Tag Archives: Ierapetra

Anatoli, gem of southeastern Crete

Living in Kritsa, we take daily walks through pedestrian streets to reach our car parked on the edge of the village. Our route passes between ruined and renovated houses on either side of traditional homes.

Sometimes, just for a change, we drive to another village and take a stroll around restored, ruined and traditional houses. 😀

Last September we drove 27 km from Kritsa to Anatoli, the village named for eastern views. It is a very scenic drive through Kroustas, then on the ‘scary’ narrow road alongside a ravine. You need to cross your fingers in the hope there is nothing heading your way as you slowly go round the blind bend on the narrowest stretch. Once on the beautiful pine clad hillside, it is worth pausing to photograph the far-reaching views down to the Istron coast. We have seen colourful and crested hoopoo birds here, but you must take my word for it—I’ve never been quick enough to take a photo.

Then on through Prina so famous for its honey to reach Kalamafka with a high rock chapel if you’ve energy to to spare for the climb. Take the junction signposted to up Anatoli or you’ll head down to the coast at Ierapetra instead.

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After parking and walking along the main road of Anatoli, we enjoyed far-reaching views down to the south coast at Ierapetra and out across the shimmering sea to Chrissi Island. All the plastic greenhouses on the lower levels look a bit of an eyesore but perhaps forgivable when you realise how much produce they generate for domestic use and export. The thing that bothers me about them is that no one seems to collect and recycle the plastic once a greenhouse is no longer in use. Let’s hope the growers are working on ways to replace plastic with more sustainable materials.

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This village has the same name as the local newspaper that also provides an excellent online version. How fabulous that I can catch up on Crete news no matter where I am. By using Google chrome set to translate I get a good gist of events. To view the online version of Anatolh click here.

Anatoli has an active cultural society that encourages sustainable development. Sad to say, I think this one may be too far gone!

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I can see why people would choose accommodation in Anatoli. Fabulous views of the mountains and the sea, local tavernas and some very welcoming hotels/apartments.

Towns such as Ierapetra, Myrtos and of course, Kritsa make for good days out from this base. A word of warning about Chrissi Island – daily boat trips from Ierapetra are very popular but once on the tiny island costs are out of proportion—a tatty parasol and two torn sunbeds were €20 two years ago. My advice is enjoy the trip but buy a picnic and a cheap sunshade before you board the boat.

For a different experience, you can visit the nearby donkey sanctuary. While they like visitors, it is best to contact them in advance. To visit their website, click here.

Anatoli was important in the fight against Ottoman oppression and there is a memorial to their brave sons at the far end of the village. Just downhill from this is a disused olive mill, and with old stones and equipment outside it seemed like an informal museum.

Here are more photos from my visit.

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Bramiana Reservoir – circular walk on a dull day.

Early November 2019 we wanted a walk even though skies were grey. Our choice was the reservoir created by the Bramiana dam, near Ierapetra in south east Crete. On our previous visit, a year earlier, we saw impact of eighteen months drought when the water level had dropped significantly.

Torrential and sustained rain during early 2019 had restored the lake and on this walk there was no sign of the church. We set off under very grey skies, clad in waterproof jackets, that thankfully proved unnecessary.

DSCN1157On the road that passes the reservoir between Kalamafka and Ierapetra there is a good size layby that makes an excellent place to leave the car if you will walk around the lake. Although there is a substantial wooden building here we’ve never seen it open. Information boards detailing wildlife are weather damaged beyond use—let’s hope the appropriate authority replaces them.

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The stone ‘tower’ in the above set of photos is an old water mill proving the worth of this area to agriculture in the past and today. Another photo shows a derelict picnic area. Extreme weather with raging winds, rain and baking sun have destroyed the wooden shelter, picnic tables and herb gardens. We still sat and watched waterfowl while we had our lunch but next time we’ll find a more comfortable spot.

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This unusual bug seemed to think the rusty fence could be a suitable mate. The colouring wasn’t typical of a dragonfly so I wondered if it was a damselfly. After looking in The Quick Guide To Creepy-Crawlies I decided it was a dragonfly as its wings were out while resting.

Heavy rains in January have already removed any danger of the reservoir drying up for this year at least.

If you fancy doing this walk, you can find my route on wikiloc.

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Bright and Beautiful

As we are experiencing Siberian blasts of frigid wind and snow blizzards here in the UK, it seems a good day to review the warmest, sunniest January day on our recent trip to Crete.

DSCN2560Armed with our book, Circular Walks in East Crete we drove over the hills to the village of Kalamafka where our Three Church walk started.

Glorious sunshine had us striding up a well-defined path. After getting a glimpse of the first church the path teased us by turning away with a long, calf pulling uphill stretch.

DSCN2604How sad, well-intentioned internal repairs have ruined frescos.
An overgrown path led from this church to the next one. As the instructions said we’d need to retrace our steps, we decided not to risk falling down a gully, so this became a two church walk.

DSCN2609.jpgFrom here we looked across to the rock edifice topped with our destination church, yet another Timios Stavros, meaning Holy Cross. Alan spent ages with his binoculars trying to see the path to the top… he couldn’t so we set off again. We soon found ourselves enjoying a spell of easy walking along a gravel track. For the second time on this walk, the route took us away from our destination.

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On a steady incline we enjoyed seeing more of the scenery open up and guessed we’d soon see both the north and south coasts at the same time.

So beautiful, and without a breath of wind, people or distracting noises it felt very special.

After passing an agricultural area, we followed a hard to find down hill path. I nearly trod on these Sand Crocus. Stephen Lenton, an amateur botanist has a brilliant website and if you want to see the entry for this plant, or ID a plant yourself, Click Here.

Once on flatter ground, we enjoyed a breather before our climb up. Phew, it wasn’t a vertical climb all the way as the path zigzagged to the top.

At the top we enjoyed our picnic lunch feeling on top of the world looking down on the north and south coasts with the important wetlands of the Bramiana Dam and Lake too.  Ah, that’s given me a good idea for another walk…

What about you? Where do your thoughts go on a wintry day?

 

Up and Over Thripti Mountains

Across Kritsa olive groves to Thripti

From my balcony in Kritsa, Crete we gaze out across olive groves to the sea with the Thripti Mountains providing a wonderful backdrop. Such a wide expanse means we always have an amazing view no matter what the weather, but perhaps it’s no surprise that a blue sky is my favourite. During the early part of the day the mountains look one-dimensional. Drama begins in the afternoon when the setting sun sends angled rays to bring the mountains to sharp relief.

After enjoying many lazy August beach days we wanted a change of scene, so welcomed the drive up and over the mountains to the south coast. The road to the village of Thripti is tarmac/concrete all the way and suitable for any car driven by someone who doesn’t mind the road sometimes going close to a sheer drop or needing a tight move to pass a vehicle going in the opposite direction. However, to go beyond Thripti, a 4×4 vehicle is best.

A trip to Thripti is a great experience in its own right, and the village taverna does great mezes, small dishes of food to accompany your drinks.

 

 

To pass over the mountains, the dusty road winds between towering cliffs and then bumps down to the beautiful village of Orino at the head of a gorge that runs to the sea.

 

You can also access Orino from Koutsouras on the south-east coast via a winding, safe tarmac road and is certainly worth a visit if you want to see a thriving community well away from the trappings of tourism. There are two tavernas where you can enjoy a drink and mezes local style.

There is a lovely communal theatre area and on previous visits we’ve seen people busy cleaning up after festivals. Our tradition is to take a packed lunch to enjoy on the shady steps. Sometimes a delightful lady has delivered fruit and raki to finish our lunch. A surprise visitor, she appears from nowhere, and then dashes away, she must just love giving in true Cretan style.

We’ve not walked the gorge…yet. If you’d like guidance from people who have walked the gorge CLICK HERE

Meanwhile, here’s a set of photos from Orinio, full of blooms despite August heat.

 

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Down on the south coast the sea looked so inviting, and thanks to Steve of the fabulous blog Crete Nature we knew a hidden rock pool for a lovely swim.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a ‘dip’ in my summer photos.