24 October 2008

Samaria Gorge

While staying in Chania, Crete, we walked through Samaria Gorge. We woke up around 5:00am and caught a bus to the head of the gorge, up in the mountain of central western Crete. We arrived around 730am and it was a beautiful clear cool morning. The gorge is supposedly the longest in Europe and gets to be up to 100 metres deep and only about 5 metres wide at its narrowest, near the southern sea. The walk started very high in the mountains and we spent the first couple of hours falling down jumbled rocky steps and using muscles that we didn’t really have. The walk is 16kms and leads to the Agios rumelos which is a small village on the Ocean. We bolted past all the oldies with there alpine climbing sticks and the stumbling idiots in thongs and high heals. There were old people who were scared of the loose rocks and the steps and that was about 500 metres into the 16km walk.

Slowly we made our way to the front of the pack and set a cracking pace, not that it was a race but we didn’t want to be stuck behind numpties and we also wanted a chance to see some Kri Kri, which are Crete’s native wild endangered goats. They are small shy animals and we managed to see quite a few in the end because we were the first to walk the gorge for the day before they got scared off by the bellowing teenagers and Americans. Eventually we made the mistake of stopping for some water and a photo and some mad frenchies overtook us. The scenery throughout the gorge was amazing because everything was so green and cool. Greece is very dry and brown, much like Australia and all the colours are very muted. In the gorge however there were bright greens against brilliant blue skys, crystal clear streams, again rare in greece to see any streams, and beautiful mountain vistas. The whole walk was in the shade too which is great in Greece when you are walking 16kms. At the end of the day my feet were a bit sore and corinnes ’Hams (thighs) were a bit tired too. We suddenly emerged from the gorge onto a view of the southern Aegean, blue and sparkling and it was about 35 degrees out of the shade. We went swimming and tried to get around the beach of sizzling black stones. Some Frenchies arrived at the beach and as we had seen previously did the full body nudey strip and changed into there togs, confident but unusual. We had lunch at a Taverna owned by an arrogant fat man that was so annoying to watch i just wanted to push his face into the burning hot pebbles of the beach. He was rude to the tourists, soppy to the greeks, very rude to all his wait staff and swanned around like he was some sort of local hero. I was served a pitta Gyro (kebab) the size of Tasmania and we had cold beers but unfortunately never got our water or a table cloth like the locals did. At the end of the day you have to catch a ferry to another town East along the coast and then you catch a bus from that town back to Chania. As usual the bus proved to be a crazy affair. Hundreds of people who caught either public buses or tours all lined up and then we were herded onto the right buses. All the tours went first, there was an especially interesting polish tour that i and all my male friends would have liked to be on but i had to catch a public bus. Our buses came last and then we were made to go on certain buses. some people were thrown off buses and put on others for no particularly reason and they also reveled in trying to separate couples on different buses. Some Asian people on our bus were screamed at in greek and thrown off, they were eating. No one had said no food and there were no signs but damn the Greks got angry about it.

On our way home on the Bus we had another Greek bus adventure. Our crazy, stupid idiot bus driver encountered a motorcycle drive going the wrong way along a road. He threw the bus into reverse, thus going the wrong way too and screamed at the moto man and then made a citizens arrest and we all waited while the crazy greek man, who was probably more criminal than the biker, talked to the police about what the biker had done. Meanwhile on the bus there was mutiny building, a lot of people wanted to get home after the big walk and some people had to get to the airport etc. The Asian man who had nearly been thrown off was going to hijack the bus and drive us home. When the police did arrive a big German tourist went out and abused the bus driver massively and then screamed at the police too to let us go home. They of course did not really understand so a big angry greek man went and abused the bus driver too. The police looked puzzled and let us go but then the bus driver refused to drive his mutinous crew and also to take the abusive greek passenger. In the end they had a few more screams and we got on our way, about 45minutes later. The angry greek man had another scream at the bus driver on the way home and made him drop him off at his house rather than at the bus stop!

Eventually we got home after a great day in the Cretan mountains and Ocean.


Early morning at the top of the Gorge and the start of the 10 thousand bejillion steps. our legs were unusually sore for a good week from all the down steps.


A view of the barren mountains through the pines and cypresses.


A local establishment for the evacuation of wastes


Just another view of a tree growing out of a rock


Corinne looking especially gorgeous


Rehydrating myself and keeping that well tuned fitness machine purring.


A beautiful and unknown flower that we saw all over the place. It comes from a bulb and looks out of place amongst the dryness


A Kri Kri in the ruins of the olive groves of Samaria, now uninhabited when the place became a national park.


A sign that does not impart confidence, for how far to you have to walk quickly?


The gorge at its thinnest point near the southern ocean


Corinne on one of the concrete knobs at agios rumelos. the actual beach was further in the background.


Nise said...

wow. all the pictures of your holiday look fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Wow! what an adventure! There are some unexplained comments though - for instance, what was it about the Polish Tour that was so interesting? I love your photos too. You both look so fit and gorgeous. xxx

Samaria Gorge said...

A river playing a hide & seek before appearing at Springhead is really brutal in winter. Another beauty is a bubbly spring on the way. Certainly few cautions & helpful details are needed for a 4-8 hour rough journey. There are a lazy route & another shorter route from iron gates as well to Agia Roumeli Beach.