Saturday, 9 July 2016

Sat 9 Jul 2016. Nopigia to Samaria Gorge to Mousoura to Nopigia

Sat 9 Jul 2016. Nopigia to Samaria Gorge to Mousoura to Nopigia
Slept in, in the delightful ocean breeze. Took the winding drive through the mountains and narrow villages, electric wires dangerously low across streets, potholes that hadn't seen repairs in years. Goats continuously urinating on roads, leaving dark-streaks and an overpowering smell of ammonia. 

You can see the goats have used the road before us....

Olive and orange groves planted up the steep slopes. People lay the nets down the hills at time of planting olive trees, hooking-up ends like baskets to catch fruit as it falls.

Duffle bags in the bolt hole keep cool air in cabin

After our long drive upwards, we found that the entrance for walkers through Samaria Gorge (National Park and Biosphere Reserve) was a steep rough walk commencing 3/4 of the way back down the mountain! We gave up the idea of a hike without too much regret, especially as we’d read the total walk was 18km/6 hours to the end, and if you didn't have anyone to meet you on the coast, t’was 6 hours back again… 

We walked the goat track up the mountain instead, for fabulous views of the gorge walls and the White Mountains Protected Forest. The national park is a micro-reserve for the Cretan Orchid and a refuge for the rare kri-kri (Cretan goat). We were rewarded by spotting a green lizard, colourful butterflies on the purple gorse, and, surprisingly, tree-climbing goats! 

Now you see me, now you don't....

Whoa - tree climbing goats!

On the side of the quiet access road, we put up our annexe and enjoyed a very Greek lunch of yellowish bread dipped in olive oil, with tomatoes and cheese. Bought a cold drink in the shop before departing, admiring (??) the dour shopkeeper’s collection of scorpions and deadly centipedes. A guide outside asked whether we are trying to go around the world in our truck? Who knows, we shrugged. "Ciga/sega”, she nodded, "slowly, slowly..."

Happy to see this scorpion - in a jar...

Cretan Sea to the North, Libyan Sea to the South

Drove a different route back to our breezy beach, stopping briefly at (what looked to be) abandoned stone farmhouses and yards.

If they weren't abandoned dwellings, they really loved sharing with their goats

This road VERY popular with goats!

Also stopped at Mousoura, to see the Botanical Park. We got our workout after all, walking up and down the terraced hillside for two hours. We learnt that the Elephant Apple smells like onions, that the Curry Plant is not used for curries, and that tree trunks are whitewashed "to prevent sunburn" (hmm.....)

Chestnuts - both sexes live on same tree

Gold Finger

Desert Spoon
Mexican Pepperleaf

Saw a European Badgers "nest" (sadly no badger!) Identified many of the shrubs, flowers, creepers, herbs and fruit trees ourselves, even found some common Australian varieties that had been labelled incorrectly in English. We guessed there's no money (like in the rest of Greece) to keep the botanists working anymore - the gardens appear to be run by the adjoining restaurant.

Chukart Partridge
Didn't think we'd see a zebra finch in Greece

Arrived back on the coast in time for dinner. With such reasonable prices in the local tavernas near our campground, chose one of three in a row (but not the first one, as it was being set up for a Greek wedding). GirlRob tried the oily vegetarian Imam and BoyRob was delighted with his grilled octopus. Went to bed around 10pm, and not long afterwards a vigorous piano accordion started up, unsuccessfully trying to drown out the cricket concerto...

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