24 June 2015

Lasithi

High in the eastern mountains of Crete there is a verdant plateau. You arrive there after a winding twenty mile climb from the sleepy town of Neapoli. Up through barren hills where the precipitous road threatens to plunge your car down into dry riverbeds far below. A place where mountain goats wear bells round their necks and feed on spiky bushes.

Then there’s a honey seller at the roadside. Grey-haired and eager to trade , she beckons you to pull in but you keep on going, up into the clouds and the cobalt blue sky. You imagine you are nearly there but you are not there until finally it appears spread out before you like a huge green quilt – The Lasithi Plateau. A secret world.

Around the fertile plateau are maybe eight discrete villages. For many centuries their very existence has depended upon the fields and groves they overlook. The arable land stretches for three or four miles, watered by mountain streams and underground reserves. Here antique tractors and battered Toyota pick up trucks are de rigeur though I guess that in previous times there was only the donkey to ease the human burden
We headed for a village called Psycro and parked under an olive tree before climbing up a paved path to the Dikteon Cave where legend says that Zeus was born. We were not alone. There were plenty of Russians from tour buses. They are the new discoverers of Mediterranean lands with their pockets bulging with roubles and their manners left at home. Everywhere they go they snap pictures of themselves with different backdrops. I believe the men are all called Ivan – a terrible name. Some of the women paid ten euros to ride on donkeys to the top. One or two of these poor beasts shat themselves in protest.
It cost four euros each to descend into the cave and in spite of the Russians we were not unhappy with the experience. I would have like to stay much longer on the Lasithi Plateau, perhaps walking in the heat up to the ancient Minoan site of Karfi but you can’t do everything in seven days – unless you are God – or maybe Zeus. But I was glad to have seen this secret plateau, high in the mountains, after which Crete’s most eastern province is named.
Home tomorrow evening... We have enjoyed our little trip to Crete. Probably more will be written later on. I bet you can’t wait!

13 comments:

  1. I do enjoy seeing places that I've never seen (and am probably never likely to see). In this case it certainly makes me want to visit.

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    1. So happy to have taken you there Graham. Like me I am sure you would have wanted to stay longer on the Lasithi Plateau.

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  2. Вы должны рубль за плохого английского туриста пожалуйста. Да здравствует Путина.
    This looks a wonderful find. Great picture of the donkey.

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    1. My suspicions are confirmed Comrade Adrian! You spied for the Russians when seafaring during The Cold War. That must be the reason you are fluent in Rusky. Bloody traitor!

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    2. This was Google translate. I did a month course on Russian and how what she is spoke and wrote but can't remember any.

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  3. Your trip has been wonderful. Thanks for allowing me to tag along with you. :)

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    1. Happy that you have been with me Lee, now toss those suitcases on to the transfer bus and let's move on to the airport!

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    2. Oh, I travel lightly, Yorky. No luggage required. I feel as if I didn't even leave home!

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    3. You didn't feel as if you left home? That is a mental aberration Lee!

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  4. This was an almost magic excursion, especially the cave.
    For it to be a secret world there were maybe a bit too many people about. It must have been difficult to take a photo of the path without having someone walking into the picture all the time.
    I hope your trip home went well and you are recovering from the joys of airport procedures.

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    1. Once you got away from the cave there was a tourist-free tranquility. Now I am back home, I slightly regret not taking the hour long walk up to Karfi. I think it would have been a lot more magical than Knossos which had plenty of visitors.

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  5. That went so quickly. Loved it ! Glad you had a good time. Hope Shirley feels rested and relaxed too.

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  6. Sounds like a wonderful trip! Keep the stories and photos coming!

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