June 17, 2019: First Beach Day on Crete

Monday. GT2 Day Nine. Aptera, Crete, Greece.

Today’s plan is to be our first official beach day while on Crete. I got up around eight thirty, having stayed up until two in the morning chatting with folks back home and uploading media from the trip. My “as we travel” YouTube channel playlist is updating to yesterday, now.

Dominica got up just after me while I was in the shower. I did some media work this morning first thing, then shot a little establishing footage to kill off the phone battery so that I could get it charging to prepare for the day out.

Emily got up at nine thirty and came downstairs at ten thirty. She said that Madeline was still asleep and had not moved yet.

We decided on the beaches at Paleochora, on the Libyan Sea, as our destination for today. There are two beaches in the village and it looks just awesome. Since no one was up and moving early this morning, it seemed like the logical place to go since we would have to drive a little while to get there. That way we could do our driving during the hottest part of the day, and be in Paleochora for the cooler part of the day and during the golden hour for photos. Emily agreed that that was a good idea.

My battery for my watch got charged up last night. This is my second time having to charge it since getting to Europe. I charged it last in Athens as it was low when we started the trip. So it is holding up well. Other than lacking a map function, it really is an ideal travel watch.

Paleochora is on the south shore of the island, where Dominica and I have never gone. It is a good choice for us because it is a village with lots of amenities, and with two world class beaches right in the village. One faces east, and one faces west. The village is nearly equidistant between Athens, and Libya! We will see how the drive is, though, as we have to go over the mountain pass to the south side of the island.

Emily, Dominica, and I were all completely ready to go a bit before noon. But Madeline was still asleep. Emily had checked in on her and she had not stirred yet. So we were waiting on her for a while. Dominica tried to wake her up at twelve thirty to get her moving.

Route from Aptera to Paleochora, Crete

Emily woke Madeline up a little after twelve thirty to get her into motion. While going to wake her up, Emily discovered our third centipede at the house (the first one was the first night by the television, the second was last night on the wall by Dominica and my bedroom), this one was high on the wall on the other side of our bedroom over the stairs, so we can’t get to it to kill it (it probably did that strategically.) But Emily declared that it was a small scorpion on the wall, rather than a centipede. From a distance, we could only tell that it was about two inches long, not what it was. She said it was definitely a scorpion, and alive and moving, so Dominica was pretty much ready to just pack up and move house given the revelation that a small scorpion was running around on the wall; her family has a history of severe allergies to scorpion stings. So we were in a bit of a panic until I identified it as a small, every day centipede running around and nothing to really worry about. Emily said “what’s the difference?” So today we learned that Emily does not know the difference between centipedes and scorpions. Crisis averted.

Also, today, Dominica realized that the reason that I grew up always closing toilet lids is not just because it looks so much better, and because it keeps things from accidentally falling into them, but primarily because when I was young I learned that toilets are a key entry point for dangerous snakes (as well as some insects and similar things that you don’t want) into your home and that keeping the lid down can be for pest control and safety. So she had me record a YouTube video explaining the history on that.

One thing that we’ve really noticed at this house is that being up in the mountains in a rural area, the cicadas are absolutely out of control. They are so loud that we have a hard time talking over them, recording videos can be difficult, and it makes it very hard for Madeline to sleep because they keep her awake.

By one thirty we were finally ready to head out onto the road to the southern shore.

The drive was pretty long, almost two hours. We went west on the highway past Chania, then we turned south and drove up over the mountains through the pass. Dominica had to work really hard to handle it, it was a very long, very mountainous drive and she does not handle that well. She had taken some medicine and had her wrist bands and we blasted the air conditioning for as long as we could for her.

Central Crete up in the mountains is really beautiful. What a great drive it was. Some really neat small mountain towns along that way, like Kanandos. I wish that we had time to stop and explore some of them, they seemed like great little locations that have escaped the tourists that most of Crete sees so much of.

It was about three thirty when we got to Paleohora (it is spelled many ways in Latin, but its real name is Παλαιόχωρα.) What an adorable little village. We came down from the mountains and were right into the peninsula with the village instantly. The highway just turned into the main road and after a few blocks it felt like I was driving on a pedestrian way so took a side road, found the western beach and just parked because it seemed like driving around the village was going to be a problem.

The town is super quaint, loaded with little seaside shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, a beach on either side of town (one faces east, and one faces west). It’s a very beach town, but with lots of local character.

We went straight to the west facing beach as it was already afternoon. The girls camped out in chairs. We had to pay four Euros per chair, but that was actually not so bad as it gave us access to the chairs for the day and no obligation to buy anything else.

I would have hung out there for a while, but Dominica needed Ibuprofen, which we have been looking for for days and now she has run out and the sun is giving her a migraine and it is an emergency. So I set out on foot to see what I could find. Sadly, though, it was siesta and every pharmacy in the village was closed. All of them. I went to every one listed on Google Maps. And when that didn’t work, I walked the entire village going up and down the streets to see if Google had missed any. It hadn’t. But at least I had a chance to scour the town and I took loads of pictures while I was out. So not all wasted time. Good exercise.

I got back to the girls at five. The pharmacies that we knew about were set to open at five thirty. They were hungry and wanted to order food. The complication being that leaving the beach would mean giving up our chairs and we needed them. A restaurant catered to our area so we decided to just go with that. Veggara ended up having good prices and really good food. Both girls went for “Cowboy Burgers” which were hamburgers with eggs on them. Dominica and I both got tuna clubs with fries. All of the food was really good. Thirty two Euros for the four of us, delivered to us on the beach.

After we ate, I returned and got the Ibuprofen from the pharmacy. They sell 600mg over the counter here, which is the dosage that Dominica and Emily both use, but they normally have to take three 200mg American pills to do that. Dominica estimated that the amount that I bought for two Euros and sixty five cents would have been close to twenty dollars in the US. And would require three times the space. European Ibuprofen is way better for travelers, you get so much more with so much less of your valuable travel capacity wasted. Plus the huge money savings, of course.

Emily also sent me out to find a crepery in town. Google said that the village had none, but that seemed completely impossible. And we were right that Google was wrong, I found one no problem. If this one had not been found, we were planning on going to the Sugar Lab which is supposed to be open until eleven on the drive back to Xavia. And if that was closed, there is supposed to be a twenty four hour crepery in Xavia itself.

Dominica and I went in the sea for a while. The water of the Libyan Sea is amazingly clear and cool. It was really nice. The beach here is fantastic. I was probably in for close to an hour.

Once I got out of the water, it was time for Emily and Madeline’s beach photo shoot which was the primary reason that we were here. And now it was the Golden Hour, so time for the photographs.

Photographs went well. The setting is gorgeous. Once we were done, we cleaned up from the sand, put our stuff into the car and went to Καρακατσανης for crepes. Emily got chocolate and banana, Madeline got chocolate and strawberry, Dominica got banofee. Dominica’s was definitely the best. I got nothing, knowing that I would have to eat more leftovers than I had wanted in the first place. I am not huge on crepes to begin with. But these were quite good.

After crepes everyone was tired, from the drive and the sun, and it was time to head back home. The middle of Παλαιόχωρα turns into a pedestrian area in the evenings, so the streets that we had driven down earlier were now all outdoor seating. Very nice. I love this village. This is my kind of Crete.

By the time that we were in the car, it was dark. We tried returning to go back home but found that all of the roads that we had come in on were now closed, blocking us from the island. We were trapped on the peninsula. Google Maps kept directing us back in circles to the same blocked roads. The village had no obvious way out.

There was a road up into the new town and up into the mountains that I had seen on the map earlier and had wanted to try, but Dominica really didn’t want to take it. But eventually when there was no other option I insisted that we try that before doing something crazy and ended up finding a really easy way out of town and back to the highway. This is clearly the way that they village wants people to be going, but provides no signage or any kind of information to make that reasonably possible. And Google Maps is not updated to even consider it as a possibility. A bit ridiculous. Dominica was starting to panic that we were literally trapped on the peninsula for the night.

We did the nearly two hour drive back to Aptera or Ἄπτερα in the dark. Very little traffic. I was surprised to find a handful of these little mountain villages had squares full of late night diners sitting out enjoying the nights. They seem like surprisingly lively little places that look absolutely fantastic. Totally my style of living.

It was eleven when we got home to Ἄπτερα, to the Stratos house. We found several more centipedes tonight. Four were discovered immediately. I was able to kill two no problem. But two were completely out of reach. This is not making the girls happy. This is a total of seven centipedes that we have found since getting here, and we do not like centipedes. Even Emily is pretty freaked out by them, and she has never encountered them before.

The girls all went straight to bed. I stayed up to get some media uploading. First the Flickr images from my mobile phone. Then wrapping up some videos going to YouTube. I did some normal work, as well. Then I kicked off more Flickr updates and called it a night, heading up to bed. I was surprisingly tired tonight, too. But then again, I did loads of walking in the head that no one else did (about eight thousand steps), and I did the three to four hours of driving alone on mountain roads, I did the photography, and I didn’t get the time to relax on the beach. So maybe it is not so surprising that I am pretty tired.

It felt like we had not been home for very long when I was heading to bed. Maybe an hour and a half. But in reality, it had been three hours. I did not try to go to bed until at least two in the morning!

Our tentative plan for tomorrow is to go to Xavia (Chania) to walk the old town, do some shopping (Dominica really wants to get a blue opal necklace like on that she saw on Santorini but is definitely not going to buy one there), eat, and explore the city. We still have never gone into the city proper, although Souda is part of the metro area and Emily and I have been there twice, now.