Tag Archives: Lassithi

Explore Kritsa, Crete

Explore-Kritsa_screen versionI’m proud to announce publication of my latest book on 27th July 2019, and this time its non-fiction.

The Kindle version is at a launch price of £1.99. via this link viewbook.at/ExploreKritsa If, like me, you prefer a ‘proper’ book this is the link: http://mybook.to/ExploreKritsa

This book reflects my love for Kritsa, a village on the Greek island of Crete where I’ve enjoyed a home since 2001. Since then I’ve enjoyed many varied experiences and walks that I’m happy to share. While researching for my novels, Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa and Rodanthe’s Gift I accumulated a range of information about Greece and Kritsa and the book includes some of this insight.

Presented in three parts, the book has a month by month guide to my view of Kritsa life, 15 local walks ranging from gentle strolls to strenuous hikes and useful information such as where to eat and drink.

Explore Kritsa is available in both paperback and Kindle versions via Amazon and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the book will soon be on sale in Eklektos Bookshop, Elounda and shops in Kritsa – I’ll update as and when I get more information.
Here’s the July chapter from the month by month guide to give you an idea of what to expect…

July, Brings Summer Festivals

Here we are in peak season, and high temperatures drain energy. Me? Well I spend part of most days at the beach. With Agios Nikolaos only a bus ride away it’s easy to access beaches, and if you’ve a car then you’ll discover a good variety within thirty minutes. You can choose a beach with full tourist facilities or a quieter retreat where it’s appropriate to take your own sunlounger and snacks.

July sees the start of the Meltemi season when winds blow from the north. A tip: if you find it too blustery on a north-facing beach, select one facing towards the east. Sad to say you’ll sometimes encounter a shore covered in plastic refuse brought in by wind and waves. If this happens, the best option is to choose a beach facing a different direction. On organised beaches there are often staff on litter-picking duties to resolve the issue. I’m not saying this to put you off the fabulous local beaches, but I’d hate you to see rubbish and think that it’s a permanent blight.

In this hot weather it’s good to explore Kritsa early morning, when shady kafenions beckon. Another excellent time to visit is late afternoon when the sun passes behind the mountains. I’ll confess to enjoying a room with air conditioning for two hours mid-afternoon. Then, with a long, warm evening ahead, we’ve energy for a stroll. Funny how we seldom make it home without stopping for a cold beer. There are so many great kafenions and tavernas, and we enjoy visiting them all as the summer progresses. Some places use fans to waft air around and I always hope they have another for the cook.

Keep your eyes open for posters advertising Μαγεροτσικαλιάσματα, Magerotsikaliasmata, one of Kritsa’s annual festivals. I recommend you arrive after 9.00 p.m. to enjoy local music, dancing and food. The venue is the schoolyard and you purchase tickets on the way in. Wine, beer and raki are available to buy on site. Look around the various cooking demonstrations to see food cooked over open fires. When you’re ready to eat, hand over your ticket and volunteer waiters will bring your meal. Once the music starts, people take to the dance floor. Other people have said it, but the way children dance makes you think it’s in their DNA. Cretan music and dance are customs handed down from one generation to the next. I’ve heard a local musician practising from the time he was a boy. At first, we winced as we passed; now we stand and listen to appreciate his incredible playing. If you fancy learning to dance, there are local classes with an open invitation to participate. Me? I prefer to watch. During these festivals the musicians play for as long as someone keeps dancing. I’ve been on our balcony at dawn and heard them – what stamina!

If you’re finding the excessive heat hard to cope with, try a trip to the Katharo Plateau where you’ll find it several degrees cooler than Kritsa. Blast out the car’s air conditioning or open windows wide for the 16 km trip up a twisting asphalt road. Once there you’ll find three tavernas serving rustic refreshments.

A good choice for a sundown stroll is the village of Kroustas, 4 km further on from Kritsa. Our walk starts with views towards the Thripti Mountains. Here you’ll have a fabulous, iconic view that captures attention as the reflected sunset turns the mountains a delicious pink. Hidden depths and contours stand out more than at any other time of day. As you watch, the shadow creeps upwards until it snuffs out the light.

In this heat I’m keeping my walking recommendations short and sweet:

Walk 2: Panagia Kera, the Famous Byzantine Church – 2.2 km. This is an ideal morning stroll through the shady olive groves, ending with opportunity for rest and refreshments.

Walk 4: Kroustas Views and Backstreets – 2.2 km. As mentioned above, this is ideal for late afternoon/early evening. Afterwards you can enjoy refreshments in Kroustas’ main street, where arches of shady mulberry trees keep the heat at bay.

The second part of the book has walking directions and sketch maps for 15 walks ranging from strolls to uphill hikes. There’s a walk for you if you’ve only a short time in Kritsa and want to know what you’re seeing as you stroll by. Then, if you’ve time and energy to spare you can choose walks to suit your fitness level and interests. As well as directions, the walking guide gives snippets of information about the churches, historical sites and views that you pass. One of my early readers thinks people with no intention of walking will also enjoy reading the directions/information to gain insight from the comfort of their armchair.

Although I make walk suggestions to suit the season and topical information, you can do more or less depending on the weather, your interest and fitness.

I used an app called Wikiloc to record the routes and give details of how to download information to help you stay on track. For an example Click here.

In the third section, Useful Information, I cover how to get to Kritsa, historical snippets including when there is free admission to local archaeological sites, places to stay in Kritsa and where to eat.

Whether you’re an armchair traveler, planning a visit, arrive for a brief tour, book accommodation or have a home in the village this book is for you – just Click Here.

Click here for more information and I hope you enjoy Explore Kritsa.

A Climb Up Roza Gorge – Crete

DSCN3244.jpgGreek Orthodox, Easter Monday in Crete was a perfect hiking day. With Kritsa friends Hilary and Phil and my husband, Alan we set of in two cars for the Roza Gorge. This gorge is 50km southeast of Heraklion, in a wooded area of ​​North Dikti Range, next to the road leading to the Plateau of Lassithi. This walk is 3.5 km with a climb of 300 m.

After leaving our car at the top of the gorge, above Kera village we piled into Phil’s car to drive down to this start point, easily accessible from the village of Gonies – as we found out after driving down the scary way!

DSCN3279These stone slabs made an excellent place to stop for a drink. Over the years many people must have enjoyed a rest in this spot and I’ve an inkling a character in my third novel might just pass by this spot. What third novel? Well, I don’t know yet…

Anyway, no time for idle thoughts, onwards and upwards.

DSCN3281After a winter of low rainfall it wasn’t a surprise to find this waterfall dry. It certainly made this part of our climb easy. Good job as the toughest part came next. Although it was very steep, the route was clear, with a few patches of loose scree to scramble over.

We were intrigued by the odd snails, next to a pointing finger in a photo above. I’m fortunate to have a friend who is a keen amateur naturalist and he says thay are called Door Snails as they seal themselves up with a little door inside their shells when conditions get too dry.  Steve writes an excellent blog about Cretan Nature CLICK HERE and I’ll whisk you over to his 2016 post mentioning Door Snails.

Back in the Rosa Gorge – Near the top we needed to walk along a narrow ledge where metal posts and a wire fence provided some reassurance as we watched Griffon vultures, a buzzard, and crows.

What a delight to find this lovely look out point near the end. It certainly made a fabulous picnic spot. It is reasonably accessible from the road near the village of Kera so we can revisit to share the view with people who are unable to climb the gorge.

DSCN3350

I’d always thought the name Roza Gorge was due to the pinkish colour of the rock faces. However, one of my favourite Crete based websites, Cretan Beaches explains how the gorge once served as a place for disposing of sterile animals. In light of this, local people referred to the place as “Stira Za” meaning sterile animals, and this was later paraphrased to “Sti Roza”. Anyway, however it got its name the Roza Gorge is a fabulous place, and I thank you for joining me. X