I've said we were going to travel where the winds took us and so was the case with the weekend. The winds changed direction as I was writing the last blog entry. We'd had every intention of heading east along the south coast of Crete, but while I was writing downstairs, Joel chatted with our German neighbor upstairs who said we really shouldn't miss Loutro, just down the coast to the west.. So we flung things into our one suitcase (yes, one is now packed with our Paris clothes and is left in the rental car) and two Bagallini bags, and headed for the morning ferry.
The ferry, a small car ferry, makes three 20-minute runs a day between Hora Sfakia and Loutros. Loutros is a small harbor town -- smaller than Sfakia and accessible only by ferry or on foot (down a narrow path for an hour and a half) so we opted for the ferry. We'd decided that if we didn't like it, we would have lunch there and return on the 12:20 ferry. With the stormy weather Saturday morning, we rocked and rolled our way to Loutros, disembarked in one of the most charming harbor towns we've ever seen and soon were checked into a pensione at 35 euros a day that provided us a deck with front-on view of the harbor (not to mention ceiling fan, refridgerator, dishware and a hot water pot). Within an hour the town had worked its charms on us and we extended our stay until this morning. It was difficult to leave today, and we've vowed to return. For those reading this in the Pacific Northwest, Loutros is our new Stehekin - perhaps even better as it provides both the hills for hiking and a stunning seafront.
Picture a crescent shaped harbor, ringed with small restaurants and hotels and pedestrians, small boats dancing in the gentle wave action at the water's edge, the ferry docked for the night at the edge of the harbor and a full moon comes up illuminating the scene, like a postcard. . .that would be last night. This morning the sun rose over one of the distant peaks, looking ever so much like a volcano erupting a giant orange and yellow sphere. . .it really doesn't get any better we've concluded.
In addition to being one of the most picturesque harbors we've ever seen, there were incredible hikes to take up the hillsides around us that led to and through Venetian and Turkish ruins. Sunday morning we climbed to the remains of a Turkish fortress, hundreds of years old. The only sounds were the wind blowing through the olive trees, goat/sheep bells ringing, the birds chirping and the waves below. The morning sun heated the wild herbs so the scent of thyme, oregano, and sage wafted in the breeze.
We finally headed out this morning the direction we had planned to go on Saturday. We are now in a small studio apartment in a small beach front town called Kalamaki about six hours and 50 kilometers from Loutros. Distances aren't great here but the narrow, winding roads up over the mountains and through gorges makes for slower travel. Our apartment cost 27 euros and has a narrow view of the ocean. . .the ocean front units were all filled on this Monday night. We head out tomorrow as the explorations continue.