Overnight Ferry

By Ross in Travel on Tue 24 June 2014. Tags: Greece, transportation

I returned from the hike around 2030, later than I had anticipated. I picked up the rest of my things from Mme Bassia and bought a ferry ticket for the 2200 overnight ferry to Athens. (The only ferry from Chania to Piraeus runs overnight). It was too late to catch the public bus to the modern port, so I wound up taking a taxi. 

The overnight ferry has sleeping cabins with differing number of bunks and degrees of comfort, depending on how much you are willing to pay. I had an economy class ticket, which meant that I did not get a cabin at all and was relegated to the lounge. The strategy was as follows:

  • Claim a section of one of the long couches in the lounge
  • Wait until they are done serving food and drink
  • Curl up on the couch, using backpack stuffed with spare clothes as a pillow

This worked, but I had to add another item betwen steps 2 and 3:

  • Wait for Greece to beat Ivory Coast in the World Cup

It was an exciting football match, and pretty much all the passengers were watching. When Greece won (2-1), the fans cheered so much that they would have literally rocked the boat had it not been a very large, essentially unrockable ferry.

I finally got to sleep in style and comfort, and was woken up in the morning when the crew started serving breakfast and coffee in the lounge. I disembarked around 0630 and headed to the metro station for a day of museums in Athens.

All in all, the overnight ferry, economy class, was a very nice ferry. Plus I got transportation and lodging for the price of transportation, so I really cannot complain.


Samaria Gorge

By Ross in Travel on Tue 24 June 2014. Tags: Greece

Today I hiked the length of the Samaria Gorge, located in the White Mountains near Chania. The gorge is 16 km long and makes the descent from the Omalos plateau (1250 m) to the village of Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea. Most of the length of the gorge lies inside Samaria Gorge National Park.

I got up early to catch the 0745 bus from the Chania bus station to Omalos. After about 1.5 hours, I was dropped off at the top of top of the gorge:

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From there, the trail descends via stairs for about 1 km.

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They take fire safety very seriously.

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Also falling rocks.

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There are many places to refill water bottles along the trail.

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I really like this flowering tree.

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Although the gorge was carved by a small river, the floor of the gorge is dry for most of its length during the summer. At some point, I did see a trickle of water in the gorge.

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But by the time we reached the village of Samaria (which was abandoned when the national partk was created), the stream had run dry.

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The kri-kri, or Cretan goat, is found only on the island of Crete (and a few offshore islands). The guidebooks said that we were unlikely to see one, as they are not very numerous and tend to shy away from humans. When I got to Samaria, however, I saw that this was not the case at all.

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Samaria is located about half way down the gorge, and thus is a natural place to stop for lunch. The kri-kri have figured this out, and I saw several availing themselves of foodscraps dropped (or given to them) by hikers.

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There were also several young kri-kri.

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As the hike continued "downstream" of Samaria, the gorge became more dramatic, with high cliffs springing up on either side of the trail.

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The stream also reappeared (causing the above quotation marks to disappear).

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Near the end of the gorge, the trail reaches the Gates, where the gorge walls are only 4 m apart (and approximately 300 m high).

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Here is a series of bridges at the end of the gorge.

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After the gorge ends, it is a 3 km hike to the village of Agia Roumeli, where I took a refreshing swim in the Libyan Sea. I was not a hoopy frood and had forgotten my towel, but I dried quickly in the afternoon sun.

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At 1730, I got on a ferry to Chora Sfakion, after which I returned to Chania on the bus.


Relaxing in Chania

By Ross in Travel on Mon 23 June 2014. Tags: Greece

After leaving the market, I spent time just wandering around. And taking pictures, of course.

Here is the entrance to the Venetian harbor, guarded by the lighthouse on one side.

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I walked all the way around the harbor to the lighthouse. Unfortunately I could not go inside.

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Here is one of the fortifications I passed on the way.

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I really like how the water looks in this photo.

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I then set out towards the beach for a swim. Along the way, I passed another marina and took a picture of this boat-crane.

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Nea Chora is a nice beach with fine-grained, light-colored sand. It is a little crowded, as it is the closest beach to Chania, but I did not mind. The water was warmer than it was in Santorini, and the waves were very small. 

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I took a few more nice photos of the harbor during the day.

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When sunset arrived, I was ready with my camera and a fully charged battery (last night, my battery ran out of juice while taking sunset pictures, and I had left my spare in the room).

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Here is the lighthouse doing the lighthouse thing.

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And, finally, the Venetian harbor at nighttime.

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Chania Market

By Ross in Travel on Mon 23 June 2014. Tags: Greece, markets

I love markets. If I am ever in a city which has one, I always try and visit. I decided to spend the day relaxing and exploring Chania, and what better place to start than the market. The market is shaped like a Byzantine cross, and has approximately 75 vendors.

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The five parallel electrical wires under the windows reminded me of music manuscript paper. There are even bar lines. And a few notes.

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Cheese!

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Olives.

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Meat.

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All the fish.

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Olive oil and other yummy things.

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And even touristy knickknacks.

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After exploring, I bought some fruit, bread, and cheese for breakfast and provisions for the hike I was planning for the next day.


Chania

By Ross in Travel on Sun 22 June 2014. Tags: Greece

I took another bus from Rethymnon to Chania, and finally arrived in Chania around 1800. The first order of business was finding a place to stay. (By this point in the trip, I had essentially stopped booking lodging in advance). In Chania, there are rooms to let everywhere in the old city. Most of them are located over shops, and all you have to do is inquire with the shopkeeper about whether there is an available room. I turned onto a side street, and the first shop I stopped by had a nice, clean room at a good price. Thus I stayed for two nights at Mme Bassia, located above Ambrosia, a shop selling aromatherapy-esque products as well as really yummy local thyme honey. Alexandra, the evening shopkeeper at Ambrosia, was very helpful, and I highly recommend Mme Bassia as a place to stay in Chania.

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After settling in, I walked down to the old, Venetian port to have a bite to eat.

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After dinner, I walked around until sunset. Here is the light of the setting sun on the facade of the Orthodox Cathedral.

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Here is the old port at sunset:

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I like this picture of the mountains in the distance behind the old port

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Here is the iconic lighthouse which guards the entrance to the Venetian port.

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The Hellenic coast guard returns to port.

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And finally, sunset over the water.

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