crete

As our Big. Trip. winds down, there is nothing but beach time on our minds. As ‘Chelle said, “We’ve killed it.” Our personal ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ … plus autocoach and a whole lot of travel on foot, in intense heat, uphill and down, day and night, almost nonstop. We’re exhausted! Today (and tomorrow) we will rest.

I have been surprised by Greece in numerous ways. At least from what we’ve seen, including what I can discern from the dozens of islands slipping by, Greece is more mountainous, brown, and dry, than I imagined. The surrounding ocean has been more green-blue than blue-green. The beaches have been brown and coarse. On Crete, English fluency and signage are notably lacking by comparison with Athens.

Today we’ve elected to bypass (C)Hania and the old harbor and go directly to a beach, Agioi Apostoloi. It’s a deep cove with steep cliffs and a cave. Gentle waves and silky smooth sand greet our feet once we cross over sharpish pebbles washed up by the tide. The water is shallow, clear, warm, and inhabited by tiny fish.

We arrive early to find thatched umbrellas and lounge chairs, front and center. The attendant collects 7€ for two. A small concession sells cheese and meat sandwiches on fresh, nutty brown bread, local beer, wine, and other snacks. My sister’s pear cider was especially delicious! The white wine is so dry it might be mistaken for vinegar on first swallow. Soon I do not notice; 11.5% alcohol takes quick effect in the warm sunshine. Lunch for two for 8€ — who can complain? The restroom is not much more than a hole in the ground, my sister reports, so I resolve to hold it.

We swim, we sun, we swim, we sun. Eventually, we explore just a bit. There is no stress, no hurry, no worries. One small boy runs around naked, a step or two ahead of his leathery-brown and deeply wrinkled Greek grandma. A woman about my age plods past topless, large and slow, back and forth. Oh, no. Not for me, sister.

I close my eyes in retreat but enjoy the clamor of continual chee-eeep-cheeps — source unknown — and unintelligible chatter of sunbathing Italians and Greeks. We chat with some Swedes on vacation, their adorable tots ensconced in 3/4-sleeved swimming knickers. We lounge away several hours before our bus retrieves us. This was aaaaahhhhhh time; just a small sample of Crete and just what we needed.

Returning to the ship, we enjoy a sail away party with the Captain and a small group of committed cruisers on the Peek-a-Boo deck, behind the bridge. We relax in the shade, champagne flowing freely, a solo guitarist ushering along a graceful departure from Greece.

~René Morley

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