Oct.10.2010, Rethymno, Crete

Melidoni cave, ossiary in middle

Cloud, some sunny breaks, occasional showers, 24 C.  0815 slept in a little late.  Standard in room breakfast after I went out and found a market open at 0845 on a Sunday to get some more cereal and fruit juice.  1000 checked internet but no notes from the girls.  1100 depart for Melidoni cave.

Now, I’m not saying that the streets in Melidoni are narrow, but, 2 way traffic on something where we had already folded in the car’s mirrors just to navigate around corners to prevent them from hitting on the buildings…and then we meet an oncoming vehicle!  Fortunately, the other car backed up.  Really, the sign on the main road pointed down this street to get into town!

The cave was fantastic.  After climbing down occasionally lit mostly dark stone steps with a partial wooden rail, the main cave open to the public is 65 m long, 25 m wide and 25 m high.  There is an ossiary in the center containing the bones of 400 towns people and soldiers killed by the Turks in 1824.  There are occasional stalagmites and numerous stalactites with the tips all broken off.  When we were about the only people in the cave for a short period, the cave was extraordinarily quiet and then you could hear the pigeons flying in and out – some roost in here.

1300 overcast, occasional showers.  From Melidoni, Richard drove to Agia, back to Perama, Chani Alexandrou then south through Plevriana towards Eleftherna.  This was the first time today that we thought that we might be lost on the roads up in the hills.  But we arrived at Archea (Ancient) Eleftherna and took a steep road down into the valley bottom – gravel in the lower portion.  Arrived at an archeological site which was fenced off, not open and no one around.  I tried a raw olive from a tree – very badly bitter.  Back up the road to Eleftherna town itself which is all of about 100 m long, and we stopped for lunch at the only place open for food.  At the start we were the only customers, 2 other couples showed up later.  One woman was the hostess, waitress and cook.  Debbie and Richard had ham and egg omelettes and Kathy and I had spanakopita with french fries.  French fries are showing up in meals all over Greece!

1500  occasional showers, 22 C.  After lunch and short walk out to see the Minoan ruins and vertigo inspiring drop offs, on the road again with me driving and Richard navigating.  Over to Arkadi Monastery and down to Sivritos, both of which we saw yesterday.  Then turned west onto some new roads.  Really only 1 small town with narrow road to drive through and we don’t even know which one it was.  We thought we should be on the west side of the Prassano Gorge but ended up on a road on the east side which is not shown on our map.  Finding roads not on the map happened all the time in Greece.

Anyways, we saw the Prassano dam and had some great views of the gorge.  Back into Rethymno on a road we didn’t recognize, and found the beach front road.  Stopped for 73E of gas.  Had to pay cash, they wouldn’t take Visa or Mastercard even though it is a major fuel station chain that we commonly saw on Crete.

1820  Back to the hotel, quick glass of Cretan red wine, checked the internet but no messages from the girls and back to the room to write in our journals.

Today’s impressions:  RE says it was a whirlwind, saw 2 wrecks (old cities), sat on top of the world when we had lunch today; KE said we travelled from the deep (caves, gorge) to the top, from ancient to modern history, goats, sheep, countryside, the sheep condominium (abandoned building full of them) and the bells of the goats, narrow streets, concern for sideview mirrors driving into Melidoni; DM recalled wonderful views, great lunch, pictures were great.

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