Crete Diary/travelogue

Two weeks in Crete on a last-minute deal: from Chania and Rethymon to Iraklio, Chersonisos and Siteia, we packed it all in those 14 days!

Day 2 : 14 July 2003 : Around Chersonisos

Around Chersonisos

Flyer for Jon Digweed and Phil ThompsonIt was another late-ish start - we didn't wake up until 10am - but that was OK, as we hadn't got any specific plans just yet (later in the week). It would be a while until our planned tours would happen, so we decided to go back in to Chersonisos for the day (once again, by taxi) and play it by ear. As we got out of the taxi I spotted a flyer wrapped around a lamppost for an event happening this coming Saturday - an outdoor dance party with Jon Digweed and Phil Thompson. I couldn't believe it - Phil was a great friend of my brother's a few years ago, and I had recently got his album (under the name Moonface - Between Worlds), and here he was playing a gig with good old Digweed. I knew that Phil was doing pretty well with the whole 'Bedrock' team, but it was weird to see his name there - and everywhere else in town as I later found out (including massive billboard posters by the side of the main highways). I decided that we should try to go to the event, partly because it would be an excellent night but secondly just to see the surprised look on his face when I tap him on the shoulder.

We started off our exploration of Chersonisos at the western end of town and moved straight down to the beach. Manda found a sun lounger with a good-sized umbrella offering plenty of shade while I went straight in to the water - as always, I came prepared with mask, snorkel and fins.

The water was crystal clear and there were pockets of fish to see. Not the most spectacularly coloured fish in the world - most were an indeterminate opaque/clear colour - but still interesting enough to warrant a good 40-minute dip. The sea floor level did not drop away at all quickly and so I found myself quite far out off the shore with only around 4 metres of depth to investigate. There was little else to look at on the sea floor - the rippled sand was broken only by the occasional discarded beer bottle or, if you were really lucky, a beer can.

We had lunch at a place directly behind where we had been sitting on the beach, at a place called the Acropolis Restaurant. It was really just another eatery like any other here and all other tourist hot-spots - large photos of the dishes on offer with translations in 4 different languages. If you couldn't read or translate, all you had to do was point. We opted not to go for the questionable Greek recipes on offer here and instead took up the special offer of a pizza/spaghetti/burger/omelette + coke/beer for just €4. Hardly adventurous, but a real bargain, you have to agree.

As with the day before, we walked up the road again checking out all the tourist stuff that each shop had to offer, sometimes visiting shops that we'd been in just yesterday, sometimes looking at exactly the same thing that we had just yesterday. We continued doing this until we were almost at the furthest point east of town whereupon we stopped for an early evening meal in a restaurant overlooking a rocky section of the sea. There were half a dozen people snorkelling around the rocky areas that were only just under the water and causing the waves to turn to surf, so I decided that dip number two would be in order once we were done with coffees (note: ice cream coffees!).

Contemplating the rockpools in Chersonisos
Ready for dip number two of the day.

Like the earlier dip, the water was incredibly clear but because of the rocks, the water was more turbulent. It was possible to swim through channels between the rocks where most of the fish congregated, but I had to be careful not to get pushed onto the rocks by the current; at one point I found a tunnel that went right through one of the bigger rocks and I was tempted to swim through it but common sense prevailed - after all, what if I got caught? There was no-one around to see me.

After exploring these rocky areas, I went back up to the restaurant balcony where Manda was waiting for me and we then took a walk back up the main high street a little before flagging down a taxi back to the apartment.

Later that evening, just as we were about to attempt to get some sleep in the oven that our apartment became at that time of day (30 degrees, no joke), we heard the people opposite returning from a night out at the tavernas up the road. The whole complex could probably hear them, actually, as the two lads there insisted on talking VERY LOUDLY even when they were right next to each other; we didn't hear a peep from the girls, incidentally. Anyway, they also realised that it was cooler outside their apartment than inside, and decided to stay on the balcony, thus making the noise more widely available for the other guests. The people above them yelled down that people were trying to sleep and could they just keep it down. Well, this was like a red rag to a bull - the noise level went up dramatically, and the voices turned from drunken noisiness to anger.

Before not too long, the noisiest of the two lads threw a bottle off the balcony on to the pathway outside, and started going on about how the apartment was a 'complete s**thole', and how he'd 'never stayed at such a s**thole', and that they ought be paid for having to stay at 'this complete s**thole'. He liked that word a lot. He must have averaged 50 times per minute, to put a modest figure to it.

Next thing you know, the apartments' owner Maria comes along - she lives right opposite them on another corner - and tried to sort it out. Given that she speaks very little English (something of a handicap when all you have is English guests), she didn't get very far. Not long after sweeping up the glass (which was explained thus: it 'just jumped out of my hand and went over there - can you believe it?'), he was back to his favourite word, repeating it over and over again, sounding like a stuck record. At this point one of the girlfriends could be heard telling him to shut up otherwise they'd get thrown out. Then another bottle went over the balcony and smashed. Moments later Maria was back with her husband and George from the next complex of apartments. George went in to speak to them and suddenly the noise stopped. It was miraculous - I didn't think anything would stop them apart from a bunch of Greek policemen taking them away and giving the lads a good kicking (most other guests would have approved of such tactics, I reckon). Anyway, whatever George said to them, it worked. The lights went off and everything went completely silent. Just like that.