Cretan Disaster (1 of 6)

Wed., Oct. 27, 1999

The End of the Season

Sometimes things aren’t always what they seem… Either, a) I’m clearly Australian and need to go on "walkabout" (though I’m only really making that remark for the benefit of the non-Australian recipients who actually believe that myth – then again, I still haven’t managed to kick the habit) or b) package holidays ain’t for me. Probably a combination of the two. Whatever the reason, I find myself, to paraphrase Pink Floyd, "comfortably numb," nestled between a glass of Lowenbrau, a ferry port – Iraklion (Heraklion), Kriti (Crete) and a can of Grolsch. Or something like that. This seems to be my first opportunity to write, so I guess an explanation is required.

The delightful people at, for the sake of avoiding a libel case, "Have-Loads-of-Fun-Travel" offer a week-in-the-sun in Crete, for we of the Dublin-residing-pasty-white-variety, longing for, if only, warmth. Fair enough, and why not: a week to try to relax (ever realised how difficult that actually is when forced?); to try to get some colour; to try to write (well, this much is true!); to try to experience a little Greek culture. What has resulted has been very trying indeed – to do any or all of these without getting mindlessly bored! Hence, my transitory predicament. Well, not so much a predicament as a choice – an exercise of personal freedom? A desire to see more than tourist menus, relentless touts, "Oirish" theme bars, commercially-tainted Greece. And they tell me Piskopiano (my base), is more traditional/less commercial than other villages! Sheesh! Not that I expect to see any less of such things, just different ones in different places…

Oh, and (stereotyping alert!) the Greek male. P-leeeeeeeze! My God, their archaic attitudes, seemingly engrained at such an early age in their culture that I experienced "verbal" harassment from across the whole demographic: little boys whose only grasp of the English language seemed to be in proudly saying "suck my penis," the 20-somethings, more immaculately-groomed than any man I’ve ever known (shame their IQ didn’t match their TQ – trouser quality), right up to those slimeballs old enough to be my, well, regardless of age, the fact that they actually can get away with that shit in this, the 21st century – is unfathomable. But, I digress…

Okay. So, it all started when I realised (while easy for some), I couldn’t simply lie beside a pool all day getting some (albeit much-needed) sun then drink myself silly at night to have any conversation/social interaction. Bored, bored, bored; I couldn’t even concentrate on a book for more than five minutes.

Many would argue I have more dollars than sense – why waste a pre-paid apartment? Possibly less sense than dollars, but electing for a package deal was a safety net (in case the weather was too shite for backpacking), I think, or at least thought I’d adopted that UK/EIRE attitude about holidays-in-the-sun, as opposed to "travelling," and besides, I had to use up a week’s holiday. And that’s all it really was meant to be – a holiday. Imagine that!

Here’s another thing! Have-Loads-of-Fun-Travel also offers an assortment of excursions, daytrips and exciting nights out to "truly" experience Cretan culture. Or, as I decided, you could do any or all of this without the invariably incompetent guide and group membership. Nothing like wearing your tourist-banner on your sleeve, is there?

Sorry, but you don’t get on a plane (in this instance, from Ireland), for any amount of time, to be surrounded by Irish people, Irish bars and Irish music. I just wanna be as inconspicuous as possible and "get away from it all"! Is that too much to ask? God, this is Greece, innit?

(Incidentally, I did make a trip out to Knossos, the Minoan ruins of a palace dating back to 3000-7000 B.C., which (not to indulge in an obligatory whinge, was not exactly as impressive as I’d been led to believe. Some nice frescos though, and I’m pleased I was inspired enough to make an effort to experience some culture.) However, many of these options are reduced by the fact that it is "the end of the season." It’s like closing time, last orders. I sometimes even think I can hear, "Time, gentlemen" uttered from the bay of Hersonnissos, resonating in the hills of Piskopiano. It’s that quiet.

While not completely deserted, "business is slow," as the locals keep reiterating. Not that I want to endure the "charm" of Ibiza Uncovered, but somewhere in between would be nice, that happy medium… and goddamit, I want to see Greece through more than the bottom of a pint glass, the inside of my sunbathed eyelids, the downside of too much Raki, Ouzo and god knows what other local delicacies (i.e., liver-deteriorating concoctions), I’ve so far had the pleasure of imbibing.

I guess I just need a change of scenery, a different timbre to my world, a syncopated rhythm in my day – either that or sex! Both would be good! But that’d be having cake and eating it too…

Read all six parts of Cretan Disaster
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six