Last evening in Matala, Oct 7, 2015

Tonight was our last dinner in Matala. And the last place we’ll be sleeping to the sound of anything but the ocean. We’ll miss the t-shirts  with peace signs and profiles of Joni Mitchell. I came close to buying one with a VW bus on the front. Gary and I had a beat-up red one, high on mileage and no parking brake. It would have been a sentimental purchase.
It’s close to the end of the season and places are beginning to wind down. There are still lots of tourists around, enough to keep most of the restaurants busy and the general feeling upbeat. We ate at another beachside restaurant where you go into the kitchen and pick out you food. They had the second best marides (fried smelts) I have ever tasted. The first best was at Karen Graham’s parent’s house in maybe 1972. We fried them in the middle of the night, squeezed lemon juice over them and sitting on the kitchen floor, polished them off like French fries.

Matala Oct 7, 2015

 

This morning’s yoga practice was about heroes. After all, we are on the island where, with the help of Ariadne, the Athenian hero, Theseus, slew the Minotaur. And after yesterday’s paddling we all felt a bit like heroes. It didn’t make verasana (hero pose) any easier, but with help, everyone did get up into hand stand.
We kayaked about 3 miles this morning, past Red beach, to a beach in a hidden cove. We took picnic lunches up to a one room place with a large shaded patio in front. Turns out to be the beach place of a local guy who loves it when people come and visit. He speaks Greek and German so there was not much conversation going. Them he brought out his lyre and played a few songs for us. I thunk he invites people so he can play for them. As we were leaving, a tour boat pulled in and I’m sure he was planning to play for them as well.
We rushed out as our guides checked the local ocean conditions and read warnings of violent swells. Turned out not to be, thank goodness. Still, we paddled back in record time in anticipation of possible rough seas. Joan and I found our kayaking rhythm and were not last in for a change.
The early return gave us a chance to nap before a late afternoon yoga class. One of the guys requested a flow class, so we went in that direction – as much as I am willing to go. Whatever you call it, it was a strong practice and not the restorative session we planned. Love that everyone kept up in spite of sore muscles from 6 nautical miles of kayaking n up to 6ft swells.

Matala October 6, 2015

This morning was our first yoga class. We met at 7am and practiced outside, by the pool. We started with the story of Apollo and Daphne. I always think of Bernini’s statue of them at the Borghese in Rome. Anyway, our tree poses were inspired. Then we were off in our kayaks to practice our ‘dumps and rescues.’ I’m in a double with Joan, and she did great for her first time.

That out of the way, (we all passed) we kayaked about a half hour to Red Beach. It’s the local nude beach and we were the morning’s entertainment. The surf was pretty high and the first kayak in rolled over. I was sure we might follow, but our guides brought us in like the guys on airport runways…”arm gestures sending us a bit to the left, back off during the wave, come in straight ahead”.  It was smooth and successful.
A few minutes later, our guides brought over a bucket of wet, gray clay. We covered ourselves and set out in the sun to dry. We washed off in the ocean, smooth and exfoliated, and paddled in the other direction for a late lunch. That launch was rougher and we took on a ton of water. Now we know how to pump out the kayak while at sea. By the time we set out to return to Matala, the  waves were pretty intense and we did some rocking and rolling. After another successful landing, we had a quick rest then left for a sunset hike. Our guide Eric was waiting up at the top with a spread of drinks and snacks. He played guitar for us as we watched the sun set into the ocean and Elana (another one of our 3 guides, and I practiced a few poses. Pretty wonderful day.
We walked over to dinner at a sweet restaurant where the head chef is a classic Greek yia yia (grandmother), short, squat, dressed in black and a killer cook. The whole family works there and she came out to share a raki with us before we left.

Heraklion to Matala Oct 5, 2015

Still in Heraklion, we had dinner last night at the rooftop restaurant at our hotel. Though it would have been fun to eat in the center of town this was just upstairs and the food was excellent.  We ended up walking more city streets, found what looked like more great places to eat. One narrow walkway was lined with tables and huge planters filled with herbs for the chef. Waiters walked out with towers of rosemary infused meat. Enjoyed the scene, glad we had a lighter dinner…

This morning, we were happy to see the same driver who picked us up at the airport and he delivered us back there. We met up with two of our guides from The Northwest Passage, my sons, friends and yogis, and headed out for Knossos. The ancient city is considered to be the oldest in Europe. It was crowded but still amazing to see the site of most of the relics we just saw in the museum. It really helped to have some knowledge of the stories, myths and history.
A few hours later, we were checking into our hotel in Matala, a town on the Southern coast. Joni Mitchell lived in the caves here 1968/69 and immortalized Matala in the song Carey, on the Blue Album. Then the place was a haven for hippies. There are still miniature flower-covered VW vans in store windows and traces of macrame. It’s still much the same, minus the hippies living in the caves.  Now the beaches are crowed with German tourists. The water is gorgeous, the shore is lined with bars and restaurants and the cliffs with their caves are lighted at night..
We drove up to a mountain top for drinks and a view of the spectactular sunset. Dinner was the first of the evenings to come. (Remember, I did this same trip a year ago.) Long tables, beer and wine, plates of meze, good conversation and more food. The local drink is raki. It is served at the end of every dinner .Every family or restaurant makes their own, and our job as guests is to reassure our hosts that theirs is the best.
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