Chapter Six: Chrisopigi to Vassilki.
Sunday the 18th of May
Pass the Port!
I had already paid the Theoharakis' for the three days that we had stayed at the
Romantico. The reason I was darkening their doorstep and ringing
their doorbell now, was in an attempt to retrieve my passport. I had left this with my
hosts, because: a) they'd asked for it, and b) it was
safer in their hands than in mine. I had been in this position for at least five seconds,
and was growing worried. Had they gone out? Had they abandoned shop? Had they left the
country? With my passport! It was 9.00 AM. Rex and I wanted to be out and away by
10.00, so I wasn't in any tremendous hurry, however,...I rang the bell again. "Lights
on, nobody at home", the Theoharakis' would have said, had they been peeking
through their curtains to discover that it was me who was disturbing their peace. I pushed
my nose onto a closed window. An eye zeroed in. There was someone inside. Upon reflection
I decided that this person was probably my reflection against the window pane. "Damnit!
Where are they?", I drooled! Thankfully I had removed both nostrils and at
least one beady eye from the pane as a man came round the side of the building. I
recognised this man from some dim and distant memory. Probably the owner of some taverna
where Rex and I had gazed into each others eyes, across a candlelit table; or the chap
that works at the supermarket. Yes that was who it was. I nodded at him. He
acknowledged me and entered the Theoharikis' house. Why did the owner of the
supermarket have a key to the Theoharkis' house? Unless...yes, that's where I knew him
from.This was Giorgios T. Well, it had been three days since our paths had crossed. I
called after him. "Georgio mou! Poro na eho to diavatirio mou, sas parakalo;
Viazomai ligo" (George me ol' mucker. May I have my passport,
please? I'm in a bit of a hurry). "Veveia" (of course), said
Giorgios. He's a good man. He returned bearing my passport. I tried to avert my eyes from
the direction of the window; just in case he saw the tell-tell marks some slobbering hound
had created on the pane. Dear, dear! You old dog Jacko!
I placed the passport in a side pocket of my rucksack, zipped the pocket shut,
unzipped the pocket to check that I had just put the passport in there, was relieved to
discover that I had, zipped it shut again and just as I was about to repeat this exercise,
decided that that was enough zipping and unzipping for the present. I had enjoyed my stay
at the Romantico. I had enjoyed my stay in Makriyialos. The loss of my camera had been an
awful episode, but one that I would just have to get over. For now, Rex and I had to get
over to Chrisopigi, and this is what we proceeded to do. I still liked Chrisopigi, Rex
still did not. I must admit that the kafeneion didn't look the most welcoming place on the
island, but I was not here for a coffee. No indeedy, I had a mountain range - or two - to
cross. I looked at the map. Today I would need the direction skills of Alfred Hitchcock, rather than
those of Mr McGoo,
which - to date - I had been exhibiting. For some peculiar
reason Rex was still interested in finding a launderette. He was off to Aghios Nicolaos to
discover whether the existence of such places was mere rumour. Heaven knows why. In
a couple of days he would be at home in South London with his own washing machine, and in
the meantime he could easily buy all the pants his heart desired in the cosmopolitan town
that is Aghios Nicolaos. It was our last full day together - most of which I would spend
walking - and I, for one, didn't want to talk smalls talk! Anyhow, he was off to Aghios
Nicolaos, to do what he must, and off he set, as I pointed myself in to what I hoped was
the vague direction of Vassiliki.
My compass pointed west. I followed it. Imagine my surprise, as just behind the
western-most fringes of Chrisopigi, I came across a path and an E4 sign pointing me in
precisely the direction my compass and I wished to take. I took the other
compass (I had bought two in Ierapetra!) from my pocket and double checked. Yes, this was
the way to go. I was suspicious. I had found this path easily. Too easily. I stopped
and thought about this. Was it the E4 signs or myself that I had become distrustful of? I
ruminated on this for a while, but was unable to provide conclusive evidence either way. I
followed the sign. I was aiming for the village of Orino
(some nice pics here). From there I would head for the village of Thripti, down to
Monastiraki and on to Vassiliki. This was to be my first encounter with a
proper mountain range.Well, two actually, but they tend to be known generically as the
Thripti range. What I had encountered, thus far, is known as "high country". In
planning my walk, I had conjured-up certain images of the kind of terrain I would
encounter. Some were taken straight from my memory, whilst others were left to the mercy
of my imagination. I had walked this area before, but never anything as ambitious as this
particular trek. The picture that I had painted in my mind was met exactly by what I now
encountered. The scenery is stunning, in an undulating kind of way. From up high, I
could see the direction that I needed to be travelling in, and found a number of E4 signs
confirming that this was the correct path. Behind me I could, at first, see Chrisopigi,
and then the village of Lapithos.
These two villages and their relative positions to mine, helped me to gauge that I was
heading in the direction I wished.
Between the Mountains
The kalderimia (old mule tracks), were also taking me in the direction I wanted.
Towards the Thripti range of mountains. My confidence was returning. I
made a concerted effort to rid myself of this new found self-belief. I had felt this way
before, only to suffer reversals at a later stage. To my North was the Orno
range. The path takes you in between Mt Askordalia - which peaks at 1238 metres (just over
4,000 feet) - on the Orno side and Afendis Stavromenos (1476 metres or 4842 feet) on
the Thripti side. The distance of this walk - according to the "Adventures in Crete"
site - is 23.5 KMs (c15 miles). No problems there, though their expected duration of
"27 hours" was a typo. Wasn't it? Surely it was! By the time I
had left Chrisopigi this morning, it had been a little after 11AM. At three KMs an hour,
this walk shouldn't take any longer than eight hours. My walking pace on the flat is twice
that speed. OK, this could by no means be described as "on the flat". The Orno
and Thripti ranges, whilst hardly alpine, were bone-fide mountain ranges, and I
needed to get from one side of them to the other. After a fair deal of twisting and
turning, I came to a crossroads. There in the distance was an E4 sign. Should I trust it?
I decided that I should. A long straight path lay before me, with a shepherd's gate at
either end. I passed through each of these gates. The landscape was now very hilly and
becoming mountainous. I could see a radio mast on the other side of these hills and
decided that this was a sign of civilisation and that was reason enough to head for it.
Another E4 sign suggested that I should take this path up to a structure, which in all
likelihood was a shepherd's hut. This I did. Once at the shepherd's hut, a hill rose
directly above me. I assumed that I had to cross this hill, and the only way was up. Up I
went. It was tough-going in all honesty. The most direct route was made nigh-on
impossible by the nature of the hill. It was covered in scree, making it far easier to
zig-zag my way up. I had little idea that I was doing the correct thing here. Yes, I was
going in the correct direction. Yes, I had followed the last E4
sign that I'd seen. But that counts for nothing on this island! Somehow, this
didn't feel right. As I came to the top of the hill, my fears were confirmed and dispelled
in equal measure. Looking east, I could now see, what I assumed, was the village of Stavrohori
- where Rex and I had stopped for a beer, yesterday - which was exactly what I had been
hoping to see. This was good news. There was a road, leading to the radio mast, on the
other side of a fence. The road too was good news, the fence was not. Not that it
was a particularly high fence -which was of the wirey, bendy, flimsy variety - it came to
just above my waist; it was just there, and just there
without a gate. Somehow, the grass looked greener on the other side of that fence. I
assumed that it was there to stop stray sheep from crossing the road, but it was about to
make a pretty good job of stopping a stray Tsaksonakis doing that too.
Pendlebury and I, would have shared many things in common: a love of walking and
archaeology to name but two. Pendlebury, however, was a university high jump champion,
clearing 6 foot (1.83 metres). My headmaster was forever telling me that I was "for
the high jump", but sadly, I was always a bit of a flop in the Fosbury
department. I now studied the fence, and decided that I could easily clear it in a single
bound. I was wrong. Not whilst I was wearing my rucksack. I took the rucksack off and
threw it over to the road side. No turning back now. Surely I could jump this. I'll never
know. Three times I approached it at great speed only to pull out at the last. No, the
straddle would be better, and I don't mean the straddle jump! I grabbed hold of the wire
at the top of the fence and pulled it earthwards, until I felt that I could throw a
leg over it. I threw a leg over it, and released my grip on the fence at the same time.
Bad move! I don't think I need to go into detail of the cause and effect of this
manoeuvre; needless to say, as I released my grip from the fence, it travelled in an
upward direction and I may now be incapable of fathering children (I exaggerate here, but
why break precedence?). I mustered the energy to throw myself onto the road, and lay there
in adverse misery for a few moments. It would have been longer, had I not found myself on
a bend in the road and bang in the middle of it. I was incapable of changing my position.
I remained here, in an undignified manner for what was probably no longer than five seconds,
but felt far longer. Thankfully, it was a quiet road. Cretan drivers are not known
for taking bends in case there should be a prostrate idiot on the other side of it - John
Pendlebury describes the wonderful world of Cretan driving, to comic affect in his
'Travelling Hints to Eastern Crete' (parts of which are being repeated over on History Box Nr. 6) - no, had a car turned that corner at that time, I would have been
run over. It was as simple as that. This realisation, ultimately had a startling affect on
my abilities to move. I was all for spending another hour or two in this position, when
the thought of being 'road kill' invaded my consciousness.
When Harry met Stelly.
I made a remarkable recovery from any short-term effects of my
injuries, and decided to follow the road in the same direction that I had come. The
radio mast that I had seen in the distance was now just above me, and the road forked
here. I could walk around the hill. More good news. I was hoping
that on the other side of the hill that the radio mast was perched on, I would find Orino.
This is where I met "Harry" (this is not his real name, as some of what I say
about "Harry", may be viewed as slightly pejorative, besides, "Harry"
knows where I live!). Harry was on a motorcycling tour of Eastern Crete, and without
warning he appeared on a Vespa. "Hello, where are you off to?",
he said. Did I speak English? Yeah, why not, I deciced. "Orino",
I informed him. Harry confirmed that Orino was indeed on the other side of the hill, and
suggested that we meet there at the near-side Kafeneion. I'd drink to that. Five minutes
later and I could see Orino. It was a lovely looking village, and my first impressions
were confirmed when, 10 minutes later, I arrived at the village itself. Harry
motored up just as I arrived, and treated me to a lemonita (from the kafeneion) and some
nuts (from his Vespa; edible ones of course!). He told me all about his adventures to
date. If I'd thought I'd had trouble in the old "passport department", this
morning, these were nothing compared to Harry's. The police had confiscated his!
Apparently he had been taking pictures of military areas. Oh dear! "So, they
took your passport but left you with your camera?", I said. "Yes,
but they took the film", Harry told me. Well, it was a silly thing to do,
but at least he hadn't been snapping at aeroplanes. "I would have, but it was
too dark", said Harry. I looked at my new found friend with a growing
respect. Had I finally met somebody more stupid than I? Harry was no idiot but he was
making a great impression of one. Had he met Lord Elgin on his travels? He was definitely
a marble - or two - short of a full set! Harry took my gentle ribaldry with good humour,
but I implored him not to take pictures of military installations. Maybe I over-reacted;
maybe I was jealous of his camera! There had been a case, the previous year, where 12
British and two Dutch "plane spotters" had been arrested for taking photographs in
restricted areas. It may seem a silly law to those of us in the West, but Greek relations
with their neighbours, are a touch more fractious than us calling them "Frog"
and them calling us "Roast Beef"!
Harry had bought new film for his camera; something the police had
not thought of? Cunning chap. Stupid police! "Just don't take pictures
of military aircraft", I reiterated. He didn't look convinced. The 'Daily
Mail' had said that the plane spotters should not have been prosecuted.
"Oh, if the 'Daily Mail' says so, that's all right then;
they run this country, after all, don't they", I said,
dripping sarcasm from every pore. "Yes", said Harry. Either
irony was lost on him, or he had a far keener sense of it than I. I'm still not sure
which! He now proceeded to take revealing pictures of 'Tsaksonakis' wearing only t-shirt,
shorts, socks, boots and rucksack. I am almost as camera-shy as my ex camera is shy of me,
but I allowed Harry to snap away. He promised to send these pictures to me, and placed my
home address in his diary. We chinwagged for a wee while, before I told him where I
was going and that I'd better be "off, like the proverbial dirty shirt!".
Now, that confused him, but I was 50 yards down the road before he could say anything.
"Good luck" he called after me. "See you sometime",
I yelled back. Oh no I wouldn't! Once I leave someone, I expect them to be well and truly
left! As much as I had enjoyed Harry's company, his disregard for the laws of the country
we were in, had angered me, slightly. Besides, there was something about him that worried
me. Just one of those feelings you get from time to time. Oh well, that was then, and this
was now. I had a long way to walk and I knew that I would never see Harry again.
When I get my legs into action, there is no stopping me. This is a
mixed blessing. Despite being convinced that I was travelling in the wrong direction, I
continued down the asphalt road towards the coast. After 10 minutes, my brain caught up
with my legs and threw them into reverse. The road was very steep. That had been fun on
the way down, but now I was regretting my impetuosity. Suddenly, like a knight on shining
Vespa, there was Harry! "You've taken the wrong road", I was
informed. "Yes, indeedy. I was just getting a better look at
the view from down there", I lied. I was offered a lift back to the top, and
just before pride could get the better of me, I took Harry up on his kind offer to take
the Tsaksonakis up. Mild horsepower dragged us away and with Harry's Vespa sounding like a
crazed mosquito drying its hair, we struggled up the hill. It would have been more
comfortable - and quite possibly quicker - to walk! The hat that Virginia had lent me -
what had seemed like a couple of decades ago - flew from my head. All this happened in
slow motion. I had both hands wrapped around Harry, so could do nothing to stop the
deserting hat, and with Harry oblivious of my cries due to the reinforced crash helmet he
was wearing, I was forced to watch on helplessly as Virginia's hat made for the coast, and
freedom. The Cretan authorities could set up a lost property department, just for my
erstwhile belongings; at this rate, I would arrive in Kissamos naked; if indeed I arrived
there at all. If it had taken 10 minutes to get down to where I'd been
"rescued", then it was at least that long before we landed, with a thud, back in
Orino. "Weren't you wearing a cap?", asked Harry. "Jesus,
he may wish to go back and fetch it; not with me on board!", I thought. "I
don't think so", I lied. I would buy Virginia another hat. Anything
would be preferable to a repeat performance of the previous ten minutes.
Harry bade me farewell for the second time in half an hour, and off I
headed; towards what I hoped was the general direction of Thripti. Before we had left each
other on the first occasion, Harry had told me that he was heading east.
I wondered why had our paths crossed south-west(!) of Orino. A fleeting
thought crossed my mind. Was he following me? I chuckled at this, but looked over my
shoulder just in case. I was relieved to learn that I was alone on the kalderimi. No, of
course not. Why would he be following me? What a foolish boy I am! I calmed myself down
and whistled a happy tune. Harry was harmless enough! It was then that I heard the sound
of a crazed, wet-haired mosquito! "Oh Christ! I'm being stalked !",
I screamed. Within half a minute I was nose-to-visor with a double-glazed crash-helmet!
"Harry!", I cried. Well, I almost cried, anyway. Harry was
holding something in his left hand. "What do you want, Harry?",
I said, weakly. It was at this point that Harry started to hit the
side of his crash helmet, with his right hand and in a very demented manner indeed. I
didn't want to look at whatever he was now waving at me with his left hand. Was it the
scalp of the last person who'd advised against his plans to take photos of military
aircraft? I bit the bullet and looked. It was my hat! He slid his visor up. "Sorry,
can't hear a thing with this on", he said. "Thank you,
I said". I still await the pictures that Harry promised to send. I shan't hold my
breath. I doubt if he ever managed to get the film developed; no, it's far more likely
that this would have been done by the police; and that the pictures of 'Tsaksonakis'
were on the same reel of photos as those of Crete's full range of MiG fighter aircraft!
Between Rocks and Hard Stuff
I had seen a road sign indicating that I was on the right track, but
I have little more faith in Cretan road signs than I have in their E4 signs. It's a barren
landscape around here. Mostly quite pretty, but with the occasional limestone quarry to
blot the landscape. As I was approaching one of these, a car that had been heading in my
direction stopped, 20 metres or so in front of me. Out of the car stepped a rather large,
moustachioed Cretan. I was rather hoping that he was the friendly type. "Pou
pas" ("where are you going") he asked. I told him that I was
hoping to get to Vassiliki via Thripti and was amazed when he confirmed that I was going
about this in the correct way. Georgios Frangolakis, was the chap's name - or something
adjacent to that - and a very nice chap he was too. I was told that I would come to a house
on the left, once I had turned the corner ahead. There would be a blue car outside the
house. Once there I should go in, say that I had met him, and have a tsikoudhia. We shook
hands with me promising to do just that. I had absolutey no intention of doing any such
thing. Firstly I am too shy to do so, and secondly I don't drink and walk. I am
directionally challenged as it is, without the need to confuse myself further. I could, of
course, have told Giorgios that, but he looked the type that would prefer to take raki
than "ochi" for an answer. So, as much as I liked my new
friend, I hurried away, just in case his trip along this road was a fleeting one, and that
he should overtake me before I reached the house.
I saw the house as soon as I turned the corner. There, outside, was a
blue car. I looked back. No sign of Georgios. "Phew!" Now, I
was level with the house, I steered myself as far away from it as I could, without falling
off the edge of the hillside. Maybe Georgios had contacted its occupants and informed them
of my iminent arrival. No, of course not. I was being silly. I continued on the direction
I was on. The road swung left around the house, in a southerly direction, but I had an
alternative. I took the alternative. From the direction of the house I could hear yelling
noises. I ignored them. The occupants were probably having an argument. If so, it was one
hell of an argument. At first there was just the one voice, now there were five or six
involved in the fracas. I allowed myself a sneaky look over my left shoulder. My worst
fears were confirmed, as half a dozen men, the size and girth of gorillas, stood on their
porch and yelled...at me! I thought on my feet, and decided that my feet could afford to
increase their pace to a trot. No, a canter or a sprint would be better. Where was Harry
when I needed him? At the same time, I asked myself what I was worried about. What I was
worried about was not the prospect of being brutally murdered by these
chaps, but being plied with tsikhoudia. I could always say no. Couldn't I? I stopped,
turned back and now within comprehension distance, realised what all the fuss had been
about. My "alternative direction" would have led me into a quarry. What a nice
bunch. I was told that the correct direction was either back from whence I came or to
continue on the road that passed the house, depending on where I wanted to go.
"Thripti", I informed them. Yes, I would have to take the road past the house. I
thanked them profusely and continued on that road. I passed the house. Hells bells and
buckets of blood, I couldn't leave it like that. Why am I so shy? I walked back to
the gate of the house, just as one of its huge occupants did the same monoevre from the
other side of its hinges. I was invited in. If I'd thought the chaps inside had been
rather on the large side from the relative safety of the quarry road, nothing prepared me
for this. The chap that had come out to greet me, was enormous, but he was a dwarf
compared to the other five men inside. There was a woman in there too. "Tsikhoudia?"
one of the men asked. "Ochi yia mena, prepei na perpatiso stin Vassiliki"
(Not for me, I have to walk to...) I was about to say, when I realised that the question
mark following the query, "Tsikhoudia?", had been purely rhetoric. I was given a
quarter litre glass, and an inch of the Cretan fire water. I contemplated sipping its
contents, but decided against that, preferring to get rid of its contents in a thrice.
Ouch! That was viscous. One of the chaps sitting opposite me, then proceeded to refill my
glass. To the brim. This time I did say "ochi". I had a walk to
do. "Rocket fuel", I was told. These were the only two words that this
chap knew in English. I suspect that many an unsuspecting walker had been abducted in this
manner and had raki forced down their necks. I gave this chap a steely look, whilst my
bottom lip trembled, and repeated my protestations. Thankfully his fellow giants fetched a
smaller glass and filled it half way. It was a compromise that I took. I knocked its
contents down in one, to the cheers of the assembled and the complaints of my digestive
system. All of a sudden I joined the "wide awake club". I was raring to go; I
took each man's hand, shook it as hard as I could, kissed the woman, telling her that I
loved her and wanted her babies, only half of which was true, and took my rucksack and
leave. "Rocket fuel" is a very apt description for Tsikhoudia. It is a
highly combustable commodity, but it has the opposite affect from most alcoholic drinks.
Had I been offered a whisky, I would have immediately needed a nap. Tsikhoudia on the
other hand, makes one feel as if one has wings. A mixed blessing given some of the sheer
drops that I was to encounter in the next hour or so.
Between the Seas
Arriving in Thripti I looked for the path out of the village and on
to Vassiliki. It's here that one can truly claim to be "between the seas".
Christopher Thorne's fabulous walking book of that title was named as a result of being
able to see the sea, both to his left and his right. The narrowest part of the island is
at the isthmus leading from Pacheia Ammos to Ierapetra, but at Thripiti, you are at such
an elevation as to be able to enjoy the vistas. To the north, (right), one can see the
Aegean, and looking south (left), the Libyan sea. Not that I looked for them, I was too
busy looking at my shoes and a way out of the village. I passed a house with the largest
flag I have ever seen; there was little doubt that the occupants were more than a tad keen
on Olympiakos football
club. A very large alsatian dog strained at its leash to get at me. "Siopi"
(shut-up) I told it. Evidently it didn't speak Greek. The barking was frightening, but I
suspected that its bite was worse. I increased my pace. I wasn't entirely sure how to get
out of this village. I took a few turns in practically every direction. Just ahead of me,
was the back of another house with an enormous Olympiakos flag. It was even larger than
the one I had seen a few moments earlier. Possibly twice the size. Maybe more. Who knows?
I was glad that I was not wearing my Panathinaikos shirt. Traditionally and politically I support
Olympiakos (the working class team of Piraeus), but when I lived in Athens, I was a
stone's throw from Panathanaikos' ground, and grew rather fond of them. I swung myself
round to the front of the house. An enormous alsatian dog strained at its leash to get...
"hang about!" I recognised that bark...and those teeth. I had spent the last ten
minutes on a 360 degree loop. As I passed the house - and dog - for the second time, I
noticed a couple of chaps sitting down in the driveway, sipping a Greek coffee. "Yiasas"
("Hiya") I yelled, trying to out-decibel the dog. Remarkably, I had been heard.
One of the chaps got to his feet and motioned me in. He seemed oblivious of the hound of
the Baskervilles that had come between us. Until this wolf in dog's clothes bit me, I
had no reason to be shy. The tsikhoudia was still within me and with this, for
Dutch courage, down the driveway I went. As I passed the dog, it opened it's mouth, baring
teeth that a great white shark would have been proud of, and licked my leg. The dog's
owner offered me a Greek coffee. What was going on? These things never happen to me. I
fully expected to be offered a room for the night as well. Inside the house a small army
of people were milling about, doing things which now included making me a Greek coffee
"sketos" (without sugar). I attempted to curb my impetious desires to be
en-hoof again, but failed. I sipped as slowly as I could on the newly arrived coffee, and
achieved the previously unthinkable, by taking five sips to my more normal two, to finish
it. In the short time that it had taken for the coffee to arrive and me to drink it, my
host had a conveyor belt of company. Three different men sat down with us just as the
previous one was leaving. I felt that I was taking up the space designated for somebody
else, so making my apologies, and thanking my benevolent friend, I made my exit. The
people of this area were fantastic, and had evidently been taking "happy
pills". I found the correct path, and after a short delay where my path was
blocked by practically every goat and sheep of the district, I joined the main road out of
here. I was offered a lift by three seperate jeeps, all loaded with walkers. "No, I
am walking", I told them. Surely they could understand that. They waved their
farewells and I put my best foot forward.
It's a long and winding road this one. A fabulous one too. A few cars
passed me during my ascent; all hooted their horns and waved, some slowed down and offered
me a lift. In the picture opposite, you can see for yourself, the suddeness of the drop
down to Vassiliki.
A forest of pine trees surrounded the road on either side, and I was a very happy bunny
indeed. The vista in front of me showed various villages in the distance which, with the
help of my map, I could easily identify as Kato and Pano Chorio, Papadiana and just behind
these, Episkopi. I looked north-west and could make out two villages and the coast. The
first of these villages would be Monastaraki and the one just beyond, Vassiliki. Well, it
made sense and I went for it. There is a more direct route down; one of throwing oneself
off the side of the mountain, but I wisely chose to stick to the road. After an hour or
so, a dirt track leads off the road and half an hour or so later I was in Monastiraki, A
thrill of excitement coursed through my vains. It was 5.30 and I barring disasters I would
be in Vassiliki by 6.00. I rang Rex. He was in Vassiliki, having a coffee at the
kafeneion. On the other side of Monastiraki, the main road from Pachaia Ammos to Ierapetra
has to be crossed. I saw a sign for the archaeological
site at Vassiliki and decided that this was my best route into the village itself. I
knew that the site and the village were in close proximity to each other as I had been
here before. And so it proved. Arriving at the site, I was sorely tempted to hop over into
it. There is a truly wonderful villa here, dating back to the early 'Minoan' period and
known as the "red house". The distinctive pottery style known as Vassiliki-ware
is named after the place. I had thoroughly enjoyed today's walk, but was glad to be in
familiar territory. All in all it had taken a little under seven hours, but I'd had a few
lengthy breaks during that time. Rex was into his second cup of coffee as I met him at the
kafeneion. He treated me to a lemonita and a beer. I was elated. I had
crossed the mountain range that I had only previously played with. Not only that, I had
done it within the time I had thought it would take, and I reckoned I could have easily
have managed another 10KMs on top. There is a fish pond opposite the kafeneion. I drank my
lemonita and grabbed my beer. I watched as the coy carp and toads eyed each other. I
glanced across at Rex. Tomorrow, at this very spot, we would say our last farewells to
each other. I promised myself that I wouldn't cry. But I knew I would. I promised myself
that I would be brave, but some things are beyond one's capabilities. Sometimes one knows
oneself too well.
Arriving back in Aghios Nikolaos, we found the Hotel
'Apollon' (a very nice place to spend the night, on Kapatanaki street: Surprisingly for a
large hotel, they don't appear to have a website, but their 'phone number is 2 841
023 023), dumped our luggage and set-off to find somewhere to eat. A good friend of mine
had worked at an Italian restaurant which we passed. Maraki had spent seven years in
Aghios Nikolaos, and now I was here, where was she? In England of course. I have that
affect on people. We ate at a place diametrically opposite the Italian restauraunt. It was
a good call.
I was extremely hungry and devoured pretty much everything that the taverna
could offer this vegetarian, with a gusto and a bottle of retsina to boot! I would sleep
Tomorrow was going to be a bittersweet day. Firstly, I would buy a new
camera, then Rex and I would say our fond farewells, after which it would be "Hi ho,
and it's off to walk I go", in a very Dopey way indeedy.
© Stelios Jackson & interkriti