We’d been planning a motorbike excursion around Crete all month, but kept putting it off.  It was the only ‘touristy’ thing we wanted to do while staying  in Greece, but we were waiting for a non-windy day so that riding would be more comfortable.  It appears there are no non-windy days in Crete.  Since we are leaving in just two days, it was time to buck up and hit the road.

The winds were strong, but the views were still glorious.  We decided to take an hour long ride to the port city of Sitia, on the northern side of the island (we’ve been staying on the southern coast.)  The countryside of Crete is full of beautiful groves of olive trees and rocky, arid mountainsides.I’m pretty sure this was the worst motorbike we’ve ever rented – the engine was crazy loud and spewed exhaust, it only had one rearview mirror, the gas gauge was broken, and the blinker didn’t work. ( At least it was also the most expensive one we’ve ever rented.  Ah, Europe…)  Fortunately, John is an excellent driver and maneuvered us up and down the hilly roads and through the winds without problems.
The road was pretty empty, so we could make frequent stops for photography.  (If I’d had that luxury in New Zealand, we never would have gotten anywhere – we would’ve stopped every 10 minutes for more photos.)Despite being relatively traffic-free, however, the roads are still prone to accidents.  Wherever there have been fatal accidents along the side of the road, people place these little churches as memorials (similar to how people in the US place crosses.)  Some of them are very elaborate and feature portraits of the deceased, others are rather simple.  The one below is of average ornateness.  They are rather beautiful to see alongside the road, but whenever we would see a few too close together it made me a little more weary of the stretch of road we were passing.  I suppose that means they are achieving their goal.Its incredible how loud the insects are in this area.  Usually you can hear them loudly at night, but less so during the day.  (In Bali the insects were so loud at night that I couldn’t sleep the first two nights we were there because of the noise.)  Around here they are buzzing and chirping all day long so loudly that I could hear them over the sound of our noisy motor.After about an hour, we arrived in Sitia.  With a population of 9,000, Sitia is a thriving metropolis around here.  (Remember we live 20 minutes outside the town of 800 people.)  It even has a stoplight and a proper Supermarket.  But we did not go to Sitia to see the stoplight – the real draw for us was the beautiful waterfront with several restaurants and cafes.

 John and I stopped at a lovely cafe for lunch and enjoyed some great local flavors, including a Sitia salad (not the same as a Greek salad at all), and a cheese and honey pie that was divine.After lunch we returned to the southern coast, where I snapped a few photos of the ocean just down the road from our apartment.  This part of the coast is rocky and steep, but the waters are intensely blue and clear.We swim at a different beach, but the water there is just as clear and vibrant in sunshine.  I think John will really miss swimming in it everyday when we leave.  Greece may have made a beach lover out of him after all!

Our time in Greece has been exceptional, but I’m ready to leave our tiny apartment and explore something new.  Tomorrow we leave our place near Makrigialos and head for Heraklion, the big city on the island.  From there, it’s on to Italy – our last stop of World Tour!

Hannes Uys - July 25, 2013 - 8:16 pm

Your images of Greece is just sublime Tracy!

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