Virtual Trip No. 2. Today we went into full lockdown in Chania, Crete, at 6 a.m. We now can only go out to specified places and for specified reasons with notes downloaded from a government website. According to worldometers.info Greece still has just 624 people infected with coronavirus, and 17 dead. Crete, to my knowledge, still has had just five individuals infected, with no deaths. We have been extraordinarily fortunate, in part due to plain luck, in part due to quick official response, and in part thanks to a population that does not panic and does not behave overly irresponsibly. We’re not perfect – the order to shut down coffee shops and cafes came last Monday after gorgeous weather lured thousands of people to seaside watering holes on a glorious Sunday. But when the state clamped down immediately, folks stepped up immediately to show their responsibility.
Anyway, today, while we remain under lockdown, I’m going back to peruse some photos I made three weeks ago in the Agioi Apostoloi area just west of Chania. This area is rich in its beauty – I recently posted photos of the woods and cliffs that hang over the sea there. But what really makes this small area a draw is its four – count ’em – four beaches. All four face in different directions (see the map I post at the end of the photos), meaning that, at different times during the winter season, these waters of the Sea of Crete remain swimmable – for the hearty. My wife Oksana and I grabbed our suits and drove over there about three weeks ago to test the waters, and I’ll be honest – I got as far has my upper thighs before turning tail and hustling back up onto shore. The frozen pain rising up my old bones was more than I could handle. Oksana made a pact with herself as she entered the water that if the sun would peek out from behind the clouds, she would dunk under. To her credit, when a cloud did give way to sun, she dove instantly and came up hollering. She didn’t last but another minute or two, but she had done it. Then there were some of the people we shared ample beach space with – one guy at Chrissi Beach walked slowly into the water as if it were a bathtub, stretched out gracefully and slowly began swimming the crawl. He disappeared around the point and didn’t come back – still swimming as slowly and deliberately as ever – a half an hour later. Hat’s off to him. Other folks went in for good ten, 15-minute swims. More power to them. Maybe one day I’ll grow up to do that, too. A lot of people gather at the other end of the region at Glaros Beach, which faces in almost the opposite direction of Chrissi. Both Chrissi and Glaros offer beautiful views of the Lefka Ori, the majestic White Mountains south of Chania. Glaros gets plenty of direct sun in the afternoon. The two beaches in between – Iguana Beach and Agioi Apostoli public beach – are quite small and don’t seem to attract many people this time of year, whether it might be swimmers, runners or gawkers.
I don’t know when we’ll next be able to get out here to swim and take photos. But today, March 23, 2020, the sun is hot, the sea breeze is cool and we’re all better off sitting home thinking about better days.
All text and photos © copyright 2020 by John Freedman. If you wish to use, repost, reproduce any part of the text or any of the photos, please ask for permission.