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There is often a dilemma facing the traveller returning from a corner of the world as yet undiscovered by tourism. For whilst wishing it to remain so. there is also the consideration that tourism brings great economic benefits to what are invariably very poor societies. The resolution of the dilemma can only be to publicise the ‘secret‘ corner. To do otherwise is mere selfishness tinged with romantic notions of remoteness and virginity. My remote corner is the tiny (ireek island of (iavdos.
(iavdos lies 50 kilometres offthe south-west coast of('rete. 'l‘his coast has only begun to attract holiday-makers. who come in search of that tourist Nirvana. the deserted beach. ’l’hose who do come here tend to be (ierman back-packers permanently time-warped in 1968. I‘ll never understand how anyone can be bothered humping a guitar around on their back for two or three months just to sing Bob Dylan songs on the beach.
My companion and I had originally intended to travel round the south-west coast using Paleochora as a base. l lowevcr. after two nights at the campsite listening to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell until four in the morning. we'd had enough. We'd noticed some signs advertising a boat to (iavdos. so at (tam. after taking some travel sickness pills. we found ourselves aboard the MV Ag. Rounieli bound for (iavdos.
After four hours on the rough Libyan Sea and after the dubious excitement of being drenched by every wave. we arrived at the island‘s port. Kareba. which consists of a concrete pier and two ramshackle tavernas. 'I‘hough Kareba isn‘t much to look at. it is the most important settlement on (iavdos. as the lifeline to the outside world and as a good base for the exploration of the rest of the island.
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All of(iavdos‘s dirt tracks lead here. and local fishermen are willing to take visitors to the island‘s main beaches — Korfos and Tripiti in the south and Sarakinikos around the headland to the west. We decided to head for the latter on foot on the basis ofour guidebook's information ‘()nly twenty minutes walk‘. What it didn‘t say was that the walk is almost all uphill and that the temperature even in the late afternoon can hover
90 John Street. Glasgow enquiries. Useful (041 357 0608 and 041 552 “sen”
‘ 2867) or Edinburgh Travel . . Informant)” Centre, Bristo Square. PUbllcallonS Gavdos has 50 kilometres Edinburgh (031 seagtsz), I The Rough Guide to Crete oh the south west coast 01 There is a bus service .
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a lurthur250 kilometres south. The temperature is well over100F in the height otlhe summer. cooling to a pleasant 70—75F in winter.
The best point at arrival in Crete tor Gavdos is the west
service to Paleochora. the departure point tor Gavdos. Boats operate twice a
Where To Stay
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The sight. forty minutes later. of the beach. made the tortuous hike worthwhile: a broad strip of golden sand around a wide bay with the brilliant blue sea lapping the shore. To our right was a hut masquerading as a taverna where we sat over a couple of bottles of beer and contemplated where to pitch the tent.
There are six tavernas at the back of the beach. each usually offering only one main dish a night. Sometimes we would have a three course meal in three different tavernas and finish the evening with a bottle of wine in the fourth. On our last night. we visited the first five. only to find that they all had goat stew on the menu. for someone had slaughtered a goat that day. 'l‘hc sixth (run by a (ierman visitor who loved (iavdos so much she decided to stay) came to the rescue with something vegetarian.
During the day. there is little to do at Sarakinikos apart from lie on the sand and soak up the sun. For variation. (iavdos itself is small enough to circumnavigate on foot. We set off for the capital Kastri through an interior carpeted with scrub. with the pervasive scent of thyme all around. The terrain is scarred by fissures left by dried up river beds. along which squat pine trees grow. as their roots search out any water that may lie deep underground.
At Kastri there‘s a taverna. the island's post office and a shop of sorts. but they're not immediately evident. Walking into Kastri. we were convinced we had taken a wrong turning somewhere because ofthe ghost-town ambience. We were about to give tip and walk back. when an old man appeared from a building and beckoned us in. This was the shop. run by a character called Stellios. We were given some water and ofcourse. the inevitable raki. It was difficult to return his hospitality by buying something. since he didn't seem to sell anything apart from cigarettes. dried figs and an amazing array ofshoes.
(iavdos has little to offer iii the way of nightlife. apart from a good time iii tavernas getting to know local people and the few other visitors over a bottle of(iavdian wine or the ubiquitous raki. Sitting in a taverna one night. we found ourselves caught tip in the revelry following a christening. The celebration lasted well into the early hours of the" morning. with the raki flowing. everyone dancing. and the constant sound ofshotguns firing in the background. The firing ofguns in the air seemed to be an integral part of festivities— even the priest had a little pistol. The islands population has shrunk from Hill) to just over fifty. so births are momentous raki-consuming events. And although we were assured that we wouldn‘t get a hangover. such hospitality cannot. in retrospect.
always be recommended.
60 The List 10 — 23 February