I’ve made it up to the Lasithi plateau in one piece…just. The owner of the apartment I’m staying in gave me some alternative directions to those offered by Google Maps, and said it was a beautifully scenic drive. They both looked like they would take about the same length of time – two and a half hours – but I didn’t really relish the thought of having to drive all the way to Heraklion only to come back down again.
So I followed his advice, and went the scenic way. It took me along some lovely quiet roads, and was very calm and peaceful. Until I hit a small village. And I actually do almost literally mean I hit it. It must have only been a mile from end to end, but it was scary. Set on the hillside, the road through the village wound round tight corners and up steep inclines, and the road was so narrow in places that my side mirrors were almost scratching the wall…on both sides!
And then of course there were the very traditional Greek villagers sitting on their front doorsteps chatting with their neighbours, and laughing at this silly foreigner in the car, a look of horror and panic constantly plastered on my face.
I was so grateful to leave the village behind, that I barely noticed the road ahead. As I rose steadily into the mountains, winding round extremely sharp hairpin bends on a road only wide enough for one car to pass, I realised that quite a bit of the tarmac on the road was crumbling away, falling down the hillside, and taking anything perched upon with it. I mean I didn’t actually see this happen, but huge sections of road were missing, and this was the case for at least another ten or twelve miles.
When I finally got onto more stable ground and my hopes of survival were revived, I looked around me and it took my breath away. I had climbed so high into the mountains that the view was breathtakingly beautiful. The scenery, although very familiar with the rows of olive trees, was at the same time completely alien. The sandy soil from near Pitsidia had given way to a much rockier landscape and bright red soil.
The best views of course were on such narrow stretches of road that it would have been unwise and potentially fatal for me to stop and take a photo. So, although these photos are quite spectacular, just imagine what my views were when I got higher up!