Locked out in Elounda

 

Brrrrrrrr it’s cold outside. We are just back from a short trip to Crete. Why did we not stay, when we had almost 15 degrees more high temperature in the air and almost the same in the w

ater? No shorts anymore, no, no now we have to find the long-legged trousers and a warm jacket. Who planned it like this? Anyway we brought back metaxa, tsikoudia, salt from the sea, olives, loukanika(sausages, the best in the world), homemade moustalevriá (made from must of the grapes, walnuts and I guess semolina. (Thank you very much kiria Maria), glikó from kydoni ( a kind of apple), rigani and some other small stuff. I hope we can survive.

A disc is playing traditional Cretan music, lyra and lauto; “Se psilo vouno”.  The cursor is twinkling on the screen and the music is taking me back to the high mountains on Crete ………the mountains surrounding the village of Anogeia, where we have spent the night. Our stomachs are still pleased and quite because of the magnificent food we had last evening, makaronia me tiri, mavro kreas and wine. We are on our way to Elounda and have passed Heraklion, Hersonissos and Malia in good speed.When we reach Neapoli, we turn left and are back on the small nice roads with the beautiful small and calm villages. It is May and the weather has been a little unstable for a couple of days. During the last hour, it has changed dramatically and that bad man Kadaffi has sent wind, heat and yellow dust from south over to Crete. When we reach Elounda, it has also started to rain and the roads are quite slippery. I look at my co-driver and she gives the signal to stop and look for a hotel. No problem at this time of the year and soon we have a nice place with a great view overlooking the Mirobello Gulf.

A fast shower and time to relax a while before it is time for food. 

How about a glass of whisky on the balcony dear?” 

My co-driver has brought a bottle of Famous Grouse along, she knows how to treat a tired driver. 

Yes thank you, that will be nice and it is still very warm outside

The balcony is covered and the rain is no problem. As Sofia brings the whisky out, she leaves the door open(what else can she do with both hands full of glasses). The light from the rain and the yellow dust is very strange and it slowly gets darker

 Will  you please close the doors a little so we won’t have mosquitoes in our room tonight

 She is fast and strong.

Click

 The sound is alarming, yes really alarming. Yes Madame the doors are closed for good.   No keys, no nothing to open up the doors with. 

Women ahh always the same story.................."

" But I could not he………” she says in a low voice. 

“...............and you have also left the key in the entrance-door. How do you think we will come out of his?”

I am glad, she has brought a whole bottle of whisky to the balcony, we will need it.  From the room next to ours I had noticed some German voices and this might be our chance. A woman about 45 years old in a push-up bra and some tiny underwears looks very very surprised (or is it inviting??) when I ask  if it is ok if I come over to her balcony. As I explain our situation, I am of course welcome to jump over and pass through their room in order to get hold of someone in the hotel-staff.

“Was??”  The naked husband to “the push-up bra lady” looks as if I am a ghost passing through his room. He is almost as fast as Sofia.  He grabs a big towel and is trying to hide a secret (?) part of his body.

Entschuldigung aber ich soll nur und so weiter und so weiter…. Danke sehr”

I thank God, that I have put my shorts on and not only a towel around the hips after my shower. I wonder, how he had reacted, if I had entered the room in just a towel together with his half-naked wife. What had been going on the balcony while he was taking his shower? He is still in shock, when I close the door behind me.

After a while, I find the right person to help us out, or rather in. Key is out of the question as my wife has left our key in the lock. Knock , knock on the same door I came out through 5 minutes ago.  It opens very slowly; Entschuldigung aber wir ………”

The gentleman behind the door still seems to be in some kind of shock as I and our saviour walk through his room. Less than 1 minute later, we are back in our room thanks to a screwdriver, a half-naked woman and her shocked husband.

 

After a quick meal, we go to bed. That night my co-driver is either back on the roads again or trying to open balcony-doors but there seems to be a shocked German guy stopping her. She acts like her bed is full of ants and there are some funny sounds coming from over there.  Next morning we are up early. The weather has changed again, the sky is blue and it is warm and nice. We drive along the coast towards the fortress of Spinalonga (the word means The long thorn)  built by the Venetians to defend all the Mirobello Gulf. It is said to be one of the most beautiful fortresses and it really is. The Turks took over and did not leave until 1903. After that is was used as a closed society for people with leprosy until 1955 when the disease finally could be cured.

                                                                                                                                                                  The island of Spinalonga  

My co-driver has now set a new course,  that for Agios Nikolaos, Panagia Kera, Kritsá and Lato. Agios Nikolas we will visit later so we go straight to Logaros and the Byzantine church  Panagia Kera.  It stands in front of some big cypresses on the right side of the road. The church has been restored in a nice way and the paintings inside are really fantastic. There are especially series of paintings about Maria, which we like very much. You can also find, as in many of the Byzantine churches, a painting of The last meal. Outside the church is a small kafenion and also some souvenir shops selling carpets, tablecloths, blankets and so on.

“Oriste parakalo, look look

A short, grey-haired woman, as usual dressed in black, is trying her best to tell us, that she has made some of it herself and that some are traditional and very old things.

Xero alla……….. we know but we have no more space in our suitcases” Most things are new, not homemade, but the patterns are in some cases old. We try not to make her disappointed and tell her that everything looks nice.

“Adio, geia sas

Before we leave, she is already chasing some other tourists and maybe she has better luck this time.  We continue to the village of Kritsá and leave our car in a parking lot. Walking in this village is heavy and when we look at the old people running up and down the narrow and steep streets or alleys like goats, well then we feel old. These people must have very strong legs. It is still early and not many tourist yet.  The village is nice and the view from there is beautiful. Everywhere on the fronts of the houses, hand-woven blankets and carpets are hanging down waiting for the tourists. Nice colours (the favourite is red) and nice patterns. In the narrow alleys it is more quite and this is where we find the traditional part of the village. ProvataWe enter a small kafenion from which we have a perfect view over the village and the surroundings. Down below on the road from Agios Nikolaos we can now watch the first tourist-coaches reaching  Panagia Kera so we are still one step ahead. We order two metrios (medium sweet Greek coffee) and the taste is genuine. 

“Apo pou eisai

The only other guest, a man in black with big boots, brown face and of course a well tented grey moustache, asks the first question. His skin is almost like leather and he really looks strong and healthy. We tell him where we come from, how many times we have been to Crete, that we love his island and its people, yes in Sweden it is cold, no, we do not have grapes and oranges but we have many lakes and forests. I also have to ask him something.

“Exeis provata?”

 “Nai pano sta vouna, polla”

He is very proud, when he tells, that he has a lot of sheep and goats up in mountains close to Katharo Plateau. Earlier we had noticed a small sign with this name on it and I ask him, if it is ok to go by car there.Nai, nai to dromo einai poli kalo kai i thea poli orea”. Yes, the road is fine and view very beautiful.

After sharing a glass of tsikoudia with him, we bid him farewell.

“Xarika”

“Episis

                                                                                                                                                              Provata

 On the way back to our car, in a very steep street we meet with a very old woman. She is resting for a couple of seconds.

“Geia sas”

“Geia sas

 She looks up and greet us in the same way. She has a very kind face and her eyes are smiling towards us. From under the black shawl is a long  fine pigtail resting on her back. She is dressed in a very nice black dress and black shoes. As she continues to struggle up the street, she puts her right hand on her hip and now we can see, that she is bent and has a lot of help from the stick in the other hand. It is easy to admire these old women and men. We pay a fast visit to Lato, which is an archaeological site about 3 km north of Kritsá. The town is from the Doric period. We are too excited about the information we got about Katharo Plateau to stay longer at Lato. Driving through Kritsá is no problem and soon we are on our way up to the mountains on the other side of the village. The road is, as our friend said, very good indeed. It looks quite new and with asphalt. We climb higher and higher and the view is absolutely great. We decide to drive direct up to the plateau and to enjoy the view on our way back, when we will have in front of us. The plateau is rather big and now in May green and with many flowers all over. There are not many roads and when we ask, if it is ok to cross, the given answer is negative. Not with a car like the one we have rented, a jeep would be ok though. Maybe they do not want a lot of tourists driving around and that is ok with us. Or……maybe the woman, who is informing us about this, is very clever. Her name is Katina and she is the owner of a small taberna situated just when you enter the plateau. You have to turn back but first you might need something to eat or drink; she is very smart kiria Katina. After a short walk, we return and there she is again with a big smile on her face. She is not dressed like we are used to see women from Crete. She has a dress in every colour you can think of.

“Oriste paidia, welcome

As our stomachs have made some noises during the last half-hour, we accept her invitation. There are 5 or 6 tables of which 2 already are occupied by a German couple ( no not the same as in Elounda I am happy to say) and 3 fat cats. 3 fat cats???  Sofia my excellent co-driver and wife, sorry wife and co-driver, is a little  bit worried

“Why are the cats that fat? Is the food bad and the cats will have it all?”“Come on dear it cannot be that bad

The menu is not big and everything is Drx 3000. Take it or leave it, Katina you are very smart. Our choice; two omelettes Special, what ever that can be and a bottle of the local white wine. The cats have registered every word and they do not look too happy. Katina has a helping hand, her husband. He does not seem to like to put bread, glasses and food to the tables, no smile on his face. The omelettes are excellent and so is the wine, cold and fresh.  We finish it all and the cats are unhappy. Katina has been asking repeatedly if the food is ok.

“Poli nostimo, very good”

Her husband is sitting in a corner looking very depressed. I give Katina a twinkle and ask her to bring him a glass of tsikoudia or wine from us. She brings tsikoudia, not one glass, no a small bottle and we have made his day. Katina is talking all the time and finally it is time to leave. When we have paid, he comes up to us and asks, where we come from and once more, we have to answer the same questions. 

 Apo Souidia"

"Bravo, from Sweden bravo” and out of his pocket comes a small bottle of his sikoudia. A true Cretan. We just love them.

                                                                Katharo Plateau with Katinas Taberna      

 On our way back we are enjoying the magnificent view. Not only that but we also have to stop to admire a flock of 15 –20 eagles or vultures.  A nice picture of the nature of Crete.  When reach Kritsá again it is crowded and we are glad that we went here early in the morning. Where to go from here?  My co-driver has decided that we will spend the night in Ierapetra and I agree.

Let’s find a room without balcony, it would make me feel more comfortable”

 She is smiling  and so am I. Another fantastic day has come to an end. 

 

Kriti stis kardies mas

lars  and Sofia (wife and co-driver in that order)

 

                                

                         They are really big and just sailing on the upwind without moving their wings.

                                                                                                     

 
      Panagia Kera