Tag Archives: Agios Nikolaos

A walk to Agios Nikolaos Bay

Agios Nikolaos, the capital of the Lassithi prefecture in Crete, is a vibrant town with plenty to do all year. Summer visitors know it for the many beaches, lakeside cafes, seaside tavernas, boat trips and the Little Train.

We love living in the village of Kritsa, and one reason is its proximity to Agios Nikolaos. Visits to the town include shopping in the farmer’s market on a Wednesday, coffee by the lake or sea, snacks/meals in a huge choice of different restaurants, summer visits to the outdoor cinema and a variety of coastal strolls.

Even if we are just in town to visit the bank, we park up above the marina and walk around the headland into town so it feels like a treat, not a chore.

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In the cooler months a favourite destination is Agios Nikolaos bay, home of the small church that gives the town its name.

We last enjoyed this 6 km flat stroll in January and set off from the car park near the port. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the huge statue of Zeus in the guise of a bull carrying Europa that has pride of place at the edge of the parking area.

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Zeus, the father of all gods, fell in love with a beautiful Phoenician princess named Europa. He took the form of a white bull, as only gods can, and approached her while she was playing with her friends. Europa caressed the friendly animal and for some strange reason climbed on his back. With his trick complete, Zeus the bull rushed into the sea. He carried her away to Crete, where he regained his human form and fathered Minos, the first king of Crete.

After leaving the car park we turned right, and walked past the port and along the waters edge, keeping right until we were on the junction at the small bridge by the lake. Here we turned right again to continue on the pavement towards Ammoudi.

NOTE: People who want buses to Elounda must now go uphill to the main bus station, although this may change at some point. Cars can no longer turn right here as a one way system is operating. Vehicles enter the one way system on the coastal road from Ammoudi. Vehicles leaving the port/town centre drive up the steep road that exits by the hospital. Here is a film clip courtesy of Anatolh on line to clarify the road change.

We walked the length of this path to Ammoudi beach and were pleased to find kafenions open for a coffee en route.

As these two photos show, it is a good path no matter the weather but perhaps a sunny day is the better option.

On reaching Ammoudi turn right – this means walking behind the beach and you need to take care on the road.

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Keep following the road, there is a path on the left, until you see Agios Nikolaos bay on your right. 

Cross the beach with the children’s playground and turn right to continue on the far side of the bay.

Soon after you join this road look out for steps rising beside a bar called Spilia. At the top of these steps is the small church dedicated to Agios Nikolaos.

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I’ve yet to be in Crete on this church’s name day, 6th December, when it’s a local holiday for the town.

Continue to walk along the footpath.

To your left is a popular hotel complex, so I imagine this is a very busy path during the season. In winter it is a tranquil spot and the sheltered bay gives safe mooring to the boats that ferry people to Spinalonga during the summer.

Land’s End!

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Here we clambered down to a small sheltered beach to enjoy our picnic and a look back at Agios Nikolaos. We looked around the corner, towards Elounda, but couldn’t walk further as the hotel had shut off the footpath.  Never mind, we’d had our stroll in fine weather, but dark clouds building over the mountains gave us reason to step it out back to the town.

There is so much to Agios Nikolaos – I’ll feature more aspects in future posts.

Focus on Camera Club

In my last post, I featured a day out with a group of friends from INCO, the international community association based in the east of Crete. This made me think about all the other INCO activities I enjoy and high on my list is the weekly camera club.

It doesn’t matter that I’m not in Crete all year; I join in when I can. Our informal Monday morning meetings are in the Christinas Taverna, Limnes. Each member takes 4 – 8 photos on a memory stick to plug in the TV screen.

I’m not a good photographer by any means and use a modest bridge camera not an SLR. However, I recognise my ‘eye’ has improved since joining camera club and I learn from seeing the great shots by our better photographers. Some members have very expensive kit, others use the camera on their phone. Photo editing is an important aspect for some people whereas I stick to the odd bit of cropping and straightening.

Before the meeting closes, we agree the topic for the following week. I really enjoy this aspect as it makes me keep my eyes open for photo opportunities. Sometimes the topic sounds obscure and I think I’ll not find suitable photos, but then something ‘clicks’ and I snap away. It is always good to see how the different members interpret each theme.

What makes a good photo is subjective – these are my personal favourites from those I took to the camera club during 2019. The text under each photo reflects the theme.

A Movement
Movement
B weather
Weather
C Steps
Steps
D Wood
Wood
E Amimals
Animals
F Art
Art
G Reflections
Reflections
H Flowers
Flowers
I B and W
Black and White
J Shapes and angles
Shapes and Angles
K Explore a new place
Visit
L Through
Through
M Spilli
Holiday
N Autumn
Autumn
O Door furniture
Door furniture

The last subject, door furniture, was an absolute gift for me as anyone who has visited Kritsa will understand – I could have taken along thirty photos! My favourite photo is the two squacco herons on a wall in the Elounda salt pans. I had gone there specifically because I thought there’d be good reflections in the water but the posing herons were a delightful surprise.

I’m back to Crete soon and I’m looking forward to getting the camera out again.

If you’d like to find out more about INCO you can use the contact form below.

Agios Nikolaos Myths Debunked

Stand by for shock revelations…. the gem of Agios Nikolaos, Lake Voulismeni is NOT bottomless, and it has no link to the volcano in Santorini. DSCN3417.jpg

How do I know this?

I joined a dozen other members of INCO, (the local International Community association) for a walking tour of Agios Nikolaos, led by one of our fellow members, Tony Cross a keen geologist. Throughout our 5k walk Tony kept interest levels high pointing out the geological evidence to explain how the town is built on limestone, the exposed remains of underwater landslides, shaped by fault lines and water erosion.

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Our group met in a cafe by the marina and hadn’t walked far before Tony pointed out the first evidence of underwater landslides.

Lucy the dog enjoyed her walk but showed no interest in the rock formations.

 

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So, in summary, and I hope I listened carefully, the nearly 50m deep lake is not a volcanic crater as many suppose. It was once an underground cave, formed when water from a spring created mist to dissolve the rock above. When the cave roof collapsed it left a sinkhole. The tall cliff  at the rear of the lake is the scarp slope of a fault line. Although once a freshwater lake, it became stagnant when an earthquake cut off the water supply and blocked the outlet.  During the 1860s French forces stationed in the town dug the canal making it a saltwater lake.

INCO logoIf you spend time in and around the Agios Nikolaos area and would like to know more about INCO, the local International Community organisation you can use the contact form below to request details.

I thoroughly enjoyed the morning looking at Agios Nikolaos through different eyes, thank you Tony.

Visit Lato, a Dorian Gem

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Turn right for Lato

Just four Kilometres from Kritsa you can explore the wonderful Dorian archaeological site of Lato. Take the main road to Kritsa, and turn right just as the road starts to ascend. Ooops, if you pass Argyro rent rooms you’ve missed the turn and need to drive around the one way system. The road passes the football club and the entrance to Kritsa Gorge, before winding upwards.

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At a Y shaped junction with the magnificent sculpture of Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa you need the right fork. Hopefully you’ll have time to visit the Kritsotopoula first. The small gate is to keep wandering goats and sheep out, not welcome visitors.

A short way after this, on the left, there is a yellow marker to denote the stepped path downhill to Laconia. The battle of Kritsa, commemorated by the Kritsotopoula carving, tried to prevent Turk forces from gaining access to this valuable path. Of course, these steps were used back in Dorian times when the descending path led to the tiny port now called Agios Nikolaos.

DSCN1485.jpgAnd speaking of Dorians…. a few metres further on, you’ll find the parking place to visit the Lato site. Open every day except Monday between 8.00 a.m and 3.00 p.m.

Some August evening’s, atmospheric musical events are held at Lato, often free of charge. I loved it the times I’ve attended, but confess to surprise at women wearing sparkly high heels. Truth to tell they probably don’t think much of my walking boots, although I think they’re better suited to the rough uneven terrain.

DSCN1495.jpgA day time visit to Lato is an unhurried affair. With no anxious guides to hurry you around, there is time to stroll, climb, and sit among houses, workshops, fortifications, market place, and the prytaneum – central hearth of sacred fire kept alight via careful tending by the king and his family. DSCN1498_optimized.jpgAs you stroll through the theatre, temples, public buildings, and cisterns you can ponder on those who lived here in some splendour. To read more via one of my favourite Crete information sites CLICK HERE.

DSCN1502_optimized.jpgIn October 2017, I was ‘hit’ by a Dorian story line prompted by a passing thought about sewage and waste removal. By the time I left I knew where two protagonists lived, what they could see, and how one of them died.  These photos are prompt enough to get me started…one day. Luckily, Lato is a short walk or drive from my Kritsa home, so I can pop back any time I need inspiration.

DSCN1509.jpgThis distant boat, Eclipse seen between hill clefts was moored off Agios Nikolaos for several weeks September/October 2017. It is the super yacht owned by Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich. The local rumour mill was in overdrive and the local paper concluded there is a large property deal in the offing. Whatever he does, whatever he spends, I bet it is not still welcoming visitors after 2,500 years like Lato does.

DSCN1545_optimized.jpgI was intrigued in this corner of a temple… is that a window or a missing stone block?

Whatever the answer, I enjoyed gazing through the square gap.