We're not lost... - Lasithi & Peza
Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
21Trip End Sep 12, 2012
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Lasithi - Dikteon - Kronion - Kounavi - Alagni
We're not lost, we're just taking the long way…
Narrated by Shana
Going to Crete was mostly my idea. My mother and father came to Crete after they were married as a honeymoon, and then they just decided to live there until various circumstances brought them home (one of which being the discovery that I was on the way!) So I have always felt a need to see this place that enchants so many non-locals to stay and make a life with the Cretans
After deciding we would put Crete into our itinerary, we next had to decide what we wanted to do there. In my very first search I learned of many beautiful caves that scatter the island, and as caves are entirely fascinating I demanded that we visit one. The closest cave to Heraklion is the Dikteon Cave in the Lisithi Plateau. It is also called the Psychro cave, named after the town in which it is situated. According to myth, the baby Zeus was born in this cave when his mother fled to it for his protection, fearing that his son-gobbling father would eat him.
Sounds awesome, right? Wouldn't everyone on vacation to Heraklion want to see this? Apparently not, since there was only one bus a week that guided visitors to this spot, and it included Knossos Palace which we'd already seen. So what to do now? A taxi was out of the question, so Andrew suggested a rental car. Seeing as we also wanted to visit some authentic Cretan wineries which were not on any tour, this seemed like the best way to do everything. Luckily our hotel had a rental car service, so we booked one for Sunday and decided to leave around 8 in the morning.
Since my stick shift skills are terrible at best, Andrew got to drive our little white Skoda Fabia, a compact Czech car whose interior was falling apart
Also, the way addresses are written in Greece are not exactly clear, sometimes they are simply two streets intersecting, and sometimes these streets do not even have names. So off we go with this and a couple more free tourist maps. Sunday is definitely a better day to drive, as lots of shops are closed and people seem to be attending church or resting at home. The Greeks drive on the same side of the road as us, but that is all that their traffic laws have in common with ours. Lanes are very much a suggestion, as it is acceptable to pass other cars by any means possible, and pedestrians have practically no rights of way at all.
The restaurants in Greece take up all the surrounding sidewalks adjacent to their property to set out extra tables and chairs; sometimes these sidewalks are across the street from the actual restaurant
While only containing one "room," it is spectacularly beautiful and impressive
At last we came upon a small building atop the vines, where an elderly man missing more than one tooth was seated outside, smiling and patiently waiting for us to park. We greeted him in Greek and he seemed very excited until he realized that "Kali sperah" is one of the only phrases of the language we know. He asked "American?" and laughed. He led us inside where an older women, we assumed was his wife, also greeted us and had us sit. They poured three wines for us, and we exchanged lots of awkward gestures and smiles trying to convey information to one another. The wines were excellent, as we hoped they understood by our delighted "Mmmmms!" They gave us a tour of their facility with another couple from New York who had managed to find the place. We thanked them profusely (the only other Greek phrase we know) and headed off to try our luck again with the other winery. I realized that reading the signs and tourist map would be much easier if I had a compass, and luckily there's an app for that! I finally figured out which way we should be heading, and with the help of a few more conveniently placed winery signs we found ourselves heading through rows of Syrah and Plyto grapes. We found the central tasting room, which did not appear open, and my heart sank a bit until we saw another car that had been parked near by heading towards us
She was originally from Holland but now lived in Crete with her husband. She spoke four languages, one of which was very good English so we were thrilled to be able to ask about the wine and learn more about Cretan viticulture. She was glad to have young people so interested in wine, so she opened up pretty much every bottle they had available and brought us tomatoes picked from her garden for a snack. We sat for at least an hour and tried many varietals we had never heard of, let alone could pronounce. Everything was delicious, unique and affordable. The Greeks must not understand how much we pay for wine in America and therefore don't have exaggerated prices like Napa. At the previous winery we walked away with a 2004 red blend for about $16, and at Lyrarakis we bought two bottles of white for six euros each, around $8.
While we now have the challenge of somehow carrying around 3 bottles of wine in our luggage, we also had an unforgettable experience that doesn't take up any room in our suitcase. We found our way back to the hotel, dropped off the car and found some dinner. Despite all my irrational fears, Andrew managed to help me realize that we would never be "lost" as long as we were together. We might not be exactly on track, but that's just because we are taking the scenic route…
Tune in next for our adventure of trying to make our way to Santorini without ferry tickets!