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Goodbye Crete, Goodbye Greece

Today was our last day on Crete. I really enjoyed Crete. It may not be the “paradise” spoken of by our taxi driver on Santorini, but it’s a pretty, amazing place. The north side has all the cities and is fairly green and beautiful. The center has surprisingly tall and steep mountains. The south side has beautiful beaches. We spent the day at one of those beautiful beaches today.

Driving from Chania to Elafonisi Beach is a challenge. The roads are windy and very narrow. In some places they are so narrow only a single direction can proceed at a time. We passed through what looks like a railroad tunnel, barely wide enough for the microbus we were driving. The road takes you through a few small towns where you are sometimes forced to pull to the side into a driveway so traffic coming towards you can get by. If you get carsick easily, this may not be a good trip for you.

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi beach is beautiful. In some ways it reminds me of Balandra Beach near La Paz, BCS. There is a section of the water that is “knee deep” for hundreds of yards in every direction. We walked most of the way around the “island”. It was not an island today. But the big claim to fame for Elafonisi is not that it has shallow water. No, it is famous for its pink sand. There isn’t a lot of pink sand anymore, because so many tourists have scooped some up to take home for themselves, but there’s still enough to see and enjoy.

We got to the beach earlier than most and had our pick of parking spots. The lounge chairs were still stacked on top of each other as we strolled around. Eventually we took some off the stack and relaxed until someone came around to rent the chairs to us. That was the end of our chair affair. By that time we were pretty done with the beach anyway. We walked back to our cars and drove back up the mountain as the hordes descended. We were like salmon swimming upstream.

Somewhere in the mountains we stopped for lunch at a cute little place ran by a woman and her mother-in-law. The experience seemed to sum up our other experiences in Crete. The food was great. The people were extremely friendly and working so hard to please. But we couldn’t stay long. We had a plane to catch.

Rental Car Returned?

We turned in our rental car in one of the most chaotic scenes at a rental return that I can easily remember. Our car was rented through a third-party company and we were returning it to a partner company who seemed to be renting space inside a general car rental return area. It wasn’t obvious where we were supposed to go. Everywhere we went seemed to be wrong. Each person we talked to worked for a different company than any previous person we had talked to, and never for the partner company we were trying to find. Eventually we parked our car where someone told us to park (he didn’t work for our company). Then we found someone from our company at the carwash and handed them the keys. It was quite the experience.

We flew on Sky Express from Chanie to Athens. It was another turboprop plane where we stayed low over the Aegean Sea. I don’t think we ever got to 10,000 feet. The captain never turned off the fasten seat belt sign. The crew never got up from their jump seats. There were no snacks or drinks. The flight lasted about 35 minutes. Our taxi driver was waiting for us as we exited the airport and whisked us to our hotel for the evening.

Last Meal in Athens

We stepped out briefly to get one last meal in Athens. It was probably the only real “fail” we’ve had with respect to food and restaurants on the trip. Our waitress got everything wrong. She completely forgot Charmaine’s order and delivered every other meal to the wrong person. She was a really nice lady, but the food wasn’t great and then to have all those mistakes… but we still enjoyed being out and about one last time.

In the morning we got up and had another excellent hotel breakfast, walked over to Panathenaic Stadium, which is probably the only white marble stadium in the world. We took a few pictures, then walked back through a park or two to our hotel, packed up, and headed to the airport and flew home.

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