I’ve been to Greece about 10 times and visited Crete on four of the trips. The islands are just fantastic for relaxing, hiking, swimming and recharging your batteries, although I sometimes feel sad when I think of how paradisiacal they were the first times I visited. On my first visit during my first time in Europe, I went to the island of Mykonos and stayed on a nice beach where there were two simple restaurants. Delicious meals cost one dollar and I and the few other backpackers there slept on the beach or in the nearby rocks. Although it was the middle of the summer, the number of tourists was minimum. Now the island is a popular tourist spot, populated with sundry souvenir shops, upscale restaurants and hotels, and lots of package tourists.
My first time on Crete was two years later when we stayed in Paleochora. We slept in our tent at the beach, which was deserted most of the time. I can’t remember where there was only one or may three restaurants along the one street nearby, but we had to go into the kitchen in each and point to the dish we wanted, since no English was spoken and the language was Greek to me. The two times I was there were also in the middle of the summer, but again there were only backpackers in a manageable number there. It was saddening when we visited on the trip described in this post (we had to go there, since there was no ATM where we were staying), and I didn’t recognize anything. I wrote about it in my blog “Paradises Lost”.
These days, I avoid Greece in the summer when it is overrun with tourists, but spring and the fall are still great times to visit. On the trip described here, we head to Sougia on the southwest coast and since it was the end of October, there were few tourists and prices for accommodation were a lot cheaper and easier to find. The beach was mostly deserted, and the water still warm from the summer.
There is a small harbor, which had not existed when I had visited years before.
Small street along the beach where there are couple of cafés, good locations for a sundowner.
Many years ago, we went from Paleochora to the top of Agia Irini Gorge and hiked down it. At that time, Sougia only had one restaurant and a boat was waiting evening late afternoon to take hikers back Suga to Paleochora. This time, we hiked up the gorge and then back down, which took most of the day but was well worth it. Although it was the same trail, everything looked different walking in the other direction. The trail is approx. 7.5 kilometers, and there was a small restaurant at the top where we had some good victuals before heading back down
After a day of relaxing and swimming, we took a boat to Tripiti to the east and then hiked back to Sougia.
View of Sougia from the boat:
Along the coast
Tripiti, where we first went for a swim before starting the hike.
It was a lot of up and down
There were great views, and you can see Sougia in the background here
Abandoned building on the way
Sougia, although we had to take a roundabout trail to get back down
There were many thorn bushes along the trail, and my shoes
Great dinners in the evening in the couple of restaurants still open at that time of the year made each day perfect.