The Hostel That Time Forgotpublished in the Kinetic Travel Magazine
by: Christopher Deliso
In Homerís Odyssey, the wandering hero is slowed down for a time in the land of the lotus-eaters, a mysterious people who remain indefinitely in a pleasant, drug-induced trance, free from all ambition and responsibilities. Of course, in the story, Odysseus is able to free himself and go on to bigger and better things. But would he have been able to extricate himself from Plakias?
And, as such, it is the perfect place for the Youth Hostel Plakias, a sprawling, flowery place tucked into the olive groves on the outskirts of town. Particularly clean and well-run, thanks to its hard-working manager Chris Bilson, the hostel has a capacity of about 65 (including outdoor bunks), costs about $4.50 a night, and is open usually from the beginning of March to the end of November. The hostel prides itself on having no rules, other than common courtesy and respect, and its laid-back visitors spend much of the day lazing in hammocks, swimming at crystal-clear nude beaches, or traipsing through waterfalls in the woods. Itís really too hot for very much exertion in the summer so, the guests (like the locals) donít really swing into action until after dark. Thatís when the more infamous goings-on occur.
Plakiasí infamy has to do with the fact that so many of its visitors return- again and again- to enjoy the non-stop party in the endlessly sunny south of Crete. Between June and October the hostel fills up almost every night. The manager is especially active in promoting hostel-wide activities like barbeques, full moon beach parties and river walks. In the evenings, a large group or two will usually head off to one of the excellent restaurants on the Plakias waterfront, before stopping by the local watering hole (thereís only one), the jazzy Ostraco bar, which has an outdoor veranda and an endless supply of the latest Euro-American dance hits. The fact that the same songs are played every night, which would seem disconcerting anywhere else, doesnít even faze you here. After all, this is the town where bearded Greek elders dance beatifically to Robbie Williams, where 107 year-old widows scheme and plot for free loaves of bread, and where doing a "tequila suicide" shot involves snorting salt up your nose and squeezing the lime into your eyeball, all as an exclamatory prelude to the Mexican firewater.
I myself am a veteran of the tequila suicides and the maddening full moons, of the endless days at hidden beaches and the endless nights under the spell of Tom Jones. Most of what I have encountered in this bizarre land of lotus-eaters must be passed over in silence, out of respect for the incriminated. And so, less eloquently and less extensively than Homer, I can only say that if you are inspired by the thought of lazy afternoons in hammocks and beach-blankets, or by the rich taste of octopus in wine sauce, or even by the sight of a drunken Scotsman head-butting a metal post, then itís safe to say Plakias is the place for you.