Hell in waiting

Well, I’ve made it to Malia. I described this place as being a good birding site and a Minoan palace, but it’s so much more than that. In the summer, it’s a place for the youth of Northern Europe to come and get sunburnt and wasted. I’m in an internet place on the ‘beach road’ – a long string of continuous bars, cafes, clubs and fast food joints between the town and the beach. And we’re not talking about the kind of sophisticated little bar where people quietly drink single malt and discuss literature; it’s sticky cocktail and dance music territory. In August this place must be hell on earth, covered in broken glass, stinking of burgers, vomit, piss and beer, and full of chanting tattooed Brits, Germans and Dutch getting drunk as quickly as they can. And getting into fights and smashing the place up. And getting their tits out for the lads.

The Minoan town, which at the time must have been one of the biggest settlements in Europe, wasn’t that much bigger than some of the clubs here. But right now only about one bar in ten is open, and those are empty. So that’s OK. And I’m going to be getting up at first light, walking to a marsh and watching birds whose ancestors were here, getting on with their lives, a long time before the Minoans. Let alone the invention of southern fried chicken or the slippery nipple.

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