At around 8 o’clock in the morning we started to see the shores of Crete. Everybody rushed to the car decks where the usual display of seemingly absolute chaotic behaviour took place: all the engines were revved up, cars were being moved to better position them for the exit, all without the boat crew intervening one way or the other. Luckily it was an open deck so the fumes were not suffocating anybody. Not that I think that it would have made any difference in behaviour if this had been a closed deck…
To understand what is going on, you have to know that when the cars are loaded at the departure port, they are parked with there noses directed away from the entrance, which will later become the exit. So now everybody wanted to have their car pointing in the other direction. And of course, no self respecting Greek waits patiently until the first cars have left. No, no, they all want to be the first to leave the boat, or so it seems to me. So they all frantically start moving their car back and forth, each time turning it just a little bit with the purpose of turning it completely around, and then manoeuvring it to the frontmost position they can reach. This doesn’t work of course in the cramped confines of a boat deck loaded with cars. Everybody can tell that from the outset. It doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Greeks. Most amazingly it doesn’t create any bad blood either. I watched body works scratching each other, but they astonishingly take that very calmly, they get out, discuss the situation at length and from all angles, and decide that nothing could have been done about it. It was just a stroke of bad luck. How delicious! Try to imagine that on a ferry boat from Dover!
At 9:30 I drove out of the harbour of Iraklio and went straight to the real estate agent Yvonne and I had visited last September. They recognized me and offered me coffee. The appartement that Yvonne liked so much then had already been taken. I reiterated our wishes and they would let me know as soon as they found anything coming close to that. Then I drove to Ammoudára which is a tourist area with a long sandy beach just east of Iraklio. To get there you have to pass through “Chania Porta”, a gate in the medieval walls surrounding Iraklio. The bus station for all traffic going east is just outside the gates. It’s the busiest street in town, full of cars with bad exhaust pipes and nervous drivers humping the horns of their cars. I didn’t particularly like the prospect of passing there every day, but Ammoudára offers fully furnished accommodation for rent outside the season at a cheap rate, thus making it a viable option for me to stay while searching for a more permanent place.
Ammoudára is almost completely deserted during winter. Very few people actually live there, most of them come down in summer from the villages further up the mountains to attend to their little tourist shop, or tavern or small hotel. At a períptero I had bought the local newspaper which advertises these studios and small appartements and I was now going from one place to the other. I didn’t find anything to my liking or that of my budget, so at around 5 in the evening I drove back to Iráklio, where the usual lodgings were also closed in the off season. After some searching I settled in Hotel Lena, a small family run hotel which is clean and cheap at around €20 a day (in wintertime). It would still cut a serious dent in my budget if I had to stay there for a month or longer.