Up early this morning to catch an 8:30 bus to the top of the Samaria Gorge (supposedly the largest such gorge in all of Europe). With each bus trip we take to a remote place, we have increased respect for these bus drivers who can manipulate a full size greyhound-type tour bus around hairpin turns, up and down mountain roads, and through the tiny streets that populate most Greece cities. There is often little more than one lane for both directions of travel, but these drivers navigate them with ease, usually while eating a gyro, fidgeting with the radio, and yelling at someone in Greek on their cell phones!
Brrr! The beginning of the gorge trail was about 17 degrees Celsius (you do the math to Fahrenheit - we're too lazy to do it now) and was the beginning of a problem theme for the day: bathrooms without seats.
If you read about the gorge, don't be fooled by the "it's all downhill" propaganda - it was a very tough hike! all 13 kilometers of it (for the math challenged, that's about 6-7 miles, approximately, give or take a mile or two, sort of...). The trail meandered following the sheer rock face. There was a charming half-restored "settlement" at the halfway point (which included more bathrooms with no seats). By the end of the 5 hour hike, our feet were bleeding, our muscles jelly, and our knees crumbling like feta cheese! (OK, not quite, but we are definitely going to spend several days paying the price for this adventure).
The trail ends at a seaside village where we caught a
"ferret" ferry boat to the next town where we waited with 100 of our closest friends to get on a 2-hour bus ride back to Hania. This was only the second time we've been really close to the Aegean sea - water so deep blue that you wouldn't believe us even if we could describe it in words. Jazmine is convinced that God has a special angel whose job it is to add blue dye to the water in this part of the world every day to keep it looking so pure ;-)
Back in our room in Hania we enjoyed the best showers we've had in years! Later we had one of those wonderful experiences that make a vacation extra special: we were shopping for touristy stuff and bought a ceramic bowl from a nice little old man. We asked him to recommend his favorite restaurant in town. Rather than tell us, he decided to walk us right to the place and personally introduced us to the manager/owner. It was a very Greek-typical action; the people are (for the most part) so very friendly and helpful that we sometimes feel guilty asking more questions. But this little fellow seemed to enjoy sharing his hometown with us, and we were grateful. We enjoyed live bouzouki music while Eric had a pork dish in spicy tomato sauce and Jazmine consumed an entire grilled fish, head and all ("Stop staring at me!" -Eric).
The next morning, the long hiking was taking its toll as Eric got out of bed but his legs from the knees down decided not to follow him...