Friday, May 19, 2023

Italy/Greece 2023 Week #2

As 1 wrote in the first installment, I got up Monday morning feeling like crap, but what I didn't say was that it was a gum ache to end all gum aches. It was reminiscent of wisdom tooth pain and  I promise this was not planned. I flossed, brushed, and water pikked and then flossed, brushed, and water pikked some more - all to no avail. I slept very little Monday night and woke up Tuesday morning in just as much pain. Inquiries at the desk were not met with much help. There is no dentist in Sfakia; the closest one is in Chania, an hour and a half away on a mountainous road full of curves and switchbacks. We went to the town's pharmacy, and although the pharmacist was very sympathetic, she was of little help. All she had to offer was clove oil and ibuprofen. I rubbed the oil on the source of my misery and took one pill; took a nap; woke up feeling some relief; went to dinner; ate soft food only; listened to a bit of music; danced a couple of times; took another pill; went to bed; got up Wednesday morning feeling much better; flossed, brushed and water pickked again; saw a tiny black unidentifiable speck flush out of the troublesome area and pronounced myself cured. I have no explanation but all is well that ends well. The gum is still somewhat sore, but there is no acute pain and I'm ready for almost anything. 

So why not take another switchback road to look for wildflowers?!? Off we went to Agios Ioannis, an abandoned village with a tragic story. Everybody in the mountains owns goats that roam freely. They are most usually controlled best with a belled goat. One day - for whatever reason, probably an ill thought out practical joke - a villager stole the bell off a goat. He didn't steal the goat, only the bell. The owner of the goat realized what had happened, was very irritated, took down his gun, and went off to scare the hell out of the suspects. The gun went off, a man - most likely not even the perpetrator - was killed, and that began a vendetta that resulted in almost everyone in the village either dying or moving away. If only the goat guy hadn't taken the gun with him. Who knows? The village might still be thriving. Instead, it is populated with a few lonely widows and a couple of lonelier goat herders. Ironically, we saw a lot of goats, but we didn't hear any bells. 

A highlight of the trip to Ioannis is the bridge over the Aradena Gorge. It is said to be the highest Bailey bridge in the world and looking down over the side is certainly a thrill. I will pass on the bungee jump, but a lot of folks take the leap. 

The wildflower situation is very different here on the southwest part of the island. Most of them are true belly flowers - flowers so small you have to get on your belly to fully appreciate them. However there must be many many more than we found because this is a prize area for collecting honey. And it's delicious!

The entire trip to and from Sfakia was only about three hours with several stops for belly flower viewing, but it was a visit to an entirely different world. 

We had planned to stop in the village of Sfakia on the way back to the resort, but the easy parking places were all filled so we returned directly to the resort. A beer later, we were ready for a nap. 

And this seems to be a good place to talk about Vitromartis. First of all, Vritomartis is absolutely beautiful! No detail has been overlooked. Located on the south side of Crete, only a couple hundred miles from the closest point in Africa, between the White Mountains and the Libyan Sea, the weather is almost perfect and the occasional imperfect weather is usually a quick passing thunderstorm. I invite you to look at the web page and explore the photo gallery. Their photos are better than any I could take. Most of the guests here are our age. The entertainment, activities, music and even the food is geared toward our generation, but the facility is family friendly and there are always young couples here, some with and some without children. If you have ever been skinny dipping then you already know what a great experience it can be. If you haven't, then you've missed one of life's joys. The naturist experience here is perfectly paired with the refined ambiance of the buildings themselves. All parts of the interior public areas are "clothes on," and you are even expected to dress up for dinner. A vacation here is like taking a few days back from childhood where you were as free as can be imagined, but still expected to behave properly and be respectful. 

Now, it's Thursday. My gum is still tender, but not painful. I still have no idea what caused the problem. Stanley has already been for a swim, but it's too cool for me. 67degrees at 12:00 noon. Time for lunch. Moussaka and Fanta Lemonade. 

Time for another car adventure. We set out for Frangokastello, a historical site we had visited before and found charming. It is an ancient Venetian castle, only about 12km from Sfakia. It may be a short trip distance-wise, but time-wise the trip there and back took three hours. The road between villages is actually quite good, but going through each village takes nerves of steel. There is nothing to do but slow down and then slow down some more. Also, there were several stops for wildflower sightings. I didn't find many that I hadn't already seen, but there were a few that jumped out at me including a giant thistle and some Eryngium that looked almost exactly like the ones we grew in Alaska as annuals. Small world, wouldn't you say?

We found the actual castle was closed for renovation, a bit disappointing, but not unexpected. We knew it was in bad shape when we were there seven years ago. I'm glad they are doing what they can to repair it because it's a real treasure. Hopefully, once it's repaired, plans will be made to improve the amenities around the site as well as the access. 

Back at the resort it was siesta time again. . . . are you sensing a pattern here? And now it's almost time for dinner. Last night, we ate inside because it was quite windy. Tonight is a perfect night for alfresco - and it's Thankful Thursday. Cheers!

Up early on Friday morning - another beautiful day. Spent a bit of time reflecting on Thankful Thursday. We have so much to be thankful for.

I had a wonderful massage - something more to add to my TT account next week. Spent most of the day writing, reading, and enjoying the beauty of Crete!

Time for a walk and perhaps a swim before we have to get dressed for dinner. We have dinner plans with four guests from England. Should be interesting.

I still can't seem to add pictures to the blog. Technology! UGH!!!