Blog 32 – Crete and final Blog

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. 20161103_122111.jpgThis 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.

wp-1478149172556.jpgBlue sky and beautiful in the day time but already nippy and dark as soon as the sun is gone at about 5.30pm.

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!

20161104_114922.jpgBut 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?

20161108_203751.jpgThis 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.

20161111_092330.jpgThe goats are gorgeous with their long hair and bells on. At times the only sound in the stillness of the mountains.

20161111_144737.jpgSmall 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.

20161111_163408.jpgThe house in the middle was last night’s accommodation in a village called Kefali. Beautiful. Watched the workings of an olive processing plant.

20161113_082430.jpg20161113_085126.jpgOlive 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.

20161113_092932.jpgThen 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!

20161113_113149.jpg20161113_122735.jpg

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…

20161113_131929.jpgMarkers, a hiker’s best friend! 20161114_105640.jpgDo 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. 20161114_150333.jpgI 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:

20161118_111057.jpgIt’s so dry here, such barren mountains. Not even sure what the goats find to eat. I’m pretty much the only tourist here, but a supermarket, 2 tavernas and a bakery are open.

20161117_113207.jpgLittle 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.  wp-1479395167268.jpgBut 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?’

MONGREL!

wp-1479479692131.jpgThis is Loutro, totally deserted outside of tourist season. You can only reach it by boat or walking 2.5 hours.

20161118_133831.jpgAnd 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.

Bye bye……………..

 

16 thoughts on “Blog 32 – Crete and final Blog

  1. What a journey you have been on. I can imagine it will take a bit of time to settle down after such a big trip away. It sounds like you have had an amazing journey. Enjoy your last days and have a safe trip back to the land downunder. Look forward to catching up with you. Will you be coming up to Maleny before heading back to Cairns?
    love jen
    You are welcome to stay at my house while you are here if you are popping up to Maleny.

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  2. Komisch ist es, irgendwie bin ich traurig, dass Deine Reise zu Ende geht. Ich bewundere dich endlos für alles was Du gemacht hast , gute und schwierige Zeiten genossen und dein Herz, deine Empathie, deine Spiritualität, die Freude am Genuss, dein Feingefühl, deine Hilfsbereitschaft, die Komplette Hingabe zu Menschen und Natur und deine Trauer über die Zerstörung der Natur noch wachsen lassen,. Ich drücke Dich aus der Ferne und wünsche Dir eine gute Heimreise. Genieße Deine Freunde in Australien , habe einen guten Start und vergiss nicht, liebe Ursel, Du bist ein ganz besonderer Mensch, den man einfach lieb haben muss.

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    1. Na jetzt ist die Traenendruese aber richtig aufgegangen. Was soll ich sagen? Ich danke Dir von Herzen fuer Deine so lieben Worte und dass Du meine Reise immer mitverfolgt hast, trotz soviel Regen in Irland und Schweiz. Du bekommst eine Erstausgabe mit Widmung!
      Ich bin dabei ueber Muell zu schreiben. Extra Kapitel im Buch glaub ich…..
      LG
      Ursel

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  3. Ach, Du meine Freundin, macht mich jetzt ganz traurig! Aber ich will nicht meckern, wir hatten eine schöne Zeit mit der Vreni, gelle??
    Hab’ 1000 Dank für diesen wunderbaren blog, da konnte man immer ein bisschen mitwandern! Tja, und das muss ich jetzt doch auch sagen: Du bist schon eine ganz besondere Frau, ich drück’ Dich jetzt mal ordentlich, min Deern!!!
    Geniesse noch die letzten Kretatage, gute Heimreise und gutes Ankommen!!
    Bisouuuu,
    Sygun

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  4. Oh je, es ist wirklich, als würde man selber eine Reise beenden und wieder nach Hause reisen. Wie ein gutes Buch, das man nicht aus der Hand legen möchte. Traurig, dass es zu Ende ist und auch wieder voller Freude auf Neues. Danke, dass Du es geschrieben hast, Ursel. Es ist so schon so toll, wie soll es denn nach der Überarbeitung erst werden?
    Hab eine schöne Heimreise und eine tolle Ankunft in Australien. Ich vermisse Dich, als wären wir die ganze Zeit zusammen gewesen.
    Eine dicke Umarmung und ein schweres Herz aber viel Glück für die Zukunft, Deine Verena

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  5. Oh no! We will miss your blogs so much! You will have to start writing that book quickly.
    …. and you take nice photos too! Good luck with your next adventure!

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  6. hallo meine Liebe na dein schreiben ist eine wonne zu lesen ich danke dir fuer die reise deinen mut deine durchhalte vermoegen es sind so viele dinge die it wirklich tief beeindruckend finde freue mich rich bald zu sehen und ja ich kann mir vorstellen es wird sicher ganz ganz komisch im Flieger zu sitzen bis ganz ganz bald Margarete

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  7. Last ever Blog! Now I don’t think too many of us who have followed your amazing travels this past 9 months really can believe this! Those feet will want to keep on walking & discovering – albeit after a little rest & relaxation (like work??!!). As I wrote ‘9 months’ the thought popped into my head – that’s just the time from conception to birth! So … I’m thinking this is the beginning of a lifetime of adventures ahead! How exciting! As I have been away for a few weeks & had 2 Blogs to catch-up with, I was unprepared to hear you are on the cusp of wending your way back to this fair land, & in fact are probably flying high right now with sights set in a southerly direction.

    Here’s a little poetry to whet your appetite:

    I love this sun-burnt country,
    A land of sweeping plains;
    Of rugged mountain ranges,
    Of droughts and flooding rains.
    I love her far horizons;
    I love her jeweled seas;
    Her beauty and her terror,
    This wide brown land for me!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful journey with us, Ursula – an inspiration to those of us who have followed you, and , I hope, a dream come true for you.

    Love Ruthx

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    1. Oh Ruth sitting on Athen’s airport and crying while reading your lovely comment. Michael rang last night from Poland and sang ‘Leaving on a jet plane…..’ with his ukulele just like you guys did 9 months ago. Yes, what will I give birth to? So many tears last week for many different reasons. I’ll see you real soon. Early December I suspect. I’ll be walking home from the airport so don’t worry about pick up!!!!! Your crazy friend
      Ursula

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  8. Last blog! Mmmm. This is only the beginning…..thanks for sharing this snippet of your journey so far. All your bags are packed ….and you’re gone. from your friend Michael c/ Poznan, Poland

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  9. Sweet Ursula safe return travels it will b lovely to see u sometime in hot dry no rain cairns!!! I’ve loved your blogs some great pics and yr sense of humour!!! Have missed a few of them but it’s been great travelling along with u. I love Crete and these places look awesome . See u sometime I’m guessing not sure when ull b up here next xxxx

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  10. Hi Ursula, you came to mind this evening and it took me ages to remember your blog name but found you again! It seems you may be reading this from the comfort of OZ. Looks like your trip continued to be amazing. We are very much settled back here in Melbourne wondering if our trip was only a dream…”did it really happen?” (I think the rain and fog in Dingle did) Anyway what an amazing year its been.
    God bless and love to catch up one day.
    Vince and Lisa

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    1. Yes, got home to Cairns yesterday…..suffering from the heat a bit. Do I have your phone number? Will check…..you are welcome to Cairns any time eh, remember…..yes what a year. It appears it was a dreadful one for many of my friends and so fantastic for me…..not working yet, decided to wait til January….

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