Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199801 Greece – Crete

THURSDAY 1 JANUARY 1998 – Manage against all odds (church bells, loud speaker church service, carol playing and sun shining through the blinds) to stay in bed until 11am.  By this time the van is getting hot (and smelly) and outside beckons.  Wonder what this year holds in store for us?  Doubt we will match last years total of 17 countries visited.  It’s hard to believe how much we packed into the last 12 months nor how often we changed our original plans.  We’ve both made new years resolutions to drink and eat less but fall at the first fence when Colin and Lin roll up at 12.00 with a big bottle of red wine.  Shortly after we are joined by Chris (having left Barrie in bed), Tsipi & Tom and some passing Greeks.  Looks like we won’t be able to cut back until we have left Elounda.  Lots of noise attracts us to the waterfront where we see a boat with a man dressed up as “superman” in a 1997 T-shirt sailing past.  The boat disappears around the corner and another one comes out decked in balloons with Santa on board.  He docks by the village square and comes ashore with a sack of pressies for the waiting children.   In Greece gifts are exchanged on New Years day instead of Christmas.  At The Venus the 3pm pig roast is finally served at 5pm due to technical problems and by 6pm we are back in the van shattered and full of alcohol and food once again!  Bed at 8pm



FRIDAY 2 JANUARY – Leave Elounda at 10am.  Barrie, Chris, Colin and Lin come to wave us off.  En route to Iraklion we detour to drive through Malia, a package holiday resort aimed at the younger end of the market.  In winter it is like a ghost town but we believe that in season it is wall-to-wall disco’s bars and street parties.  Zoo disco has a wall that opens at midnight to increase its size.  Unfortunately the tour operators are considering pulling out as too many drunken youths are causing problems to the extent that someone died here last year.  It sound similar to Palma Nova on Majorca that we visit over 20 years ago but no holds no appeal at all.  Into Iraklion to collect the mail, even more Christmas cards and letters.  Out to Continent hypermarket to shop but it’s closed, as is the LPG station.  Nothing for it but to park up in our “usual” spot by Amoudari Beach.  Our regular en tour evening of food and games but we do manage an AFD (alcohol free day)!



SATURDAY 3 JANUARY – In Continent by 9.30am, (or should I say at Continent as we don’t want you to get the wrong idea) for a quick trolley shop.  Our third visit so it is a once up each aisle and away.  The LPG station is still closed so we will try and make what we have last.  Drive south to Gortys, a ruined site that was the Roman capital of Crete and a lot of North Africa.  We park by the archaeological site entrance and walk back along the road towards the village of Ayii Dheka.  At the side of the road there are many tracks leading to the remains of temples, theatres and other buildings.  It seems strange having it all scattered over such a large unguarded area.  Steve keeps picking up bits of marble in the hope of finding a “treasure”.  In the village we buy gyros (Greek doner) 400Drs (88p) a beer 250Drs (55p) and a coke 150Drs (33p) at a Café Neo before walking back to the van and moving to a side road to park overnight so that we can do the main site tomorrow and save 1600Drs (£3.50).



SUNDAY 4 JANUARY – Early start to take in three different archaeological sites.  Gortys, The palace of Festos and Ayia Triadha, saving us over £10 each on admission fees.  We have seen so many sites that although we like to see more a quick visit is enough and by lunchtime we are at Matala.  A sandy beach famous for the caves cut into the rocks at one end.  They were originally roman tombs but in the 60’s were used by hippies when there was a commune here.  Nowadays they are fenced off and closed in the evenings.  Yet again the guide books warns us to expect a packed beach and coach loads of tourists piling in, we enjoy it in solitude. 



MONDAY 5 JANUARY – At lunchtime the clouds appear so we head off and back track to Festos where we stop and chat to a Dutch couple in their motorhome.  On to Ayia Galini, a picturesque fishing village.  We spot another Dutch motorhome parked by the harbour and pull up nearby.  A lady and young girl walk all around our motorhome and Steve hears them debating in English whether we are German or not so he puts them right.  The lady is Dutch with an Irish husband and the girl has an American Mum and an English Dad.  The girl recommends her parent’s bar “Incognito”.  Tomorrow morning there will be a procession from the village church to the sea where the priest blesses a cross then throws it in the water.  We are parked on part of the route so will have to move first thing in the morning.  Take a nice walk along the harbour then round below the cliffs to the beach before returning over the hilltop and through the village.  “Incognito” have a sign us saying open at 8.30pm ish!     Back at the van another Dutch motorhome pulls up.  Marlene and Peter know Wim and Lis and keep linking up.  They have seen quite a few other motorhomes but non are the same as the ones we have seen.  We know that Claire & Malcolm (whom we met in Thessalonica) are on Crete as they left us a note at the Amex office but they had moved on before we got it and no one else has seen tem.  “Incognito” is still not open at 9pm so we go to another bar first and return just before 10am to find they have just opened.  The young girl Christina is there, Mum Marylynne, Dad Alan and a few other people.  We all play a type of Trivia quiz game based on 50’s and 60’s music.  They play one line of the song and you have to guess the next one.  Could have done with Pete Scott to help us.  I get stuck into the ouzo and feel worse for wear when we get back to the van.  So much for the New Year’s resolution – well we have had 2 AFD’s. 



TUESDAY 6 JANUARY – Sit on the bench in front of the van to drink coffee.  The two Dutch couples are sat out and we get engrossed in a conversation with them.  Before we have chance to move the vans the procession comes through and we have a ring side seat.  The priest throws crosses into the sea at which point cars sound their horns and boats their hooters (or rather the people in them do).  Young lads dive into the harbour to retrieve the crosses amidst much cheering.  A ceremony follows before everyone disperses.  Shortly after the Dutch motorhome that we saw yesterday at Festos pulls up with Vinand and Jeannie.  We all start to chat but it starts to spit with rain so all 8 of us retire into our van.  The other vans are old and quite small and they all say how nice and roomy ours is.  Vinand and Jeanie are in their 70’s and have been “on the road” for over a year continuously.  They carry only 30 litres of water (we have 150), have no shower and cannot stand up straight in their van, a bit too primitive for us but they are used to it and stay on sites more than us.  We talk about where we plan to travel and Vin tells us he goes to Scandinavia each summer and takes the ferry to Helsinki from Tallinn in Estonia having travelled there through Latvia and Lithuania.  He buys insurance at the borders and recommends this instead of our planned journey crossing from Gdansk in Poland – more food for thought.  Who said this was an easy life, it’s hard when there are so many decisions to make about where to go and then how to get there!  In the village we have become the focus of attention and unlike in England, where it is rude to stare, in Greece it is seen as a sign of admiration and they think nothing of peering through our windows – perhaps I should offer guided tours!  Yesterday we noticed that there had been a landslide below the cliffs between the harbour and the beach.  Locals tell us it happened last summer and a 21 year old English girl was killed.  She was walking with a Walkman headset on and didn’t hear the warning; at the last minute all she could do was jump into the sea to get out of the way before being hit by a rock.  A fishing boat found her next morning when he saw her hand floating in the water – Yuk.  As the day progresses I begin to feel worse and then remember that someone said if you get drunk on ouzo (or any pernod type drink) then you get drunk again the next day when you drink water as this reactivates it.  Seem to remember this happening to us last summer (28th May) in France.  Skip back in the diary if you want to know how I feel.  Have a siesta and at 6pm join Trudie to visit the local Café Neo.  They offer very good complimentary nibbles, boiled eggs, tomatoes, pickled beans, olives, jacket potatoes and roast chestnuts.  Far more than we have ever been offered before and we rather like the idea of buying drinks and getting a meal thrown in.  9pm and we move on to Incognito.  Steve plays darts whilst I chat to Grigorio, a Russian KGB who now lives in Bavaria but works for the CIA – we certainly meet some characters.  Almost every time someone new enters the pub a complimentary drink of raki (local spirit brewed from the wine making dregs) is sent around.  It tastes awful but we don’t like to refuse and once again ended up sozzled.  Return to the van and shortly after get woken by rain.  Our grey water (bath and sink waste) tank is full and we see this as an ideal opportunity to empty it and let it run into the nearby drain.  Unfortunately in his drunken state Steve opens the toilet valve by mistake and it’s a few minutes before the stench hits him and warns him to close it quick!



WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY – We’re concerned about the mess we may have made with the waste so get up a first light.  You can still smell it and worse still there are turds behind the van.  Fortunately there is a tap nearby so once we have pooper scooped the worst bits we water and brush the rest away with disinfectant.  Next we start to clean our motorhome in order to explain away the river behind us!  Leave at noon and drive to Mires where we buy a double mattress 18,000Drs (£40) for our over cab bed as the foam one keeps bottoming out.  At Kok Pirgos we park behind the beach by a lovely fish restaurant “The Red Castle”.  It’s a very hot day with clear blue sky and we enjoy a meal al fresco at the restaurant (Steve finally gets lamb kleftica).  We have heard some funny stories these last few days, one about a Dutchman asleep on a car park in his motorhome – the police knocked on the door and said he couldn’t sleep there as it was only for parking and the man replied that it was no problem as he was not sleeping but making love to his wife!  The other about a crazy English ex army policeman travelling the world on his own in an old red double decker London bus.  The top deck has been turned into mini apartments for him to take in paying guests – last seen crossing Turkey.



THURSDAY 8 JANUARY – Another very hot day with clear skies.  Walk along the beach and find a secluded spot to sunbathe au natural.  Back to the Red Castle late afternoon for a beer (as we are parked on his land we feel a bit obliged).  A visit later to the local Café Neo, the first one not to provide snacks so we won’t be going there again.  Can’t get used to seeing so many men with worry beads, some only in their 20’s, it drives you mad when you are in a bar and can hear them all rattling. 



FRIDAY 9 JANUARY – Phone Netty to wish her Happy Birthday, she tells me they are going to New York in February and Florida in May (and she thinks we are mad doing all this travelling!).  Also learn that the two Mums are going to Mexico together in March to visit Netty & Alan and family.  We have our usual sunbathing day and it’s hotter than ever.  Late lunch at the Red Castle where we chare a platter of 12 different fish lightly battered and fried but complete with heads, winking eyes and tails.  Mum, you wouldn’t believe how I now get stuck in and rip them apart.  Guess I must be a little more mature now although a quiz I did yesterday in Cosmopolitan to see if you are adult, teenager or child said I was ½ child and ½ adult – Steve says that sounds about right as I am a bit of a mix up.  Beautiful sunset behind the van over the ocean with small islands and a fishing boat to complete the scene; hope the photo is as good.  The only problem with these hot days is that the nights are cold but it’s a small price to pay and still much warmer than January nights in England.  We both fall asleep on the sofa before 9pm so crawl into bed with and extra blanket for an early night.



SATURDAY 10 JANUARY – Move on intending to go to Plakia.  Get lost and “enjoy” a scenic tour up in the mountains and into the Amari valley.  End up doubling back almost all the way to Galini.  Stop in Spilli to photo the famous 24 spouted fountain, which has 19 spouts from Lions mouths and 6 plain spouts!  Arrive at Plakias beach at 12.00 but it is very windy.  Try it on the beach but it’s not pleasant.  Further west Souda beach is also too windy and we can’t find anywhere to shelter.  Head inland to explore Prevali monastery but it is closed.  Walk to look at Palm Beach, a beautiful spot with a nice sandy beach divided by a river that has palm trees on both sides of it.  Further north a walk down Kourtali Otiko ravine takes us to a waterfall.  Our final spot for the day is on the car park by the late Minoan cemetery of Armeni (hopefully dead quiet).   



SUNDAY 11 JANUARY – Early visit to the cemetery.  There are long tunnel entrances sloping down to burial chambers, the deepest and longest entrances are to the tombs of queens.  It’s all quite interesting and we amble round the site and explore inside a number of tombs but there’s little to see inside.  Make another scenic detour (our terminology for when we get lost) up and down mountain roads and round the peninsula by Georgopoulis before arriving back on the Akrotiri peninsula to visit American Steve.  We join him at the American road house, a typical American diner, and enjoy nice big juicy steaks.



MONDAY 12 JANUARY – Into Chania to park up by the old walls.  Get all the washing done in preparation of our visitor’s arrival.  Think the launderette will think it’s Christmas with the amount of business we have brought them.  Walk around Chania like locals with no map needed to guide us.  Back at the car park the Dutch couple Vinald and Gina arrive in their motorhome.  It’s late afternoon and once again we sit out and chat.  We’ve decide that it would be better for Claire and family to join us on Crete where the weather is better and we know our way around.  Visit a travel agent to try and make the necessary arrangements.  Stop for a beer and gyros before visiting the cinema to see “007 Tomorrow never comes”.  11pm back at the van and our usual quiet spot has been transformed by the opening of a new trendy bar opposite.  Will have to delete this from my recommended overnight parking list.



TUESDAY 13 JANUARY – Return to John’s garage for him to complete the service (total cost including parts from the States £60).  Carry on to Omaloss and Samaria Gorge picking up an old man hitch hiking on route.  We drop him at the gorge entrance where he meets two other old codgers whose job it is to stop people entering the gorge, which is closed in winter.  16km long and the longest gorge in Europe it takes 6 hours to walk through in summer but is now flooded.  Well worth the drive for the views alone.  Our hitch hiker thanks Steve with a mug full of raki and this goes down really well as it was raki that made him drunk and ill the other night.  Chris & Barrie drive over from Elounda and meet us by the beach west of Chania.  It’s lovely to see them again.  We go to the American roadhouse for a meal then to American Steve’s where we are joined by Dave for a card evening.  Chris & Barrie are staying in the van with us parked up on beach.  The fun starts when we all try to settle to sleep.  It reminds me of the first night back at boarding school as we all keep getting the giggles.  Chris has a cold, Barry snores, Steve gets cramp and I fidget.  We all spend the night not sleeping through trying to avoid disturbing everyone else but what a laugh! 



WEDNESDAY 14 JANUARY – Up at 7am.  Barrie swears he hasn’t slept a wink so he must snore when awake.  He says he is going to sleep in the back of their estate car tonight and looks sad when no one objects.  Into Chania for a stroll around town.  Barrie pops in to what looks like a junk shop looking for a second hand guitar.  It turns out to be a gun shop and the old man gets it into his head that Barrie is German.  He shouts at and prods Barrie, shakes his head and says “no bazooka”.  We cannot make him understand what Barrie wants or that we are English and leave amidst a rapid fire of verbal abuse.  We get the impression that he has a big problem with Germans, good job we didn’t mention the war.  We take an afternoon ride in Barrie’s car to Souda Bay war cemetery (Brits, Aussie etc) and then west to Maleme German cemetery.  Both immaculate and in superb setting but it’s upsetting to see so many young buried.  Call at the go cart track and check in for 15 minutes of Athens driving practice.  Barry accelerates ahead with Steve hot on his heels.  I tootle round but at least stay on the track which is more than Steve does.  An evening visit to the Chinese restaurant, previously visited on my birthday.  A superb menu for 4 and the best crispy duck ever.  Take drinks by the edge of he harbour, cocktails in 1foot tall glasses.  Feel like real posers watching and being watched.



THURSDAY 15 JANUARY – Have to find a new way out of Chania as a street market blocks out normal route.  Show Chris and Barrie round the ancient site of Aptera. We’ve visited previously but this time manage to find the house of columns in a field nearby.  Return to Lake Kournas and as the weather is so beautiful we call it a day.  Sit at a waterside restaurant table and order drinks and a meal.  Exercise for the day is a 1 hour pedalo tour round the edge of the lake.  We see some turtle at the far side and a few fish.  The only other thing of interest is the speed with which Steve gets out of the water having gone in for a swim.  I think the “King Hell” as he hits the water says it all.  Barrie and Chris leave at 5pm but not before an old bloke cadges a lift with them.  We decide to spend the night here, as it is so nice, peaceful, and scenic.   



FRIDAY 16 JANUARY – Lazy day b the lake.  Still can’t believe how good the weather is.  Have had to unpack more summer gear but I’m not complaining.  In Chania I bought the book “Who paid the ferryman” so I get stuck into it.  I recognise all the places mentioned and get so absorbed that I can’t put it down and end up reading the whole 284 pages before dinner time. 



SATURDAY 17 JANUARY – Another lazy day at Kournas.  We go to the bar at 5pm so that Steve can watch the English football.  He is non too pleased when they put the ice skating on instead. 



SUNDAY 18 JANUARY – Leave early and drive into Rethimno to pay a quick visit to the archaeological museum.  Next stop further east Adelianos Kambos beach where we sunbathe.  I colour my hair and have a bit left over so persuade Steve to go blonde as well, except he ends up brownish red.  When it clouds over we head back up into the mountains to the Arkadi monastery where in 1866 1000 Greek men, women and children tried to defend themselves against 17,000 Turks.  They shut themselves into the gunpowder room and blew themselves and 1,500 of the Turks up when all else had failed.  On to Eleftherna, a Dorian 10c BC town where we look at the watch tower, acropolis and underground water cisterns.  At Sendoni cave huge amounts of money have been spent making a grand car park and entrance but when they couldn’t get the price they wanted from anyone to rent and operate it they just left it.  The massive car park is now full of ruts, as it seems the locals’ use it as a race track.  The cave entrance is muddy with signs of a rock fall so we decline a visit, a shame, as it is one of the most beautiful caves on the island.  Final stop Anogia where the guide book recommends a restaurant with a fire outside to smoke the meat.  Unfortunately the meal is poor and quite expensive. 



MONDAY 19 JANUARY – Tillos, an ancient Dorian mansion is selected for our first visit – through the village we miss the turning and have to double back.  The road to the site is blocked and we cause our usual disturbance down the side streets waiting for badly parked cars to be moved.  We emerge at the place where we first entered the village and drive through again looking for parking but without luck.  Another about turn and back through to the other side of town where we manage to park.  WE have to look at the site through a fence so don’t spend long.  Make our final passage through the town.  We get more waves each time we pass – think it will be the red carpet if we do it again.  Into Iraklion to collect mail from Netty and a large packet from Claire with a lovely photo calendar featuring Daniel.  Travel agents next where we pay for tickets for Claire, Daz and Daniel to fly from Athens to Iraklion.  Regular shopping trip to Continent where Steve is so laid back he actually dawdles along behind me looking for things to buy – on our very few visits to supermarkets in England he used to march up and down each isle ahead of me and then leave!  Back to our beach parking spot at Amoudara.



TUESDAY 20 JANUARY – Lots of rain in the night.  Reckon we have been lucky this last few weeks.  Drive south back to Gortys this time to climb up to the acropolis for views over the roman site.  Get rather lost and end up slithering down t wrong side of the mountain leaving us with a long walk back.  Heading further south we drive over more mountains with not only winding roads but rain and fog to make the driving difficult.  Come out at Lendis where we visit the Asciepieia.  Back in 4c BC this ancient spa site was visited by people from the mainland and Africa when word of the curing powers spread.  There’s a nice beach nearby but it’s not much good in the wind and rain.  Drive west to view he naturist sandy beach where we see a rainbow camper on the beach then another German converted lorry in the town.  We try to find a sheltered spot and try back up by the site and end up having to park near the town.  Call in to the local bar for evening drinks.



WEDNESDAY 21 JANUARY – Happy Birthday Mum.  Drive back over Kofinas mountain range then east along the plateau.  Our route end up a zig zag pattern instead of the straight one shown on the map, half the roads are dirt tracks, others are not signposted, the map is inaccurate and the people you ask just guess directions.  A bit of a mystery tour but by keeping the sun ahead of us we manage to progress east.  Spend an hour walking round Iearapetre, a bit of a ghost town in winter with the waves crashing spectacularly over the promenade with café and bar areas.  Further east we pull up in a forest car park near Analipsi.  It’s a super spot with forest walks and caves behind us and across the road a beach and man made miniature marina.  Hopefully we will get to use the beach tomorrow.  At the moment it is cooler and windy but at least the rain has stopped.  Steve clips his toe nails and passes comment that this is the first winter for years that he hasn’t had Keighley toe (chilblains). 



THURSDAY 22 JANUARY – It turns out that the car park is for the Dasaki butterfly gorge so we follow the trail of yellow paint blobs.  The small stream leads us into the gorge under strange rock formations and shelf caves.  We begin to see small waterfalls and the route involves much hopping over stepping stones.  Quite a lot of butterflies but all the same type.  We come to a halt where the gorges rocky sides meet at a pool with a waterfall beyond.  There is a yellow paint blob above the waterfall and a knotted rope hanging down it.  It’s not for us today, too cold and we have neither swimwear nor waterproof bags or perhaps we are getting a little more sensible in our old age.  There’s running water from a tap in the car park so we wash the van and a well timed downpour rinses it.  The rain here is strange, you get a sudden very heavy downpour but equally suddenly it stops, just like a tap being turned off.  Venture east to Zakros but a combination of inaccurate map, poor signs and bad information (yet again) lead us south east towards Xerobambos.  Things get worse as we are now low on fuel and the only petrol station we pass doesn’t have diesel.  Having gone up and over the mountains the tarmac road abruptly stops and becomes a dirt track.  We are just completing a 33 point turn when a truck comes by and the driver strongly advises us to continue on the dirt track as it is only 20 km on

 passable surface to Zakros where there is a petrol station.  Do another 33 point turn and head off but things get worse.  The track becomes bright pink mud and the clean van disappears under a layer of mud.  The surface deteriorates to a level where we wouldn’t normally bring and old car never mind our motorhome.  We come to junctions with no signs or obvious route and invariably take the wrong one and have to double back.  Meanwhile the fuel gauge is dropping but we dare not stop in case we waste anymore.  After over 2 hours we emerge frustrated, filthy (me included from getting out to back us up) and almost out of fuel, into Zakros.  We’re delighted to make it to the petrol station but it’s bad news as all he pumps are out of order.  We’ve come all this way to visit the site of Kato Zakros but this is 8km east and the nearest petrol station is 18km in the opposite direction.  Actually the decision is made easier when we realise that it is now ¼ to 3 and the site closes at 3pm.  In Palekastro we fill up on diesel then go north to Vai Beach.  Famous as the location for the Bounty commercials as it is at the end of a valley of over 5000 palm trees.  The story is that the arab pirates came ashore here and the palms grew from the date stones they spat out which makes them date palms so how come the “coconut” bounty advert was filmed here?  Again the book slates it as a beautiful but very overcrowded spot but once again we are along and hope the photos we have taken come out well.  There’s a phone box in the car park and Steve phones Claire and we get the sad news that Uncle Gerald died of a heart attack on Monday.



FRIDAY 23 JANUARY – The weather has improved again so I dig my bikini out and a few hours sunbathing.  We want to view Toplou monastery in Sitia and pull up on the waterfront to spot Claire & Malcolm’s motorhome.  Postpone our plans to carry on to Elounda in order to spend time with them.  Catch up on their news then all go to the cinema to see “The Game” with Michael Douglas.



SATURDAY 24 JANUARY – Return to Elounda.  First stop Colin & Lin’s stop then the Venus Bar where we meet up with Chris, Barrie, Chris, Chrissie Roger, Stuart, Jerry, Mark, Denis and Travis.  Bit like coming home to a family as everyone welcomes us back.  Steve goes into Ayios with Mark & Barrie to watch football whilst I go to Chris’s for a welcome bath.  We all meet up again at The Waterfront for a meal and drinks.



SUNDAY 25 JANUARY – Woken by church bells then rain.  Chris has given me an old duvet set and I spend the morning altering the curtains.  Steve tries to improvise a curtain rail out of my washing line but it isn’t up to Blue Peter standard.  Tom & Tsipi stop by.  Call up to see Iris and John and say Goodbye to Iris who is off to England tomorrow.  We go to Chris and Barrie’s for a traditional Sunday roast beef dinner.  Think the UK is the place where meat, potatoes, vegetables and gravy constitute a normal meal – for us it takes some beating.  I watch Somersby on video in the evening, Steve joins Barrie & Mark for the regular Sunday Elounda challenge – table soccer, pool, and darts at various locations, all just happen to be bars.  When we went into he Venus Bar yesterday we were recruited for a boat race next Friday so Barrie spends all evening winding up the opposition that Daz is being flow in as an ex Cambridge rower to be on their team.



MONDAY 26 JANUARY –   Rain on and off all day, hope it stops before Claire arrives.  Drive into Ayios to get a new valve put in the tyre.  Finish making the new curtains and cushion covers.  Getting very exciting about our impending visitors.  Go out for a nice meze meal with Chris & Barrie.  Return to the van to watch more episodes of “Bottom” and we all learn the bedtime verse:-

Night night, sleep tight don’t let the bed bug bite

If they do, do a poo and put it in the Cornish stew.

Into the ambulance dring dring dring, fish trouser elephant in Beijing

Saw a busy bee, diddle diddle dee

Daddy’s an accountant just like me

Night night!



TUESDAY 27 JANUARY – David’s 19th birthday.  Even worse weather with hail stones in amongst the heavy rain.  We spring a leak in the roof by the shower and rain also seeps in through an air vent above the wardrobe.  Phone David to wish him a Happy Birthday and he tells us he has written to us via Claire, should be interesting.  Steve goes out to play with Barrie whilst I prepare the van for our visitors.  Steve returns at 4pm very merry and reminds me of how he used to be after his Christmas Eve drinks with the boys.  I cook a meal for us all and we try to watch “The hand that rocks the cradle” video, not very appropriate with Daniel arriving tomorrow.  We plan an early start as today the road to Iraklion was blocked with snow at one stage.



WEDNESDAY 28 JANUARY – I manage to rest in bed until 7am but have spent most of the night calculating just where Claire & Daz are on their journey.  Arrive at Iraklion airport in plenty of time for the 10.50am flight arrival.  It is lovely to see them again.  Apart from the time dragging at Athens airport they have had a good journey.  Head straight to Continent hypermarket for a quick shop before driving to Elounda.  We make the 1 ¼ hour journey with 3 sleepers on board.  Park up and leave Claire & Daz to sleep whilst we parade 5 month old Daniel around town.  Regular Wednesday bingo outing, quite a dramatic introduction to Crete.  Claire and I leave at 10pm with Daniel and Steve and Daz stay until after midnight and return with the quiz winnings. 



THURSDAY 29 JANUARY – A nice morning and after our 2 hour getting up routine in the van we emerge to sit in the sun.  Claire & Daz go for a walk to Spinalonga with Daniel whilst I enjoy a proper look at the photos that Claire has brought and re read all the most welcome letters.  Later we visit the Café Neo next to Makalis’s and enjoy cool beers whilst sitting out on the terrace with views all over Elounda.  Steve, Barrie and Daz play pool late afternoon.  Claire tries to catch up on some more sleep and I do what Grandmas do best.  An evening meal at a typical Greek restaurant seals the day.  Assorted meze – chips, calamari fritters, meat balls, fried courgettes, fresh fish, pork kebab, stuffed cabbage, deep fried cheese, Greek salad and garlic bread followed by fruit and then later ice cream.  A 4 ½ hour feast.  Daniel is excellent and everyone fusses over him.  I stay sober to look after Daniel while everyone else hits the raki.



FRIDAY 30 JANUARY – The planned trip to Vai beach doesn’t happen.  Apart from Daniel and me no one surfaces before 10am and by the time everyone has washed, dressed, breakfasted and packed up the weather changes and tempers are getting frayed.  We have evolved into our own little routine but this only really works for he two of us.  Also our visitors are not used to being in a motorhome.  Drive into Ayios Nikolaos and enjoy a pleasant stroll round town.  Back in Elounda Barrie picks us up for a dry run for his “Happy Raki” tour.  Along with Mark he plans to take tourists into the mountains to visit 8 different Café Nio’s where the owners will give them a free shot of raki at each.  The plan is to spend ½ hour at each one so having downed the free drink they are encouraged to buy others.  We stop at only 3 and return in time for Claire & Daz to get ready for a meal out whilst we baby-sit.  They enjoy a belated birthday meal for Daz at The Venus and I try to catch up on my diary and start replying to all the letters we have received.  Barrie gave us an interesting snippet of info today.  The reason there are so many unfinished looking buildings in Greece is that you only have to pay tax once building is complete.  By leaving rods sticking out of the roof they can claim they are saving up to build another story. 



SATURDAY 31 JANUARY – An early start and we make it to Vai (Bounty) beach in time for lunch.  What a change since we were here a week last Thursday – the storms have caused a lot of rubbish to be washed through the car park and on to the beach and the rainwater has gouged a river from the car park, through the beach and into the sea.  On the way back I drop Steve in Ayios and drive the motorhome back to Elounda.  The big kids have a sleep whilst I take the little one out for a walk.  Our leaving party at The Waterfront Dutch bar.  Barrie, Chris, Mark, Denise, Colin, Lin, Tom and Tsipi give us a good send off.  We sample the Dutch and Indonesian house mix with chips then Claire & Daz leave as it gets too smoky for Daniel. 





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