I've done it folks! I'm so chuffed to have made it to my fifth (and final) Mediterranean island; the island of Crete - or Creta as it's pronounced outside of England and a pronunciation I've actually come to prefer.
For those unaware, two months ago I hatched a plan that was then, somewhat bold and ambitious. Furthermore, I knew next to nothing about whether it was logistically viable to manoeuvre around these islands using public transport. This blindness continued right up to the day of arrival on some of the islands. Foolish? Brave? Both I guess and definitely a logistical person's nightmare although paradoxically, I am this type of person and yet, having made it unscathed, not so much of a nightmare after all.
The obvious celebratory thing to do would be perhaps to book a plush hotel but I genuinely don't feel the need. Granted, it wouldn't be a bad change of scenery if I could get four star accommodation for two star pricing considering it's low season but Greece is not a particularly cheap country in general. Back to 'roughing it'...
I'm staying in Chania (pronounced Hania) - north west of the island and the second biggest largest city in Crete. Like I'm discovering with a lot of islanders, they often don't consider themselves part of the mainland of the host country. This started with the Sardinian's, then definitely with Corsican's, true of the Sicilian's and the case here too I believe. In fact, there was referendum in 2012 that failed to separate the Cretan's with Greece.
I've been here for a few days now and already I'm adapting to the slower pace of life typically associated with Mediterranean life. Greek life. During my travels, I've found the Greeks to be wonderfully warm and hospitable people so it's no wonder this is my third separate trip to Greece (or Greek island) although of course the
food and climate are beneficial factors too.
During my first few days my opinion of my surrounding area would completely change and that's down to something as simple as turning right out of the hostel instead of left. Unbeknown to me, turning right would see me come across a plethora of derelict buildings and not a lot else and so this would have been a fairly miserable sight but proof that sunshine and a deep blue ocean in-sight can make any situation better.
Mother, don't fret, the cats here are generally much better looked after than in some other European countries.
Still, this directional wander right would for a day or two give me a false, inaccurate impression that the island (or certainly the area) was a little run down and poverty stricken but it really isn't. In fact, I've learnt that Chania (Hania) is considered one of the nicest places to visit in Crete and much more so than the larger town of Heracleion. (Though I will still visit here to see for myself).
It was the day after that I got to confirm the above by instead of turning right out of the hostel, I would turn left. This would lead me towards Chania's old-town, it's new-town, a beach and also a Venetian port. Suddenly no shortage of areas to visit and all within walking distance. It was here then that the surprises started including, how big the town was, how pleasant it town was and most noticeably, how busy areas of it were!
First up, closest to the hostel and on route to everything else mentioned above was some nature and a beach.
The Mocenigo Bastion in the not-so-distant distance
Having reached the Bastion, I had a wander around before shortly and unexpectedly I was consumed by many Greeks shouting many Greek things during the weekend's market. No plate smashing though. Be cool but crazy to one day see that huh.
Images that follow also show the many practically empty side-streets with very few tourists around due to the low season. As ever, I just hoped that these small businesses had made enough in the summer to get by over the months to come. Only persons with no compassion or conscious can walk down such a street anywhere in the World without sparing such a thought.
Next I found myself down by the Old Venetian Harbour. Still, to reach it would be another ten minutes and so on route, I observed the sights opposite to where I would be walking (shown below) and also stumbled upon creatures of the sea. Sadly, and true in life, there were the survivors and then the less fortunate.
I continued the short walk with the lighthouse as my target. Ten or so minutes later I did indeed reach it and enjoyed these snaps on route.
I'm going to stay in Chania for another couple of days before moving on north east of the island. New people have since joined the hostel so hopefully some sociable times to be had in these final few days here in this pleasant town.
Only regret (if I can call it that) is not being able to splash out 15 euros each night for sea food and a glass of a wine unlike a lot of the Cretans who just seem to enjoy the good thins in life all day long! Oh well, I can't have it all...