Last night when I downloaded our GPS tracks I was surprised to find that yesterday was our third biggest climbing day of the trip! The only two rides that topped it were Julierpass in Switzerland and Verdon Gorge in France, two equally stunning days.
Though the previous day's ride came fairly easily to us, our bodies told an entirely different story this morning. We were both very sore and very tired as we casually coasted down into Lasithi Plateau for a day of relaxing sightseeing. Our first stop was a quiet village sharing its name with that of the plateau: Mesa Lasithi. Once there, we took our time, wandering stiffly around the quaint area, snapping photos.
Our main destination for the day was Dikteon Andron Cave, the fabled birthplace of Zeus himself. As we arrived in Psychro (the town nearest to the attraction) we stopped at a small cafe where a woman was keeping the slight chill at bay by stoking a wood-stove at the center of the room. We ordered coffees and admired this photo on the wall:
Though we'd only been in the plateau proper for a few hours, we'd already seen loads of the irrigation windmills this area is famous for. Sadly, none of them were in operation. In fact, most were badly rusted and falling apart. When I asked the woman at the cafe about this, she said they'd been replaced by electric or gas powered pumps. Apparently some are still used during potato season, but not many.
The cafe owner was kind enough to let us leave our bikes under her care while we continued on to explore Zeus' cave. We slowly plodded two kilometers down the road and up a mountainside to the cave entrance.
At the top, we were happy to learn that visiting the cave was free for the day! This was a very welcome discovery, helping (in my mind) to make up for the last few underwhelming tourist attractions we've paid to see.
The cave itself, though very small (the area accessible by tourists anyway) was really cool! We really enjoyed looking at the rock formations and listening to the dripping water. It took over an hour of waiting before I was able to get a recording without any other visitors talking though! It wasn't that there were a lot of people; the problem was that we could hear tourists coming long before they got to the cave, and then once inside, their non-stop chatting echoed loudly.
After much waiting, we finally had the cave to ourselves and the "symphony of raindrops" our surfer friend Dimitri had mentioned made for an excellent recording.
After sorely climbing the steep staircases leading out of the cave and then trudging back down the mountain, we spent the final hours of daylight meandering around the plateau's rutted dirt roads, enjoying the view. We passed many piles of apples on the ground, left neglected to rot under their bare limbed trees. Tara collected quite a few good ones which she was certain would come in handy later.
When the light began to fade, we set up camp behind one of the many small outbuildings on the plateau. While poking around inside the small shack, I discovered a working power outlet! It seems a little silly to be so excited about electricity but it really made our night. Stealth camps with power are few and far between.
While I was tending to our pile of electronics that needed charging, Tara made a splendid dinner of cheesy noodles which we ate together while watching a few episodes of House.
In the wee hours of the morning I left Tara, who was snoring quietly beside me, and wandered out into the field to take a recording of the wildlife surrounding our tent. Sitting alone in the mountains, watching my breath billow away into the cool night air, I felt completely at peace. Life is good.