We only have a certain amount of time before we are planning to be in Barcelona, and its still another 1000 miles plus away, so off we went. We had a great sail south with winds on the quarter at 20 knots. We arrived Rethymno Crete at 9 in the morning expecting to stay just a few days and then move on to Chania, a little further west. We both caught up on sleep the first day then went into town to explore. We were surprised to find a much bigger town than expected.
Very touristy, a combination of Greek, German, and English tourist flock to the beach town. There is an old fort that stands on a small promontory of land over the old harbor and old part of town. The streets were much less like the Cyclades with blue and white buildings and had a more Venetian and Turkish character. Loads of restaurants, bars, leather shops, nick nack stores etc etc.
Its funny that we come to these tourist towns and rarely eat out, rarely buy any of the tourist nick nack junk and don’t spend a lot of time in the bars. So what do we do? We usually go for a lot of hikes, always explore the town, gawk at all the restaurants and poke around the shops rarely if ever buying anything.
We usually eat aboard the boat but always go into the main part of town for a beer or ice cream. We usually reserve one night a week for a nice restaurant, but if we don’t find what we are looking for, we eat on the boat. We decided to buy some Kadima paddles and have a beach day. This turned into a slight addiction for both of us. We found a new way to pass the time playing this little game. We saw at the beach here another game that looks like good fun, using the same kind of paddles with a tennis ball and you whak the ball really hard back and forth. It seems a very popular game here in Crete where they have even built courts on the beach for it. Once we get a little better I think we will advance to this game.
The second night we were in Rethimno two Dutch ladies stopped by the boat and invited us to their Sunday weekly pot luck get together. We happily accepted and went to the little party. There was a nice get together with 4 boat crews. An English couple passing through, John and Gilly brought a guitar and printed out songs from their play list and we all sang songs that were known to all. WOW!! What a fun night. This was the first time in too long that we have met some outgoing live aboard cruisers that were social. With the exception of Bruce and Anne, the Aussies in Galaxidi, most other boats have been charter people or folks with their own boat just on short holiday. One of the Dutch ladies, Krina, asked us to stop by the next day so she could give us some information about places to winter in Northern Europe, specifically Holland. It turns out she had just come from the United States where she and her husband Lutz, had spent the last 5 years cruising up and down he east coast and back to the Caribbean. They have been cruising and living aboard since 1985!! To make ends meet, Lutz had been working on merchant ships a few months out of the year and Krina does canvas work, makes jewelry, and greeting cards. She showed me some of her canvas work and mentioned she was looking for work, so Jess and I decided to stay put in Rethimno and get some much needed canvas work done, and also take some time to explore Crete. She also agreed to teach me how to sew so this turned into a real win win.
Jess and I rented a car and went into Iraklion, the main city in Crete, that happened to have a large fabric store with sunbrella marine canvas. So with our list of items to buy we went to the town and bought 35 yards of silver outdoor marine canvas, zippers and few other odds and ends. The store didn’t have what we needed in stock but could get it in 3 days, we couldn’t believe our luck, here in Greece no less where nothing seems to be fast. We decided we would take the few days waiting for the material and get off the boat and go over to the south side of the island and do some hikes.
We drove to Chania that night and got a small room in the center of town. Chania is a bustling town with a beautiful medieval section. We went out for a great dinner and got up the next day to drive across the mountain range to the south side of the island. We stayed in a unique little hippie backpacker camping hiking town. The towns along the south coast are connected by a ferry boat that comes and goes once a day.
That day we hiked the E4 trail ( hiking trail that goes all through Europe ending in Crete, some 10000 km long) along the coast for about 6 mile r/t hike. Spectacular coast line, very mountainous with a lot of trees. We really have missed trees as the Cyclades are just barren brown rocks.
The next day we left our car in the town and took a 7am bus to the Somarian Gorge to hike 18k all down hill to the coastal town of ?… The gorge was magnificent, it looked like an Ansel Adams photo of the sierra nevadas. The little town seemed to be nothing more than an outpost for hikers of the gorge. Here we caught a ferry to the town of Loutra where we would stay the night. Loutra was a really special place. Only accessible by boat, a small seaside town with lovely boutique hotels and restaurants on the water front.
We thoroughly enjoyed our night in Loutra and the next day we poked around town until our ferry picked us up in the afternoon to take us back to where we left the car. We arrived around 6 with just enough daylight to drive back over the treacherous
Once back in Rethimno, Krina and I got to work on the canvas projects. Jessica was excited to have me off the boat during the day so she could focus on some of her paintings. Krina and I made a sun tent that covers from the mast to the stern to provide much needed protection from the sun. Wish we had this a few years ago. We also made dinghy chaps for the Walker Bay. Both projects were high on my to do list, or to get done list. The added bonus was the sewing lessons she gave me. I am now excited to get going on several other small manageable for a beginner projects. Finally the sewing machine will get some use. I had considered selling it but now am excited to give it a go.
Meeting these folks was great. Krina and her husband Lutz aboard Spray, and their friend Beatrice on Barracuda were wonderful people. They all had so much to offer and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. We ended up staying in Rethymno for almost three weeks.