Crete in the winter, -a travelling story

27.12.92, six o clock in the morning, Souda Harbour, Crete. After two years of absence I see once more the most famous island of Greece, where I used to live with my wife and my four children from 1985 -91. My feelings are already turbulent and intense due to the night before, when I went with friend Harry and our bikes to the boat in Athens, and also due to our tremendous retsina consumption with several Greeks on the last night. Absolutely whacked we leave the boat and we stand in the rain. My worst fear comes true: Winter in Crete can mean torrential rain. So, off to the nearest kafenion - with our bikes, cold, wet and bleary-eyed we probably made a strange impression on our environment. Quite a few cups of strong Nescafe later and now overexcited, it becomes a little lighter. We decide to go the ten kilometers to my old home village Kalives in the drizzle. My first path leads me to my former house. ... The rest of the day we celebrate my reunion with the village.
Never again will I drink Metaxa, Raki or similar disgusting things. It rains every day and our bikes stand at the house of friends in Kalamitsi - a sad, bereft sight. We came to travel by bike and now this! Every evening we switch on the radio or television to hear the latest weather reports. ... On New Years Eve we are so depressed that we are in our beds by 10 o clock, listening to the drumming rain.
... A ray of pale sunshine squeezes through the menacing cloud cover. Up and away. Now or never ... through pine forests and olive grounds. ... The price of our room is expensive and the water is cold. A pushing whistling sound keeps me in a "good mood" all night long, the origin is unfathomable and the destruction of my sleep. ... In the morning of course no hot water. Sleet starts after another sad breakfast. ... Then what happens drives us mad: Again and again cars block the road, loudspeakers screeching Greek music ... snow flurries ... all around deep snow-covered olive fields ... . Our mood hits rock bottom. It is not easy to find a room for the night. ... At 5.30 p.m. we go to our cell. Harry wears his wool cap in his bed. Crete in Winter, never again. We lie as on a bier, just a power failure missing and candles at the heads of our beds. This is no good, so into the next taverna. A good fasolada (bean soup) and wine gives us fresh heart. Again in the cell, we go to bed. Twenty minutes later the light goes out (power failure!), and in front of the door someone wanders around with candles like a ghost.
... We wake up, it is Summer. It changes that quickly in Crete. ... We move off and enjoy the journey through green valleys, picturesque and green landscape. Several shepherds beat their flocks over the slopes, everything is harmony and peace. The sun beats down on us. We enjoy the days and have several beautiful tours. We see the deepgreen freshwater lake of Kournas, the wells of Argiropolis and the village of Kokkino Horio, where a 30 years ago they filmed the village scenes for the film "Zorba The Greek" with Anthony Quinn.
We finish our holidays peacefully. ... On the of January at 6 p.m. we were on board of the Lissos, the same boat, that brougth us a month ago to Crete. We found couchettes, where we could sleep comfortably and free, were soon in our beds and my thoughts sailed from the experiences of the last weeks towards to Eva and my children.

Extracts of the holiday diary of Wolfgang Grill, 1992/93



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