© 2011 Zach

Crete PDW

The Crete PDW was all about fun and culture. Over the course of the week we went hiking in a gorge, shopping, swimming, team building activities, mountain biking, climbing and abseiling (repelling off a rock face), and visiting ruins, a WWII battleground, and a war museum. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as there are about a hundred pictures (literally), but I’ll go through some of the highlights.

On one of the days, we went hiking, in Imbros Gorge. It was an old river gorge filled with trees, steep inclines, and innumerable rocky outcroppings. It was a tiring path down, but b-e-a-utifull. The path was very rocky, and my feet kept on getting in the way, so I was glad when we were on flat ground again. After the hike, we hung out at a nice beach for a while, before heading back to Kalvyes, where we were staying.

We did shopping in the bustling city of Hania, Crete. Shore was lined with shops, all reflecting the sun with colorful awnings. Unfortunately, just like any other large city, many of the things where made in China. I managed to find my sister a traditional (and real) greek bracelet. I got my mom some nice olive soap, and my dad some greek pottery made right in Hania. I enjoyed exploring the city with my friends, and enjoying the warm weather.

As you can imagine, we did quite a bit of swimming in the mediterranean during the PDW. My first thought was, “Wow, the water is actually really salty!” It may seem obvious, but the sea caused everything to be sandy and salty. It was well worth it. To feel the spray of the oceans wild being, and to see the rolling waves that carve the shores of… Oh, well anyways, it was pretty awesome to hang out with friends and crash into the waves, that sometimes several feet bigger than my friends and I!

We also hung out on the beach a lot. The sand was really soft, good for beach volleyball. We also did team activities such as rolling a marble on pipe halves to the ocean. Each person had a piece, and had to run to the end of the line, to keep the marble from touching the ground as it rolled to the water’s edge.

We also explored the island on wheels. On one of the days we went biking. The trip was a bit slow, but it was fun race friends on different parts, sometimes through puddles, before stopping at a café for some ice cream. We all got a bit wet, but it was fun. The area was very beautiful, and the air was warm.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was climbing and swimming afterwards. We took a bus ride to a rocky area, not hard o find on this mountainous island, and got our climbing gear on and ready to go. We had to wear straps because we were attached to a rope dangling from above the climbing face. The straps attached to the rope via carabiners, and was anchored by one person. As a climber went up, the anchor, and two other people would pull the slack taught. It was sort of like a pulley system. We needed the safety gear because, despite popular belief, we didn’t really know what we were doing. It may have been a bit uncomfortable, but the climb was awesome. It was a lot harder than it looked. I am sorry, I don’t have pictures of the wall, but it was an almost straight up and down rock face with small foot and handholds. The tricky part was getting a grip. The handholds were hard enough to find, but grabbing onto them and trying to push off of a foot hold while pulling on a handhold, all the while trying to find the next hold that you’ll have to grap onto once you finally pushed yourself up, took a lot of effort and coordination. I almost gave up as I was scrabbling on the rock face barely held up by a small foot hold under my big feet, but I made it too the top. Then I abseiled, or repelled down. Basically, you pretend to sit in a chair, then push off with your toes, bouncing until you reach the bottom, where you jump down.

After climbing, we took a swim. It was awesome. About an 1/2 of a mile of the shore was an island. One of my friends, Vitaly, and I decided to swim to it. It looked fairly close on land, but as we started swimming, it looked like it was getting farther away. Once we got there Vitaly climbed up onto the shore. I tried to do the same, but I couldn’t fit where he went. He is pretty short. After I started looking for a place to get on, a wave crashed down, and then receded. As the water level lowered, I noticed black/purple spiky balls, sea urchins. They where right where Vitaly had gone up. I got a bit freaked out. I mean they aren’t lethal or anything, but from what I heard from my friend who stepped on one, they really hurt, and it would really stink to have to swim all of the way back to the beach with a leg that hurt like a son-of-a-gun, so I was a lot more careful. Vitaly finally helped me onto shore and we explored the place. We had bare feet and the island was all dried coral, so it was a bit painful, but it was awesome to know that I was standing on an island with my friend, in the mediterranean sea, off the shore of Crete. In awesome.

We spent quite some time on the bus, traveling from beach to ruins, from the hotel, to museums. The WWII museum was quite interesting. I found it cool, because most people probably think of Crete as a sunny holiday destination, but it was actually a major point in WWII. The Germans attacked and invaded the island using the first, and only, paratrooper-only attack. There was no ground support as thousands of German troops flew through the air and tried to fight their way across the island. There was a major problem with this method that made it the last paratrooper-only attack in history. The paratroopers where parachuted down with-out their weapons, because the weapons could harm the soldiers upon landing. This was a reasonable safety precaution, but a fatal mistake for the Germans. It gave the allied soldiers, and the local rebels an advantage. In one story, an old lady actually beat a paratrooper who was tangled in the parachute. The Germans finally captured the island, but with heavy casualties. It was interesting history and added a different element to the trip other than physical activities.

Before the photos and video, I will just talk a bit about the Greek cuisine. For breakfast we ate toast, cereal, and melon. It was good before a day full of activities. We took a packed lunch with us, which took us through the day before supper. One day, I opted out of the sandwich and bought a fresh gyro. It was the best gyro I have ever had. One thing that was different, was that it had fries in it. It was deeelicious! The supper consisted of greek salad (green peper, olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, and various greens), bread, than the main meal. The meals were usually meet such as chicken or meatballs. On the last evening, we had traditional greek music, and dancers. The music was fast paced and loud, and the guy dancers did all sorts of crazy jumps. It was a fun evening, filled with a taste of good food and the local culture.

View the Video on YouTube Here

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