Well if I thought everybody still smokes in Austria, including inside cafes and restaurants, everybody REALLY still smokes in Greece. Well, not REALLY really, but you know what I mean, it feels like it. Australia seems so clean by comparison. I only noticed it on this trip, how lovely it is to be able to sit in non smoking environments everywhere.
1.11.16 Arrived in Chania, Crete. And what a good decision it was to come here. Thank you to everybody who encouraged me and particularly to Annette who found this writing workshop for me. My teacher Dr Hanne Landbeck is fantastic and keeps me busy, oh yeah! Hanne is German and as you know, we don’t mess around. I sure get my monies worth and there’s no time for dilly dallying. She also does online courses and gives you tons of material, just to give a little plug if anyone is interested. To keep my Blog going at the same time is a challenge. We are working together 2 hours in the morning and 2 at night and then in between there is homework! Head is SMOKING!
My airbnb is also fantastic, a brand new self contained apartment, with everything I need for only, yes, only 16 Euros a night. I paid 108 Euros for 7 nights. Can’t believe my luck. And it is luck, because this price will go up. Often people who are new to airbnb start cheap to get some reviews and their ratings up. Chania feels like one of those towns where I feel instantly at home and will have no trouble to hang around for a while. I also went to see the EOS, the local bushwalking club last night, here called Mountaineering Club. They produced a guide book for the E4. They are open every night between 21.00 – 23.00 o’clock. Didn’t think I read their website correctly. Had to set my alarm to get there! Mediterranean timing sure is different. I’m considering to hike the E4 after my course, mainly because I don’t have enough material for my book yet…..hahaha joke! Super nice guy there and I will join them for a walk this Sunday (classified “easy”). I hope they don’t work like our Cairns bushwalking club, where you never quite know if “easy” will really stay easy once they get going. One of the most famous hikes in Crete, the Samaria Gorge, closed on 1 Nov for the season. Pity. There are downsides to off season visits. This powering vegie garden right by the beach on pebbles was inspiring I thought. Wonder how they built up the soil. Shows you we could grow stuff everywhere.
5.11.16 Yesterday was day 3 of my writing course and I’m absolutely spent! Thank god it’s weekend. My little brain is so challenged. If I like something I can get absolutely absorbed and can forget the world around me. I have to consciously remember to get up from my desk and stretch, walk, eat. Not good for my back all that sitting. After my morning class with Hanne yesterday I went for lunch and filled up the whole tablecloth with writing, graffiti Ursula is on the loose. Before you panic, the tablecloths here are paper and then you can take it with you, if you don’t make such mess of it like my friend Bettina in the Azores!
But of course I’m also distressed again by the amount of rubbish everywhere so near the water particularly. One regret in my life is that I wish I had the ability to initiate large group activities. Like some cyclists ride around the world to raise money for something, some good cause. So many times while hiking I fantasised about how could I organise rubbish cleaning up days, raise awareness about this HUGE amount of plastic everywhere. All the knowledge about the polluted oceans is out there, yet we don’t seem to care, not in a urgently needed way anyway. What does it take?
This is Hanne, my teacher. oh…..time’s gone by and because of so much other writings: practising dialogues, landscape/people/places descriptions, mindmapping, cluster mapping, structuring and so on, I neglected my Blog. And guess what: it’s already the 12th Nov and I’ve already done 3 days of walking on the E4. All on road and arthritis in my right toe is screaming plus some surface blisters between my toes. Haven’t peed on anything for a while! At the same time it felt safe (no traffic to speak of) and no way to get lost.
Small villages spread through the countryside. How will it be to stop walking/traveling, and god forbid!!! working again? Yes, I bought my return ticket to Brisvegas. Anyway, for now I’m still hiking a bit longer. Can’t believe my luck with the weather. As unusually cold it was in Portugal in March, as unusual warm it is now in November. It rains at night to freshen everything up and then around 20 degrees in the day. While friends tell me of snow in Switzerland and Germany and 38 degrees in Maleny I’m enjoying the perfect climate for walking.
Olive harvest everywhere. They use some rotating device with 4 plastic cords, like on a brush cutter, swinging around to strip the olives off the trees. Strips lots of leaves as well, but obviously doesn’t do the trees any harm.
Then bagged and off to processing plant a few kms away. Tiny olives to be turned into cold pressed oil. Black olives lying on the road look the same as goats’ droppings, size and all. Nothing but a bit of poop to spice up your extra virgin!
Stayed 2 nights in Chrissokalitissa, near Elafonissi. Elafonissi beach is pink in places. Can you see that on the photos? Can’t find out why, but have never seen anything like this before. Maybe from corals? Such a pretty place and I’m the only tourist (and it’s Sunday) apart from a French group of women who seemed to be there for a Yoga workshop. All struggling with the Bridge Pose on the beach. Something about a bridge in bikinis. I wouldn’t want to be here in the season, place is chock o block full of tourists locals tell me. Eeeeek…
Markers, a hiker’s best friend! Do you see a path along this coast? I don’t, but there is and I walked it! Up and down rocks and hills and beaches and up again. The trail was actually very well marked with black and yellow painting on the rocks. Without them, no chance! And not a soul all day. I could move in here, like in the old hippie days.
15th Nov. Staying 2 nights in Paleochora as well, mainly due to the stage after next is labeled as maximum hard, so no go for me. Meaning I have to take a ferry, which now in the winter only go once a week. If at all, I have to find that out today from the water police they tell me. If no ferry I’m not sure what to do. One option is a bus all the way to Chania and then a bus back down to where I can continue hiking, Hora Stakion. No buses go across due to high rocky mountain ranges. It will all be revealed.
Well, I took that option. Bus to Chania (70kms) a writing lecture and lunch with Hanne and another bus back down to Hora Sfakion, another 70kms. But it was fine, being driven around gives me a different perspective to hiking. This is Sfakion, where I stayed 3 nights and did day walks from there:
Little shrines like this all over the place. And today I had a walking companion, which was really nice. This little, strong as an ox doggy walked all the way to Loutro and back with, about 5 hours, along rocky cliffs. One of those better not look down walks. Doggy was shy at the beginning, didn’t let me touch him, didn’t want any water, kept his distance, but always looked around to see that I was coming. I told him off a few times for racing up the hills chasing goats, naughty boy. But you see here, on the way back we bonded and he took over 3/4 of my blanket, drank my water, wanted my omelette and then slept soundly. I told him, I’m a Social Worker and understand the process that first we needed to build rapport before we could bond and now we have to establish boundaries. “Oh, boloney” he said between snores. When we came back to Sfakion he just disappreared, no ‘good bye, nice meeting you’, no ‘see you tomorrow, what time?’
And today 18.11.16 I walked up Imbros gorge, stunning. I was quite overwhelmed by nature, the high mountain walls in the gorge, the sunshine, and the stillness. I did a meditation on a rock, listening to silence, having a bit of an emotional meltdown, thinking, here I am in this beautiful lonesome environment and in 6 days time I’m probably having Greek food with Lillian, Nadia, and Danni in bussling West End, Brisbane, where we had Greek dinner pretty much excatly 9 months ago! Interesting, what NEW will I give birth to? Wow, I’m having such mixed emotions and on that note I might post this, my last Blog.
Thanks to all my friends who followed me and sent me so much encouragement. I will see many of you real soon and leave many here behind in Europe. To those, thanks for putting me up and please come over to Oz. I will sure miss you.