Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Chrissi Island

Off the coast of Crete (in the middle of the Med) lies a small island that you can probably walk from one end to the other in about an hour.  It's probably four kilometers long and a kilometer wide.  The general way that you get there is from the port of Lerapetra....on the south coast of Crete.  Its a 15-kilometer stretch of water to get there, and it's at least an hour's ride to reach the island.

What you can generally say about Chrissi Island is that it's fairly barren.  There's a port (in the barest sense) on the south part of the island, where the ferry pulls up and dumps you off.  The port on Chrissi consists of a small hut building where 'Giorgos' runs a Crete fashion fast-food grill.  There's a couple of benches....some slight shade, and....well....that's it.

About two hundred of us piled off this ferry boat, with the vast majority hiking over the sand 'hill' that existed next to Giorgos grill.  I hiked to the top of the 'hill'.  The fifty odd paces to the summit of this 'hill' put you around 30 feet above sea level.  That was the peak to the island.

From the peak you could observe a fair portion of Chrissi Island.  It's safe to say that the vast number of people who jumped off the ferry....headed down to a section on the north side with the four-star beach....something that Giorgos and his grill lacked.

No matter where you stepped....it's at least a inch down in the sand that you step into.

The temperature?  This was mid-morning....close to 10AM.  It was as cool as it would get on this hot July day.  Along about noon, we were already near 95-degrees.  I think if you combined the sand, the wind, the humidity, and temperature....on the miserability scale of one to ten....by mid-day you were already pushing it to fourteen.

Why come to Chrissi Island?  On the list of 300 things to do on Crete....this would likely be nowhere in the top hundred.  The hotel guy suggested that it was an interesting place, and my wife didn't ask any other questions.  Typically, I will travel to just about anywhere, but I tend to ask five or six questions to ensure it's not snake-infested, a no-go neighborhood, a tourist-trap, or a fake site (like the birthplace of Zeus cave where they charge $5 for entry).

The thing is....at least at that point in time, only four ferry trips out to the island occur per day.  So as bad as you felt with the heat and the lack of nothing....you had to wait for the right time to come around before the ferry would haul up and accept passengers to go back to Crete.

The food at Giorgos's grill?  Well....here's the thing.  He basically serves spaghetti.   You can have it with six to eight toppings (I remember fish, chicken, squid, shrimp, and two or three mystery Greek words).  If you went and dumped out a can of Chief Boyardee spaghetti.....it'd be around one notch worse on taste, and heated just enough to say it was warm....but you might have been mistaken because of the 95-degree.  I think the batch I had was shrimp, but it might have been some mystery meat (there were enough peppers and onions to confuse you on any taste).

Giorgos did offer up some Greek soda for a regular price, and Coke for a special price.  It's safe to say that you were paying at least double....what a can of regular Coke ought to cost.  But in the heat, you do stupid things and buy at least two cans at the special price.

By mid-afternoon, the ferry is ready to accept passengers, and we are among the first folks onboard.  It's a long haul but eventually we make it back, and then get eventually back to the hotel.  I removed my clothing (drenched in sweat) and sat under a cool shower for at least ten minutes.

Generally, I regarded the two weeks in Crete as one of the best vacations of my life.  The day at Chrissi Island...one of the most miserable days (ranking only behind the six hours wasted at JFK Airport in 2002) ever spent on a trip.

The thing is.....you really need to go and experience things like this to help in comparing other trips in life and realize that some things are not as bad as you might think.

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