13th July, 2021:
It’s bloody hot here. Salt Cay hot. 31°C hot. I get that I’m almost at the desert (compared to Hampshire at least) and I don’t even have sandals with me. Chunky black trainers are not my preferred footwear right now. But alas, earwax. The sea breeze is nice, though. I’m sat on the rooftop of my hostel in the centre of Heraklion, Crete. I know it best for the Venetian occupation and nearness to Knossos, which I plan on checking out while I’m here. Other than that, I’m not really sure what to expect. I don’t think its unfair to say that Crete isn’t exactly the bustling centre of Greece, not that that’s a bad thing. It’s actually a nice change of pace. There’s no rush to go out and see things before you run out of time. In fact, you could have all the time in the world if you’re not working, like me. I’ll try not to feel bad about that for the next day or two. It’s 13:18 and I’ve been up for about 4 hours (didn’t sleep so well) and managed to find a decent breakfast place with a beautiful view over the sea, as well as the island of Dia. The water here is clear but choppy. Drinking hot tea whilst downwind is very stressful, it turns out. The old Venetian port and fortress still form the basis of the modern harbour, which I stopped by after breakfast. All I can say is that there were many vloggers struggling to be heard over the wind. An accordion-player was lackadaisically busking on the rocks by the fortress, picking up and dropping songs as rhythmically as the waves crashing against the harbour wall. In the end I couldn’t escape the water, and was caught in the sea spray.
I need to buy some summer stuff before I go find a beach. Will write more later.
Apparently ‘later’ means 9 hours later. It’s now 10pm. My ear is all blocked because of sea water, so I’m sad. To finish the thought from this morning; the walk was nice. Now, I just need to catch up on yesterday night, before I talk about today.
I arrived at the hostel at around 7:30 in the evening, which counts as late afternoon in the summer, as we can all agree. The hostel was quite near to the main shopping street, which is easily identifiable as it’s the only street here that is large enough to be a main street. This makes Heraklion more personal, but confusing at the same time. If not for the sea acting as a constant to the north, you’d be forgiven for getting lost. Fortunately, I had a taxi to find my way to the hostel for me. The nice old lady that runs the place was very nice indeed. Wasn’t even bothered about me getting the cash to pay for the room immediately. She just encouraged me to settle in, drop my bags off, etc. The office behind the counter looked like an extension of a private residence, complete with old shirtless husband watching a beaten-up TV in the corner of the room. Since then, it has been made pretty obvious to me that this place is, in fact, an extension of a private residence, as the rest of the family bobs in and out occasionally.
Insomnia is awful. Hard to write when you’re running on fumes, but I’ll try my best. No promises, though.
The room I would stay in had two lads that left the next day, leaving me almost alone. I met a super-friendly, super-bubbly American/ Haitian woman called Ketiya. Within around 5 seconds we were best mates, and she offered to show me around town, such as it was. As I mentioned before, there’s not really that much to see that I can see so far, so we were done before I knew it. It was as quick as a walk up and down the high street, and ended with a hand-on-hips sigh from Ketiya. The star of the show was the 10pm €3 gyro that was exactly what you need after a long day of travelling. That was my first night.
It is far too windy at the seafront; I feel like my food is going to blow away.
The second day (yesterday) was exciting, because we went to the beach. Chersonissos/ Hersonissos is where all the hip restaurants are, with the hip hotels and the tourist-clogged beaches On the coaches they had a lady shouting out the destinations. . It was funny, actually, how much power she put into her voice. Chersonissos was absolutely a tourist trap, unsurprisingly. What tiny beaches there were, were absolutely packed with beachgoers, and the promenade was stacked with restaurants and hawkers press-ganging you in for food. Can’t say that I wasn’t tempted by some of what was on offer, but the beach would come before all else. After months of wanting to totally submerge myself in water, the ability to finally do it was wonderful. So, so good. The non-tourist food for dinner was, unfortunately, not so good, despite it being recommended by a local. The end result was a rather underwhelming meal of something similar to a lasagne, except arranged like a shepherd’s pie. In fairness, it did feel like we’d walked into someone’s kitchen and asked for whatever leftovers they had from the day. Their style of service was ‘if you’d arrived earlier, you’d have more choice. If you want something else, come back tomorrow.’ This was a chef who made the food, and if you arrived too late to have your preferred choice, then tough luck. What I will say for the food is that Cretan olive oil is the absolute best. My god, it’s good. With some balsamic vinegar and salt with the good bread? Ugh.
Nevertheless, the meal was atmospheric. The cicadas here are loud enough to require you to raise your voice, but the sunsets are gorgeous enough to leave you speechless. It’s a cruel happenstance I find myself in. Perhaps it’s best to have conversations at night instead.
That conveniently leads me onto my final point, which was a long conversation that stretched into the deep night. I was finishing my entry yesterday, when the last man in my room, whom had slept all day until this point, came outside to sit next to me at the patio table in the small space between the outside sink, and the steps up to the balcony. Over the next hour and a half, he communicated his story through broken English and Google Translate. It really deserves its own entry, so I’ll hold off for now, but it was a fascinating conversation. I hope my writing does it justice.
And then finally, today has been a mixture of sleeplessness, small local walks, aborted naps, and catching up on some writing. Oh, and I saw an adorable sleeping cat. Now it’s time for some food.