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Crete is Mountainous, Not Hilly

We may be beginning our tour in South America, but we still have a couple posts left that we wanted to share from our Europe trip. After that, we’ll begin to share our Patagonian journey with you!

In between meeting our friend, Lisa in Sitia and my family in Chania, clear on the other side of Crete. Five days to cover the 250 kilometers seemed more than doable for us, until we began pedaling.

Opting for the southern route, as opposed to joining the cars on the highway in the north, we departed on a warm, sunny and relatively flat day towards Ierapetra, on the coast. We arrived early, made our way to our Warm Showers host for the evening, and took a stroll along the waters of the Libyan Sea. All was just lovely.

From there on out, however, we encountered nothing but long, steep, unrelenting mountain passes filled with squiggly roads and plenty of 10%+ grades over 20 kilometers, slowing our pace significantly. Day One of the hills left us feeling defeated, wondering whether we would make it to my parents on time for their arrival, purchase groceries before all the stores closed for Christmas, and check into our AirBnB.

A native Pacific Northwesterner, I have a tendency to also be a mountain snob. If it’s not snowcapped, it ain’t a mountain. If there’s no double digit peaks in sight, it’s not a real range. This perception all changed after cycle touring Crete.

I made the mistake of indicating Crete was hilly to a native, and he corrected me by saying, “Crete is mountainous.” After spotting snowcapped mountains in the distance, I learned that Crete is home to 2,400-meter peaks. Fine, they’re mountains.

Luckily, we love mountains.

Undoubtedly, Crete provided some of the most consistently difficult terrain of our entire journey (it probably didn’t help that we hadn’t really toured in a few weeks…)

As always, with the mountains, comes wonderful camping, beautiful vistas, and plenty of sheep herds for Sora.

And so we give you Crete, in photos.

Starting our climbing. We had no idea what we were in for…
I suppose where there are mountain goats, there are…mountains.
Fine. Snowcapped peaks. They are mountains.


Thankfully, my brother brought us REAL beer from the PNW to celebrate the end of our European tour.

Moonrise over the Cretan mountains.


2,400 meters? Ok, ok. They’re real mountains.
Luckily, my brother brought us real beer from the PNW to celebrate our Cretan cross and the end of our European cycle tour.

PS. We did end up making the trek in time to grocery shop and beat my parents to our accommodation.

Jen Sotolongo

Jen is the Chief Storyteller and Photographer for the Long Haul Trekkers. Born with the travel bug, she has lived in Spain, Chile, and New Zealand. When she’s not galavanting around the world by bicycle, she is running long distances in the woods, exploring nature, or whipping up delicious vegan meals. She is always planning her next adventure.

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