Oct 12, 2015 kayaking Loutro to Svakia

Today was an epic day, or at least a very long one. There was a mix-up on the schedule and yoga class was not posted. So I walked out to the point and practiced  – just me and the goat. The goat was out on the rock, but I still consider it just the two of us. We watched the sun rise. I wonder if I’ll ever see this place again. I’m grateful to have shared it with our little group.

We had breakfast, said our thanks and good-bye’s to the hotel staff and the bird, and climbed into our kayaks for our last, and what turned out to be wild, ride. The sea was rockin, the wind was behind us, so although the swells were about 9 ft, they were carrying us in the right direction. It was a bit of surfing, a lot of paddling and laughing. Joan and I had our rhythm down and lived our yoga – abhaya to be exact. It means “have no fear, everything’s going to be OK.” ( Those are the words I use with students at LACMA when I’m talking about hand gestures of Indian gods, goddesses, and statues of the Buddha.) I repeated it a few times to myself, and off we went…

It really was very cool, having no fear because we knew what we were doing. It is much like pranayama (breath practice) – dance with your breath rather than fight with it. Same with the waves, maybe not dancing, but definitely not fighting. Anyway, it was exhilarating and a great way to end our week in Crete. We made our way into Svakia harbor, pulled out the kayaks and cleaned them for the last time. We had enough time to go to our favorite restaurant for Horta (wild greens) our favorite bakery for – well – baked stuff and the local Ben and Jerry’s for the very last scoop of the season. Literally – the woman scooped out the end of the ice cream bin for us and closed up shop!

We parted ways with two of our guides with lots of hugs (thank god for Facebook) and boarded a bus back to Heraklion. Adam had a room reserved for the night as he was leaving the following morning. I went to the front desk and asked if we could pay a bit extra, get some towels and use his room to shower and change before our flight. At least that was the intention. The guy was gracious, brought us towels and refused to charge us. Once we got to the room and turned on the water we realized why… Calling it a trickle was generous. More water came out of the sink faucet than the shower head. Oh well, it was better than nothing and nothing was going to spoil our day – even the 2 hour delay at the airport. But we were going to Paris, so who cared.

Oct 11, 2015 Loutro

Today is our last full day in Loutro. We walked up to the Venetian fort and practiced yoga at our usual place, just moved our mats so that we could watch the sea.

Leisurely breakfast as the sea is again on the stormy side. We watched the waves crash up against our little seawall for a while. We are all taking off hiking in different directions, except for those intent on relaxing.  Joan and I recruited a few others and took a leisurely hike along the coast trail (still the E-4) in the opposite direction from Sweetwater. The sky is dark, the water still an amazing blue, check out the pic of the church. It’s mostly about the views today.

     Last year I got rather attached to an olive tree, today I’m sitting under it and taking pictures. A few yards from the tree is a small walled space overlooking the sea. Just inside the gate is a pair of shoes and a blue chair. No people, at least not now.
     Late afternoon, we all hiked up to a Turkish ruin. There was a perfect place to practice yoga, take pics, drink wine, walk a small labyrinth – something for everyone.
     Dinner was our last together, lots of toasts, too much raki and great food. A Cretan family owns and runs the restaurant. Up the hill a bit, we sat outside on the patio at a long table. It’s all about grilled meats here. When the big, bearded father opens the grill, it’s like a blast furnace.

Oct 10, 2015 Loutro, Crete


The place we practice yoga is an old Venetian fort overlooking the entrance to the bay in one direction, the town in the other. We watched the lights of the next town to the north go off as the sun rose. There is a small rocky island next to us with a goat on it. The story is that a local guy raised a baby goat and the goat got too attached, followed him around everywhere, slept under his bed, growing bigger all the time. So he put the goat out on this rocky outpost. That was the story I heard last year. This year, there was a rumor that there was another goat to keep him company. Elan was the only one of us to spot the second goat, the rest of us were convinced he was alone and lonely. We were ready to form a local chapter of PETA, or at least get a start-up going to raise money for a second goat.
Today was a hiking day. The sea is on the rougher side, so we walked the E-4 to Sweetwater, a beach with a natural sweet water spring. Another few hours of swimming and lying around on the beach. There are the most beautiful smooth round rocks here. Remember we learned how rocks become pebbles become sand? Well you can see the entire process on this beach…
The tiny restaurant sits on a short dock and turns out terrific food. It is family run and there is a most handsome Cretan who oversees the beach and runs the place. I definitely remember him from last year.
We hiked back at the end of the day then went out for late afternoon yoga practice. On the way back, Elan glanced up and saw a restaurant up a hill, overlooking the bay. He checked it out and a group of us decided to have dinner here. Excellent decision, up there with the best food we’ve had in Crete. Two dogs live at the hotel connected to the restaurant and they kept us company. We spent the evening up there, watching the waves crash louder and higher.

Roumeli to Loutro Oct 9, 2015


Every morning here we get to practice as the sun is rising. After a short class, today was a paddling day. The sea was like glass, the temperature perfect and we were happy to be on the water. I was particularly pleased as I promised my group that the sea would be calm on this side of Crete. We paddled out and hugged the coast for about 45 minutes, putting in at a little beach where is is thought that St Paul landed. Just above the beach is Agios Pavlos, an 11th century Byzantine chapel dedicated to St. Paul.
Near the chapel is a taverna where we had fresh squeezed orange juice. Love that place. Our next stop was a longer paddle to Marmara Beach, a perfect hidden bay with cliffs to jump off of, water caves to explore and, perched over the water, the award winning cafe where we had lunch. We ordered way to much, left way too full, then spent most of the afternoon alternately swimming, napping and watching the E-4 hikers come and go.
When we left, it was a short paddle to Loutro, one of Crete’s most beautiful seaside towns. We are here for 3 nights and I am so grateful to be able to return a second time. Paddling into the bay takes my breath away. And not because I’m tired. Like most of the coastal towns on the southern side of Crete, Loutros closes down at the end of October. So we are almost the last of the tourists. There are no wall to wall people to push through, and there is no rush to find space at restaurants. It is easy to find time to talk to the hotel restaurant owners and staff. I only mention this because during the summer months it is jammed with people.