::Stelios Jackson's walks
interkriti:the E4 and other Mythical Trails-by Stelios Jackson
A diary of events of the trials and tribulations
of a lone walker, in his attempt to cross Crete
from Kato Zakros to Kissamos...
Chapter 13: Spili to Aghia Roumelli (three days)

Friday the 30th of May
Morning Becomes Electric
There is one advantage of waking with a raging hangover, every now and then. When one doesn't, one feels fantastic. This morning I felt fantastic; the reason for this - other than the rays of sunshine, streaming through the window - lay in the evidence, which, itself, lay on my bedside table; a bottle of 'Metexa Five Star', which, in turn, couldn't have been more full had it tried. I congratulated myself for the uncommon sense of common sense, which must have come over me last night. The bright sunshine, illuminated my room, and I felt wonderful. An electricity coursed through my veins; I went for a wee wander up to the Venetian fountain, and took a stroll round Spili's back streets. This was the life! It never fails to amaze me that people can be up and about their business at this hour. Is it for my benefit? I suspect not, but have no proof either way. I really like Spili. I feel I could live there. I couldn't, of course, but the dream is worth having, if not realising. Virginia had stirred - and was applying a similar action to a cup of coffee - when I returned to the hotel. I looked at her from a distance. Two days ago, she had been somebody whose presence I'd merely been looking forward to tolerating (in the nicest possible way, of course); now I was looking forward to spending as much time with her as possible. It wasn't just that she could be my means of transportation, if things became desperate; honest it wasn't! After a couple of blissful hours of doing nothing in particular, I left the comfort of the Herakles hotel, helped to load Virginia's car, and set-off for Plakias. It was 10 AM, give or take a quarter of an hour.

Windy Windings

The road takes you out of Spili, westwards, from where it's no more than a hop, skip and, perhaps, a jump or three, to the village of Myxorrouma, which has a similar altitude to that of Spili  - unsurprisingly - 350 metres. ("It lies on the road to Spili, at the 26th km, 26,5 km from Rethymnon. The origin of its name is to be found in the two Greek words "mixis: and "rouma", after its location at the junction of two torrents.The old village of Myxorrouma is well worth a visit, with its stone houses and lush vegetation" )  There appears to have been an exodus, between 1981 and 1991, in this village. The census has the latter population at a mere 8, from 434 in '81. Personally, I don't trust this figure at all; the place seemed pretty vibrant! There's a left turn here, which takes one through the back-streets of the village, and very pretty it is too. Trees offering all sorts of fruits and - as I was to learn,  later -  nuts, line the road; it's a splendid terrain, and whilst one has to stick to the road, it is one less driven. Here begins the descent of man; it's all down-hill from Spili to Plakias. Different muscles are used, and it can become a tad tiring after a while, but this was a short walk. I was tempted to stop at a taverna, in the village of Frati (pop 1991: 96p), which also offered accommodation. A tempting thought for the future this; the accommodation that is; the coffee could wait until I reached the coast. The road does a wee bit of snaking, before one reaches a junction. A sharp left turn and within a minute, or so, there's a sharp right, which takes you into the Kourtaliotiko gorge. This is one that you can drive down, and for the extremely adventurous, I am pretty sure you can windsail down as well; in fact, you may have no choice! I was greeted by a gust of wind, which nearly knocked me off my feet, such was its -  or my lack of -  strength.  A small picnic area greets the visitor and a number of cars were parked-up; their occupants hanging on to the benches for dear life as the wind howled around our ears. I too stopped and took a short stroll along the road's periphery. There are steps to a small chapel here, but I wasn't in the mood for steps, or chapels. A few hundred metres further on, there is a sign offering accommodation and food, presumably in the gorge's mouth, though the building looked less than appealing. It was not much later that I arrived at the village of Levgogia. I had, many years ago visited this village, before entering Plakias, and memories, of nothing much in particular, came flooding back. This is another great option, if you fancy staying in this area. Close to the Prevelimonastery. I am ashamed to say, I have never visited!

Blow Me Down!

I stopped for my first Greek coffee of the day, in Levkogia. I sat at one of the outside tables, and waited for my "sketous" (Greek coffee, which is kept at least a couple of arms' length away from anything which may contain sugar! Actually it's usually cooked next to the sweeter varieties - glykous and metrious - but allow me my imagination!), to arrive, whilst watching the scenery and a couple of rather beautiful cyclists, who had stopped to tweak the spokes of their wheels. My sketous came, or rather it didn't. Instead of the sugarless coffee I had ordered, I received one so syrupy, I was forced to spit out the sip of the "glykous" (sweet), I had been given. I called the lady who'd deposited this monstrosity on my table and entered into a rather ridiculous argument about whether I'd really ordered a sketous in the first place. I only ever order dry coffee but, after a while, was willing to accept that there was a possibility, I had used an incorrect adjective. She in turn was willing to accept that she had misheard me, and once again, everything was fine. I resumed my ogling of the bikers, who were almost ready for the off. I decided to join them, in spirit at least. The lady who had served my coffee, and who was now my closest friend in the village, asked me whether I was walking. I couldn't deny it, but the reason she had asked was that somebody's sister had rang the hotel 'Stelios' - 50 metres down the road - earlier that day, desperate to speak to her brother, who'd been walking in this area. My sister had my Greek mobile number; she also had no idea that I was heading for Plakias, but just for a moment, I thought of investigating; just then, something remarkable happened.

Blowing One's Own Trumpet!

Now, just because I own a rucksack, with my name emblazoned on its back, doesn't mean that I wish to be recognised. I am the shy, retiring type, as I am sure you have learned through the Gbs of ether, swallowed up by these chapters. However, whilst the brass bands had been conspicuous by their absence, throughout my travails, so too had anybody who knew me, at all! Other than those I had planned to meet, of course, and even some of those had been a bit uncertain; besides, I am quite adept at blowing my own trumpet. I was in the midst of contemplating the hotel "Stelios", when somebody called out my name...or that of the hotel. I wondered why anybody would be calling out the hotel's name, but seeing as it was far more likely than anybody calling out mine, I carried on, regardless...for a nanosecond! Turning round, I saw a fine figure of a man, and his equally fine figured friend, waving in my general direction, or that of the hotel's. I realised the pair were really waving at me, and were not having one of those "Eureka!" moments at having found their hotel after days of looking. "Er, hi", I said, rather nervously. "How are you", was the response. It was difficult to say. "Confused", was my first thought, but the sentence had only just begun. Chris and Mandy, stood before me. "Harribobs" is the name these two go by on Interkriti, and this was to be a truly meteoric meeting. They'd just returned from a walk down to Preveli and, as I couldn't hang around for long, we arranged to meet, later, in Plakias. This had been a strange meeting indeed. I had found myself in touch with Chris, some months before, and had regretted there being no chance of us seeing each other, due to our differing agendas. I had thought nothing more of it, but if I'd had half a brain, I would have remembered that he and Mandy were walking the lower reaches of Rethymnon, at about the time I was hoping to be exploring the nomos' higher fields!

Blowing Hot And Cold.

I moved on! What a great day I was having. I'd made this trip in double-quick time; I am no slouch, at the best of times, whilst walking, but the day's rest and lack of hangover, had put a certain bounce into me, that had been missing in some of my more recent jaunts. Including the coffee break and chinwag, I was in Plakias, within three and a half hours of setting-off. I found a nice hotel (the Morpheas), with a sea view, and enjoyed the scenery and a beer, as a brown Volkswagen parked opposite. Virginia had arrived. I'd booked my friend an adjacent room. I have no idea why I found it necessary to do this - it was a far more expensive way for us to stay - it just felt right. I fancied a swim; then I didn't. I looked at the waves breaking and the hardy few throwing themselves at their resistance. Did I fancy a swim? I couldn't decide. Time passed; people passed below the balcony; I passed on the swim. I felt the best I had for some time. Everything was coming to fruition. The decisions of the last couple of days had been spot-on. However the rest of the walk may have turned out, had I chose to take the mountain route, I knew that re-facing Soughia from an Aghia Roumelli perspective was the one for me. I just had to walk that walk and it filled me with an excitement and fear so intense, everything I had so far achieved, paled into insignificance. To skip forward a bit here (well a lot, really), the following year (2004) would see me walking from Askyphou to Myrthios, in two days, just to bridge the gap, the interior of the island had to offer, and to see what I had missed this time round. Once this walky-talky is complete, I may well relate this latter walk (if we live that long!), which was rather splendid. This year (2003), everything in heaven and earth was almost right. All I had to do, tomorrow, was to get myself back to Rodakino. How difficult could that be?

Virginia and I met with Chris and Mandy, at the Ostraco bar, behind the car park. Donna joined us, and the five of us headed for a pizza joint. The food here was excellent, as were the first three bottles of wine! I intended to enjoy myself this evening. "All I have to do, tomorrow, is get myself to Rodakino; "how difficult can that be"?, I reminded myself! Yes, a lot was drunk, but it was a splendid evening, spent in equally splendid company. I remember no specifics. I'd be surprised if I could, but that wonderful, clear-headed, feeling of the morning before, would not be repeated the morning after. Oh no, no chance of that! Plakias is a strange place with a year round residency of 139, according to the '91 census. It's not, immediately, very attractive, but it has its charms, and would make for an excellent base, especially for families. There are a number of nice beaches, a couple of gorgeous gorges, plenty of accommodation, great tavernas and bars, and very nice satellite villages. There is a problem with high winds and mosquitoes, allegedly; two things I would have thought to have been mutually exclusive, unless the mosquitoes were blown in from Libya! I am grateful to my friend Chris for his pen-picture of the town, and his more literal - and less literary - pictures of Plakias and environs

Chris Harrison on Plakias

" Plakias, a small coastal town in the south of Crete, was a closely guarded secret by the returning tourists, but now is slowly opening up to ever-increasing visitors. It is blessed with sandy beaches on both sides of the town, the longest running east into the dunes below the Kakomouri headland, which are loved by the naturist sun worshipers. Rolling hills surround the town and the Kotsifos gorge channel the bracing winds, which are so often a feature of the local weather, providing a cooling alternative to the often-oppressive heat of a Cretan summer. These same hills are a draw to walkers and non-walkers alike, who find the lush countryside and hard barren hills more interesting than the beaches and bars of the north. I admit when we first visited Plakias I thought, nice place but no big deal, but slowly I found myself warming to the place; the people were easy to like. the food is good."
"The typical Cretan hospitality seemed to be enhanced by some obviously genuine friendships. Everywhere from the beaches to the tavernas, we saw locals greeting visitors like long lost relatives. We then started to realise just how addictive Plakias is, and why so many people come back year after year after year. Even as relative newcomers, making only our sixth visit later this year, we now find ourselves welcomed and entertained in the same manner, getting out of our favourite taverna can take half an hour or more while we catch up with what everybody has been doing and compare plans. That is assuming that we are allowed to leave, I have often been sent back to my table with a jug of wine after trying to pay the bill. Plakias?…it’s addictive"

And so say all of us.

Chris's pictures of Plakias and environs. Click for enlargement.

Saturday the 31st of May
Full Blown

I deserved to feel worse; I knew I deserved to feel worse. It could hardly be described as "early", as my bed released me from its comforting grip; it wasn't yet lunch time, either. I had arranged to meet with Chris and Mandy, for something, today, but I couldn't, for the life of me, remember what that "something" was, or indeed what time, or where this meeting was due to take place. I had a walk to do - thankfully, an easy one(!) - so it could hardly have been for a late supper. Equally, the idea of me meeting anybody for breakfast was anathema; besides, I would have already missed any appointment before 11.30 AM. So, where and when, and for what and why? I wandered off onto the balcony, blinking and blinded by the sun, where - like Sir Walter Raleigh, several centuries before - I discovered Virginia, in a contemplative state, enjoying the view from the one next to mine. "Did I arrange to meet with Chris and Mandy", I asked. Sure I had. At the very bar we had started out in, last night. 'The Ostraco'. I knew that. I have an excellent memory. "Are you invited, or is this a threesome thing". Of course she was invited. I had invited her. I knew that. Things started to come back to me, in instalments. In my camera case, there was no camera, as you may remember, if you have a better memory than I. Irritatingly - other than a cartographer's paradise of diverse maps with even more diverse information contained upon them! -   there lived inside, a 512Mb memory card, which could easily have stored the entire contents of my brain, if I'd had the means of transference. Instead, I'd decided to expunge the memory of the lost camera, by offering Chris and Mandy this piece of software. I really didn't wish to see the bloody thing again! I'd kept the memory card in my case, in case I'd been able to buy another camera. That hadn't happened, and now it was an unnecessary encumberment. It was hardly weighing me down, but it reminded me of things I'd rather not be reminded of. For offloading this on them, I'd been offered "brunch" by Chris and Mandy; I couldn't take them up on this...it wouldn't be right...but I had. We had arranged to meet at 12PM, which was all of 25 minutes away. I felt like death, and with the help of the sun, "death warmed-up"! What I needed was a dog; one hirsute enough, it wouldn't miss a hair or two!

I felt shaky, and was ashamed to say that a beer would do me wonders. Hell, it was almost mid-day. I was on holiday. Would anybody think worse of me if I ordered a small lager (or three), rather than an omelette? Of course not! Virginia and I headed west. Chris and Mandy were waiting for us. They looked fantastic, which was enormously depressing! The waiter took our orders. I allowed the other three to complete theirs, dropping in lines such as: "I'll drink to that", along the way. All three ordered, and not one...not one of them(!), ordered anything with any alcoholic content. I ordered an omelette, a coffee..."and... something cool to drink". I looked at Chris for support, and he looked back at my rheumy gaze with eyes, clear and untroubled."...and an orange juice", I conceded. Brunch was fine; I was not. I wanted to go back to bed; to sleep away the leftovers of the hangover. I found myself becoming boring; more so than usual, and for me to notice this, meant I was in trouble. I ordered a beer. Nobody said anything. Nobody cared. I felt better and, in my own mind, as the beer took affect, I became the witty, clever, Tsaksonakis, I can just about live with. Mandy and Chris were splendid company, and it was with regret, that Virginia and I left them to their own devises. My regret was deeper than Virginia's. I could have stayed there the whole afternoon, and beyond. Once I get into the recovery position, I find it very difficult to extract myself from it. But needs must, and I needed to be heading-off. We collected our luggage from the hotel's reception, where we had left it, and deposited it into Virginia's car.

Puffing And Blowing

So, off I set for Rodakino; "just how difficult could this be"? Well, bloomin' difficult, as it turned out. It was an extremely windy day. My decision was to take the high road and the back streets to the village of Sellia. It was quite a climb, and one that I wasn't prepared for. I was puffing and blowing by the time I reached Sellia's (occ. Selia) lofty elevation of 209 metres (1991 pop. 388). I'd 'phoned my friends, John and Helen, in England, on the way up, to congratulate their son Joss on reaching the ripe old age of nine, a few days before. Joss had answered, and immediately passed the 'phone to his dad; complaining there was some lunatic - quite possibly in a wind-tunnel - breathing heavily and blowing kisses at him! Looking back, I suppose it's quite a sharp climb, and I shouldn't have been that surprised that its effect would take its toll. It was just that this was to supposed to be a breeze! Talking of breezes, the wind appeared to be getting stronger! They might be right about the gusty nature of this area of Crete, but in Plakias, I'd had had no noteworthy meetings with Libyan-born mosquitoes! In fact, the little blighters had been avoiding me for some time. From Sellia I would walk the main road and, I suspected, pass the track which I had so miserably failed to find, (for the best part of an evening and early morning!) all those weeks ago. I was looking forward to seeing the Rodakinos (upper and lower), in the light of day. I wished to gaze at that mountain I'd crossed, back then, at a distance, and in the comfort of the Petros' restaurant/hotel. My hangover was not helping matters, neither was 'Hurricane Anirini', which whistled around me and attempted to knock me off my feet. I was not for the knocking; not yet anyway. I knew when I got to the main road, the winds would calm down, and everything would be far easier. How wrong I was. Having enjoyed my usual beverages, at a kafeneion in Sellia, I set-off, once again. If anything the wind had intensified. There are, of course, no pavements on these roads, and one has to run the gauntlet of the cars as they speed past. It's a good road, otherwise, which exacerbates the problem. At bends I had to be ultra-careful, as cars sped past or towards me at great speeds, not expecting to see a Tsaksonakis in front of them. The wind was doing its best to confuse me. It appeared to change its (and my) direction, at a whim, sometimes forcing me towards the barrier, and other times guiding me towards the centre of the road. Neither of these, were particularly desirable places to hang out! Speeding cars were certainly a problem, as I tacked towards the centre of the road, and back, but I wouldn't have enjoyed the sensation of being on the other side of the barrier, either. Sometimes the drop was pretty precipitous on that side, so I stayed as far away from the edge as possible, whilst doing my best not to play, too closely, with the traffic!

It took about three hours all-in-all, to get from Plakias to Ano Rodakino. It felt far longer. There is nothing of interest between Sellia and the Rodakinos. I recognised my track of yester-month, and stopped for a short reminisce, whilst allowing memories to come flooding(!) back. Suddenly I felt thirsty. I had enough water upon me, to fill a camel's hump, but decided what I needed was to arrive in Rodakino, in a similar state to last time. Not that this was possible, without spending another ten hours under the scorching sun - or melting under a waxing moon - but as I turned the final twist in the road, and spied a Rodakino, or two, below me, I was - not for the first time - looking forward to a drink or three, there. Virginia's car passed me, as I approached my destination. The cheery driver hooted, literally(!), as did her car's horn, as she overtook; these foolish things, she did for me! Ten minutes later and we were both seated at a table outside the hotel 'Saint George'. It had only been four weeks (to the day), since the pillock of salt, that had been me, had last sat here. It felt like years and, if you are reading these chapters "live", you'll know what I mean! In very different circumstances, I enjoyed beverages of the most diverse kind, whilst Petros entertained us. He'd been a singer in years gone by, we were told. Appearing on television, he informed us. He was a little worse for the contents of a couple of bottles of wine, which now sat empty at a table he shared with a couple of friends. I decided I may as well join his merriment, and took him up on his kind offer to help empty the contents of a third. At first, Petros didn't remember me. By the time the fourth bottle of wine had been uncorked, we were talking of our days together in Primary School. Virginia, of course, couldn't join our joy. She was the designated driver; I would have offered to drive and her to drink, had the thought crossed my mind! Funny thing is, though; she appeared more than happy to enjoy her surroundings and our comradeship, without any artificial stimulus. Now, how does she do that?

Coming to Blows

We arrived in Frangokastello, with one of us, a little worse for wear! I told Virginia how much I loved her, but as I told the first cat we came across, the very same thing, the sentiment may have been ever-so-slightly diluted! Another evening spent at the hotel lMilosl (I haven't stayed in the mill itself, but I have viewed it, and one day it shall be outside me, rather than the other way round!), was enjoyed. I took a nap, which was thoroughly refreshing for me and my liver, before Virginia and I shared a fantastic meal. Diametrically opposite the 'Kriti' taverna and bar (the one with the eagle nailed to the ceiling!), is a small taverna, It's just off the main road and lies just in front of the hotel 'Milos'. Oh, what fun we had. Being a vegetarian isn't always easy in Crete. A foreign -and increasingly Cretan - palate of "what no meat" has to be catered for, often to the detrement of any culinary skill,  but tonight was a joy. Among Virgina's many wonderful talents, lies the one which enables her to share an experience; one which allowed us to order a half dozen veggie options, without me feeling in the slightest bit guilty. Within ten thousand fleeting seconds, bedtime was nigh. Well, bedroom time anyway. I made my way back to my room, buying a couple of bottles of 'Mythos' beer on the way, and stepped onto the balcony of my room. A fresh book had been retrieved from my luggage and I settled down. "The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong, gusty wind..." I  looked out towards the sea. Tomorrow I would be driven to Chora Sphakion, before taking the ferry to Aghia Roumelli, for the next day's walk; hopefully to Soughia. The balcony was shared with the room next door, and a couple of voices, from within, announced the arrival of its occupants. The voices had a transatlantic tint, and I thought of George Doubleya for a while. I was joined by the male of the voice ensemble, and we said our "hellos". I settled down again and reread the same words as I had earlier: "The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong, gusty..." . "You from England?", I was asked. An image of Tony Blair came to mind, and I had to admit I was. For the next hour, or so, my American friend and I put the world to rights. He (and his wife), were on a walking tour of the island. He had recently arrived  from the more mountainous districts of Austria and Italy, and was surprised at the difficulty of walks the 'great island' offered. "Tell me about it!" I offered. He did. I extracted my revenge by telling him of my plans to walk to Soughia in two days time. He seemed impressed, and I shrugged off any respect that I had been offered. I chose not to mention the aborted trip last time round, preferring to, secretly, revel in his respect, for at least a while. My neighbours hailed from Texas, so I tried to avoid any Bush talk, but it wasn't long before politics reared its ugly head. I tore into the poor man's President, as if he were responsible for all the evils in the world, which of course he wasn't...just most of them. Tirade over, I realised I had made an idiot of myself, for the umpteenth time.. today! I also realised that the chap I'd been ranting at, was about twice my size, fit, and with a frame that appeared fully capable of hurling my diminutive one, seawards! Surprisingly, my balcony-sharer and I, were in almost total agreement...at least as far as the Iraqi debacle was concerned and, as he left me to re-read the first 21 words of my novel, I realised that it mattered not from where you came. Before I'd left dear old "Blighty", I had heard ex-pat Iraqis fully supporting the Anglo-American campaign in the country of their birth. Here, facing the Libyan sea, a Texan and a Londoner had sat, Bush-whacking and Blair-bating! O, the irony!

Sunday the 1st of June
Below Decks!

Virginia and I spent a rather nice day, doing very little. I needed to be in Chora Sphakion, before the last boat left for Aghia Roumelli. I had decided to get the one that left around 5PM, as I wasn't sure whether the later one, would be running at this time of year; in fact, I am not entirely sure I knew of its existence. Donna arrived at the hotel, at some point today. I am afraid to say that tomorrow's walk had become all-encompassing in my mind, and I was rather worse company than usual. I remember so little about these few hours in Frangokastello; I was trying to retrace my footsteps and the errors of the last time I'd walked the walk. I took a short jaunt to the local, sandy, beach. I took my book, but wasn't able to get beyond the first sentence, which I was sure I'd read before. I had arranged to meet a couple of friends of mine in Paleochora (west of Soughia), but had told them it would be either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how long it took to walk to Soughia. Virginia drove me to Chora Sphakion, where we had enough time to buy a ticket for the boat and partake in a fresh orange juice by the embarkation point. I hugged Virginia and promised her I'd be back by Christmas, before stepping on board. The ferry ride was lovely. I scanned the coastline, looking out for places I had walked a month ago. So many were easily recognisable, as the ferry cruised its way towards Aghia Roumelli. A brief stop at Loutro, reminded me of times spent at this beautiful port, but the ferry hung around no longer than it deemed necessary, and far too quickly, for my liking, was cutting its way, westwards, along the extraordinary rugged contours, of Crete's south coast. This is a mode of transport I love. I could have sat here for hours but, too soon, it was over and I had returned to Aghia Roumelli. The Samarian gorge, closed because of the dangers of flooding, on my last visit, was most definitely open now, and as we docked, I watched the last of today's long-distance walkers congratulate each other on a job well done. "Well done, indeed", I thought. Too many people underestimate the Samarian gorge; it's a pretty straightforward walk, but should, in no way, be taken lightly. Whether stories of people turning up at the top, wearing high-heels or "flip-flops", are apocryphal or not, I know not, but this is a walk one should underestimate at their peril!

The Blues

So, here I was again. I returned to the same shop I'd visited last time and bought enough groceries to allow me to spend the next week out with the goats, should it come to that. I found another hotel; a better class and more money spent than my previous stay, and it was to help, not a jot. I suddenly felt lonely. Small and insignificant.  I took a wander, and tried to eat. Three mouthfuls and a stroll later, and I was back at the hotel. As I sat alone on my west facing balcony, and watched a couple of eedjits burn excesses of rubber on Aghia Roumelli's access "road", I was worried. I was worried that I may fail again, that I would find myself back in Aghia Roumelli tomorrow. I knew that I had enough water, and that all I needed was a good night's sleep. I would be perfectly content with an overnight stay, en-route, but Jean had warned me that this was not a walk that could be done in a day, and that made me determined to at least try to do just that. How pathetic, I know. I wanted not to prove Jean wrong (he is one of the outstanding tour-guides to walking the White Mountains and a great chap too), but to prove to myself that, despite evidence to the contrary, I could do this, and I could do it in a day. I couldn't sleep. I was as relaxed as a child on the eve of Christmas. Had there been light enough, I would have set off then and there, but there was none to speak of. Worse, I was certain that tomorrow morning, I wouldn't feel the same ardour that was currently permeating  my very being. I wanted to be up by six, at the latest, yet I knew that I would wake at seven at the earliest and fancy another couple of hours in my pit. I had a balcony. I had a bottle of brandy. Should I? No. Yes! NO! Damnit! The clock ticked on. It had passed midnight and I was becoming more awake with its every revolution. Heavens above; it's only a walk! "Go to sleep!!", I insisted. I got up and wandered the, now quiet, and few streets Aghia Roumelli, has to offer.  It was almost 1 AM. I took off to the gate where it would all recommence. My feeling of self-importance had never been so high, or, indeed, so ludicrous. I felt like an Olympic athlete, on the eve of the marathon. The nerves were there, but there was a confidence based on the failure of last time. I am blessed with an excellent memory(!), and knew I would have no trouble following the trail, to the point I'd managed to get to last time; or at least beyond the point I'd managed to get lost, last time. From that point, I had seen the way the "path" descended down to the Klados gorge; from there...from there, I'd have to see. Back at the hotel, I decided that it was pointless trying to sleep, so I opened my book."The beginning is simple to mark. We were in sunlight under a turkey oak, partly protected from a strong..."

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