountered any time before on any previous holiday in all my life and it's one that relates to the tiny fish of the Mediterranean. I'd actually be interested to know if any of you have had a similar experience.
The fish, and I mean small fish, like the size of your little finger, they BITE! No, honestly, they really do. The first time I experienced it was in Sardinia, then again in Sicily and now a third time here in Crete. It's really bizarre; if you stand still for even just one minute and therefore not disturbing the sand particles under you, they will swarm around your feet until one of them is brave enough to go in for the bite. They will either attack your toes or more often than not, the more cowardly approach from behind nipping at your heel.
I tell you, it'll make you shout words to the effect of 'Agh, ya little bastardos'. In Sicily I remember being heavily under attack as those little blighters were relentless and unforgiving.
The next day, and organised the night before over some beers, myself and four others hired a car for the day. We left late around 11am and as it starts to get dark for 5pm, we gave ourselves six hours of drive time and exploration.
I had discovered earlier in the week that some of the best beaches here in Crete (Elafonisi and Balos for example) were not currently accessible by bus as it was no longer the main season which is a bad business decision if you ask me. Honestly, there are plenty of backpackers in my hostel that would have loved to have visited these places and that will have been the case since they closed down the service.
Although we now had a car, we depart far too late in the morning to have made it to these further away destinations. Still, the two locations we managed to successfully get to were Seitan Limania and Stavros beach. The name of the latter might ring a bell to people of an age as parts of a film was filmed here back in 1964 named 'Zorba the Greek'. Another film I'll have to watch on my return to the UK.
I found a basic online map of Crete showing the three main towns of the north. I will try and reach both of the other towns before my time in Crete comes to an end.
See the body of land above the letter 'a' in Chania? This is known as the Akrotiri peninsular and it was on this peninsular that the two locations I spoke of earlier were located. First up then was Seitan Limania. A gorge-like area whereby nature created small passageways or inlets between the cliffs of the peninsula. The lady owner of our hostel had said this place was really only discovered, touristically, in the last 3 to 5 years.
It wasn't long before the very few people already there took off and so we pretty much had this little treasured area to ourselves! To get to it though involved ten minutes of rock-climbing from where we parked up. She really wasn't kidding when she said it was largely undiscovered - they haven't even made it an accessible path to reach it!
Our vehicle for the day was the closest one in the frame; the silver bullet aka 'that pile of metal'.
Once we got a little closer though, the inlets opened up revealing beautifully light blue, cyan coloured waters and a little sand-based beach area too.
After spending a couple of hours here, we eventually made it to Stavros beach. It wasn't far off getting dark now so we had a quick marvel at the mountain, a wander on the beach and then we set back off to our hostel in the Chania. Still, there was of course enough time for a few closing photos.
I can only assume this is the famous mountain from Zorba the Greek? Looking forward to hopefully confirming this one day in the future.
That just about wraps up my blogging time in Chania folks. The hostel, it's ambience, the travellers, the beach, the climate and the fantastic busy little old town have all had a part to play in my overall enjoyment of my first ever week in Crete.
Next time you hear from me hopefully I'll have moved to one of the other two towns shown on the map from earlier.