Matala and Joni Mitchell.

For all those of you who responded to my last posting, here are the words of Joni Mitchell herself regarding Matala in Crete and the song ‘Carey’. It appears that Joni was in Matala, Crete around 1968/69 – three years after 1966 when I went there and it seems that it had developed a bit from my time. . . .

The following extract is from an interview with Joni Mitchell by Rolling Stone in early 1971

Joni on Early Rolling Stone Magazine

“Matala was a very small bay with cliffs on two sides. And between the two cliffs, on the beach, there were about four or five small buildings. There were also a few fishermen huts.

“The caves were on high sedimentary cliffs, sandstone, a lot of seashells in it. The caves were carved out by the Minoans hundreds of years ago. Then they were used later on for leper caves. Then after that the Romans came, and they used them for burial crypts. Then some of them were filled in and sealed up for a long time. People began living there, beatniks, in the fifties. Kids gradually dug out more rooms. There were some people there who were wearing human teeth necklaces around their necks,” she said with a slight frown.

“We all put on a lot of weight. We were eating a lot of apple pies, good bacon. We were eating really well, good wholesome food.

“The village pretty well survived from the tourist trade, which was the kids that lived in the caves. I don’t know what their business was before people came. There were a couple of fishing boats that went out, that got enough fish to supply the two restaurants there.

“The bakery lady who had the grocery store there had fresh bread, fresh rice pudding, made nice yogurt every day, did a thriving business; and ended up just before I left, she installed a refrigerator. She had the only cold drinks in town. It was all chrome and glass. It was a symbol of her success.

“Then the cops came and kicked everyone out of the caves, but it was getting a little crazy there. Everybody was getting a little crazy there. Everybody was getting more and more into open nudity. They were really going back to the caveman. They were wearing little loincloths. The Greeks couldn’t understand what was happening.”

Joni Mitchell in 1970

Joni Mitchell – 1970
photo by Henry Diltz

Then during a performance at The Troubadour, Joni introduced the song “Carey” with the following story (transcribed from the tape by Kakki).

“I went to Greece a couple years ago and over there I met a very unforgettable character. I have a hard time remembering people’s names like so I have to remember things by association, even unforgettable characters, I have to remember by association, so his name was “Carrot” Raditz, Carey Raditz, and oh, he’s a great character. He’s got sort of a flaming red personality, and flaming red hair and a flaming red appetite for red wine and he fancied himself to be a gourmet cook, you know, if he could be a gourmet cook in a cave in Matala. And he announced to my girlfriend and I the day that we met him that he was the best cook in the area and he actually was working at the time I met him – he was working at this place called the Delphini restaurant – until it exploded, singed half of the hair off of his beard and his legs, and scorched his turban, melted down his golden earrings.

Anyway, one day he decided he was going to cook up a feast, you know, so we had to go to market because like in the village of Matala there was one woman who kind of had a monopoly – well actually there were three grocery stores but she really had a monopoly and because of her success and her affluence she had the only cold storage in the village, too, so she had all the fresh vegetables and all the cold soft drinks and she could make the yogurt last a longer than anyone else, and we didn’t feel like giving her any business that day. Rather than giving her our business we decided to walk ten miles to the nearest market.

So I had ruined the pair of boots that I’d brought with me from the city because they were really “citified” kind of slick city boots that were meant to walk on flat surfaces. The first night there we drank some Raki and I tried to climb the mountain and that was the end of those shoes. So he lent me these boots of his which were like Li’l Abner boots – like those big lace-up walking boots and a pair of Afghani socks which made my feet all purple at the end of the day and I laced them up around my ankles and I couldn’t touch any – the only place my foot touched was on the bottom, you know, there was nothing rubbing in the back or the sides – they were huge and he wasn’t very tall, either, come to think of it was kind of strange – I guess he had sort of webbed feet or something but we started off on this long trek to the village, I forget the name of it now, between Matala and Iraklion – and started off in the cool of the morning and by the time we got halfway there we were just sweltering me in these thick Afghani socks and heavy woollens and everything, so we went into the ruins of King Phestos’s palace to sit down and have a little bit of a rest and while we were there these two tourist buses pulled up and everybody got off the buses in kind of an unusual symmetry, you know, they all sort of walked alike and talked alike and they all kind of looked alike and they all filed over to a series of rubblely rocks- a wall that was beginning to crumble – lined themselves up in a row and took out their viewing glasses, overgrown opera glasses, and they started looking at the sky and suddenly this little speck appeared on the horizon that came closer and closer, this little black speck.

Cary was standing behind all of this leaning on his cane and as it came into view he suddenly broke the silence of this big crowd and he yells out “it’s ah MAAGPIE” in his best North Carolina drawl. And suddenly all the glasses went down in symmetry and everybody’s heads turned around to reveal that they were all very birdlike looking people. They had long skinny noses – really – they had been watching birds so long that they looked like them, you know – and this one woman turned around and she says to him (in British accent) “it’s NOT a magpie – it’s a crooked crow.” Then she very slowly and distinctly turned her head back, picked up her glasses and so did everybody else and we kept on walking. Bought two kilos of fish which would have rotted in the cave hadn’t it been for the cats.

When we got back from that walk Stelios, who was the guy who ran the Mermaid Cafe, had decided to put an addition on his kitchen which turned out to be really illegal and it was so illegal, as a matter of fact, that the Junta dragged him off to jail and torture was legal over there – they burnt his hands and his feet with cigarette butts mainly because they hated, you know, all of the Canadians and Americans and wandering Germans living in the caves but they couldn’t get them out of there because it was controlled by the same archaeologist that controlled the ruins of King Phestos’s palace and he didn’t mind you living there as long as you didn’t Day-Glo all of the caves and everyone was like putting all of their psychedelia over all this ancient writing. So they carted him off to jail…” (End of tape)

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134 thoughts on “Matala and Joni Mitchell.

  1. I’m a Canadian author, at work on a nonfiction book that includes a section on Matala in 1969. I was there for three weeks or so in the winter.
    Has anyone figured out when in 1968-69 Joni Mitchell stayed there? And whatever happened to Mr. Raditz?
    What did the Mermaid cafe serve, besides potato omelettes and raki? What happened after Stelios went to jail?
    I’m curious about anyone’s memories of that winter in Matala.
    Marni

    • Hello Marni,
      Just ran across your request. Still writing? I was 17 years old hitching around Europe and North Africa in 1969 and 1970. Coming across on the ferry from Athens to Irakleon, probably February of 1970, my cabin mate happened to be Cary. I was there for a couple of weeks during that time. The Mermaid was the coziest, most friendly place, especially on the rainy days. Everyone would hag out there.
      I kept a journal throughout my travels and have it somewhere, possible with more info if you are interested.

      • Hi Rick
        Thanks for alerting me to the responses on your excellent website – I had forgotten to check back in. And thanks so much for the RS interviews, and the Henry Dalitz one – I had scouted them out elsewhere but it’s good to roll them all out together.
        Yes, I’m still writing the book. It has a contemporary focus as well and I’m not sure how all the Joni stuff will work with the material (basically I’m comparing my own coming of age in my twenties to my son’s generation’s ramblings, or lack thereof…).
        I’ve got a stash of letters I wrote home from Matala, and I was there in February and into March, 1970. It seems as if that was around the time JM was there too – maybe we overlapped. I was going through boyfriend issues and perhaps wasn’t too alert to comings and goings…
        But based on my research, and my own time there, I’ve written an affectionate faux Joni diary of her time in Matala….that’s where I think she got into the sound of the Appalachian dulcimer that runs through Blue, among other things…When it is
        entirely cooked and done, you might be curious to read…
        Book is scheduleld to be published in Canada in fall 2010.
        Best
        Marni

      • Nice to find this site. Joni was there in April of 1970. Easy to pinpoint because on a trip back to Iraklion the news stand cover was Kent State. Rick, do you remember the battery operated record player at the Mermaid? Pass the hat each evening to buy fresh batteries and listen to John Mayall the next morning at draggy half speed. Rarely, for some special occassion, the cafe fired up a little gas generator to run bare bulbs on bare wires strung through the low branches. Usually it was just the light from a Coleman in the middle of the yard. Daytime food came from the old lady “you want san-weech?” who kept the live snails in the cardboard box next to her front door. No lid on the box and several times a day she went and gathered up the slow moving escapees.
        Did anyone there then keep going East? Out of all the Googlable stuff online, I can find no reference to the “Blue Room” in Old City Jerusalem. It was a fine time to be young and moving, except for the politics and the war.
        Best regards to all, Jan

    • Looking back on my notes, I see I was on Crete from early March until early April, 1970,so that would have been roughly the same time JM was there. Strangely enough, I had seen her at the Greek Theater in L.A. just a few months before (Sept. of ’69?) opening (solo) for CSNY, then there she was a couple of months later, 7000 miles away, sitting across from me at the Mermaid…
      Food notes from the Mermaid include fresh oatmeal, grilled cheese with onions. of course the omlettes, and always halva, everywhere. (The halva could be obtained from the woman at the little grocery as well–she’d cut of as much as you ordered from a big kilo block). Prices in US$ were so cheap. I was living on less than $3 a day. I have some prices as well, and described some days and characters I met there, along with Cary and JM.

    • Hi there,

      I was in matala in 79 with my mother and younger brother. My mum was a hippie and we lived in the caves untill we were kicked out by the cops and moved to komo beach. We were happy there, the germans had set up a stereo and speakers with ‘the doors’ blasting out the mountain walls while the sun went down. They were compressing hash in the bunkers too. There was a french guy called francois who was on the run from interpol living in our commune, he was grassed up by the local cretian who cooked us omelattes. Hundreds of police turned up one day over the mountain, down the beach, running towards our little hippie group. They were firing their pistols.. Francois ran for it up the mountain but was soon cought and dragged off. We were kicked out again. This time, we went to the other caves with the holes in the ground on top of the mountain above matala village. There were areas of sage and the bees used to humm like crazy every night over this powerful herb. I used to hunt snakes lizards and scorpions which were in abundance. A much more interesting life i think to what we knew before, since our mother had kidnapped us on visiting day from our childrens home in london 1 year previously… We eventually hitchiked all the way back to London. But it began when we were dropped off by coach in Athens. Our mother made my brother and i beg money of american tourists to get food. We squatted a room below the acropolis with no water or electricity. We were eventually arrested, amongst other dissasterous things that happened to us so we fled and stowed away on a ship from piraeus to crete.. i’m trying to write a novel about my crazy life and this greece experience was only one part of many weird and wonderful things that we went through.

    • Hi there,

      I’m Stelios from the Mermaid Cafe and I live in California with my wife and 2 sons. Please write to me if you have any questions about what happened to me after I went to jail.

      Yasoo,
      Stelios Xagorarakis
      949 722-8643

      • Hi Stellios, My friend Mauro was also sent to jail ( from Matala) in 1974 or 5. I returned to Crete and visited him at a rural jail on the other side of the island. It was a working farm and I could see him and others working in the fields. I was able to visit a couple of times and give him a little money that he was hoping would help shorten his time there. Do you remember my friend ? Best, Susan

      • Dear Stelios,

        Do you remember a man named “Scotty” at Matala? He was one of the original hippies who lived in the caves at Matala in the 1960′s. He has been called “The Last of the Hippies”. Anyway, I was able to track him down. He is in ill health and lives in a monastery on Crete where here is cared for by monks. I was able to conduct two interviews with him. If you would like to read the interview and see the photos of him, go to my website at: http://www.bobscretanadventure.blogspot.com I hope you enjoy reading the interview.

        Sincerely,

        Bobby

      • Dear Susan, I would like to know, when were you in Matala? 1969? 1970? I left in 70. I went to a different town. They call it Igios Nicolos. Then I met a girl from California, Georgeanne. She was teaching English in Iglios Nicolos. We got married in Crete, and stayed there for 4 years. It is a long, long story, and now we are living in Costa Mesa, California. I have 2 sons, and 3 grand-sons, and I am involved with 7 health food stores, and water for Africa. The song is stuck in my head, “the wind comes from Africa”, and now we are working with Africa. I was in jail for less than 2 days. I don’t think I have had the pleasure of meeting your friend, or maybe I knew him if he was there in 69 t0 70. I learned a lot of things in my life, and a lot of good stories. I have a great time in Matala.

        Thank you,

        Stelios

      • Hi Stelios, I was there in the spring of 1973. I left when the police climbed the cliff to my cave in the early hours of the morning. I was able to evade them but the heat was on and it was time to move on. I went to Israel and then overland to India and Nepal. Had very little money but those were the days….oh, the stories! nice to hear some….best, Susan

      • Hi Stelios-I too was in Matala in 1969 and have fond memories of the Mermaid and Joni Mitchell.Were you in her cave with a whole group of people were smoking a huge dustbin like pipe that fogged the air and she sang “The one puff blues”?You and I actually spoke about moving to an island south of Crete called,I think Gavdos.My Grandmother had left me a few hundred pounds and nobody lived there despite there being a small harbour and some deserted houses Impossible then for a foreigner to purchase what I think was the southernmost part of Europe but you were Greek!Who was that splendid man who gave a fantastic lecture on the beach-he was closely involved with the author of Zorba the Greek; however the police broke up the whole crowd.The memories go on.
        I still have a couple of photos of my hotel(cave! and you should have a few 45rpm records that were played at The Mermaid.Don’t think about giving them back as I remember the sun partially melting them into wierd shapes.You had a cute American girl that cooked up a great potato omelette.Was it with you and a fisherman in his boat way out of the bay we spotted a second world war sunken plane festooned with fishing nets?German gun emplacement on the rocky beach at Aghia Gallini;the church at Galini visited by a young Queen Victoria on her way to Cyprus giving thanks for her safety after a storm;the small cave near that church where Daedalus and his son Icarus made their wings before flying to safety in Italy-Daedalus flying too high and the sun melted the wax holding on his feathers.Ah Crete.
        Nigel

    • Yassoo! This is Stelios! Hi, my friend, we have to be thankful to Google for finding us. Right now, I am in California, in Costa Mesa. My phone number 949-722-8643. I have been here for 36 years, in Costa Mesa, California. I was “kidnapped” by a blond mermaid, from Costa Mesa, California. It is a long, long story, but it has been a beautiful experience, all the way. A lot of adventures, a lot of traveling, and a lot of potato omelets, and the kids love it!

      At that time, 1969, we were serving beautiful apple pie, and we had brownies made by a beautiful Canadian lady, and they were done with good stuff brought from India, and mixed like celestial spirits, and everyone got super baked. Those were the days I will never forget, and I had one of the best times of my life, to be with all those blessed souls. I love them. I love their philosophies, and with their philosophies, blended celestial, universal awareness. They lead us to the explorations of higher ideals for mankind, and those are the principles of our existence: good thoughts, good words, good deeds—truth, beauty and goodness, and loving and caring for the whole universe. We are in the universe.

      In the last 30 years, I learned how to meditate, and learned a lot of new ideas. I am learning self-realization. I am learning enlightenment, and also humility, and also humbleness, kindness, compassion, and a lot of love.

      Joni Mitchel was in Matala, March, April, May and June, 1969.

      That winter in Matala was a good winter. We had plenty of wine, seafood, and the shepherds bring the best cheese in the world, by goats milk and sheep’s milk, mixed together, and the winter was good and kind, just windy from Africa, from time to time. It was a good experience for me, to be with the great people at that time. I will go to Joni’s cave, and bring a lot of wine, and the beautiful singing and music, going on for many nights. All the people getting the high spirits, and go “deep” in life. The time went fast.

      I left Matala in 1970. I went to Galini (Galini means “calmness”) and I made peace with the people of Matala, and then I went back to Galini for a short time, but it was not the place for me. I went to Agios Nicolos, and that is when I met my blond mermaid, and she really took me, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. We swam for many days, and we loved the water, and we loved the beaches of Agios, and the beaches of all Crete, and we explored them all. I had 4 good years in Agios Nocolos. Four beautiful years of enjoying the beautiful waters, all the incredibly beautiful coves, and the small towns, south of Crete, explored Greek islands, different ways, through boats. I was looking for my new home. And, it looks like now I have 2 new homes, one in Crete, and one in California, Costa Mesa, Pacific Ocean. And I am involved with a lot of projects. I have always been an entrepreneur, discovering new thoughts and ideas, and go beyond, and beyond, of this beautiful universe.

      1978, we started a health food store in Costa Mesa, with a few Yogis. Some never became yogis, and some, they stayed. And now we will have 7 stores, all organic, natural, no chemicals, vegan, vegetarian, Mother’s Market and Kitchen.

      Also, I am involved with projects in Africa. We are supplying water well drills to the desert area. We almost supplied to all of Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. The website is, http://www.ewdrilling.com

      I am also involved with some non-profit organizations. They are helping orphanages in India. That organization now has about 500 children. I don’t have the name in my head right now, but some day if you need it, we will provide it.

      I have 2 sons, 35 and 30. And, also, I have 3 grand-kids, so I did the duty of being a pop and a grand-pop, and I am still doing my duty.

      It is very interesting to go back, and Google those things, 40 years, and I have a lot of stories. Good stories. They all turned to be positive and I am very thankful that I am alive and I appreciate every second.

      Thank you

      Stelios Xagorarakis

      • Yassoo! It was good to hear your voice after so many years, Stelios. Could hear that you are doing well and still full of enthusiasm for life… Especially interested to know more about the water project. My son is married to a South African. Her family has a home for a least a hundred children. They shelter the kids, help with their traumas and try to get them into good families. Also teach agricultural techniques. Water is a major problem in some areas….Was after midnite here in Sweden when we talked but think I told you about a song cooking in my heart about that whole Matala experience. Your observations helped get it together. Here is MATALA ROAD as promised:
        MATALA ROAD

        Went down that Matala road full of nostalgies…
        Shoulda stayed back home with my memories
        cuz the road’s been paved
        and the caves fenced in…
        Ain’t nothin’ the same like it used to’ve been
        down that Matala road.

        Now the Mermaid’s gone and the Delphini…
        New restaurants abound
        too fancy for me…
        A hundred hotels and alla them fine
        with toilets indoors
        and room-service wine.

        But the shepherds are gone
        From the mountainsides
        where they blew their blues
        right outa the sky…
        boys agone to the towns
        and there they stay
        aworkin’ the crowds atta fish café,
        or
        just hangin’ around some cabaret
        far from the Matala road.

        Those old donkeys are gone
        unless to fill a scene…
        folks are racing around burnin’ gasoline.
        Planes ‘n busses roll in…
        tourist destiny
        to soak up the sun
        by a sky-blue sea
        way down the Matala road.

        Forgive an old greybeard
        for asheddin’ his tears for that Matala road
        of yesteryears
        when a folk wandered in…
        fuzzy refugees
        lickin’ sores of your wars
        and histories…
        fled down a Matala road

        where the fisherman’s wife
        made coffee for three
        then chased us away to go fish in that sea…
        She’d scream from the shore
        to fill us with fear
        of alla dangers around
        with Red Beach near!
        Down that Matala road

        Ah remember those days…
        was never so free… could
        dive from my cave
        straight into the sea
        and wash in the waves like a new-born child…
        howl up at the moon
        with a call o’ the wild…
        Down the Matala road

        up on the cliffs so high
        you could catch you a star
        and kiss it good-bye…
        There was a dulcimer girl
        with her long blonde hair
        countin’ waves like sheep
        in the atmosphere…

        ‘n that Gypsy boy with his dancing bear
        pink and day-glo green…
        Was he really there?
        Or was he inbetween
        (with his tambourine)
        that ole Matala road … and Istanbul?

        and faces swim by … a memory comes
        with flutes and strings
        to a rhythm of drums…
        through the smoke ‘n years
        what lies between
        bits and pieces fall… re-create a scene…

        Old Matala friend from away back then
        if you remember it all…
        got total recall…
        Then you really weren’t there
        down that Matala road.

        Way down that Matala road…
        What ah’m tryin’ to say
        is seekers will find
        what they’re missing today…
        when you’ve come to the end
        of wherever you are
        (some have gone way in…others away out far)
        like on the Matala road.

        Every cat’ll be back:
        “Ye reap what ye sow”…
        the circle gets closed and then you know
        how we felt afraid…
        how those mothers prayed
        no matter how far
        — how long we strayed
        On the Matala road.

        Take comfort, my friend,
        you seek ‘n you’ll find
        tho your heart may be broke’n
        ya blown your mind
        a miracle waits
        in each hand you hold…
        Cuz you’re never alone — never really
        alone
        on that Matala road.

        Bless you Slelios… Keep helping the hungry… And thirsty…
        A former caveman…. Rocky

    • I spent about 3 weeks in Matala with friends both American and Canadian in the spring of 1972. As far as I remember the Mermaid Cafe – with a dead dried fish nailed to a tree as the only decoration – served as you said only potato omelets. A guy with the only other restaurant “Leftterry”? did BBQ on the beach with rabbit livers and lots of wine. We could bring in the gallon bottles and get them refilled. The local bakery was Mama’s and she had great sandwiches and awesome (huge slides!) of orange breakfast cake. We all stayed at the local hotel – the only one I think – where we could stash our gear and sleeping bags then spend the days on the beach. It provided an outhouse and a shower head strapped to a tree… outside. There was also a kiosk in town run by a woman who sold everything. We referred to it as the Matala 7-11. The caves were pretty much off limits by then, but you could still explore them. Every few days a broken-down looking bus we called the stagecoach would show up with tourist who would photograph the “American Hippies” Sleeping on the beach at Matala was discouraged buy the local police so each evening we’d trek over the hill to the Red Beach to sleep every night. Great memories!

    • Matala Beach Festival 2013 is on 21-22-23-24 of June,

      A meeting point of all old friends in Matala, here are some links for you to be updated and rememember familiar faces.

      http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.231088953626565.51192.204038512998276&type=3

      the 2012 Matala Festival wonderful album is yet to be released very soon.

      dear friends if you would like to be up dated about Matala

      here is an official page of all Matala friends

      http://www.facebook.com/visitmatala

      and official page of the Municipality

      http://www.facebook.com/dimosfestou.gr

  2. Dear Marni,

    My ex and I were at Matala when Joni got there in
    either January or February of 1970. There was also
    a woman named Penelope who claimed to be collaborating,
    even “ghost writing” some of her work. Although I didn’t
    know Carey very well, I certainly knew who he was
    and his red hair was often in a turban. I can tell you about
    the Mermaid where we had breakfast every morning after
    about two hours of yoga in a dried river bed. These sessions
    we taught (gratis, of course) by Joe Berg, his last known
    address was Brooklyn.

    There’s more if you’re interested.

    Roger

    • Hi Roger
      Yes, Yoga Joe- he turns up in Joni interviews and also in the book “Some Girls”, about Carole King, Carly Simon and JM.
      From my letters of that time, it seems I was there roughly at at the same time.
      I’d love to hear more – how can I reach you?

  3. Les,

    Saw your picture and mini-bio but how do I send a message
    to you on that staff sight. Are you collaborating on this
    book that Marni is writing?

    Roger

  4. i live with all that storys when iam 10 years …i remember all that years (1960 till 1975) …i have meet Mitchell becouse my Uncle Stelios manage the Mermaid Cafe …i still search my “flower power” ..:o)…regards from MATALA

    • Hello Dimitris…I was in Matala in the early 70′s and spent many a night at the Mermaid…you almost talked me into staying to help with the cafe’ but I returned to Canada…we listened to Joni Mitchell many nights….you arranged for us to rent a house at the very end of the village overlooking the sea and we were invited to dinner after we agreed to rent the house for a month at a time…we were from Canada…Steve and Bruce….I never forgot you and the Mermaid Cafe’……Bruce

  5. I was working in Agia Galini, just round the bay from Matala in the summer of 1993. One day I made a visit to Matala with my chum, Norman. We looked all over the village for any signs of The Mermaid Cafe but gave up when it became too hot to walk under the sun.
    We were sitting in the shade of a taverna in the main square, sipping some iced beer and gazing around when my friend nudged me and without speaking pointed to the sign over the building on the other side of the street.
    In large letters it read, ‘Supermarket’ but beneath a worn coat of paint you could still see the faint red letters that spelled, ‘Mermaid’.
    I hope it’s still there.

  6. Reading all of your Matala-stories makes me smile. I went there for a breif trip this summer, and even though it is none of what it has been – the hippies being replaced by tourists looking for suntans and cheap souvenirs – I was stunned.
    My friend and I stepped out from under a bazar-like street and into the hot sand. Looking to my right I saw the large painting “Welcome to Matala George – Today is life, tomorrow never comes”. Looking to my right the caves, the beautiful bay. In our minds the tourists suddenly disappeared and we walked around in the 60s, in a time of life and love. The Matala spirit is still alive.

  7. I hitched into Matala about August 1969 after more than a year travelling in SE and Central Asia. I arrived with a shell-shocked American deserter from Vietnam – is that what Joni Mitchell’s reference to “soldiers” means? She must have come after I left in late October when I ran out of money and it started getting cold in a cave with few facilities. By that time, I’d gone up in the hierarchy to a top level cave which was great for the isolation and views but not so good for toilet expeditions to the scrub behind the cliffs or to the Mermaid for a red wine. By that time, too, European TV crews had arrived and filmed us as we emerged naked from our caves in the mornings. The good times were all gone and we had to move on.

  8. I was in Matala for 5 times during the last 3 years (will go again in April) and Yes it’s an tourist town but also Yes a bit of the 70′ flair is still there. Also some Hippies which are living in the caves between Matala and the well known Red Beach. For me ‘s no need to visit another place for holiday since I visited at the visit time.

    If You want to visit Matala, make shure to vist it in spring or autumn before or after the high season June – August.
    That’s the time to catch some of the old vibrations, ’cause the town is a little bit quiter.

    There are some pages in the web where You can get actual infos and photos of Matala.

    Sorry this one is in german – but there are some old photos of the 70th:

    http://www.matala-kreta.de/html%20Seiten/Matala_1965%20-%201977.htm

    and some photos of today also:

    http://www.matala-kreta.de/matala1022.htm

  9. I was in Matala last fall 2008. It actually was my most favorite place on Crete. It had a little different atmosphere and the cats were fat and lazy there. I stayed over night and had a look in the tombs, sat and ejoyed the beach. Yes, there were some hippies there selling jewelery. Sorry I missed it in the ’60′s.

  10. I lived in another part of crete in the 70′s in caves. i avoided matala because by that time it was overrun with fake hippies. anyway, i am trying to remember a film made in 69 or 68 I believe that featured the cave dwelling community in Matala. Does anyone remember the name of it? If so, can you email me at mervie2@yahoo.com. thanks ever so much.

  11. I was in Matala for 3 months in 1983. It was still pretty much the same as in the 60′s-70′s, except that people were no longer living in the caves. We were all living on a campground. The Mermaid Cafe was still there. Most of the people were German, there were very few Americans. We would trek to Red Beach for the day. There were 2 modest rooming houses.

    I would never go back now. It would break my heart to see it built up as a tourist/semi-resort town. How awful!

  12. I first stepped off the noisey fly filled bus from Iraklion Port in 1993, back then the bus would drop you off right in the square. Since then I have returned many times, the village hasn’t changed much in appearance and although the place still holds a similar kind of magic to Glastonbury I am afraid the attitude of current day visitors does deminish it somehow.
    Up until the Drachma was replaced by the Euro Westerners could live on little money in Crete, I offer no opinion on whether this is a good or a bad thing but the days when an Englishman could travel to Crete and have a good night out on a fiver are over i’m afraid.
    If you want to visit Matala today you will still find a few relics from it’s hippy past including a number of long standing residents such as as French Frank, Scotty and Yorgo the fisherman, although as the years wear on they have worn with them, as have the sculptures on Red beach.
    I think the bar Gecofillia sat in when he saw the Mermaid sign was the Kreta Bar that was until 2007 run by an Austrian Landlady called Micky. I have spent many a good evening sat in the Kreta bar and to me it was the embodiment of the Matala spirit, everyone was welcome and you would meet people from every country under the sun, a worthy successor to the Mermaid.
    If I am thinking of the right place the Mermaid is now part of the bazaar, a kind of a covered street or mini arcade (what the Yanks call a mall). One side of the bazaar faces out to sea and the other towards the square, the supermarket which is actually more of a green grocers shop is run by a nice elderly couple and faces the water fountain, i think it is next to snack bar or maybe a jewellers.

  13. I lived in the caves between matala and the red beach last summer. I went for 3 days and stay for 3 months. Many people stays there. I worked in a bar and in the morning siting with my ” hippies” friends over the beach sealing things.. I have to say that Matala has changed a lot, as i hear my father stories, but when you get there, you feel like time stops and you don’t care about the noise of the tourists and the locals disappointment( about not heaving money). If you really want to feel peaceful inside you , Matala is the perfect place.

  14. I lived in a small natural cave on the way to Red Beach in the spring of 1973. It was truly a magical time of my life. I became part of a merry band, Mauro, Emma, Paolo, Edson, and Anna. We spoke different languages but we became fast friends and did everything together. Matala enriched my life with love, laughter, and friendship We were the quintessential, international travellers. I went onward with my journey to the east and never saw my buddies again. I still think of them often. I opened a small art gallery and named it the Mermaid Gallery in honour of my idyllic time in Matala. Old, dear friends..are you out there? Joni Mitchell became my mentor. When i need help. I’ll play joni and ask her to speak to me …and she always does. Matala is a major influence in my life even though I have not been there for so many years. It was the start of my wonderful journey.

    • Hi Susan ,

      I was in Matala in march/April 1973 in the the large clam shaped cave on the cliff left of mama’s bakery along with 4-5 others between the main beach and Red beach.I was a blonde long haired canadian boy of 20 in 1973 and Mary Fraser a young scottish girl and three or four others lived in
      that large clam like cave over looking Matala.The memories of Matala are powrful and I will always remember them as one of the best times in my life.I then went onto India thereafter and travelled the magic bus circuit via Istanbul and the puddying shop of I stanbul the hangout for th hippie era in the 60s and early 70s.I keep having this impression of a girl limping around and was wondering if this may have been you.

      Cheers Don Carlson

      • Hi Don, I remember your cave well but I don’t remember anybody living in it. I was a blonde, long haired, Canadian girl of 19 ….without a limp!….I don’t think I arrived on Crete until sometime in April. I also did the pudding shop, India journey…..I can still feel the atmosphere of it all! It was absolutely one of the best times of my youth! I agree…very powerful. We must have just missed each other in Matala….sounds like a song! Best, Susan

  15. Visited Matala in the early 1990s and it had a more laid back feel than Agia Ghalini, but not as much as the tiny Agios Giorgios to the west of AG – just two guys who’d been there forever [according to their visitors' book], a bar and a terrace of 4 apartments, just built. I’m sure all three are very different now, but it’ll still be new for people going for the first time. Enjoy, and stop living in the past.

  16. I visited Matala in 1990, and fell in love with the place! It was the first time on holiday with my boyfriend and first time abroad, so it will always be the best holiday ever – and we’re still together after all those years! I’ve always had a burning ambition to write a novel and so I’m currently researching for my first novel, which will have a couple of chapters devoted to life in Matala in 1969. Would love to hear from anyone who was in Matala, and indeed Crete during that time. Would also welcome any ideas for websites or books that would be useful. You can email me on melanie@dmwright.karoo.co.uk. Thanks x

  17. I was there summer 1968;
    certainly not rich enough to have dined at the mermaid – i had to make do with “manuels shack ‘ on the beach he cooked lovely omelettes and spoilt me with condensed milk sandwich – anyone out there do the same?

    • He might have been the same guy who cooked for us on Komo beach in 79? Also the same guy who possibly informed on Francois, who tried to out run the 100s of cops who surrounded the mountain then attacked our commune.

  18. I was in Matala in 1973. I arrived in January and left in June with Gerry a Canadian guy who had been living in the caves on the mountains between Matala Beach and Red Beach. We had a little tree that came out of our cave and we placed tin foil on the leaves so that when the wind blew it made a song. Every song seemed different. There were few of us at that time; Roger (the saxophone player) Dominic, a french guy who had deserted the french army, Edwardo, an Italian who lived with Fiona, and Barbara, an american who was writing a book and was renting one of the rooms on the way up to the old blue house. Barbara had a problem with her leg and would walk with a limp. There was also Maria, a German girl who had adopted a dog. Matala in the winter was cold and windy and I remember Nicos (a fisherman who lived in one of the little houses) giving us rugs to wrap around ourselves. We used to go the Mermaid cafe at night and listen to Grateful Dead – there were times when Nicos would invites us into his little house and cook potato omeletes and offer us his Raki. Mama, who used to run the store would warn us when the police would be coming from Mires as most of us had problems with our visas. Mama would also bake the most delicious orange cake. We used to clean the beach and in return Left Terri (who used to own the taverna on the beach) would feed us coffee and bean soup. I have a thousand other memories. I often think about those friends then and wonder where they are today.

  19. i arrived in crete march 13 1970 w my friend dave. we left heraklion for the caves of matala two weeks later. there we discovered a very international, very colorful community living in the ‘caves’ or carved crypts on the cliff. the scariest dude was wild-haire, wild-eyed, bigger than life cary. he was a heroin addict off heroin and somewhat cranky., unpredictable- scary even. i saw him dive thru the window of the blue dolphin restaurant when a propane stove exploded. hair-trigger.
    anywayish… in the eves we all gathered in the largest cave called the ‘hilton’. i improvised nightly on the guitar offering wacked over lyrix to non english speaking hippies- it became a ritual. one night i was performing and looked to my right. there she was. joni mitchell. really. i passed the guitar over to her but a hilton head case regular thought i was passing it to him. he accepted the guitar and sang dreadful banshee howls for about half an hour before she finally got to her. then? she killed us all with celestial performance. most of the euro-heads didn’t know who she was. but they found out in a hurry and a half.
    she started pairing up with cary and after a week told me she was going back to heraklion in her rented vw van. w cary. would i like to come along? yes. i did would had to. i was 18, she was 25 but i was in adoration and a trance. love didn’t begin to describe it y’all. worship it was and then some.
    cary wasn’t happy but off we went, travelling all over crete for three days. cary was in a foul and toxic mood. needless to say joni wasn’t seeking sweetness and light at the time. i think this was post graham nash and that might explain her prediliction. could i judge?
    when we got to heraklion cary disappeared [scoring?] i went up on the roof of the hostel with joni. she showed me all of her open tunings and wrote them down for me. then? she played for me. 3 or 4 songs. the circle game is the one i’m sure of. that i specifically remember, i was under a spell. when she sang she was absolutely reliving the events that motivated the song. tears and trembling. this was art, poetry and love manifest. this brought the 60′s to an end at least for me. the end of innocence.
    sadly, cary returned. i left for india w a profound sense of loss and longing. i wanted to be her footman. knight. dachsund (as it were)
    when i came back to the U.S. a year or two later, after HUGE and momentous misadventure, turning points, close calls, (and regrets, sigh), someone gave me her album ‘blue’ with the song ‘cary’ on it. and i was very relieved because i thought i had imagined or hallucinated the ‘joni incident’dream’.
    as a film director i have travelled the world and worked with amazing people and done more adventurous and remarkable things than i can rememeber. but? joni was a touchstone to my existence.
    postscript i ran into her at a restaurant in brentwood when i was w my wife and toddler sons. what? 25 tears kaier? m. my wife said go say hi to her, but i hate bothering celebs when they’re trying to enjoy a moment in the public semi-world. i stayed at my table.
    stupid me. joni is was and always will be an open and truly heart-led angel who would enjoy a reminiscence, a walk thru the door into what was.
    here’s another clue for you all- risk everything all the time and don’t say yo. isn’t that what her songs are all about?
    peace and love forever

    • Barry, I was there in the Hilton the night you passed the guitar to Joni. She had been in Matala for several days before that night, playing songs, composing tunes, working on lyrics and jamming with some of us, perhaps with you as well. One of the more memorable moments i spent with her was in the grove of trees near the chapel, 4 of us in total including Joni. I played bongos someone had left behind and another hand drum, and as I recall it, Joni was working out songs that later appeared on “Blue”, and sang a number of songs from earlier albums such as “Big Yellow Taxi”. It was a remarkable moment, over altogether too quickly, and though it seems like only a few weeks ago, it’s now been 40 years since we were there. One of the people I traveled with was named “Willie” and was the son of a Reader’s Digest editor…do you remember him? I recall Carey very well. It would be interesting to revist some of those memories sometime…do you have any photos from then? Please get in touch, or respond in these pages. I look forward to hearing more stories from Matala ca 1970.

      • amazing

        there are many worlds compromising our lives. because they have passed into the “was” don’t mean that they aren’t still here

        didn’t u wear a serape all the time?

        where are you now?

        whatever happened to Coca Cola Yoga Joe?

        where are the snows of yesteryear?

        where did i go so wrong to have things turn out so right?

  20. Barry,

    I remember you and Dave. There were two Daves –was he the tall red-haired guy from Pacifica who played flute and people mistook for Ian Anderson? I came over on the ferry with the infamous Cary as my berthmate, but went east from Iraklion to Agios Nicholas before heading to Matala. I’m thinking we met in Athens and took the same ferry over, arrived before dawn and slept on benches in the park??

    I have an old journal and I”ll check to refresh my memory.

    Rick

    • un.
      be.
      lieve.
      able.

      yes yes and yes.
      wow. and i pride myself on longterm memory.

      dave carpenter, my friend/travelmate from san francisco/san mateo and tall dave from i think daly city. we met latter on train in amsterdam. he was travelling w a dutch kid nino & they both went to matala where we hooked up again.

      dave and i tried to sleep on deck huddled and freezing behind big ‘crate’. around three a.m. deckhands kicked us awake and made us move. they then tipped crate and out slid a shrouded body. splash. into agaean. discount burial at sea

      you and i drank turkish coffee in the stinking passenger compartment. u were anti-caffeine and said, “oh well. wake up and die” and then downed that little cup of motor boat fuel. march 13, 1970. right?

      “i was so much older then. i’m younger than that now”

  21. Yes, yes. So sweet to hear those pieces coming back through your memory. I had forgotten the coffee, but reading your recollection I could taste it all. Tall Dave from Pacifica I nicknamed “upstairs” and there was “David”, an artist from San Diego. I had met Tall Dave in Athens .

    I took the ferry to Crete on Mar 11. Went to Alia, in Northeast Crete near Agios Nicholas first, having met flutist Jacob Samuel from Malibu. We were enjoying playing music together, and they insisted that Matala would just be a hippie scene and convinced me to explore the more peaceful side of Crete first. I must have arrived in Matala around March 21. Left Crete for Istambul shortly after Easter, with Gerald and Roz from Palo Alto. Gary played guitar. We had met in Marakesh and had travelled through The Sahara and across North Africa together.

    Had you gotten a ride with JM in a sportscar from Irakleon to Matala? she had written down her tunings for you?

    I was carrying my Gibson J-50 guitar all those months through Europe and N. Africa. I still have the old girl. Still playing, professionally now.

    Great stuff, Barry. Send me an email at rick@chelew.com.

  22. Dear Friends,

    I am trying to locate one of the original hippies who lived in the caves at Matala during the 60′s. His name is Scotty, and I believe he is German. He has been described as, “the last hippie at Matala”. All I know is that he no longer resides in Matala because of poor health. He may be living in an old folk’s home, perhaps near Mires or Iraklion. Do any of you know where may be living? I would like to interview him before anything happens to him. I think the effect and the contributions the hippies made to Matala (and the world) are too significant to allow them to be lost when Scott passes away. Can anyone help? Thanks.

    Your Friend,

    Bobby

  23. First went to Matala in 85 and even then did not want to stay for more than a day, although my memory is of a fairly empty beach. Went back for a day beginning of August 2010 and found as I expected it is much more developed again. Shame as it is a naturally beautiful bay.
    Someone on this thread mentioned people wearing teeth back in the 60′s; I climbed up the hill a bit beyond the existing caves where the cliff has eroded, hoping to find a shard of old pottery as a memento, but straight away I found a skull and after brushing away a bit of sand the whole skeleton was there. I don’t know if this was a Roman remains or if the site was used in later days as a burial site (perhaps it was Cary although I didn’t find any red hair).
    Actually the skull was crumbly, so to old to be an old hippie left out in the sun too long.
    It is strange that an important archaeological site is left to be wandered over with impunity but I guess the whole of crete is one big archeological site.
    Query: Are the remains of buildings under the hills at the East side of the town Pre- Roman, Roman or later?

  24. Hi Marni,

    Carey (Mr. Raditz), was in a fraternity with me at UNC 1964-68. He was a wild man then. One of his classic moves came on a Sunday morning when he broke into the “chapter room”, got the “mystic robes”, and with those and a wicked witch of the west hat, climbed into the tree on the edge of the yard next to the neighboring Baptist church and serenaded those good Baptists with a repetitive rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers” – played on a kazoo as they came to services. He was also quite destructive to the property then, most likely derived out of his upbringing. I remember seeing him sitting with his parents in the back yard, splitting a half gallon of bloody Marys on a Sunday morning and all laughing uproariously. He was larger than life and a bit scary at times, including blowing a hole in the wall of one of his friend’s room with a shotgun – while the friend was in the room. Fast forward 25 years to when some of our group began to get together on a regular basis. Carey had emerged a very interesting man, married with kids and working for an NGO doing financial consulting in third world countries or something like that. He seems a deeply thoughtful and comfortable with himself man who has lived (survived) a life far richer but more precarious than most of us have – or at least those of us in the fraternity whose duty it was to keep the overall GPA respectable.

    • To the last Bob:

      In a moment of recollection inspired by hearing a set of 3 Joni Mitchell songs on WRFG, I recalled that a friend of mine in Atlanta (Bob Peterson, now deceased) said that he either knew Carey or was in a fraternity at UNC-CH with the Carey (of Joni Mitchell’s song). I believe that Bob was in Delta Upsilon and that Randall Bramlett was also a fraternity brother…….Thanks for enabling me to confirm Carey’s identity……..Bob

  25. Hi everybody just got tonight from Crete…been there in Matala too where I met the Mermaid Cafè original owner…and I talked with some people who lives there from many many years…a sort of a trip..I’m a musician and a writer…and fan of Joni and I wanted to know some things about her period here…I found out an old photo with the original painting of Mermaid..a rarities coming from a gentle woman of the village… more soon…ciao…

    • Hi Stefano,

      I don’t think that you met the original owner in Crete, as I happen to be that person. I started the Mermaid Cafe in the late 60′s, Carey worked in my cafe, and Joni sang there in the evenings. Joni said before she left Matala that she wanted to write a song about the Mermaid Cafe which she did and titled it Carey.

      IF you should have any questions, please get in touch.

      Take care,
      STelios Xagorarakis

      • Hi Stelios, were you the stelios that I knew in Matala in 1967 whose sister was a hair dresser in tymbaki or nearby? Regards Kalimera

  26. Hi everyone,

    This is Stelios, the original owner of the Mermaid Cafe living in California with wife and 2 kids. I am thinking of writing a book about my years in Matala and all of the happenings with Joni Mitchell and Carey.

    IF you would like to correspond with me, please send me an email.

    Thank you,
    Yasoo,
    Stelios Of the Mermaid Cafe

    • Stelios-were you in the no1 cave when Joni sang “The one puff blues”?My memory is somewhat distorted due to the dustbin sized pipe that was passed around and I cannot remember any of the words!
      We did speak about purchasing Gavdos,you and I,impossible at the time for a non Greek but I had been left a little money by my grandmother.Nothing came of it but a boat trip to Gavdos came to a halt-when far out in the bay the fisherman pointed out the wreck of a second world war ‘plane deep down under the boat festooned with nets.Impossible to tell the nationality of the wreckage.

      Nigel.

    • Stelios… Wonderful to see that you live and breathe… Was a regular for late salad & omelette breakfast at your Mermaid but don’t remember ever paying… Was it cuz you felt sorry for zombied Vietnam vets or because I shared a cave with your apple-pie maker from London or because I was beaten all shades of blue trying to stop the police from arresting you and your little sister when they sledge-hammered down the addition to your kitchen???
      Hope you succeed in writing your book… It will help a lot of us put some of the prescious fragments together… Like they say: If you can remember those crazy sixties, you really weren’t there! Maybe it was even into 1970…?
      Do recall some faces and a succession of caves till we ended up in one where we could dive straight down into the bay and swim across to the Mermaid….
      Remember also the London pie-maker and I and some other making a long pilgrimmage overland and ferry boat to Kimon Friar and American and British embassies to intercede for your release. The embassies mumbled some jumbo about not interfering in Greek internal affairs, don’t know if they actually did anything—but Kimon interrupted his sacred morning writing time to receive us and went into some kind of action. Maybe it helped???
      Don’t think it helped when I barked out:” Down with Popadoupolous!” and cleared the crowded dance floor on the ferry… But think that happened later as we were leaving Crete for good.
      Think I probably never apologized for a spontaneous grief party that materialized after you were hauled away… Got flung into the burning stove in what was left of your kitchen and got fried for my sins… Spent some weeks on my belly in the cave recuperating… The folk-singer in a neighboring cave had a big tube of zinc oxide from her cave mate’s bad experience with an oven in the other Matala cafe´. Bless them healing hands. It was the only medicine around… and music!
      Hoping that you have continued to prosper and see by these pages that you are well and continue to help those less fortunate… Bless you…Peace… Raki Nomad
      Ps. We are living in Sweden, kids, grandkids… Seekers have found! Rocky Schmit +46 073 403 9733

      • Hi Rocky, this is the ‘London’ applepie-maker calling. What fun we had trying to get justice from the Cretan hierarchy. I remember carrying plates of food along the streets of Mires whilst Stelios was in jail – long before the days of takeaways (well perhaps anywhere outside America). I did get some strange looks and felt a bit silly. Prisoners were not even fed by their gaolers in Crete!
        The apple pies at The Mermaid probably began as a casual request or suggestion. I had to write home to my mother (in the Isle of Man, not London) for a shortcrust pastry recipe! We began by baking a trayful in the cafe oven and soon each slice would be sold before it was baked. Then we made much larger ones and had to ask the lady at the local bakery to bake them, such was the demand. Then she stole our idea!
        I took off east eventually, had to say goodbye to some wonderful people and that was the end of my year in Crete – only meant to stay a week when I arrived in April 1969 – but I wouldn’t go back. How dare they cut down that huge tree on the Mermaid patio? I have some photos taken near it with the original Mermaid figure just visible in the background. They were magic days indeed and I cherish the memories.

    • Hi Stelios

      Do you remember the Canadians who were living in the caves in Matala in 1966? There were 8 of us and we spent many a night at the Mermaid eating and drinking retsina. There was also an American guy called Mike and a German called Hans there at the time.

  27. Stelios , I don’t know about this matter… Iknow only that I ‘ve been crazy all over that afternoon in Matala to find out some tracks of the original owner of Mermaid and or try to find people that would remember the right location… at the end of this village trip.. I met a gentle woman, owner of a bookshop, Mrs. Kathianaki, that gave me a photocopy of the Mermaid Cafè…just after this, came out from the shop and go to the Kymata Restaurant…I met some guys and at the end I knew the daughter of the actual owner and all the people there, seeing my photocopy, started to remember the original doors of the Mermaid and the tree that they cut in the past…so the daughter of the owner told me that they were the original owners of the Restaurant. They left Crete in late 60 and they rented the cafè to another one (are you?)..then they come back in mid-70 and re-newed the local changing in the restaurant (they cut the tree)..

  28. You can’t say Matala without say “ah” 3 times.

    I was there in ’88. It was April and I had been in Mykanos with a friend for a week. The weather was not good. When it was time for her to go home she had gotten ill. We met a guy on the ferry back to Piraeus. He told me that if I wanted good weather, then when I leave Athens, I should take the ferry to Crete. And when I get to Crete, I should take the bus to Matala. And when I get to Matala, I should go to Georgios Bar because he was playing great music.

    So, I dropped my friend off in Athens, jumped on the first ferry to Crete (with some goats bleating in the night), found the bus to Matala, and after 2 hours of twisting and turning through Crete, I arrived at Matala. Found a room at the Bamboo Sands and made my way to Georgios. That evening, still at the bar, I began chatting with a nice young girl. And 22 years later, that nice young girl is my old lady. Married for 15 years. Thanks for the travel tips Mike!!

  29. I arrived at Matala in the spring of 1969 and immediately ran out of money. Coming at the tender age of 19 straight from a closed and opressive society that was South Africa at the time, Matala turned out to be a major turning point in my life–truly my first enrolement in the University of Life.
    With my crazy Dutch friend Theo we found what I think was the last available cave near the top situated off another larger one. Cleaning it out we came across a human skull–Roman soldier? Not knowing what to do with it (there might have been a rucus) I hung it on the cave window overlooking the bay and named him Charlie. The ritual each sunrise and sunset was to sit at the window with Charlie and share time and my last Texan cigarretes with him.
    With no money we made a few attempts to leave but were prevented from doing so by the kindness of so many people who would offer food. Anyone remember the South African girls Debbie and Jenny? The Australian artist, Chester, who had nothing but a blanket and who fed us and threw a big party at the Mermaid with proceeds from his sales?
    I have incorporated our 3 weeks there in a book that I am writing as the start of an incredible journey of life that is still ongoing.
    Cheers for now, Edwin

  30. Hi to anyone who was in Matala in March/April 1973.I stayed there in a large cave between Matala and Red Beach over looking Matala along with about six other people.Played in the roman baths toward Red Beach,hung out at the Marmaid Cafe ate fresh baked goods from Mamas bakery and she even embroidered a rose on my cut off jean shirt.Swam, and it was one of the best times of my life at the age of 20 years.Now a young 58 year old-Counsellor and Teacher in North Vancouver,BC,Canada,Matala will always be dear to my heart.One person I would like to hear from is Mary Fraser a 17-18 year old Scottish Girl from Edinburgh Scotland who I also worked on a watermelon farm for day for a big $3.00 but learnt how rugged those older Greek women were in a big hurry.Mary if you are out there I guess you are about 55-56 ish years now, and I had left Greece and gone overland to India over a six month period.You had stayed on in Athens to help a Greek family and teach their children English in about April 1973 give or take a bit.Hope you are well.Sincerely,Don Carlson(geodon@telus.net).

    • Hi Don
      I was in Matala from February 1974 to June of that year. Were you still there or had you already left? I remember two Canadian guys, Gordon (I think?) and Gerry. We lived in a cave between Matala and Red Beach.
      Vivienne

  31. I was there in 1968 and lived in the big front cave with twogirls from London, Linda and Georgie. I remebr someof the names, Jean Claude, Detloff, Fugi whose mother was Japanes and his father from Aphganistan or the other way round and his frind Klaus? from Norway.

  32. Hi Vivienne,Sorry we missed one another by a year,I was in matala at the same time as you in 1973.I stayed in the large clam shaped cave on the east side of Matala(left side looking out on the Med.)and directly down on Matala Beach. I also recall other caves on the way to Red Beach alittle more hidden, and hung out at Red Beach and some roman type baths naturally carved out by the ocean closer to the beach on the way to Red Beach.Great time at the age of 20 years then went onto India via Istanbul.

    • Yes I remember your cave – used to pass it on the way up to the one I shared with Gerry. Sorry we missed by a year. Gerry and I left in June and headed up to Germany. We’d plans to go on to Amsterdam but I had to get back to the UK and Gerry and I parted. Am now a psychologist practicing privately in Paris France. Not sure I’d be where I am today without those times in Matala.

      • Hi Vivienne,

        I am a counsellor/teacher in North Vancouver at a high school.Interestiing how those youthfull events(Matala&India)have served me well in life and to this day probably the best thing for me as a 20 year old who really never liked school. Great to see your success.Don

  33. Hello everybody,

    today a friend of me send an email to look on this blog.
    And I´am very surprised!
    The reason is that me and my girlfriend stay many times in Matala, but “unfortunately” only since 1998, ok, i was born 66. ;-)
    Since many years I have a homepage and a blog about matala, and I allways try to find some informations.

    Do you now that we make a big festival in Matala from 11.-13. June ?
    Now Iam still in germany, but on Sunday I start to got to crete by car for 5 weeks.

    If you want to have any information, have a look on my blog.

    Many greetings

    Denis

  34. how come when most of you guys were there late sixties and early seventies that you didnt get hassled by the military police?The junta had been in power by then for a few years sponsored by the CIA which a lot of people still dont know about!Check your history books!

    • Hi Marilyn,When I was there in 1973 `march/April only once did a group of about 6-8 uniformed men come to get us off or out of the caves.News travelled quickly at that time and most of us living in the caves and seeing the uniformed men arrive headed deeper inland while others blended in with the people on the beach.Only once in the couple of weeks I was there did they arrive in Matala and even then it did not appear to be a major event despite as you say the junta were powerful.Whether they were the junta or the local police I do not know for sure as a group of us just moved further inland until they departed.Maybe this is of some help.Cheers Don

  35. Having been sent the video of Matala accompanied by Joni’s magic song ‘Carey’,I’ve looked into links and come across all your amazing info-thanks to all have shared their great memories.
    Have never been to Matala but fell in love with and have lived in Greece since 1984,and will hopefully visit this place which is obviously has touched your hearts too.
    Thanks again for enabling my wonderful ‘journey’. May you all re-live Matala peace forever,either there or wherever you are.

  36. What an amazing picture all these comments build up of those times! I wasn’t there, five years too young, but yes, someone should write a book. Stelios?! So after all that, where is Carey now? As far as I can tell, after Matal he went to Nepal, then briefly back to NY where he shared a room with songwriter Eric Anderson, then off to Senegal with the Aid program, and by 1999 was living in California. Does this sound right? And now? Is he still alive?

    Colin Salter

  37. Hello Matala Lovers! I’ve had a wonderful evening reading your memories of that magical place. I was there in the fall of 1969……can’t imagine why, but do not remember talk of Joni Mitchell!! in fact, did not know about her and Carey untill reading a friend’s blog. Matala was a real stepping off place for me….had arrived in Europe 2 weeks earlier. But it was in Matala that our planned 3 month European holiday changed into a fantastic journey of discovery on all levels…living for the moment, without a plan or even a desire to ever return…..spent the rest of the winter in Sitia, Crete….then on to Istanbul, and overland to India and Nepal……and to a lifestyle that formed the person I was to become. But leaving Create was NOT easy and I’ve always wanted to return. Love your poem, Rocky! I remember 2 boys from Whales, and a Canadian? Don, who played the guitar….the first time I’d heard, and loved so much, the Abbey Road songs. I will never know how we made it up to our caves after all that good wine. and to this day I have never seen stars so big and bright as though you could touch them, or sunsets so spectacular. and who could forget the Shit Cave?!! whew…..what memories.

  38. Carey is alive and well and living in Virginia. I saw him this past May in Beaufort, NC at a college reunion. Believe it or not he is a certified financial planner who has spent much of his career working for non profits helping African enterprises organize financially (I think). In his college days he was an absolute animal house wild man, and now he is a most interesting and thoughtful man.

  39. Hi Bob,

    I would like to get in contact with Carey after all of these years. I am so glad to hear that he is doing so well. Thank you,
    Stelios Xagorarakis (owner of the Mermaid Cafe)
    My tel. number is 949 646-8666 for home
    949 722-8643 for business

    I currently sell water well drills to mainly Africa. Also, I am one of the founders of Mother’s Market and Kitchen (7 health food stores) located in Orange County, California.

  40. Amazing to read all these memories of Matala – I was there in the summer of 1969 – I then went on to Istanbul and back to England for a short time, before going back to Matala for the winter of 1969-70. I remember Christmas Day on the beach .. I think I left sometime in January, maybe early February – I remember some lovely Canadians, including Susie who played guitar and sang and I shared a cave that winter with an American, Susan.
    Does anyone remember Italian Renee?-his cave was the place to go during that summer of 1969 – loads of people used to cram in there and wait for the chillum to come round, guitars and drums always playing – Renee’s English wasn’t great but his key phrase was ‘smoke it’. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers him and those days. He was still there when I left in early 1970.
    Matala was a magical time in my life, never forgotten!

  41. My sister Bonnie and I lived in the Matala caves in winter of 1969, leaving just before Joni Mitchell arrived in March 1970. At dawn on December 11th, my 19th birthday, Cary Raditz posted himself at my cave opening with a battery operated record player playing “Here Comes The Sun.” I had risen early and hiked to the peak of a nearby hill to watch the sunrise so I wasn’t there!
    I remember the sounds of a pig being slaughtered in town, the inbred cats that played crazily along the beach in front of the cafe, the graceful deer-like dogs that followed me on my hikes one was called “Lyca”), the communal dinners in a huge cave (I have a great picture), tar balls that washed up on the beach that made our bare feet sticky, the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and deeply echoing inside the caves, going to the bathroom in the designated gross toilet area in the bushes, sage burning for days to clean out the caves, chisms made from bones found in the caves used for smoking hash and tobacco, rice pudding, a mouse running out of my pant leg when I dressed, hearing that there were small mice tunnels connecting the caves, rumors that Jean Claude burned his girlfriend’s cat in a fire pit because she broke up with him, lots of music and sun and magic!
    I see Cary Raditz is on LinkedIn if anyone is looking for him:-) Cary and I later ran into each other in Mill Valley, California which is my hometown. He and I lived together there, in North Carolina (balancing his cane on his nose as he walked down the streets of Chapel Hill, NC) and we went to Europe together . Joni Mitchell’s song(s) aptly describe Cary. He was quite the showman! Margaret Hansen

      • Hello Stelios,
        Good to hear that things have turned out so well for you. I remember many happy days at the Mermaid and lots of hard work too! How are your sisters? Poppy was in France I believe. Where is Alexandra? I hope she’s well. And Manoli Psaros was so lovable. Ah what happy days! I dare not go back. It tempts me but I know I’d regret it. Leave those great memories as they are. Regards to you and your family, from Dora.

      • HI Dora and family,

        Happy May Day. It has been almost 43 years since we met. Alexandra lives in Paris and has 3 children and Penelope has 4 chilldren and lives in Athens and has a fashion shop. One of Penelope’s daughters lives in London and one of Alexandra’s sons works in London at a university. Alexandra talks about you many times and would love to see you again. She lives in the heart of Paris on the left bank and has lived there since 1972 and has an art gallery. We will be there in September for 3 or 4 days to visit. Then we will fly from Paris to Crete to visit more of our family. Manolis, my brother, lives in Iraklion and has 2 daughters and George lives in Athens and has 3 boys. Manolis, the fisherman, passed away in the 80′s. Manolis was a very good man and I have some photographs of him. I was in California at that time. Also, my parents passed away not too long ago. I have some photographs of Manolis if you are interested in having them. IF you would like to get in touch with Alexandra, I can send you her phone number.

        A Greek T.V. station is preparing a documentary of the history of Matala and the Mermaid Cafe will be included. Georgeanne and I are thinking of writing a book about the days of Matala. We have contacted Carey who lives on the East Coast in America. There are a lot of things to talk about but I would prefer to talk through emails. My email address is gxag@yahoo.com. Hope to hear from you soon. The best to your family.
        Take care,
        Stelios and Georgeanne and family

  42. I’m really inspired with your writing abilities as smartly as with the structure to your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it your self? Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today..

  43. Whoa, what a find this is! I was in Matala in 1972 and my two clearest memories are of sitting in one of the caves, well stoned, listening to Bach on a classical guitar, by a Spanish guy who played left handed. And I remember how the plankton phosphoresced on my skin when I went swimming in the moonlight. And then, when I first arrived, and I was walking down the long road down to the village with some guy I met, and I had this deja-vu experience over an abandoned gas station that had, of all things, a DeSoto car sign hanging on a wall, and I told this guy about it before we got to it and it kind of weirded each of us out.

  44. I have never been to Matala but after reading all of the stories and hearing a friend of mine talk about going to Greece and Crete with her ex-boyfriend I would like to go!

    I did find this site which is about Matala in the 60s and 70s:

    • I travel to Crete every year for a three month vacation there. I usually stay on Crete during the months of July, August and September. And, while there, I aways make several trips to Matala. I have also documented my many trips to Crete on my website: http://www.bobscretanadventure.blogspot.com

      This year I will return to Crete once again for the months of July, August and September. Perhaps we might run into each other. LOL.

      Bobby

  45. My daughter found this thread and it is so interesting to read – brings back a lot of memories.

    I lived in the caves in March and April of 1970 and that’s definitely when Joni Mitchell was there. I was living in Florence, Italy, hanging out with friends who were there on the FSU study programme. John McKenzie came over from Tallhassee to visit his girlfriend and we became friends. The students were in classes much of the time so John and I went down to Brindisi, got a ferry to Athens and another out to Heraklion. We took a bus across the island to Matala and i remember as we drove in, seeing the caves across the beach.

    We had been there a few days when Joni Mitchell turned up, travelling with a Canadian friend. We saw her walking across the beach towards the caves and couldn’t believe it. Everybody knew who she was but no one made a big deal about it. She was allowed to be just another person whose path had brought her to the caves. Her third album, Ladies of the Canyon, had just come out and it’s the one that made her a major celebrity. I think she was trying to travel around Europe somewhat incognito as she adjusted to that. The fact that she was accepted as just another person in the caves may explain why she stayed there awhile.

    There would be gatherings sometimes in one of the bigger caves when people would play music. Joni would sing sometimes but there were other musicians there too. John was a very good guitar player and they played together a bit. We were sitting in a cave with Joni one day and she was working out the lyrics to Carey on a dulcimer. She asked us what we thought about it. A year later, back in Tallahasee, I bought her album Blue and there it was.

    Conditions in the caves were not very sanitary and John and I both got dysentary. We decided to go back to Florence, where we had acess to the FSU doctor. A few months later I was living in London and read an article over someone’s shoulder on a crowded tube train which said Greek police had raided the caves and closed them. It was a sad moment. I had been there at a good moment and had been lucky that way.

    • I visited the caves at Matala in 2009, 2010 and again in 2011. I have recent photos of the caves plus an interview with Scotty who lived in the caves on my website. When the hippies were forced out of the caves, most of the hippies left Matala…except Scotty. He remained in Matala until just a couple of years ago when he was placed in a Monestary near Iraklion for medical care after having suffered a stroke. You can view the photos and interview on my website at the following internet address: http://www.bobscretanadventure.blogspot.com

      I hope you enjoy reading it. Best Wishes,

      Bobby A.

  46. I went to Matala Sept/Oct 1974, not sure which month. Slept on the beach under one of the trees near the water, the caves were off limits, although I went into several shooting photos of the town and beach below. Also was where I got my best ever photograph, the sun low near the horizon, with the split flare image looked like the second coming. Not a super friendly place though, I ran out of $$ and tried to cash a travelers check, which was ignored by all. So had to hitch out to Iraklion, almost died of thirst along the way, but a sweet young Cretian girl in a home in the middle of nowhere gave me some water, and saved my life. Soon a German couple in a Jag picked me up and took me all the way to Iraklion.

  47. Thank you so much for your stories. I was born in 1968, around the time many of you were heading to Matala, and I am completely fascinated by your experiences. I have been there several times, as a young girl with a backpack and no money, and later bringing my own daughter there. I leave again for Matala this Friday. Yes, it has been built up a bit over the years, but there is still something absolutely magical about the place. I find myself drawn to it during times of my life when I need healing, or I’m changing course and need to clear my head. Time stands still there, in a way that reminds me to appreciate and drink in every moment with joyful abandon. And my daughter feels it too. She begged me to go back again this year.

    Can I ask you all what drew you to Matala? It was obviously a very important time of your lives, pivotal it seems for many. And I think its more than just the nostalgia of youth.

    • I will be returning to Crete (and Matala) this Sunday for a three month holiday there. I’ll be staying in the little seaside village of Amoudara, but will make several trips to Matala during my stay on Crete. There is something quite magical and mystical about Crete and Matala!

  48. Hello Everyone!

    I am so happy to have found this website celebrating Matala and Joni in the 60′s and 70′s. I’m 65 now but at that time as a young man in my late-teens and early-20′s I was celebrating San Francisco, L.A., the Santa Cruz Mountains, Oregon, the lifestyles and communes that were flurorishing under the banner of the Woodstock Nation at the time. I didnt’ make it to Matala until my very first trip to Europe in 1985. In fact I thought Matala was in Spain because the word does sound Spanish. When I first heard BLUE I was living in Oregon. It was 1972. That album, along with Van Morrison’s ASTRAL WEEKS, are the two albums I most often enjoy and never travel without them. It wasn’t until I actually went to Crete and bought a map of the island that I discovered that Matala was located in Greece, not in Spain. I immediately drove there to see what I could see. Unfortunately by then everything was changed, although I was told by the woman who served me lunch in an open-air cafe next to the beach that I was actually sitting on the site of the original Mermaid Cafe, which did feel like a wonderful synchronistic turn of events.

    Having had my own experiences during those years that did parallel what happened in Matala I feel, after reading your comments, that we are kindred spirits. My personal journey of self-discovery started back then after reading Michener’s THE DRIFTERS, Kesey’s ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST and Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD. Even though I was already in my late-30′s by the time I got there what drew me to Greece was my desire to discover my own inner Drifter. I had said many times that I would one day go live on a Greek Island, and in 1984 I realized that the “one day” I had always talked about was upon me, and I knew that if I didn’t do it then I’d never do it, so I sold my business, put all my possessions in long-term storage and got on a plane. I ended up on Santorini where I stayed for 6 months. I then went around the world and ended up back in Santorini for another 6 months in 1987. I’ve been back to Greece close to a dozen times since then and will continue to do so as long as I am able. I’ve never looked back. The most important lesson I learned from travelling then, the one that still influences everything I do with my life is “Work To Live, Don’t Live To Work”.

    Thank you for giving me this fine gift today.

    And the love that loves to love the love that loves to love the love that loves.

  49. I first came to Matala in January of 1975….we had travelled to London and then to Eastbourne to spend Christmas with a friend who I’d met working in northern Canada. We spent a week there and then our plan was to head to Nepal. In London we came across two Londoners Andy and Amos who were planning a trip to Greece via Magic Bus Tours…they convinced us to join them and said they eventually wanted to go to Crete and then on to Matala…”you know the place Joni Mitchell wrote the song Carey”….well as my friend and I were both Canadians we certainly knew who Joni Mitchell was and we knew songs from the Blue album…but we had never made the connection to Matala and Crete from that song. We became travelling buddies and we eventually ended up in Hraklion and then took a bus directly to Matala. The instant we arrived in the tiny village I was bewitched with it’s mystic charm and tranquility. We could hear the ocean lapping up on the sand beaches and I was immediately drawn to the waters edge. I sat there for a good few hours just taking in the sun and the ocean. We only planned to stay a week or two and then continue on journey to Nepal….4 months later my friend Steve and I were still there. We couldn’t seem to leave and were held hostage by Matala’s mysticism. We spent many a night in the Mermaid Cafe’ and the proprietor was trying to convince me to stay and help run the Cafe’….I was handy in the kitchen and it seemed his main dish was bean soup! I believe his name was Antonius Sfakakis however I’m delving into the depths of my memory banks here. He introduced us a local farmer ( I think his name was Dmitri) who had a room to rent at the farthest end of the village overlooking the Mediterranean….it had a light bulb and cold running water and an outhouse with running water…so we were living like Kings now. We spent many a night listening to Joni Mitchell’s Blue album and drinking red wine in the Mermaid Cafe’….meeting travellers from all over the world…I still remember some names and faces….Mike a US Vietnam vet who smoked the pipe and always had a cryptic grin on his face….Martinne Zimmeck from Alsace a red-haired German girl…Susan (“Suzie Creamcheese”) Von Marum from Holland…there was Mama who sold the best yogurt I’ve ever had and baked fresh bread daily…she taught me most of the Greek I know…those were names and people I remember to this day. There were many more and the names and faces may slowly come back to me over time..I’m going to be 61 years old in 3 weeks and its’ funny how I stumbled across this site and started reading some of the posts. The memories started flooding back from the nooks and crannies of my memory. I even phoned my travelling friend Steve who I hadn’t spoken to in 30 years and we talked, reminisced and laughed into the wee hours of the night. We plan to stay in touch and meet up to recollect over some red wine those days…so thank you all for posting on this site. Those 4 months in Matala (we never did make it to Nepal) forever altered my way of looking at life me and I left Matala reluctantly but knowing that my life would somehow be different from that point on.

  50. Memory is a funny thing and, for many people who visited Matala in the early 70s, I’m sure their memories are a bit fuzzy, having been altered at the time by hashish or some other influence. At least, that could be said of me. I remember the broad strokes well enough, but the exact chronolgy of events is elusive and many details have simply been washed away in the stream of time. Nevertheless, certain experiences haved remained painted more or less clearly in my mind. And over time, some have taken on epic status.

    I had been living in Matala for a couple of weeks and was there the day in April of 1970 when Joni Mitchell first pulled into the little fishing village with two friends in a VW bus. It was just about sunset and another person and I were sitting on the beach about 50 yards from the place the bus parked. We looked at the three of them getting out of the van then turned to each other and said somewhat disdainfully, “rich hippies”. At that point neither of us recognized that it was Joni Mitchell. She was just a prettily dressed blond hippie girl accompanied by an affluent-looking dark-haired man and woman.

    They got a few things out of the bus and started walking directly toward us. When they got to where we were sitting, they said hello and asked if they could sit with us. We said “sure”, and they plopped down. The ‘blond girl’ was carrying a big bag from which she pulled a huge bottle of wine wrapped in wicker and a hash pipe. She opened the wine, passed it around, loaded the pipe and passed it. After the wine and the pipe had been passed around a few times, she asked us how a person could get into one of the ‘caves’ in the cliffs. I told her that you just kind of waited until someone moved out or room opened up, and she just nodded. As the sun sank lower, we talked about the place and various other things and were getting pretty ripped when she pulled a package of oreo cookies out of her bag. My friend and I laughed and asked her where she’d gotten them. I think she said her friends had a relative or friend at U.S. miliary base somewhere in Germay or Greece who had gotten the cookies for them from the base PX.

    The conversation tapered off as the sunset intensified. When the sun had sunk just below the horizon, the blond girl pulled out two recorders (one ebony and one rosewood), tested each one for tone, chose the rosewood one, and started to play . The rest of us were immediately entranced. She played for about 20 minutes, and when she stopped I just mumbled how beautiful I thought it was and she thanked me. Then she put everything back in her bag, conferred with her friends, and said they were going the little taverna half way across the beach for dinner. They asked us if we wanted to join them, but we declined for lack of funds. After they had gotten up and walked away, my friend turned to me and asked in an awed tone if I knew who that was. I said no, and he said, “that was Joni Mithchell”.

    That evening was the beginning of Joni’s brief but intense infatuation with “Carey” who was the manager/chef of Matala’s (since removed) “Mermaid Cafe”. The sounds of drunken laughter, singing and smashing plates lasted long into the evening. And, late the next morning, Joni emerged from Carey’s little stone residence.

    My memory of Carey is this: He had apparently spent some time in Afganistan and he was often dressed as an Afgani with with loose pants, a long-bottomed shirt, a long cotton vest, and one of those kind of square-cut baggy cotton hats with rolled-up sides still commonly worn there. And, when he walked from place to place, he always carried this walking stick and affected a very exaggerated long stride, planting the walking stick prominently in front of him and propeliing himself forward. He certainly cut an impressive larger-than-life figure–certainly worthy of a song. But, to me and many others in the hippie community, he came off as an arrogant asshole.

    Over the course of the week, Joni would venture up onto the cliffs where the hippies resided in “caves” that were actually Roman era burial vaults hewn into the cliffs. These vaults were various sizes–some holding two or three people and other more elaborate ones having a couple of large chambers and holding up to a dozen people. The elaborate ones had arched niches carved into the walls where a corpse had at one time been plastered in. The human remains had long before been removed from these chambers, and smaller persons were now using the niches as sleeping spaces.

    The largest of the vaults was called the “Big Cave” and was occupied by a traveling commune called “The Magic Family” led by a black-bearded charismatic named Andy. They were on ther way to India, but had been in Matala for a couple of months. The Magic Family was well-provisioned and nearly every evening, they would serve a communal vegetarian feast to anyone who showed up. The meal would be followed by lots of wine and hashish, drumming and and chanting, and “scratchy” rock ‘n roll until people found a partner for the evening and disappeared or they just couldn’t stay awake any longer and crashed where they sat.

    One day I was in the Big Cave cutting vegetables for that evening’s feast and Joni appeared at the entrance with her guitar. She came in, sat down, tuned her guitar, played a little, and asked me about myself. I told her I had been stationed in Turkey in the army, had just gotten discharged a month earlier and was hitchhiking around Europe for a few months. She asked if I was going to the feast, I said I was, and she said she thought she’d join us.

    That evening she came minus guitar. She drank wine but declined to smoke in this setting. At some point, she borrowed someone’s guitar, tuned it a bit and starting playing along with the chanting. After awhile, I think she asked if we could do something other than “Hare Krishna” and actually led the group in a Motown song. I think she also played one of her own songs and invited everyone to join in.

    Of course, the novelty of a celebrity among the people wore off in a couple of days and everybody was cool while Carey and Joni did their thing and she came and went. There were equally if not more interesting things going on in Matala at the same time. For one thing, the lives and travels of the 250 or so diverse souls who had happened to come together in that magical place at such an amazing and wonderful time

    In addition to the Magic Family, there were hippies from all over the world as well as some members of the London cast of “Hair”, some U.S. military awols, a few lone-wolfs like me, a girl with a foot fetish who could achieve orgasms giving fot massages, some young Greek women from Athens who wanted to make love with a hippie boy (lucky me), and an itinerant Brooklyn-born yoga teacher named Yoga Joe who had lived in India for a number of years.

    I took my first ever yoga class from Yoga Joe on the warm soft sand of a dry riverbed up the valley outside of Matala, and later that day dropped acid. It was the the best trip I ever had. A couple of years later, I would enter a yoga ashram and live there 6 years.

    I stayed in Matala about a month and left a couple of days after Joni departed. I believe she had heard the rumors of the Greek army coming to chase the hippies out, which they did periodically when the drugs and nudity got to be too much for the townspeople. I thought about staying to see what happened, but then decided discretion was the better part of valor and hiked out hours before the soldiers arrival.

    I left Crete for Athens to hook up with a Greek girl I had spent a night on the beach with. She was a law student in Athens and had vowed to show me around if I came to visit her. On one of the main boulevards there, I happened to pass Joni on the sidewalk. She was well-scrubbed and didn’t acknowledge me as she wafted by with a friend. This was during the time of the Junta and that day in Athens there was a military parade with troops, tanks and jets flying overhead.

    I spent a couple of days with my Greek girlfriend, Christine, before heading out to Italy. I would later meet up with her again in Paris on Bastille Day where we were tear-gassed in a street riot. I lasted eight months in Europe on $800.00 I had saved in Turkey. It was the craziest time of my life and there is a lot more to tell. But, this was the part of the trip where I shared a little space and time with Joni Mitchell. And whereof, not long after, I would hear part of my experience in one of her songs.

    • I loved reading about your adventures. Thanks so much for sharing it. I’ll be going back to Matala next month with these stories in my head as I make the trek over the hill to Red Beach and wander through the caves, and buy Raki from the little old couple who has sat on the side of the road for at least the last 20 yrs that I can remember and probably longer. I bet you would find it hasnt really changed all that much.

      • Thank you. I was back in ’99 and it was a lot more built up and touristy of course. But it still had charm and I wasn’t disappointed.

  51. Really enjoyed reading this, never been into jodi but more into the scene and the life you guys led back then, my mother lives in Crete, Vamos, and I will be visiting Matala to take a peek this year.
    Absolute pleasure to read all these comments, born in 67 gutted I missed it !

    Chris, UK

  52. Fascinating discussion. I was there in autumn a couple of years ago and there were three or four aging hippies there living in the caves and doing occasional farm work for cash. They said there’s still a flow of people who come and go in spring and summer.

    Anyway, it was great seeing you all piecing the past together like this.

  53. Summer in Crete lasts eight months … favouring both tourism and the production of goods from Crete’s fertile soils, as well as the development of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy.

  54. In recent years certain operators have attempted an additional “opening” to new markets in order to attract tourism and channel the outstanding products of Cretan land. Crete produces excellent oil, raisins, whereas early vegetables are cultivated and exported throughout Europe, whereas many herbs and native plants are grown in Cretan mountains.

  55. Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the island, whereas demand has motivated significant investment in hotels, resulting in quantitative and qualitative upgrading of hotel infrastructure and accommodation.

  56. I was in Matala Oct.-Nov. 1973. Lived on Red Beach for a week because Matala was so crowded. Then stayed in the caves by the beach, except when the police would come & chase us away. Then we would stay in the caves above town until they left. Remember Mama & her orange cake. She would always warn us when the police were about to show up. We used to spend some nights at the souvlaki shop, where an English dude had a boom box set up. He got fed for free, because his music drew a lot of business for the owner. I was there when the students in Athens went on strike and the ruling junta sent tanks into the streets. The island was shut down tight, with Greek & NATO forces on alert, until the government fell. It was an incredible time in a beautiful place.

    • I was on Matala late spring 1972. I remember Mama’s orange cake (very hearty!) and eggs with fried potatoes at the Mermaid Cafe. We would stow all our backpacks and gear in one motel room and hike over the hill every night to sleep on the Red Beach since the police discouraged us from sleeping on the beach at Matala or using the caves. We were with a group of fellow “travelers” and I’m wondering if it was the same “English dude” we used to call Dapper Dan.

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    Please let me know if this alright with you. Thanks!

  60. What memories! I lived in the caves in Matala for a month in early 1968. I don’t recall dayglo paint in the caves or a few other details she gives; the little place must have changed very quickly if she were there in 1968. The next year Life magazine did a cover story on ‘the new Odyssey’ with a couple in a cave on the cover. I still have it. I did not know until today that Carey was about Matala and that Joni had spent time there! Thanks!

  61. How very exciting to find this site. I was in Crete for six weeks in March and April of 1970. The first two weeks I travelled along the north coast and stayed at Vai Beach for about a week. I had heard that Joni was in Matala but had left. Just my luck I thought. I was travelling with an Australian named David I had met on the ferry. After Vai, we went to Matala. I wish I could remember more of my life there. That is one reason I am appreciative of all the previous memories posted. I clearly remember a day on Red Beach when I noticed a blond chick wearing a bikini was about to sing. I went over to listen and with the first note I knew it was Joni. She had really blended in with the group except for the bikini part since everyone else was naked. She was singing Roses Blue for a gentleman who was about to read her tarot cards. I am happy to hear that Stelios is alive and well and living in California. I remember the Mermaid Cafe quite well and the last night I spent there dancing with Cary who had returned from seeing Joni off in Athens.

  62. I was there in 1970. I lived in a tent I created out of a roll of black plastic. Every morning an old guy would come by selling grapes to us campers. Never knew the JM connection but it all fell into place once I read about it 10 minutes ago. Took the bus back to civilization outside Mama’s where I’d treated myself to a cold drink. Took a boat to Samothraki (deck class) and ended up guest of honor of the police chief at a giant feast. His associate did Zorba’s Dance. He let us stay in the police station jail overnight — little apprehensive about that one.Then traveled overland: Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal. Those places are scary sounding now but then I never felt threatened at the time.

  63. i had a dream (Tucson 1978) i was back in Matala again, crying tears of joy.I visited spring 68, spring 69, lived there winter/spring 73.Anyone remember Shamus (German,fluent in Grk) and his american Jungian wife?Dave (Scot) wife Mary (Brit) and Florin (Dutch) came back from India bearing gifts of Mazar i Sherif incence.Jan-Mar.Jon (Canadian) cooked veg communal meals, David (Wash DC) taught yoga on the beach.Electricity arrived that spring.We went to Alanya in a VW Bus, came back via Bulgaria.Matala must be a cosmic power spot, tattooed onto the hearts of so many mystic travellers-last night i couldnt sleep.

    • I was there in ’66 and there was a German guy living in a big cave at the end overlooking the sea. He spoke Greek I think but don’t remember what his name was

  64. Shamus learned Grk in jail.he taught a class spring 73.he had a little dog, a whippet.he would work summers in Germany (road crew), then spend rest of year in Matala.Wife studied Jung in Switzerland.U.S. 6th fleet played war games off shore May of 73.Scratchy rock and roll-first time i ever heard Moody Blues Legend of a Mind,and 2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th,etc 68 or 69.i was sleeping in a cave when Martin Luther King was shot.good times, bad times.tangled up in blue,songs are like tattoos, been to sea before Zeus carried Europa to shore at Matala, the girl with the sea green eyes

  65. Hi to all who have been to Matala. I stayed in Matala in 1973 and now after 40 years am taking 45 of my students to Matala in March 2014 but seeing the important historical site of Crete,Santorini and Mainland Greece over 16 days. I have not returned to Crete since the best era ever for travel and enjoyed my stay in Matala while living in the Big Cave on the East side of Matala in April 1973.Look forward to rekindling old memories there but am sure the change of Matala will definitely be significant as it was still a fairly quaint little fishing village when I was there but truly some of the best days of my life before travelling onto to India.

    Best to All who have travelled to Matala. Mary Fraser from Scotland if your out there hope you are doing well.

    Don Carlson
    Counsellor
    History Teacher

    • That time in Matala just keeps bubbling up to the surface. It certainly catapulted me on a journey that is still unfolding and with no visible end in sight.
      By the by last night here in the Little Karoo, here in South Africa, a shooting star shot across the night sky, a greeting to all mankind from a legend, Madiba, Nelson Mandela, as the rain gently fell on his final resting place.

    • You’ll find Matala very changed Don but early morning still retains some of the echoes of those times in the 70s. My partner and I have built a stone house in Kamilari, and will be there in April for the Easter celebrations. It seems like we missed each other again, this time by a month! Enjoy your trip.
      Vivienne

    • Don i returned from Alanya in April.We must have crossed paths, but i dont recall your name.I left in May after the heat set in.Where do you teach? Jasper D. p.s. do you remember the 6th Fleet war games?

  66. Hi Vivienne,

    Glad to hear and jealous of course, to hear that you have built a stone house in Kamilari and sad that we missed one another again after 41 years but who is counting. Not that I know you but it is great to read about a small village and how it impacted on so many people through the hippy era.I know I have spoken to my students about my adventures and they are looking forward to our 16 day trip to Crete and too see the Large Cave on the left side of the bay looking south in Matala,Heralion,Rathmyon and Chania as well as Santorini,and 9 days on the mainland to see the highlights of Greece and learn a lot about the culture. Again congrats on your new residence in Kamilari and now that I have looked it up it looks like a quaint and intimate place…watch out Vivienne you may become the new Matala!(joking of course),

    All the best Vivienne, Don Carlson

  67. Hi Jasper,
    I am not sure if you are talking about the same place and time April 1973 Matala, and Alanya (where you had been) last time I looked on a map is about 400 miles from Matala.Any way I was in Matala and another little village Kali Lemenes about 10-15 miles from Matala ,if one were to travel along the coast heading east from Matala.I am a Counsellor(70%) and history teacher(30%) and work at Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver BC.I can’t remember the 6th fleet you talk about so I would need more clarification on that what you are asking.After Matala I went back to Athens for a few days then off to Turkey ,the Pudding Shop in Istanbul then along the Black Sea by boat to Trabzon, overland Iran, Afghanistan-Herat, Kandahar and Kabul, Pakistan-Peshawar and Lahore and then onto India to Kashmir and Jammu area, via one of the old hippy buses we connected with in Trabzon,Turkey. I wished I had stayed longer in Matala as it was definitely one of the highlights of my adventures abroad at the age of 20 years.

    All the Best

    Don Carlson

    • Hey Don last time i was in Sooke, i went swimming at the Pot Holes (Sept 74).I arrived in Matala end of Jan 73.In mid March we (David the yoga teacher, Jon the veggie cook, etc) drove from Athens to Istanbul to Alanya, then returned via Bulgaria, south to Thessalonika, Mt Olympus, Athens, got back to Matala end of April.I never made it to Fair Haven (Kali Lemenes) but i think St Paul did.In Jan i met Dave, Mary his wife, and Florin who were just back from Mazar-i Sheriff when they disembarked in Agios Nikolaos.I told them about Matala and ended up living with them through February.Mama (store) and Papa (baker) were our landlords.Those days are tatooed into my brain.Thanks for sharing the memories. Jasper.

      • Hi Jasper and all who have visited Matala,
        Sooke Pot Holes hey Jasper, is fairly close to where I grew up near in Belmont Park in Colwood,BC Canada and my parents took me there in the 1950s(dating myself obviously).Well I just returned from a Greece Tour with 45 students and 4 teachers from my school and a tour leader from Athens and yes I selfishly built Matala into the 16 day tour. After spending a couple of days in Heraklion and enjoying the sights near by we planned a half day in Matala and the sun gods were out as 50 of us got off the bus in Matala to bask in the sun and swim and have a picnic. I was taken back by the development as the picture of Matala in 1973 is a stark contrast to what it is today. There is a super market now and many larger buildings and although the Mermaid café is not where it was a young couple had named their bar restaurant the Mermaid Café in honor of the original. The students brought bread, cheese, tomatoes and other munchies and many swam to the caves on the west bank of Matala where I was lucky to get some great shots of them on the Cliffside. The water had some bite but it did not deter any of the students or even me as in April of 1973 it was probably not too much warmer. The beach tar is gone and no black feet at the end of the day so I was happy about that. Chad another teacher and I went on a hike to find the large Clam shaped cave on the upper part of the east cliff as you look south to what would be Africa. As we walked along the waters edge and made out way through the not yet opened funky bar near the end recalled the nights having drinks and enjoying the scenery and at times I would watch the fishermen return with their catch and tenderize and clean the octopus by beating them against the rocks below. As we walked up the steps to a restaurant in the process of getting ready to open I asked the owner if the large cave was still up on the cliff and mentioned I had lived in it in 1973.Welcome my friend was his response and he said it was still there but you will have to be careful hiking up there in sandals! Chad and I set off and in about ten minutes found the large open air cave and yes it was just like it was 41 years ago. Now though there appears to be a memorial tent badly weathered inside the cavern ,a clothes line with weathered clothes, old cushions to sit on and pots and pans lade out as if someone was coming for dinner. I recall roasting baked potatoes in a fire there and four or five of us relaxing admiring the view which still is spectacular and yet I ponder how I made it up to the cave each night after partying in the village late into the night in 1973.Maybe we are, in many ways, like homing pigeons who know where safe haven is regardless of our condition. Chad took a picture of me in the cave and we walked up to the crest of the hill above. Remnants of an old Shepard’s shelter is still there a little more rustic than I recall in 1973 but the sheep were still there in the hills. Beyond the pathway to Red Beach was visible and a couple of caves as well. One cave entrance on the way to Red Beach had a blue tarp blowing in the wind but knowing we had 45 students and three other people watching out over our 45 students we made our way down from the hilltop and walked toward the beach. Another young couple getting ready for the tourist season were stacking their shelves an I said “do you have any T-shirts of Matala. After tearing open a number of boxes he came across an XL black T-shirt with the inscription ” Live Life Today” on the front but on the back it said ” Tomorrow Never Comes” and below it on the front the loco “Matala”. How much? Ten euros! Such a deal I thought and said Ok I will take it. Despite the longing for the past the reality is change that all of us have to adapt to and at the age of 62 years the beauty of Matala is still there just in a different form. I could still live in the big cave at this age and be quite happy and the island of Crete and Matala is still incredibly beautiful. One night in Athens with the Greek Tour Leader of this school trip we talked about the old days and he said you are a lot older but in many ways the hippy culture in the late 60s and early 70s should be given credit for the tourism of Greece.Maybe there is a grain of truth to his statement and if not we can ride it for all it is worth any way! Touring Greece is very beautiful but sad to see that it is a country in crisis. Numerous unfinished buildings, graffiti galore and for such a beautiful country it is need of repair. Still having travelled a lot Greece is still, and the islands in particular, one of my favorite countries to visit but the Greek Islands in particular are magical. As we drove past a beautiful beach near Sounion on the mainland of Greece I asked our guide how much would that beautiful large house on the beach cost? He said now about 300 thousand euros but four years ago easily two or three times that amount. A student said near the end of the tour was Matala nostalgic for you Mr. Carlson and I relied yes it really was and as we got off the plane in Vancouver I looked at Kate one of our students and she was wearing a large floppy straw hat, along dress down to the ground and a cut off fur vest typical of the hippy era grew up in the 60s and early 70s!Great time had by all! Best DON

  68. Hi Don how exciting to read your words and travel back in time.My first two visits were March/April of 68 and 69. A Spring does not pass without a memory of star filled skies or the tinkling of sheep bells. what an amazing trip for B.C. youth to fly half way around the globe, and how fortunate for you to revisit. i remember the big cave full of people in 73.xairete. Jasper D.

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