At 10 our bags were loaded into the coach. This coach would be with us all day for once, until we boarded the ferry for Crete in the afternoon.
First stop was to explore the village of Pyrgos. This is a tiny town draped around a conical hill topped by a fortified castle built by the Venetians while they occupied the island in the 1500s. The Wikipedia article has it right about “narrow labyrinthine streets” but it omits their main characteristic, steepness.
While climbing up and around these tiny streets Anastasia talked about past history, the various conquerors, Venetians being driven out by the Ottomans, etc. She also talked recent history, Greece’s falling birth rate, offset by immigration from Bulgaria, Turkey, and recently, Syria. As we panted up the steep, irregular stairs
and paths she also talked about the problems of people living in these so-quaint homes. Many are elderly and have lived here all their lives (we passed a very elderly woman sweeping her patio just then). What do they do when they can’t tote their groceries up any more? What does anyone do if they have a medical emergency? One literal answer is, “donkeys”. There are pack donkeys on the island, mostly for carrying tourists, but also available to carry loads. So, need to go to the hospital? Call a donkey…
At the top we visited a little Orthodox Church, and then we were on our own for an hour. I worked my way back down, enjoying the quaintness.
At the bottom I sat in a cafe by the meeting place, where I chose off the menu what I think is my new favorite drink, a Freddo Cappuccino. (That’s Italian for “cold”.) A double espresso in a glass, with ice cubes, topped by a couple inches of creamy foam you can stir in with a straw.
We boarded our faithful coach to go to the seaside resort town of Kamari. Here we were on our own to find lunch and pass the time until 4pm. This town is strung out along a half mile of pebbly beach, and every foot of the seaward side of the road is occupied by restaurants, one after another, each an open-sided structure with tables and usually an employee standing on the sidewalk urging passing tourists to come in.
I fell in with a group of six and we walked along bantering with the barkers. Finally one offered us a 20% discount so we sat down and had a nice meal. After, I walked some of the other streets, then settled in near the meeting point to wait.
At 4pm everyone was there (we are a punctual group) and we joined our coach for the ride back down the switchback road (see Day 304) to the port, for the ferry to Heraklion, Crete. I think I will put the rest of the day in the next post.