Rethymno, Crete, June 12-19

Rethymno Travel Blog

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When I got on the ferry from Paros to Heraklion, Crete, I was feeling a little bit disheartened about my trip. I had just spent three nights in a hostel where there were no other travelers, and the room temperature never got below 90 degrees. I wasn't meeting people and every night consisted of me sweating for hours on end. The ferry arrived late, making me start to get nervous about how I was going to get to my hostel. I had looked it up on the internet earlier and noticed that reception hours ended at 9. My ferry was supposed to get into Heraklion at 7:30, but it had arrived almost an hour late. It was going to be a close one. It was about a four-hour trip, during which I was bothered by a raspy-voiced Greek man and woman who literally did not stop talking the entire time.

I got into Heraklion at 8:45 and hurried to the bus station in time for the 9:00 bus to Rethymno. It was a bit slow-going and did not arrive in Rethymno until almost 11. I caught a cab to Old Town and found the hostel fairly quickly. Imagine my relief to see about 20 people all talking and socializing on the patio. I checked in, got a beer, and started to meet people. I ended up going out to a bar for a few hours with some of the people.

The next day I had breakfast with some people at the famous Stella's Kitchen, and then headed to the beach for a day of relaxation. I settled into the hostel very quickly and a few days had gone by before I knew it. I found myself extending my stay there day by day...originally I had intended to only spend two nights and then move on. I ended up staying seven nights. I explored Old Town quite a bit, saw many shops and sat in the harbor drinking ice cold frappes. The Venetian Fortezza near the port was very interesting also, although extremely hot because there was very little shade. I went to the beach later that day to cool off, and found the water to be extremely rough...I'm talking 5-6 foot waves crashing down. One caught me off guard and swallowed me up, along with my beloved Serengetis, which are now somewhere at the bottom of the Mediterranean. That night a few of us went back to the beach and enjoyed a watermelon full of raki. Raki is a Cretan liquor that tastes like a combination of tequila and vodka. There were watermelon chunks within the fruit that soaked up the alcohol. It was very tasty and potent...

The next day, I went to a place called Preveli Beach with a French guy, an Australian girl, and two Canadian girls. We got a bus from the town and after about an hour, we were dropped off on a remote stretch of road that overlooked the Libyan Sea, on the south side of Crete. It was a fifteen minute walk down a steep set of stairs to get to the beach. The beach itself was spectacular, with gray sand and a freshwater river flowing into it. The water was very deep, and somewhat colder than the beach in Rethymno, which was surprising since it is further south and theoretically would be warmer. Swimming in the freshwater river was very nice also, as it had a current and you could float around lazily. The walk back up the stairs was obviously more strenuos than going down, and it took us about 20 or 25 minutes. We got the bus back and I attempted to get to bed early because I was going to hike the Samaria Gorge the next day, which requires you to get up at 6 in order to finish it in one day.

I got up at 6 on June 18th, and met Tahnee, the Australian girl, downstairs. We walked to the bus station and had to take a bus first to Chania, a town to the west of Rethymno, where we got another bus to the gorge. We arrived at Samaria at around 9:45 and started the 16 km walk. The first 45 minutes was just walking through a forest on the side of the gorge, down steep staircases with unsure footing. It took about 90 minutes before we really reached the good part of the gorge, all the way in the bottom with the freshwater stream running down the middle. Every few kilometers there was a spring from which you could refill your water bottle, and it was very necessary because the day got hot before we knew it. It was quite nice though to splash the ice-cold water from the stream over yourself to keep cool. It was not long before you were dry again and sweating. The gorge had spectacular views and rock faces that went up for hundreds of meters. Tahnee and I took about 5 and a half hours to walk the entire thing, and we stopped at a cafe at the end, where I had freshly squeezed orange juice. I don't think I've ever tasted anything better in my life. We then walked for about another 30 minutes before finally making it to the village at the bottom of the gorge. We went to the beach and cooled off for a while. Then, we had to take a ferry from that small town to another town, where we caught a bus back to Rethymno. We arrived back at the hostel at 9:30 p.m. It was a long, but rewarding day trip.

That night was my last in Rethymno, so I partied with several of the people at the hostel who were also leaving the next day. There was a lot of drinking of Mythos beer (Greek beer), and raki. It was a great night, which ended at the beach. The next morning I finally succumbed to buying new sunglasses, then I packed up my stuff and caught a bus from Rethymno to Heraklion. That hostel has been the hardest to leave so far this trip. I highly recommend it to anyone who is traveling to Crete.
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photo by: luke_