Winding around hair-pin turns and gazing out at the sun-drenched, olive-covered hills of Crete, a cool breeze blew through my hair and “GOAT!” There’s nothing like a loud excited scream from your fiancé, seated next to you in the back seat of a very small two-door Panda, while your friends drive you through the majestic interior of the island of Crete.
We had decided with our friends C and O that while on Crete we wanted to hike the Samaria Gorge. Already set on it, we became especially excited about it when a friendly hotel concierge introduced us to “the lazy way.” Conventionally, tourists meet a bus in the city of Chania, which drives them an hour into the island to the beginning of the Samaria Gorge. Those tourists then hike for about five hours until they reach the opening of the gorge, meet a ferry on the beach, ferry to another coastal town, and then bus back to Chania. The concierge who mysteriously befriended us when we popped in to ask for directions, suggested that we cut out the middle-man and save ourselves hours packed on a bus with strangers (and hours of hiking) by driving directly to the ferry port, ferrying into the secluded beach at the mouth of the gorge, and then hiking into the gorge as far or near as we wanted. Our new-best-friend-concierge is a genius. We followed his advice and it gave us a very special and memorable day. We enjoyed the drive South, took in the beauty of the coast and sea from the ferry, hiked about an hour and half into the gorge and then back out, and spent a few hours lounging on the secluded black-sand beach and refreshing ourselves in the sea. Just breathtaking. We also ate a crepe filled with cheese and covered in honey for breakfast…if any food could jump start that perfect day, it was that.
This tranquil yet adventurous day, however, was bookended by shouts of “GOAT!” and “CEMETERY!” Our ever-competitive selves and equally-competitive friends, C and O, found a way to make a sport out of a scenic island drive. Early that morning, S introduced us to the game “Goats and Cemeteries.” Basically, if you see a goat, you yell “GOAT!” and then count out loud how many you see. That number becomes your score and you build on it as you see more goats. If you see a cemetery, you yell….yup, “CEMETERY!” This kills all of the goats of the player of your choice. Weird. With the hills of Crete completely covered in goats and the native kri-kri, this game was endlessly entertaining for our fearsome foursome…because obviously the scenery wasn’t enough…. During this amazing trip, we were once again reminded how lucky we are for the experience to live in Europe and for the wonderful friends that we’ve met along the way.
In addition to delivering us to the gorge, the ferry also delivered groceries to little towns on the Souther coast only reachable by boat.