Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Mon 2 Jul 2012 11:45
Crete is growing on me but it wasn't love at first sight. The first sight was a row of clouds hovering over a high mountain range far away on the horizon. Our voyage here was easy compared to the other passages we have made, as the wind was right behind us and pushed us along for 12 hours until we sailed into a lagoon beside towering grey cliffs, where the wind took the mainsail and shook us all over the place until we took the sail down and regained control. We had spent one night anchored at Anafi, a small rock with one tiny harbour and according to the guide book, some excellent beaches where only nude bathing is tolerated. We didn't see the nudists, but there was a fabulous sunset with pink light illuminating us and the cone shaped mountain of Santorini, thirty miles away. We were aiming for the port of Aigha Nicholaos, where we are tied up in the Marina. The strong winds have made any more voyages unappealing, as we have realised that I am not capable of crewing a sail boat in strong winds, and Ian is unable to cope with Vasco da Gama on his own.

So we have made our home here and I will stay on my own while Ian has to go back to London for a few weeks. The Marina is only half empty, there is a good beach next door and a small town which I'm getting to know. First I had to learn what I could and could not find in the small supermarkets and we live on yoghurt and honey, olives, nuts, bread and taramasalata, and occasionally eat out in a Taverna, but the food is always the same. Ian has pizza and I have a chicken kebab. However now I'm finding my way around the butchers and the bakers and when I'm here on my own I'm going to make a coq au vin which I hope will last a week.

We hired a car one day and drove to Ierapetra and Knossos. Ierapetra I remember with great nostalgia as Ian and I stayed there for 3 weeks on our way back from India 41 years ago. We found the fishing port and Venetian fort I remembered, but alas it is surrounded by a sprawling new town and the surrounding hills are covered with plastic greenhouses to grow melons and tomatoes. I can't begrudge the inhabitants their prosperity, but I won't go back so I can keep my memories intact. Knossos was fantastic and I'm looking forward to the museum in Heraklion where Sir Arthur Evans deposited most of the discoveries he made in a vast Bronze Age Palace and settlement. His excavations were taking place 100 years ago and he unearthed evidence of a whole new civiliation, which he christened Minoan. The civilisation died out around 1500 BC, some say it was destroyed by the tsunami following the earthquake which devastated Santorini, and others that it was conquered by the Myceneans from the Greek mainland.

I am going to explore the island by bus, and will report back in future epistles.