Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Unplanned Adventures in Sitia, Crete - Part Two

The next morning, I chickened out of hiring the last surviving Minoan car, and we headed for the hills, Lisa and I. Fairly soon, I was pleased I'd decided not to drive.

Like the outskirts of most towns, I supposed, it was scrappy with old bits of machinery, run-down or abandoned houses cheek by jowl with expensive new ones in different styles and colours. It was an uninspiring morning weather-wise too. Then I saw an intriguing sign for Tripitos – and turned off to a promontory to wander the ruins of an ancient Hellenistic city.  Unlike at Petras, there are no signs, but clear remains of houses, and green boulders facing out to see towards a far island. I'd probably have missed it if I'd been driving.


I’d entertained ideas of getting to a monastery way down the coast, but now I needed to escape the fast traffic and barking guard-dogs at the roadside. So instead we headed uphill into the hinterland where the traffic was thinner and there was birdsong, olive trees, views of cultivated fields below. I had no idea where I was going, but I liked the look of the mountains. And the sun was coming out. It was hot walking miles uphill on tarmac. But a workman confirmed there was a village further up. We made it to Roussa Ekklisia at noon.

The first kafeneion and the restaurant were shut, but I spotted a taverna with an open door and asked for lemonade and water. ‘I don't have water,’ said the friendly lady. ‘Only from the spring!’ she added, pointing outside. Beside us was a beautiful stone fountain with Turkish writing, and spring water gushing from it. Lisa got a bowl of Roussa’s finest. Perked up, we continued.


I didn't mean to continue walking so far, but the paths through the woods past Roussa were beautiful. 

Two hours later we were at a little church, maybe called Stavros. There was something very special about that little white church I'd seen high on a hillside in the middle of nowhere. Tired and hungry but exhilarated, I took off my shoes, lay down and listened to the only sounds: rushing spring water and the odd froggy squawk of birds of prey up above. Inside the church were the most amazingly beautiful paintings.

I didn’t have a good enough map to know exactly where we were, or how far away the next village was. I wanted to keep going, but we didn’t have food. I wanted to stay up in these hills. I was so pleased I'd come here.



... More of the Cretan adventure soon!

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