Life in the dream world "Youth Hostel Plakias" continued. Since I already shot >2.000 photos since I started my trip, it’s been a lot quieter on the last days on Crete. After a few years of literary abstinence, I found the time to read a book again. My dear friend Rachel (NZL) left me the bestseller 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, which is now part of my daily routine. Of course, the short trips continued. Sometimes I offer the newly arrived guests, to join them as a guide. I have already experienced a number of outstanding tours and places in the region tours and learn a lot of information over the time. I especially enjoyed to go to the springs and waterfalls of Kourtaliotiko Gorge. My friends Martina (CH), Raquel (D) and George (NL) even offered me some Pitta Souvlaki after I showed them this magical place.
The Pita is THE Greek snack. A patty-like bread, rolled, stuffed with vegetables, Tzatziki and French fries. Their available with various meat fillings (Gyros, Souvlaki, meatballs) or vegetarian (Feta cheese, veggie patty). Well, almost every 2-3 days, I
get a Pita as lunch or dinner. For 2,5 € a very good deal. If not mentioned yet; Greek cuisine is absolutely amazing. Incredibly delicious, healthy, varied, organic, regional and inexpensive. And I say this, although I do not like olives. Yanna, our hostel mummy, served us amazing meals. She’s a London-based Greek who spends her holidays here in Crete. Greek pasta with a vegetable sauce, which caused culinary fireworks. I am very happy that I was able to assist her in the hostel kitchen. Another very beautiful experience was a lunch with Joe. Joe, the owner of Joe's Bar, invited us as a thank you for the live music night, which Missi (USA) organized. Joe is a character, for 28 years he lived in the United States and owns now the small
music club in Plakias. And as I think, he is his own best customer. He is warm-hearted, loyal and trustworthy,
but I haven’t seen him sober, so far.
Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to my current favorite person; Marc. No, not myself, but Marc, the French guy. We already met each other during the first bus trip to Plakias, a few weeks ago. We’ve only been separated during the Houdetsi Festival and my time in Santorini. Marc, who moved to Greece, is a philosopher and life artist. He’s so fun. He’d always tried to skip the usual hostel Small Talk to ask directly and unpleasant, essential questions. An example: "Hi I'm Marc. Do you believe in God? Is your mom still alive? And when what the last time you've had sex? "It is not hard to guess that he polarized. But I like him. He is extremely funny and incredibly intelligent. After hundreds of hours of shared philosophy and discussions (without and with the influence of Raki), we have still not found the way to happiness. But at least I contend that we both became a little smarter. There are many hypocritical promises made in the hostel environment, but I would see Marc again. That’s for sure.
Now I would like to place a complaint. I am deeply saddened and upset! On the 44th day of my trip, Mother Nature actually dared to send rain? I am outraged! After blue sky for over a month, it’s grayish and moist and even raining for 15 minutes. I guess about 0.1-0.3 ml / m "flooded" the
southern coast of Crete. So almost nothing. Too good, that we already celebrated the birthday of our friend Jennie (USA), one day before. She had the perfect evening program. A swim in the clear sea to enjoy the sunset. A supper in one of the taverns on the waterfront, followed by several kilos raki and wine in Joe's Bar. Here we had a hilarious dance competition and everyone has showed his most ridiculous moves. Sweaty and exhausted, we went back into the sea for a swim. And from here we could see the Perseids (shooting stars) very well and one "Ahh" followed the next "Oohh". We also celebrated the birthday of our friend Ioannis, on my last day in Crete. Ioannis, the Greek George Clooney has thrown an insane party. From 3pm to 5am we drank, sang, danced and laughed. Ioannis spends about 2-3 months each year in Plakias and in
the rest of the year is the headteacher of a primary school in north Greece.
But there was no escape. The bubble "Hostel Plakias" had to burst. Sooner or later. In my case sooner because, because Ellen (NL) offered me a free ride at 7:45 PM to Heraklion. So I made myself, still hungover and after just 2 hours of sleep, on my way to the Greek capital. I booked the cheapest way to get to Athens. The overnight ferry. In Heraklion I layed down under my sleeping tree in the park, again. And I have met Peter. I’m in touch with Peter (SK) since my first day of travel. We shared a room in Heraklion and made friends together. He’s the one, whom I wanted to follow to Gavdos to work there. Since this not turned out as we imagined it, he came to visit me in Plakias for a night. So our paths have crossed every few weeks, which is very amusing. He stayed and I boarded the Blue Horizon, the ferry to Athens. I had to face a 10 hours journey. I made myself comfortable on the upper deck, like many others. Of course it was not the most comfortable night in a sleeping bag on the deck, but it was nice and even had something romantic.
Crete - a conclusion
Regarding my previous reports, it’s not difficult to see, that I’m delighted by this island ant ist people, culture, history and nature. The variety of landscapes is surprisingly big. Impressive the hospitality of the people. The island is full of art of all forms and you have a thousand possibilities to design your day and your mind, every day. Classical tourist centers are paired with unique, isolated areas. Whether I could imagine living here? Yes and no. I am definitely convinced that Crete will see me again, but to live here means to work here. And that is the point. Crete is incredibly safe and the ridges do everything to make their guests having a good time. As long as you do not get stupid them, they are your best friends and they are tolerant and interested. But If you forfeit with them, you may be off the island in an hour. Businesses and ownerships are, as far as I heard it from Cretan people, like mafia structures. Lands and businesses are belonging to big families and they want to make shure, that it stays that way. I’ve heard about shootings between families and competitors. I doubt that I would put my center of life in such an environment, and it would be very difficult for me, as a foreigner, to get the contacts to become part of it. However, Crete remains a dream place for me for future trips or vacations. Delicious food, many opportunities, exciting people and fantastic nature. I can highly recommend the island. If you will ever go there, I am happy to help you with recommendations and tips.
As the ferry reached Piraeus, Athens‘ port, I woke up and realized immediatly, that it was probably not the best idea to sleep on deck. After all the night swimming in Crete and this windy night on the ship, I got the flu. Cough, runny nose, fever and sore plaguing me since my arrival in Athens unti the present day. So I quickly made my way to the hostel and spent two days in bed. It wasn’t really better on the third day, however, I could not lying around reading anymore. So I signed up to a donation-based city tour the next morning.
Jimmy (GR), who grew up in Australia, was our tour guide. A mixed group of about 14 people made their way to explore the city on foot. It was really interesting and super funny. Jimmy did not only , impress us with many historical facts and mythological stories, but also with a lot of funny details and anecdotes of modern Greece / Athens. Overall, Jimmy is a person you must have to admire. No wonder, that he does donation-based tours, the man knows that he is good! In 4 hours we passed by the most impressive sights of the city, visited the hippest neighborhood and received many tips for our next few days in Athens.
After the tour I went on by myself. I grabbed brochures and headed the Acropolis with Athena's temple. Very impressive were the hills next to the Acropolis. At one place, democracy was born and hardly a kilometer away, theater was invented. Mind blowing! Unbelievable what the ancient Greeks have brought us. The theater of Dionysos took incredible 17,000 people!!! Impressive monuments, architecture and ancient art wherever you look. If you like Rome, you shall not miss Athens. I am very happy that I had the chance to see it.
And of course I learned a lot about Greek mythology again. My favorite story is the origin of Athens goddes, Athena. Zeus, the chief of the twelve Olympian gods, was at war with the Titans at the Olymp. He hurled so many flashes that he got an awful headache. Why? Why not! So he asked his son Hephaestus, to swing his fire ax to split Zeus head to solve the headache. And that exactly what happend. Zeus head split, headache was gone and suddenly Athena sprang out of his head. In full gear! Adult, including clothes and spear. How great, so she helped her father in the battle with the Titans and of course they won. What a story! For this reason Athena‘s temple on the hill Acropolis is called Parthenon, which means "virgin" in ancient Greek. It was a virgin "birth" of Athena. Oh by the way, my favorite god is Dionysos. God of wine and theater.
After I explored the ancient Agora (marketplace/city center), I made my way to the Lycabettus Hill, the mountain of Athens. Although I was ill, I walked up the 277m to the summit and saved the 4 € per trip for the cable car. Up there, you have a fantastic panorama over the entire city, the sights, the mountain range that surrounds Athens, up to the sea. I liked it so much, that I spent a whole two hours at the summitm to watch the sunset and the city lights. Then, in darkness, I walked and made my way through the narrow streets of Athens back to my hostel. Of course I was destroyed and I slept a full 12 hours. My body pays me for this trip.
Unfortunately, I‘m sitting in the hostel without any improvement of my health, but with great experiences and impressions of the city. It is time that I isolate myself a few days and I’m going to book a cheap hotel room. Then, I can fully concentrate on my recovery and nobody hast o endure my cough. Butit was clear that a „low“ like this had to come. I even expected it and it's part of the experience. Always stay optimistic. That‘s the motto! Once I feel better, I'll leave for Delphi. Going west. I'll let you know how it goes.
All the best for you, Schilli
- Hot jamming with Ryder, a Norwegian musician, who lives on Crete. A unique character. That was fun. He plays regularly in bars in Rethymnon. If you have the chance to listen to him: Do it!
- On one of the last days in Plakias, a spider has bitten me in the thigh (inside). A fist-sized swelling for 4 Day was the result.
- While exploring the city, it was 38 ° C. Hardly wind and the concrete reflects heat, so it felt something like 40-45 ° C. I drank more than 7 liters of water.
- About half the Greek population live in Athens and suburbs. Approx. 5.5 million.
- More than 80% of the damage at the Athena Pantheon temple on the Acropolis was created by a single cannonball from the Venetians. The Ottomans that occupied Athens for > 400 years stored their weapons and gunpowder in it. Kaboom!
- Finally, I can show you a picture of the most famous Greek animal. The Greek tortoise.