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 3 : 15 July 2003 : Chersonisos again

Iraklio can wait

Our plan for today was to catch a bus to Iraklio, Crete's capital, and spend the day mooching around the shops there. We had been told by Eleanora that the buses go at 9, 9:30 and 10:00 am from a complex further down the road called the Serta Beach Hotel (which appeared to be a plush, all-inclusive, never-leave-the-comfort-of-your-own-little-world kind of place). When we had walked down to the complex, we saw no sign of a bus stop, and so we waited on a corner that looked like a likely place for a bus to stop. I decided that I should attempt to find out from somewhere where it actually did stop, and so asked one of the people working there ...

"Bus stop? Bus?" I asked, keeping the language as simple as possible (but avoiding using the old technique of shouting in the belief that it will make myself clearer and easier to understand).

"Ah, yes, it stays here," said the Greek man working in a food stall whom I'd chosen to ask, gesturing out the front of the hotel.

I called Manda over from the corner that she was sat on, and we waited. Moments later a bus came along further down the road then turned the corner that we'd just been waiting on and on up the hill. I'd been given duff information. I made a bold attempt to chase after it - difficult in 35 degree temperatures - but had to watch it disappear up the road.

We decided to wait to see if one would turn up at 10:30 and spent the time looking out to sea with mini binoculars that I'd bought in Chersonisos yesterday. Manda spotted what looked like a dolphin near to the shore. "Here, let me take a look," I said, and sure enough, there was something dark and shiny just below the surface with fins and a habit of blowing water out of its blowhole (where else). We watched it for a long time, swapping the binoculars between us, and noticed that the other people nearby were also caught up in what was going on. Ten minutes later and I wasn't convinced that it was a dolphin, but perhaps it was a seal - it just seemed too dark for a dolphin. Twenty minutes later and it was clear from the shapes of human leg and bum that appeared out of the water that this was no seal or dolphin. 'Dolphin man' had kept us guessing. I came to the conclusion that he was a local man looking for something specific in the waters there - why else would this person be covered head to foot in black neoprene (not exactly holiday-maker attire), and not once lift his head above water; he was face down all the time we were looking.

There was no second bus. The last bus was the 10 o'clock one that we'd watched disappear up the road, but at least we'd been entertained for a while by dolphin man. So, we decided to grab the next free taxi that came past and just go into Chersonisos. Again. Where we spent our time walking up and down the streets looking at the tourist shops. Again. And stopping off at bars all the way to cool down with a coke/beer/ice cream. Again.

Manda eating an ice cream
Manda tries one of the delicious ice creams.

To make a change, in the evening we decided to try out the tavernas up the road from our apartments, rather than stay in Chersonisos for the evening or eat in. Eat in? What am I saying - the concept of eating in stretched only to munching on pistachios or ready-salted crisps, or at least it had done so far (our concept of self-catering stretched to buying a pack of sugar and tea bags).

Meeting Jack at the crossroadsAs we walked up the road and got to the first crossroads, we saw a familiar figure trotting towards us - it was Jack, the dog from Eleanora Aparments, tongue hanging out, happy as Larry* by all accounts. It was like the Littlest Hobo - just one carefree dog wandering wherever he felt like going. He'd probably just chased a car down the street as he was known to do (he broke his back legs a couple of years ago doing just that and had not learned his lesson, apparently). We called him over, said hello and then he was off on his way again.

* Who the hell is Larry anyway? And what made him so happy? Just a thought.

We stopped at the first place we saw where we could get something to eat then continued to the tavernas further up the road by the main crossroads. When I say main crossroads, what this really means is that there were maybe three or four shops/tavernas/bike rental places along each corner as opposed to the usual one or two (did I mention that the place we stayed in was a little, erm, remote?). Having seen how 'lively' the tavernas were (that's to say they weren't), I realised why the noisy neighbours from hell came back disappointed yesterday evening.