On my final morning on the Lasithi Plateau (the destination for my first mini-break on Crete), I decided to head up to the Diktaean cave, the alleged birthplace of Zeus. He had several siblings but they were eaten as soon as they were born by their father, Krónos, as he had been told that his son would eventually overthrow him. To protect him, Zeus was hidden from Krónos in the cave in Psychro where he was nursed before being moved to a cave on Mount Ida to live out his youth. So I had to visit it.
The village of Psychro itself is very quiet and sits at the base of the ascent up to the caves. I slowly wound my way through the streets and up the mountain side towards the cave. At the end of the road I was shocked to see bus-loads of people arriving at the entrance, where there were also souvenir shops and tavernas. It was bustling, and completely different to the scenes through the village twenty minutes earlier.
So I joined the throng of people, payed my €6, avoided the donkey handlers and headed up the mountain side. The path was well laid and wound up and up and up, and again the heat was unbearable. Groups of people congregated under the shade of the scarce olive trees. A coach load of people were ahead of me, and not many behind so I loitered slightly at the back, taking in the amazing views of the Plateau from halfway up the mountainside.
The cave itself was okay. Worth the €6 but perhaps not worth travelling specifically to. I would have liked some kind of literature to accompany it, but they didn’t seem to offer anything like that. I did notice the nipple that some guides claim was the nipple that Zeus fed from as a baby. There was also a pool at the bottom of the cave where people had thrown money in. I added my 50 cents so I’m sure I’ll be blessed by the Greek Gods forever now.
I was a bit disappointed by the crowds of people as I envisioned a solitary figure (me) scaling the rough and rocky landscape to reach a small dark gateway set into the mountainside, revealing a vast and cavernous landscape beyond. But then that’s the romantic in me.
As it was, I was actually quite grateful for the tourist side of things when I reached the lower entrance again. I’d finished my water and was extremely thirsty. I sat myself down on the balcony of one of the tavernas, with an uninterrupted view of the Plateau stretching out in front of me.
I ordered a Freddo Cappuccino in my fractured Greek, and the waitress – she was good – convinced me that I needed a frozen yoghurt with fresh strawberries too. I’m glad she did, it was amazing! And I finally felt my body temperature get back to somewhere near where it should have been.
A lovely end to my holiday!