Thor and I are continuing our new Greek islands trip, and I’ll start a new blog series soon. Meanwhile, a glimpse of my first backpacking journey to Crete.
My very first Mediterranean beach destination involved some rattletrap bus rides, cheerful misdirections, and a 3-hour stumble in the deepening dusk down a rocky cliffside trail carrying a heavy backpack. More than a journey through the rugged Cretan landscape, it was a trip through time—way back to the Minoans or Keftiu, the later Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Turks, and finally the World War II German invasion only an eyeblink earlier in history.
The expansive island of Crete was the home to the 99 fabled cities of the ancient Minoans (or Keftiu), where King Minos built the labyrinth to contain the bull-headed Minotaur, the offspring of a sacred white bull and Minos’s wife (more about that in Part 1). Loutro (Greek for “Bath” because of the ancient bathing ruins fed by springs in the area) on the wild southern coast was once a port called Phoenix by the later Romans. After the Romans it was the base for Saracen pirates, then occupied by the Venetians and their shipping empire. The Turks later conquered the island, until finally Crete reasserted independence, was joined to Greece, and was occupied by the Germans during World War II.
Many of the fiercely proud Cretans still praise the Resistance fighters and have an uneasy truce with the hordes of German tourists we encountered at the major tourist sites. Loutro was rumored to be way off the beaten track away from the crowds, and indeed it was, with no roads and accessible only by rough trail down the mountains or by boat.
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You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from another research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com