Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crete: Matala

The drive across Crete to the southern coast was delightful. There were long expanses of olive orchards and fruit farms, and stunning views from the interior mountains. We drove literally through the parking lot at Phaistos (to which we would return the following morning) and continued to our destination, Matala, a small coastal town. In the 1970s, young people flocked to Matala to live a communal lifestyle in the wonderful complex of caves near the harbor, which had been carved out originally in Neolithic times. There were lots of drugs involved as well. The town is somewhat more touristy now, but it is still cheaper than most places, and it was a wonderful place to spend a few days, because the beach was fantastic, and it was in close proximity to several ancient sites, including Phaistos and Agia Triada.

The beach was small, and bordered on two sides by rock formations, one of which housed the aforementioned caves. There was a small rocky island out to sea, which gave it a great deal of character. During the daytime, especially because of the heat, I assume, people flocked to the clothing optional beach, and it was difficult to find an empty spot with an umbrella. At night, things calmed down a bit, but there were small bars and restaurants all along the beach and seaside, and there were always people still mingling when I called the night. At the very end of the boardwalk there was a restaurant built on wooden posts over the last rocks before the sea, and we ate a wonderful dinner there while watching the sun set on the Mediterranean.


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