At the harbour I try to get a picture of the location, the different departure areas and the different ferry companies. I feel run over by the information, so many ships, so many letters on signs that I can neither read nor understand. So back to my basic instincts I just ask the next security to please point me in the direction of the Chania-Ferries and after him babbling something about Blue Star and ticket office I start walking just to find the ticket office with an information humen inside.
The ticket is bought directly at the ferry, but I get the information to go to E3 and check in directly at the ferry, I should use the bus, they said. The bus…? ok, well, I crossed the street and walked towards the ferries, also there was a small food and drink store and I asked where I have to go but they too said I should just enter the bus. Well, so I went to the bus and asked the driver if he will bring me to the ferry in chania, and he said yes, yes, just get in. So i resigned, sat in the bus and waited.
The ferry was leaving within the next hour, so I got plenty of time and started to use it. After checking out the people that joined me in the bus I looked for people that looked like they were tourists or at least young, alternative-styled people, backpackers or campers and I found a couple, Eleni & VorgottenName, that was going the same way as me, so I sucked all necessary information out of them, bought me a ticket, found me my ferry – not BlueStar, lucky me for that information! – and went straight to the bar on the top deck. Zipping a beer smoking a cigarette I watched all the people on deck, screaming kids, laughing drunk adults, silent thinkers that watched the stars and sleepyheads like me that had already set up their beds. Since I knew I had 9 hours to wait I finally dropped into a deep sleep, not without setting my clock and the will to wake up 6:00am to be ready to jump off the ferry in the moment it docks and explore my new personal highlight. Roughly 40 hours of hitch-hiking with a sum of around 1.5 hours of sleep, split up into 5 short passages.
When I woke up I saw dirty rocks sliding around next to me, turning around I realised that we are docking ar Chania harbour this minute. What a feeling. I was fighting with the memories of being in Vienna just 2 around 48 hours ago and with my eyes wide open I checked out “Chania”. A Chania that was no Chania.
That the harbour in Chania is not accessible for the big ferries was not part of the Information that I had. But I disembarked, had a look around and found out that Chania is only 8km away and what are 8km for a traveller? Exactly! I had a look around, found out that the taxi to Omalos where I was heading costs around 86 Euros, had a coffee and started walking to Chania, trying to hitch-hike but without any chance, so I just waited at a bus stop and enjoyed a 2 Euro ride to the city center.
Still pretty tired and some kind of nervous I enjoyed the city center, the chaos on the streets, the elderly people sitting in the sun reading some newspaper or just sitting around taking care of the big nothing they have. After a look at the details of my electronical map, I use OsmAnd, which has free maps to download from Open Street Maps, I looked for a shop that sells maps, because there were no details for the region that I wanted to hike through. I found myself a nice waterproof, rip proof map with lines of height and rivers/former rivers, canyoning routes and some major paths in the mountains. Should be enough detail.
As hunger started gnawing I aimlessly entered the next thing that had “market” in its name and bought me a nice roll. Also I had to buy something that would hold for a while, fill me with all nutrients I need and not taste like shit or be to heavy. I got me some dry fruits and nuts of different kinds, all in all around a kilo and added two limes and two liters of water. The Plan: cut the dried fruits – I had a carpet knife with me – and mix the m with the nuts. Afterwards add the lime juice and form snowball sized balls, one for each day. A friend of mine who traveled through Israels deserts told me this trick. Since the Lefka Ori are classified as desert I asked him for some hints. One other very helpful thing was to never breath through your mouth, thank you Wolfgang for that!
What a pity that the “does not taste like shit”-part was not really fulfilled. It was definitely good, for one or two minutes, but after the 5th mouth full of it I knew, this will definitely be the reserve for starving times. Like really starving, like “one week in some north face of himalaya, midnight, no light, both hands frozen off” – starving.
My “Binkerl” stuffed, water, food and a map I went to the bus terminal to check in for my pretty tourist tour to Omalos, the place where you can reach Santa Maria, the best known canyon on Crete. From there I planned to hike on E4, an europe-path through Crete to get to Pachnes, the highest peak of Lefka Ori, 2747 m. Further down to the south coast and hitch-hike to the middle of crete to reach Psiloritis that has the same height as Pachnes. Afterwards go to Plakias, meet Chris, have fun… profit!
Or not. Because when I reached the bus terminal the lady behind the window told me that the bus left an hour ago and it was the last of the three daily busses that go to Omalos. Really pissed in the first place I turned around and sat down for a look at my map. Either wait a day and hang around in the city, being a pinball between tourist shit on the left and tourist shit on the right. The city felt like hell, to much noise, too many cars, to many people, even now that I hitch-hiked on highways, the traffic in a city is of a different kind, a chaos, that is not directed like the traffic on a bigger street. Or I could grab my feet, riding the spirit of luck out of town towards the mountains.
I took second, getting to the right street and painting a sign in greek letters was easy. Staying awake standing the heat of the sun was hard, catching a ride impossible. Some hours later I found myself around 1km out of town sleeping under a bridge on the sidewalk with a sign set up so that people can read it. I was to tired to stay awake and I used the heat of the noon as an excuse to make siesta. Still, after around 2 hours not being picked up I was sad and disappointed, and nervous because with this pace I would not be able to reach the mountains ever. But positive thinking as I always am I grabbed my backpack and started walking, from time to time I tried to hitch-hike, the other times I stood at bus stops in the shadow, but without ever seeing a bus, and if I was not sitting at a gas station sipping an iced coffee I was walking alongside the road stealing figs, tomatoes and oranges from the trees whistling and humming my favourite songs and melodies.
While walking I figured that it does not matter where I am and what I do, as long as it fits my needs. I arrived at some sweetwater sea and thought I could stop there for the night, but it was way too early and I just had a break with some gooses attacking me and my backpack. One last time I tried to get some information on the busses from some soldiers at a barracks alongside the street, but they also just said I should go back to Chania and take the bus the next day.
Near a fountain where I refilled my water I decided to continue and not head back. I drew me a new route on the map, checked out the distances and started to feel good. The pressure of the decision had lasted heavy on me but now everything was fine. The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly and my feet got light and my backpack irrelevant. In front of me the mountains rose in ochre color, left and right of me the deeply green fields of orange trees of the Orange Valley rested in the afternoonly sunlight. Nothing of that could take the pain out of my back and away from my hips, but the pain itself took part in a rising motivation.
In the later afternoon somewhere close to Zourva the so called river that was represented by a tiny stream of water formed a small basin in the founding of a bridge and I took this nice opportunity to take a bath, wash clothes and take a good rest, eat something and smoke a cigarette. In spring – I definitely have to go there in spring once! – there are enormous masses of water that rush down the mountains that form dangerous torrents of molten snow. In summer the water that is left is collected and pressed into black plastic snakes that run through all the valley watering the orange plantages. Especially in autumn where there is a minimum of water I was very lucky to find a place like that.
Cooling down in the shadow of the bridge I felt headache and increased temperature which I connected to walking all day in the burning sun with only a white T-shirt wrapped around my head. I had two painkillers with me because you never know what hits you and so I had a good opportunity to take one. The shadow had another welcomed cooling effect and so I stayed a little until the sun knocked and told me she would set soon. So I took my still a little wet clothes from the improvised clothes tree, repacked my backpack and joined the road on a “Good evening”-walk. As it became more and more dark I started to drift away into a world of emptiness. A feeling of lightness overcame me, the knowledge of the impossibility to make something wrong, the urge to listen to all my feelings and answer them in the matter I like. There was no time anymore. It was no street that I was walking on. I wasn’t even walking. Remembering the straining I had to get here and the intense experience how minor this strain was compared to the feeling that I had in that 15 minutes walking in the night I claimed to know freedom, I damned all the ones living in the city without knowledge of moments like that, the restriction of being in middle europe with the pressure of capitalism binding you to a place that you hate to spend time there that you need desperately.
I felt happiness. And as I arrived in Meskla at the Taverna, I felt thirst. I answered both feelings with a beer and as the keeper of the tavern asked if I would like to put up my sleeping bag directly in front of the tavern I knew: the spirit of love had joined me on my path.
My notes say “1 package of tabak” but without the information if thats whats left or that I finished the first one. I expect the first.
Path is an average recreated on Google Earth, not a real time tracked path!