Great question and excellent timing. We are sitting in the Blue House Restaurant and start forking our way through a Greek Salad, filled wine leaves, fried zucchini flowers filled with cheese, mixed vegetables of spinach, eggplant and zucchini, stuffed tomato, Tzatziki and grilled Octopus. Another day behind us that is quite memorable and in a strange way exhausting...
Taking the boat to Agia Roumeli in the early afternoon we come to admire the coastline further West. The majestic White Mountains, steep cliffs, straits of rocks making their way down to the water that has the amazing color of a deep violet ink with touches of dark green. The landscape is barren, rock piles in all shades of grey, then in amber and almost orange colors. Suddenly the coastline changes character into a light green of a forrest clinging to the cliffs. We are reaching Agia Roumeli, the end point of the Samaria Gorge, the Mekka of all tourists visiting Crete, the mother of hikes. Shunned and ignored by us for years. We have finally arrived, only from the wrong direction, the end point. To make the 18 kilometer walk through the Samaria Gorge you have to start early with a bus trip to Omalos and then start a descent from 1000 meters stretched over 16 kilometers down to sea level, with the last 2 kilometers on a plain concrete road. And this is what we do, walk the 2 kilometers to the gate where the people make their arrival pictures with gestures of accomplishment. The marchers heading our way are somewhat quiet, have taken off most of their clothes on the way down, sunburnt, unable to say a word, maybe had arguments with their spouse and kids, but given up on it to save energy. It is hot, but beautiful here. The gorge is narrowing down, streams of rocks have made their way down the hillsides, taking everything standing in their way with them. Bust mostly there is green, with trees growing at an almost impossible angle.
Stress calls of 2 goats are grabbing our attention, and so we search the vertical stone wall, thinking, there can't be a goat getting a grip on that, but there they are, munching at the few bushes. Incredible. Exhausted walkers are taking a bus to Agia Roumeli and the boat. I shout "cheaters!", because what are those meters to an accomplished hiker? The father of a German family has a point here when he says "two people with the bus, that is one beer!" and decides to keep the money for something cool and refreshing at arrival. We keep walking on, passing abandoned buildings, half destroyed bridges that stand in the middle of the dried out riverbed, a graveyard and smelly goat farms. It is so hot, even with the wind coming over the mountains. I have to stop every 5 minutes to get a sip of water.
We rest at the arrival hut of the gorge. It is here that the hikers "check in" by handing back their entrance tickets so that the park authorities can verify the numbers and decide if they have to send a rescue team for strayed and lost hikers. It is here where the pictograms of dos and don'ts amuse us - it is our interpretation:
1. Don't walk your dog.
2. Don't grow old on the hike.
3. Don't set fire to anything.
4. Put your garbage in the designated wastebins.
5. Don't drink wine.
6. Leave your high heels at home.
7. Don't camp.
8. Don't shoot the goats. Do what the villagers do: Shoot the road signs.
9. Don't cut any trees. Use the saw for something else, play some music on it - if you can.
10. Don't do any brickwork, like building a house or something.
Useful, that is what I say. So, we head back to the village of Agia Roumeli, finishing glasses of fresh orange juice before going down to the beach and boarding the boat back to Loutro.
"Which brings us back to my question: What do you call several Octopus? Octopussies?"
Gro Bente has the answer: "They are called Octopi, just like the Cactus is called Cacti in plural."
"Octopie? Like the apple pie? We are eating the Octopus grilled, not baked!"
Gro Bente shakes her head. "Octopi, written without the 'e', just the 'i' at the end. That is Latin, my friend. Grilled or not, it does not matter."
"Okay, if you are so smart, what do you call an Octopus that has lost an arm, Septopus?