In January 2007, I set off again into the unknown. I had a one-way ticket to Crete, a three day hotel booking, and an appointment to teach English for five months. I had abandoned my original idea of travelling in Eastern Europe in favour of warmer climates, or at least I hoped so. Well, the climate turned out to be a little cooler and damper than expected, but the impending possibility of some catastrophe developing out of having a one-way ticket with no secure plan upon arrival, luckily did not happen. I found myself working in Sitia, a small remote town facing out into the Aegean, isolated from its nearest neighbours by hazardous mountain passes: in fact Sitia continued in its isolation just as it had always done in the past. However, rather than confining me to one location, as had been my previous travel experience, this trip enabled me both the time and ability to explore beyond the local area. An Easter pay bonus from my employer enabled me to see a little of Greece, Rhodes to be exact, and Marmaris on the opposite shores of Turkey.
Targeted Age Group:: All
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I had entered into my year of travelling in Europe partially blinded to the possibilities that might ensue. I had found myself in a situation where I was at a loose end with time on my hands with no plans. After arriving in the former Yugoslavia, exciting possibilities began to materialise: I could record all of my memories in a book. I started to compile extensive notes, a practice I continued throughout the whole year, including my experiences in Greece and Turkey. After organising everything in to a tentative book form, I decided to divide the two distinct experiences into two possible shorter books. But I wanted still to rewrite them to make them more real: to give the reader the opportunity to experience life as it unfolded before me.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are created from exciting and interesting people I met along the way. Some of these characters have been slightly modified to enhance the dramatic content of the book, but I wanted them to retain their own personalities as much as possible. While all of my characters are real, they all have, of course, been given different names to protect their privacy.
I am walking through the streets of my new home. With a small, moderately detailed map I have obtained from the hotel receptionist, I am going in search of the school where I will begin working in twenty-four hours’ time. The streets of Sitia are uncommonly narrow with paths that are barely wide enough to support the width of one person, and which, for a good portion of the time, are obstructed by parked cars anyway. I find myself having to walk in the road for most of the time, dodging the occasional passing car and motor scooter as I detour around the parked vehicles and other obstacles.
I left the flat area around the hotel and the marina, and I began to climb the steep incline that the town is built upon. The narrow streets are lined with tall, mostly white buildings, so tall that they block out much of the sunlight. Almost all of the buildings in this area contain small shops at street level, but as it is Sunday, all are closed. The street on which the school is located is about one third of the way up the incline. On reaching the street I turn to the right and instantly recognise the school from the many signs that are hanging outside. The school is a single storey house that has been converted for its present use: it stands dwarfed amongst the town’s tall buildings, which are on average around five or six floors high, and in this part of town mostly consist of hotels and apartment buildings.
Having now located my future place of work, my next priority is to hopefully find a shop open selling some kind of food, while at the same time beginning to explore a little of the town. I head back down the hill and turn to the right along one of the narrow streets that is lined with small shops, but I find every shop along this narrow thoroughfare to be closed. So I head back in the direction of the bus station and the main road by which I had entered Sitia on the hunch that this would likely be the place where, if at all, I would find something open.
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Martin Radford. I decided to become a writer after spending a year travelling in Europe. My goal was to see some parts of Europe that remained free from tourism, it that’s possible. Well, I did discover some areas, particularly in the eastern side of the continent, where life went on in traditional ways and remained uninfluenced by western twenty-first century lifestyles. I wanted to be able to recall my experiences, and since travel is also a major interest of mine, I began to keep extensive notes on day to day events. Later, while putting together my notes to create a reminder of my experiences for my own enjoyment, I decided that I might like to share my memoirs with others.
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