I’ve been in Chania for a whole year, and spent most of last summer there too, but it wasn’t until this August that I truly discovered some of the great beaches we had at our disposal. All it took was renting a car. We were thrilled at first because we had a means of transport and could pretty much pick any point on the map and head for it. Sounds like a great way to spend a week with visiting friends, right? Packed like sardines in the not-so-spacious Huyndai Atoz is one thing; doing the whole road trip transfixed in one position with no radio is quite another.
You see at first we didn’t notice that there wasn’t a radio affixed to the car, because it’s something you take for granted. The antenna was there. The radio? Nowhere to be found. I actually stumbled upon this little detail when I mechanically made for the turn on / volume knob and hit a flat surface. Then I tried to pull it off, thinking it’s a cover. But no, no such thing. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, here’s what it looked like:
Luckily we had one of those cassette / CD players which we loaded with batteries and connected to our iPods. We were so bad-ass.
We headed to the nearby beaches, testing the waters, but soon enough we ventured out to a big tourist attraction, Elafonisi. An island is connected to the mainland from a tiny stretch of sand. On some days it tends to be windy there, with lots of waves, but luckily the sea was calm when we were there. As the wave washes over the sand on the shore, the color of the sand is pink from the shells. We took a leisurely walk along the coast and kept stopping to collect shells. I have so much material for new beading adventures!
We were pretty lazy at Elafonisi, because the later it got, the less people on the beach and the calmer the waters. And the colors in the sky? Magical!
And then we looked on the other side as the sun set and we ran across the beach to take photos. The golden hues were to die for!
After this great beach, we thought we’d head out to Balos, near Gramvousa. The photos we’d seen of the place told of a very exotic location that looked nothing like the Greek beaches we were familiar with. And let’s be honest, how many of those postcards for sale aren’t entirely changed by photoshop? So we were skeptical but curious. In fact we were so curious as to follow the map instructions even though part of the route was marked as dirt road. But hey, we were on a road trip, right? And next to dirt road, the route was labeled “scenic”. What more could we ask for? We wanted adventure, and adventure we got.
The dirt started out…dirty but drivable. As we progressed in our average 10 km / h the size of the rocks on the ground increased so that it was bad enough we were ascending at an angle on a dirt road, we also had to manoeuvre our tiny radioless car around those huge boulders. It all seemed like a bad Atari game, really.
On our way there we came across a lot of friendly free-roaming goats. They posed for us too.
A mere 20 km later, we arrived at the parking area, because what followed was a 2 km walk on a footpath. We had to descend our way on the other side to find the exotic beach of Balos.
Spot that boat over there? Well, in case you ever visit Crete, this beach should be in your list of sights not to miss. And that boat is your gift from God. Forget the dirt road, the walking all the way down to the beach (don’t even get me started on the steps we had to go up!). A mere 50 minutes cruise and voila! You’re at the beach. Unless you’re more the adventure type. Like our macho group.
Then again, on our way back we had the full moon and despite the rocky ride, it was a great view to enjoy the whole way home. Radio or no radio.