… continued from the previous post, “Scenic, but dangerous”…
We hiked, slipped and slid for 13 km down the trail. We had started high in the White Mountains and dropped 1,250 meters in elevation through the Samaria Gorge to reach the National Park’s southern exit. The walk didn’t end there. We continued another hot and sunny 3 km on a sometimes cobblestone and sometimes rocky road into the small town of Agia Roumeli. Time to celebrate!
We didn’t have to worry about getting lost in Agia Roumeli. As we walked toward the sea, we passed the ferry ticket office and stopped to purchase tickets for the 5:30pm ferry to Hora Skafion. Why take a ferry? There are no roads to other towns. Agia Roumeli is locked in by mountains and the only way out of town is by sea or hiking.
We had 3.5 hours before the ferry was to depart, and we knew just what to do. We popped into a restaurant on the waterfront and took the last seaside table. More thirsty than hungry, we shared a calamari platter and had very large cold drinks, as we watched a slow procession of tired, sun-burned, overheated hikers enter town.
We ducked into the taverna’s changing rooms and switched from hiking gear to swimsuits. Paid our bill and made our way to the best section of the pebbly beach. We dropped onto lounges, ordered more cold drinks, and relaxed under umbrellas.
We waded into the clear water of the Sea of Libya to cool off and felt ever so much better. What a great way to end the hike! As the sun lowered, we knew time had come to catch the ferry to Hora Skafion.
We’d read that the bus would be near the dock to meet the ferry, and, indeed, about ten buses were awaiting the many passengers. We quickly found one, No. 66, headed to Chania, and, within minutes, the bus was climbing the mountain, hairpin turn after hairpin turn, to take us back the hour-long ride.
We walked home after 9 pm, and stopped for one last celebration ice cream cone. The hike had been a challenge, and our time in Agia Roumeli gave us the perfect ending. We slept well that night.
But that wasn’t the end of the hiking story. For three days afterward our legs were so sore we could hardly walk – a memento of a long 40,000 step downhill hike. Our achy legs seemed a price worth paying for views of the beautiful Samaria Gorge.