Have y'all had a good month?
As I'm hoping you remember, a handful of months back I went to Crete, Greece, and took way too many photos than is probably considered healthy. And so, what could possibly be a better way to spam them on people than on this here blog?
If you want to read more about me peeing in a hole in the ground, punching a guy in the face and watching the most badass pensioner ever overtake me on a black moped, then I think it's best for both of us if you stay tuned.
For part one, click here!
Day six started with another late bus driver, who instead of taking us down the cute little village streets, took us down the main roads of Malia. There, we saw the dreaded Malia Aftermath - all the vomit and rubbish that last nights set of partygoers left behind (which if I'm honest is really disgusting and disrespectful). Despite that, though, we did pass lots of precipitous hilly landscapes, which dotted the outskirts of the city like giant pencil sharpenings.
We stopped at a place with a small white monastery, which had a tiny room inside. It kind of resembled the amazing one I had seen a couple of days back, but on a much lesser scale. As you walked down, you would see a little empty, doorless cement hut thing, which had religious carvings in the ceiling - and behind that, an awesome view of the ocean, trees and mountains. There was a block of Greek Orthodox buildings, with a guy dressed in head to toe with the related outfit. Overhead - a gathering of vultures.
On the way back to the bus, I went to the tiny little bathroom, which consisted of two stalls. The one to the right was a conventional Western loo. The one to the left - a ceramic hole in the ground. The queue for the right was long, and after discovering my love for flinging myself off boats yesterday, I was like hey, why not. So, leaving the queue for the Western toilet, I decided to squat. Yes. Squat. But heck, it wasn't so bad. In fact, I'd probably do it again if it meant skipping out queues as long as the one I passed.
We got back on the bus, and I know I overuse the words "stunning" and "beautiful", but the view of little towns curling round this vast bowl of Elondean ocean was exactly that.
A little while later we arrived at the port, where we boarded our boat and set off for the island of Spinalonga (or "spiralinna" as I couldn't stop calling it). After half an hour or so of waves lapping rhythmically against the boat and vigorous sunscreen applications, we were there.
Our tour guide, Maria, guided us around the broken houses of the island, facts rolling off her tongue like silver. She said some very interesting things, like did you know that the Turkish are originally from Mongolia? They migrated to what is now known as Turkey, pulling the Iran language and Saudi Arabia religion behind them like a blanket.
Spinalonga, home of the ancient leprosy colonies, was amazing. I love places like these, where you can imagine lives lived so differently from your own, all these years ago.
After a lot of wandering around and hurrying to keep up with our guide, we went back to the boat for a quick trip to a clear in the ocean. There, we had another barbecue-on-boat type thing, and went swimming (and yep, you guessed it, I did fling myself off the side of the boat a handful of times, each time tumbling deeper and deeper into the brilliantly clear ocean). The sun was warm, and the views of towns, oceans and nothingness was lovely. Life was good.
After a bit, I pulled myself up on to the top side of the boat, swinging my legs over the ocean below. Leaning back, sun and salt water resting on my face, I sipped my orange slushie. Underneath, tourists tried to breathe through snorkels (which I've decided is impossible), and small bouts of wildlife would pass under the boat.
A little later, the boat took off again and took us to a town called Agios Nikolaos. We wandered for a bit, but having only been given an hour didn't want to stray too far. There were a bunch of cute little market stalls, selling olive soap and calendars made by locals, and "genuine" leather belts.
On the way back to Malia, we passed a woman probably around 80 years old. At first, it seemed like she was struggling, perhaps using the moped beside her for balance. A couple of seconds later, however, and this frail old woman had flung herself over the motorbike, dialed up the buttons and sped off, black veil trailing behind her.
Day seven was spent travelling down to Knossos, which you've probably heard of if you know a bit about the history of Crete. There, we went to the Minoan Palace, where we met our tour guide - who introduced himself by talking about how boring Greece is with its lack of life-threatening animals. We explored around the palace grounds and ruins, where I tried to take some dramatic photos before realising my lens was relishing in grease (*cough* Greece *cough*), so I just stood there leaning over and licking it so I could smudge it clean (which must have looked totally insane to the tourists around me).
The weather grew increasingly hot, and the tour guide went on an incessant ramble, and I have to admit that I was starting to lose the will to live a little bit. The tour soon drew to a close however, and we took a bus to Heraklion. Our guide gave us a few pointers, and as he continued to drone, I broke away from the group. Suddenly, however, a woman honed in on me like a pointer dog, and smothered me in facts about her life story and pregnancy, urging me to give her money to fuel her drug addiction (don't quote me on that). Once she started decorating my hair with roses, I slowly began to creep away, to the safety of the tourists.
Madre and I discharged ourselves from the rest of the group and went to a small art gallery, (which had a guy playing classical music on the piano in the background), and then wandered about the Heraklion Museum, which had lots of frescos from 1600 BC - kind of incredible.
After a while, we made our way back to Malia and ate at a place called San Giorgio (helloooo large portions). It was quite cute there, even if the dolmades were insanely awful.
I think that if I were to go back to Greece, I'd want to go somewhere more secluded, maybe without electricity and running water, where the only transport available is donkeys. That probably sounds really extreme, but coming from a girl born in a 1st world country, I can't imagine the kind of life people in those conditions would live, and I'd want to actually experience it for a little while. You know when you see documentaries about the poverty in Guatemala and whatnot, and the people involved have all these epiphanies at the end? I'm just saying, that wouldn't be too awful.
Day eight was quite laid-back, and started with the stale toast that Maria Rousse always seemed to serve. We went down to the strip, swam, and relaxed. Considering the fact that our flight home would be in the early hours of the morning, we decided to just take it all in and sit back.
When 5pm rolled around, we hunted for a place to eat our last meal at. The final contender for that role was a small place called the Petrina Garden. Why, I hear you ask, did we chose this particular establishment? Obviously because of their flawless decor. Olives hung above our heads, herbs in red and blue pots sat on green and yellow shelves, cacti sticking out around the back... I honestly fell in love with it. The food was pretty darn good too, especially dessert - a gigantic melon sliced in half filled with ice-cream and chocolate wafers, blanketed in hundreds-and-thousands and pierced with a selection of cute little plastic figurines, and a homemade clown thing with a polystyrene smile. And to top it off were two gigantic sparklers fizzing away, like tiny fireworks on the dinner table.
We left soon after, once the waitress had given us both a bunch of kisses on our cheeks and I'd gotten a load of last-minute camera shots of Malia.
Day nine started and at around 1am our coach arrived to pick us up. As we were hauling our suitcases out from Maria Rousse, the waiter (the one with the name of the Spanish verb) came out to say goodbye to us. When he turned his attention to me, he went in for a handshake... and I went in for a hug, and one with quite a bit of momentum as well. Honestly. Just as that happened, I felt his eyelashes quiver against my fist, and what do you know it, I punched him in the eye. He said "ow", and I apologised and backed away.
We packed out bags onto the coach, and as we started moving the Olympic Holiday reps, both males around 25 years old, quickly introduced themselves and then suddenly delved the coach into music - loud, fast paced and teeming with n-words. It was basically a party bus, as deogratory slangs burst out from the speakers and the reps sung along with it, taking turns to rap solos. The driver kept trying to turn it down, but they swished his hand away and continued cursing to the lyrics. This lasted for an hour.
We finally made it to the airport, where my mum realised she'd bought a bottle of wine and put it in her overhead bag - to which security pulled it out and chucked it into the nearest bin.
4am rolled along, as we boarded the aeroplane to a pilot that sounded drunk and kept getting facts about the journey wrong - i.e. how long the flight actually was. This was definitely unnerving but hey, four hours later we had landed safely and I was in one piece.
The second we stepped off the plane, all I noticed was the change of air. I don't know if you guys get this too, but it didn't smell sweet and warm anymore, but instead cold and flavourless. But eh, maybe its just me.
From there, we just took a taxi back home to the Absolute Middle of Nowhere.
All in all, I had a great time in Greece, and I'm happy that I got to share it with y'all, regardless of how belated it turned out to be. If I'm honest, I probably wouldn't return to Crete unless we stayed in a derelict village that literally runs on just horsepower, or got to visit Athens, or Santorini, or... okay, I probably would go back again. But with so much of the world left to explore, I think I'd probably prioritise Peru and Italy and the like. However, I would honestly really recommend a short stay around Malia, especially if you've already visited somewhere relatively close like Turkey due to the fact that you can then piece together their shared histories.
Until next month,
Until next month,