Monday, June 20, 2011

It's All Greek (Islands) to Me

I have arrived on Crete and it's just beautiful. A far more modern island than any in the Cyclades--the shower is attached to the wall over your head instead of hung like a telephone at hip height! It's remarkably hard to wash your hair with one of those. The sun is vicious but there have been beautiful sea breezes everywhere in the islands.

There are also lots of kittehs!

I have been chasing cats up and down the labyrinthine streets of these Greek Islands. The first was Mykonos which was a crazy party place. There was barely any room to hold a drink, let alone dance, in the club we were in. I think that could be attributed to the impromptu strip-tease that a girl dancing on the bar decided to do. Plenty of cameras came out and I'm sure she's now been uploaded to YouTube. I felt like shouting up to her, "I HOPE YOU'RE GETTING AN EDUCATION YOUNG LADY." The young men around her certainly were. Of her KNICKERS.

The windmills on Mykonos

Next was Naxos, which was where I got some Culture, capital C. I went to hear some traditional music and see some dancing...

...and hung out on Plaka Beach, which was quiet as well as utterly gorgeous. Got through a good thwack of Stephen King's The Stand that day.

A view of the port of Naxos looking down through the ruins of a temple to Apollo

My last day on Naxos I unfortunately broke out in a seething rash all over my body. I'd been slapping sunscreen on three times a day for a week and I'd finally had an allergic reaction to it. Did it ever hurt and YE GODS did it itch. For several hours I was a weepy, itchy mess, waiting for the pharmacies to reopen. Most shops close for the Greek version of a siesta, and I couldn't get get cortisone and antihistamines until 7pm. The pharmacist also told me firmly NO SUN. 

Good lord, I'm in the Greek Islands, how do I avoid the sun?!

I convalesced on Paros, swathing myself in cotton and dutifully observing the no-sun rule (zzzz....a pleasant way to spend the afternoons). I chased moar kittehs ...

...and visited museums. This is the Gorgon, or Medusa, seen here with a snake belt rather than snakes for hair. This was the most striking piece in the Museum of Archaeology at Paros. I was terrified she was about to come alive and bite my head off when I took her picture. AN IMAGE OF AN ANGEL BECOMES AN ANGEL. (A little Doctor Who ref for you there, hehe.)

I was mostly better by Santorini, or should I say SANTORINI!!!! It's a truly beautiful place. I was in a rather dull mood when I arrived, but the sight of the sheer cliffs when the ferry docked were so reviving. The town of Thira is literally perched on the edge of cliff. Me, perched on the edge of the edge!

 It's a cresent shaped island, the middle having repeatedly blown out by a volcano, the last time being around the 17th century BC. I visited the caldera, an islet in the bay, the following day, by boat. AMAZING place. The rock formations are stunning. The boat also moored just off some hot springs and I went for a swim. Probably a mistake, and the sunburn I got on my legs on the boat (can't use sunscreen, remember!) made the rash on my legs flare up like you wouldn't believe.

Which made me rather miserable.

And I also got stood up that night. Which was even more miserable : /

This is a little Rhiannon IRL (In Real Life): I'm travelling alone so the people I meet make a big difference to the experiece I have. The lovely backpackers on Mykonos that I partied with, the lovely locals on Naxos that I went bar-hopping with ... I've never been stood up before, so thank you, G------, for that delightful experience. Here's a little Lily Allen, Fuck You Very Much, just for you.

Being a long way from my friends mean I have to find some way to vent, you know? ;)

I took a sleeping pill (damned itchy rash!!) and woke up with the worst ache in my shoulder for sleeping on it the wrong way. I woke up with it again this morning, on Crete, and actually had a little cry. Mostly it was frustration because I couldn't find my ibuprofen. Paracetamol coming out of my ears, and it's completely useless!

Dear readers, I'm feeling better now. You can't stay cranky when your hotel looks like this.

I'm visiting the Palace at Knossos tomorrow, and then heading to the pretty little port of Agios Nikolas to finish of my time on Crete. Then The Journey Home begins. I don't actually get back to Melbourne til July 2, so I'm definitely taking the scenic route. 

More anon.



  1. Tried to comment before but couldn't - here's hoping this one goes through?

    Love hearing about your trip! That sucks about the rash and the standing-up (jerks!) but overall it sounds like you're having a fabulous time.

    Chase some kittehs for me!

  2. 1) Love the pics! Looks like a beautiful vacation. I've always wanted to go to Greece.

    2) Are you sure its an allergy to your sunscreen? I have a SUN allergy, so anytime I get even the lightest of sunburns, those patches of skin will get little red/clear bumps that itch like mad. The best way to prevent it is to avoid prolonged sun exposure (I can go about 20-25 min without too much trouble) and/or wear breezy long-sleeves and a hat if you can't avoid the sun and/or wear CERTAIN sunscreens containing either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which provide an actual physical barrier between your skin and the sun (unlike most sunscreens, which just have chemicals to counteract the harmful UVA/UVB rays).

    I've always known I had sensitive skin, but it wasn't until my recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, where I got my butt kicked by the equatorial sun, that I turned into Lizard Girl and thus had to seek a dermatologist's advice. My 3 tips (above) are what I was told.

    In terms of how to make the rashes go away faster, exposing your skin to as much COOL water/air as possible and washing with plain/NON-moisturizing soap is what works for me. The fastest recovery time is like 3 days.

    The actual term for my sun allergy is Polymorphous Light Eruption. You may want to google it and see if that's what you've got too. (It's similar to heat rash, except that it requires sunlight, whereas heat rash only needs heat/humidity.)

    If that's not what you've got, then sorry I rambled for no reason! I just know how frustrating it was for me to not have the information, so I try to share whenever I think it might help!


  3. Ohhhh mannn! *sighs*
    I'm so envious.
    Our local cafe down the street is owned by a man from Crete. He has told me so many lovely stories and I want to go SO bad.


  4. SO jealous! My boyfriend's family is from Greece and I can't wait until we have enough money to buy plane tickets so we can go and stay with some of his family.

  5. Ah!!! So jealous!! Except for the rash. Sorry about that. You're in for a shock when you get back to Melbs. I'm sure the weather there will be slightly different then what you're getting in Greece! ;) Don't worry, I'm in for the same thing.

  6. Fabulous pictures. Bugger about the stand up and the rash, but I think that it is normal to sometimes feel a little lonely when travelling by yourself.

    Hope you continue to have a fabulous holiday, and I wouldn't worry about rushing home. It's bloody cold here!

  7. So jealous, especially as I'm in a dressing gown and have the computer in the living room so that I can be near a heater. I got that rash after a week in Bali. Weeping (it and me) mess of red hot pain and lumps. I was in Ubud and tracked down the healer from (Eat, Drink, Love - a book that I really hated, but it made a great travel story). She took my $US with a smile and after a couple hours of being rubbed with leaves, eating leaves and drinking leaves made up as tea, my skin went from red and lumpy to something I could show in pubic again. Next sun holiday, I made sure I had a supply of super anti-histamines, cortisone cream, aloe vera (which really helps) and zinc only expensive sun block. (And since then, I've got hives in summer here!)
    That was another episode of: Poor, white inner-city writers.