The Beaten Path

This blog entry about the events of Monday, September 04, 2006 was originally posted on September 06, 2006.

DAY 11:Hania, which in Greek letters is spelled “XANIA,” is Crete’s second largest city and its biggest center of tourism.  Hania’s old Venetian harbor is a hub of cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants, clubs, internet shops, photo developing shops, glass bottom boat tour desks, accordion players, horse carriage rides, a few begging old gypsy women, and mimes.  (Well, the one mime that I saw.)  In the Plaza Venizelou, vendors sell balloons by day while promoters hand out club flyers by night — some to self-proclaimed “Scandinavian clubs.”  Collectively, the uber-touristy scene is what many call, “The Beaten Path.”

However, there is an escape to this Touristville, particularly one for those appreciative of nature: the Samaria Gorge in White Mountains National Park — the longest and deepest gorge in all of Europe at 16 km. — a must see in my Let’s Go Greece guidebook.  Only an hour away by bus from Hania, it too is an attraction for the masses — or at least the fraction that can handle its day-long trek — providing for another sort of beaten path.

“KALIMERA,” said the woman’s voice with an accent on the bus’ speaker system in the pre-sunrise hour of 6:30.  “‘Kalimera’ is an important word in Greek because ‘kali’ means ‘good’ and ‘mera’ means ‘morning’ and together you say, ‘good morning,’” she said.  “Kalimera.”  Guiding the day trip was Valerie, a pretty Greek blonde who was unusually chipper for doing the same routine so early every morning.  The rest of the bus was still trying to adjust from the pre-dawn awakening, only to have to deal with the nauseating mountain roads on the way to the trail head.  But once we arrived and saw the sun come over the peaks of the White Mountains, we knew that somehow it was going to be worth it.

The downhill-turned-undulating trek took about 5-6 hours, depending on one’s pace.  With about two busloads of people hiking the trail, there was more than enough pathway for groups to thin out and give space for the individual hiker, or the few donkeys on the trail for that matter.  Aside from the zone of stacked rocks and the occasional agrimi mountain goat, along the way was the mountain stream, which sometimes formed small waterfalls — all remnants of the water path that sculpted the gorge over the past 14 million years.  The water was so pristine there that it was also used as our drinking water source at the occasional stone tap fountain along the way.

Amidst the mostly German tourists, I managed to find two Americans, one who had lived in New York CIty:  Morningside Heights, Sunnyside Queens, and Williamsburg Brooklyn.  “What part [of New York] are you from?” she asked me.

“Uh, the Upper East Side.”  I waited for a snide reaction, but all I got was a casual “Oh, cool.”

Her name was Molly and she had left New York for her hometown of San Francisco before the Williamsburg Ego got the best of her.  Traveling with her was E.J., her friend, fellow San Franciscan and fellow recent law school graduate.  Both of them had just traveled through Turkey, but left earlier than planned after the recent wave of terrorist bombings.  (They were five blocks from one of the blasts.)  They had been to some of the eastern Greek Island before coming to Crete — but already had thoughts of leaving Greece entirely.

“It’s all the same,” Molly told me.

“What, it’s like Turkey?”

“[No, it’s all the same tourist scene,]” she told me.  Everywhere that they had been in Greece so far was just as it was in Hania:  tourist cafe after souvenir shop after restaurant, etc., mostly catering to package tourists or honeymooners.  The Beaten Path.

“Yeah, it’s like the Caribbean,” I said.  From what I gathered, the Greeks Isles were to northern Europeans what the Caribbean islands were to North Americans:  vacation destinations were tourists flock in droves for warm weather and to live it up without being culturally aware.  “I thought it wouldn’t be so bad because it’s the shoulder season,” I said, cursing travel guru Rick Steves for recommending everyone to travel in the “shoulder season” between high and low periods.

“I know!” E.J. said.  “We should have gone in October.”

We made the best of it and continued on with our trek on the beaten path through the Samaria Gorge (picture above).

THE LAST SIX KILOMETERS of the trek was without a doubt, the most awe-inspiring.  Dramatic silhouettes and funky rock formations surrounded us, dwarfing us into insignificance.  Some sections of the gorge narrowed, at one point to just three meters wide — a place aptly dubbed “Iron Gates.”  As wonderful as it was, E.J. was focused on something else: the old, unappealingly orange-skinned old German women who had no shame in wearing nothing but a bra to hold up their sagging breasts.

“It’s like the older they are, [the less shame they have,”] I said.

“[I’m taking pictures] so we can show all our friends at home, ‘These are the people we hung out with in Greece!’” E.J. said.

The exhilarating trek ended at the beach of Agia Roumeli, on the southern shores of Crete along the Libyan Sea.  The three of us took a dip in the deep blue waters to escape the too-hot-to-touch rock pebble beach.  While sitting and swimming, I was happy to know I was in the company of like-minded people, whose opinions of “good travel” lie in a delicate balance between package tourism and culturally irresponsible backpacking.  (Molly said that they were turned off and bored of the groups of Australians in Turkey they had met who did nothing but drink in the hostel for three weeks.)

After snacking on Mythos beers, stuffed zucchini flowers and tzatsiki, we hopped on a ferry to take us to the bus on the road back up to Hania and the north coast.  Valerie the guide, whom we weren’t sure if she actually hiked with us, pointed out the olive and orange trees along the way.

EXHAUSTED FROM A LONG DAY of hiking, we parted ways back in the other “beaten path” of Hania.  Taking advantage of the fact that I had rented a studio apartment with a terrace and kitchenette, I simply stayed in with a platter of Greek snacks and a bottle of local Cretan wine from the local In.Ka supermarket.  I sat out on the terrace attending to blog duties, listening to the locals of my alley chat in Greek, noticing the family watching TV across the way, and simply, taking in the moment.  On the beaten path of tourism, sometimes doing nothing can be really refreshing — particularly when your leg muscles are sore.

Next entry: The Old Man and the Sea

Previous entry: Speculations and Interpretations

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “The Beaten Path”

  • Erik, any thoughts of heading to some of the “off the beaten track”
    islands? beleive it or not there are some.
    Also my favourite part of Greece was the mainland, Northern Greece
    specifically. Thessaloniki is a great city and hiking in the Zagoria
    Villages absolutley spectacular.

    Posted by Anonymous  on  09/06  at  03:06 PM

  • The Beatings Path…kali ma…kali ma…kali ma

    Posted by markyt  on  09/06  at  04:17 PM

  • excellent pics again! the water looks much better than the view of my
    desk. but i think the view of my desk might be better than the view of
    those old german women.

    Posted by Dan 3  on  09/06  at  05:03 PM

  • ANONYMOUS: Right now, I’m doing the standard stuff, to say I did; when I
    have more time later on, I’ll hit those up. The off-the-beaten track
    does not exist with out the beaten one.

    Plus, I just like making fun of tourists; it’s been a constant theme
    I’ve had. wink

    Posted by Erik TGT

  • FYI, there IS a loftier purpose to all this…

    Posted by Erik TGT

back to top of page


Follow The Global Trip on Twitter
Follow The Global Trip in Instagram
Become a TGT Fan on Facebook
Subscribe to the RSS Feed

This blog post is one of twenty-five travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Tomatoes, Grease & Beer" (originally hosted by, which chronicled a trip to Spain's wild Tomatina festival, Greece's awe-inspiring islands, and Munich's world-renowned Oktoberfest in August/September 2006.

Next entry:
The Old Man and the Sea

Previous entry:
Speculations and Interpretations


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

Spelling or grammar error? A picture not loading properly? Help keep this blog as good as it can be by reporting bugs.

The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
All written and photographic content is copyright 2002-2014 by Erik R. Trinidad (unless otherwise noted). "The Global Trip" and "swirl ball" logos are service marks of Erik R. Trinidad. v.3.7 is powered by Expression Engine v3.5.5.