Tuesday, September 4: This morning, I head out at 8:20 a.m. into the old town to search for breakfast. I’m surprised to find the whole town is practically shut down, except the dependable Cafe Galero. I order a Continental breakfast: a boiled egg, orange juice, coffee, toast and marmalade, and coffee; after, I check my emails at the internet cafe upstairs. I head straightaway for my car near the Fort, and drive the southern route to Plakias.
I drive a curvaceous & hilly route south to Plakias, a quiet resort on the south coast of Crete. The beach is set between two huge wind tunnels, the gorges of Selia and Kourtaliotis. I drive through the Selia gorge and experience the wind tunnel effect; I feel like I’ll be blown over the edge of the road into the depths of the canyon. I pass by a beautiful white church and graveyard and when I stop to take some photos, the wild wind whips my hair into a frenzy and nearly knocks me off-balance.
I arrive in the beautiful seaside town and see the beach chairs and umbrellas lined up like candy on a shelf. I want to get a feel for the town, so I drive through to the other side where I can see the shining Mediterranean, glowing like a mirror of sunlight.
After my little drive, where, believe it or not, I get lost and head up and up into the mountains and then get pointed right back down again by a local lady, I go to lounge on the beach and swim in the sea. I relax here for quite a while, reading and just soaking up the sun. I don’t know why, but the Mediterranean Sea feels as blue and cool as it looks. Not too salty, it’s like floating in a liquid sky. I could float here the whole afternoon.
A lumbering Greek man comes by to collect a fee for use of his chair & umbrella. It’s about 2 euros, but all I have is a 20. He disappears with my 20, telling me he will bring change. He doesn’t come and doesn’t come and I begin to believe I’ve been ripped off. Finally, I see him collecting and giving change to other sunbathers and I go to track him down for my change. He looks startled that I am confronting him. Does he think I will forget 18 euros? Finally, he goes off again and comes back with my change.
After lounging and swimming, floating and reading, I wander down the street looking for a restaurant that appeals to me. I find the Kri-Kri Taverna, with a pine awning-type roof, potted tropical plants, and lively Greek music circling the room like a Cretan folk dance. I order “mineral water with gas” and aubergines saganaki, a piping hot dish of aubergines, tomato, and melted feta cheese. I eat slowly, savoring every bite, and think about this love affair I am having with Greek food. I wonder why everything tastes so good here. Is it the dry, cool and breezy air? Is it just the simple act of sitting at an outdoor cafe in Greece? Is it because of the idea of being on a Greek island and tasting food that comes fresh off the land? Is it the romantic reputation of Greece? Whatever it is, I have yet to taste a bad meal. With each bite, I soak up ambiance, ancient history, and whimsy.
After my delicious lunch, I hop back into my car and head east toward Moni Preveli and Preveli Beach…