At 8.30am I was stood at the front of my hotel, looking at the bay, waiting for a 4WD to pick me up for a Safari ride across the Lasithiou Plane and up to the Psychro Cave – after about 15 minutes a minivan pulled up – the motor in the 4WD had blown up the night before, so they had created a slightly different tour route that we could go on by road. I said this was ok and jumped aboard and met my touring companions for the day – 3 ladies from the Netherlands, a couple from Northumberland in the UK and a couple from Germany. Our host, thankfully, could speak in all of the languages reasonably well.
Our first stop was a Cretan Olive Oil Factory, where we were taken through the traditional and modern ways of producing olive oil, which is the largest exported local product from Crete.
Then it was up into the hills to visit the picturesque township of Kritsa -we had 30 minutes of free time to explore and then we were meant to meet down the hill at the bus, but alas, the single traveller (me) had to get WAY too caught up discovering new lanes to wander down that I managed to get lost and popped out on the other side of the hill. The village was supposed to run in a loop, but I could not find a way down, so instead I retraced my steps and thank goodness the tour group were waiting for me when I finally got down the hill. I apologised to everyone, immediately swapped phone numbers with the tour guide and then sat in my seat, heart thumping in my chest because I was sure that I was going to fall down a cliffside in this tiny rural town and would be found decomposing as a Jane Doe in 12 months’ time.
It was almost an hour’s drive up to our next stop at Psychro Cave, which gave me time to settle my nerves and shake off my embarrassment! The path up to the cave was up a twisting stone walkway that was really tough going in the 36-degree heat. There are Donkey Taxi’s running up and down the hill (these are donkeys that you can ride up the hill, there are lots of these around steep climbs) but I opted to do the walk and pat the donkeys as they walked past – I kind of needed the walk anyway to re-regulate my emotions from earlier!
The cave was well worth the walk and so nice and cool after that hike up the hill. I paired myself up with one of the girls from the Netherlands to explore the cave which was great because I also had a photo buddy! We walked through the stalagmites and stalagtites and past the underwater lake and platform where, according to Greek mythology Rhea had fled to escape Kronos (who devoured his offspring) to give birth to Zeus, father of gods and mortals.
We hiked back down the hill and down to a BBQ grill restaurant where we ate the most wonderful feast of BBQ pork and chicken, roast potatoes, Greek salads, bread and local wine – finished off with a shot of Raki!
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped into the ancient village of Krasi, where we checked out the old aqueduct and washing stations that used to be used by the women of the village and sat under an enourmous plane tree, where zorba’s dance was apparently created.
Later in the evening (after a good nap) I walked into the town and picked the restaurant that I thought had the best view over the lake and then I headed back to the hotel for an early night.