I overslept! I went to bed after 2:30am and had my alarm set for 6am, but messed up the am/pm thing for the first time ever. We were supposed to meet at 7am to go hiking, and I woke up at 6:58 (which might have been from Gabriel pounding on the door, although I didn't consciously hear that). Ten seconds later Gabriel called my room and I said I'd be right down. I was awesome...I put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, got dressed, packed everything and checked out by 7:05. And I got out to the minivan and everyone else was still dilly-dallying.
The minivan took us to the trailhead of Samaria Gorge. I bought a Coke, which other than a few pistachios at the lunch stop would be my only sustenance until dinner.
Here's an update on Jodi's sneakers at the beginning of the hike. A little bit dirty.
On the message board before the tour, Deb asked if hiking boots were necessary. I said I was planning just to wear the sneakers I always wear for hikes in LA. I should have told her that people do wear hiking boots for these things, and then shown up in sneakers. So she'd say "I though you said people wear hiking boots in the gorge" and I'd say "people do...I don't". Or perhaps I should have taken off my sneakers and put on my Himalayan Walking Shoes (same ep as the am/pm thing above so it would have been very appropriate). Would've been cool if Gabriel tried to enforce the hiking boots thing and we all had sneakers and dared him to arrest us, like when all the Happy Days people donned leather jackets in defiance of Officer Kirk. In all seriousness, I wore my old beat-up sneakers, hoping they'd fall apart on the hike so I could feed them to a goat.
And so we began the hike, which was shorter than expected...2½ hours to the lunch stop and another 1½ hours to the end, although Gloria and I were going a lot faster at the end and beat everyone else.
At many points we saw small piles of rocks, uh, piled up. One of the Canadians said this is a common thing up north, to make your mark.
More piles in better light.
The first part of the hike was downhill, but then it flattened out.
Despite the level terrain, walking on these loose rocks was tough. You use twice as much energy to take a step as on stable ground.
It was hard to look at the scenery and take photos in the gorge because you're constantly watching your feet and the rocks. I took photos only when I happened to see someone else stopping to take them.
At the end we had fresh orange juice and waited for the others, some of whom had beer. Someone split a beer with Gabriel and poured a lot of foam into his mug. "You gave me too much head!" Oh my. Opa!
Goats at the rest stop at the end.
We walked another 2 km from the end of the gorge to the Hotel Kri-Kri in Agia Roumeli. After checking in, 6 of us and Gabriel went to the beach, where I got my bronze on. I'd like to be able to say that I was sitting on a beach earning 20%, but my stocks were pretty much unchanged over the course of this trip. And gold was down $30, so I lost $1000 there. I guess it's tough to do if you're not an exceptional thief like Hans. Everyone else wandered off at some point and Gloria and I stayed on the beach an extra half hour or so. I saw a black person on the beach, and another one elsewhere in Greece, which is two more black people than I've seen on US beaches in 39 years.
I got back to the hotel around 6:30pm, rested my legs and showered.
Dinner was at the hotel's open-air restaurant and it was included in the cost of the tour, except for drinks. I had pork souvlaki and a large Mythos, plus 6 free shots of raki. During dinner one of the waiters asked "mind if I smoke?" and I said "no, that's what we came here for...it's Greece!" Afterwards the backgammon boards came out. Apparently it's a popular game in Greece. Gabriel and the waiter knew the game so we watched them and learned. Once I knew the basics I played one game against Gloria and lost.
The main backgammon table. Those elbows on the right are Sarah's I think. Or they could be knees. Or if you flip up the tablecloth the right way, they look like boobs, like the Land O'Lakes Indian chick.
After backgammon, Gabriel, Gloria and I went down to the beach with the waiter, who served us wine out of a 2-L Fanta bottle. There was another G.A.P group in town that went out kayaking in the dark; they returned to the beach when we were, then headed to the one bar in town that was still open. Shortly thereafter we joined them. I had one more beer there as we chatted with their English tour leader Dave, an interesting chap. Bed 1:30am.