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NEWSLETTER THE GREEK ISLANDS - Holiday in Crete in September and October 2010

Hello lovers of the Greek islands, here is the update of my website The Greek Islands. If you have received this newsletter by mistake or if you want to unsubscribe please reply to this email and write "unsubscribe" in the subjectmatter.

Kastania Lodge, Kastelli Kissamos, Kreta Nopigia, Crete. Nopigia, Crete. Kissamos, Kreta, Crete Dodoni Ouzeri, Kreta, Crete

Hello everybody, finally another newsletter, this time about our trip to Crete late September early October this year. I spent one and a half months updating the Crete pages, so that's why it took some time.

This time was the first time we flew to Chania airport and not at Heraklion. This was really much more comfortable. The airport is much more simple and the runway is much larger. We still had to taxi for a while to reach the rather small airport building. Again there was someone waiting for us at the exit from Just Car Rentals. We always book our car with them. The car was in a parking lot at a short distance next to the airport (we could also leave it behind there when we returned).

The reason that we flew on Chania and not on Heraklion was because we started the holiday with Arianne and Raymond of the Kastania Lodge at Kissamos, one of our favorite places. Kissamos is not far away from the airport of Chania (about a 45 minutes drive). We thought it would be good to begin here, because we already knew it and it is always so nice and relaxed here. The first three days we (or at least: I) did not really do much. Arianne and Raymond had some snacks and drinks ready for us and we have been chatting by the pool, plunged into the pool and I opened my book.

The next day we went to the supermarket for the most essential groceries. The Lidl was empty due to a strike by truck drivers at that time, but the opposite Carrefour fortunately still had everything. During those first three days we had a walk along the coast near Nopigia with Arianne and had dinner at a tavern there on the beach. We also made a short visit to Kissamos and had some ouzo at "Dodoni". The visit to Dodoni was very nice. It's really an old fashioned ouzeri, where it is quite cheap and you also get a plate with snacks if you order a drink. The rest of the time I was just plain lazy and recharged the batteries. Before I left I had all kinds of plans of things I wanted to do, but it never happened.

Villa Giorgos, Villa in Crete, Gavalochori, Kreta Gouvernetou Monastery, Crete, Gouvernetou klooster, Kreta Marathi Beach, Crete, Kreta Kalives, Medusa restaurant, Crete, Kreta. Kalives, Crete, Kreta.

The next four days we went back to our beloved Apokoronas, just to the east of the city of Chania. We stayed at the beautiful Villa Giorgos that was surrounded by pine forests. It was very quiet. From the terraces you looked out over the nature, the distant sea and the Akrotiri peninsula. Here we spend a lot of time at the pool, but there was also time for a lunch with friends and a few trips around the area.

One of the trips went to the Akrotiri peninsula, where, after a short stop at the Agios Ioannis Eleimon Monastery in Pazinos we wanted to visit the Gouvernetou Monastery. This monastery is inhabited by most unfriendly monks I have ever witnessed in 35 years of vacations and visits to Greece. Miles before you reach the monastery you can already see the signs that taking photos inside the monastery is not allowed and even outside the monastery it is not allowed. Ridiculous of course. It is not a military site and the paint doesn't fall from the walls when you take a picture of the building. As you can see I just ignored all this nonsense. How and what more happened can be found on the page I've made about the monastery, where you will also see more pictures of it ;). At the back of the monastery at the monument is a path to a cave in the hills (the Cave of the Bear) and the monastery of Agios Ioannis (the one of St. John the Hermit), better known as the Monastery Katholikou. You can read about this cave on the same page. The day ended with a delicious meal at the beach of Marathi.

When I look at my notes I realize we did not really do much else in those four days. I also mix things up as usual ....before the visit to the monastery we were out to lunch with Ivonne Bouw, who I knew through the internet. She is a Dutch woman that lives in a beautiful house in the village of Kalives. We also discovered (after all those times we were in this neighborhood) that just outside Kalives (on the outskirts of the village) there is another beautiful large, sandy and quiet beach. Later in our holiday we would discover more quiet beaches in the same neighborhood, but more on that later.

Kato Zakros. Azokeramos Crete, Kreta Azokeramos Crete, Kreta Ammoudara Amoudara Beach, Crete, Kreta Cretan Village, Villa in Crete, Ammoudara, Amoudara, Agios Nikolaos, Kreta

The next destination was completely on the other side of the island, in the southeast, in Kato Zakros, where I wanted to meet with an old school friend of mine. For years at a stretch she and her friend have their holidays in this village (and this twice a year). We interrupted the drive in Agia Pelagia and after that continued the journey. We made a stop along the way to have a look at the old Minoan palace in Malia. It was nice, but also commercial, and to be honest we saw nicer excavations later in the holiday, such as Tripitos, Lato and Aptera. In Kato Zakros we enjoyed a glass of wine and a chat and after that after a short walk I found a nice deserted beach where, in the twilight, I floated around in the sea without my swimwear. In the evening the four of us had dinner and we drank a few rakis (a fairly strong Greek liquor). I was soon tired and went to bed early (at eleven). No luxury but this time, but a shared shower and toilet. This happens in Kato Zakros, where you should be glad that you were able to find a room. The view and the peace & quiet made up for it.

The next morning we slowly descended to the next destination of the day, Ammoudara Beach, near Agios Nikolaos, where we had booked something in the Cretan Village Hotel. When you drive north from Kato Zakros you pass a couple of picturesque small villages in the green surroundings. The most beautiful church I believe can be found in Azokeramos (it is on the picture above). There is another small Byzantine church (Agios Ioannis) located near the entrance of the village, where the start is of a footpath that leads to the Minoan shrine Traostalos. We began the walk, but there was no end to it. If only we would have had information in advance, like you now have when you take a look at the Azokeramos page. The sanctuary has never been reached by us, but we had a healthy walk with wonderful views. All this exercise had made us hungry, so after that we stopped in Palekastro for a cup of coffee and something to eat.

Trypitos, Tripitos Crete, Kreta Café Panorama, Platanos, Crete, Kreta Lato Crete, Kreta Vrisses, Vrises, Vryses, Crete, Kreta Houmeriakos, Houmeriako Crete, Kreta

On the last stretch to Ammoudara Beach we made a stop to see the the remnants of the ancient Hellenistic city of Trypitos. The excavation is located along the side of the road, just before Sitia and is actually much nicer than all those excavations that everybody already knows. The view was certainly magnificent, and there was nobody else on the site. We also made a stop in a few other small villages for a short look around and to enjoy the view and we had a drink in Platanos where you overlook the sea and the island Spira.

Our apartment in the Cretan Village hotel was great, very big and with a huge terrace. We both had our own bedroom again. It was actually much nicer than what we had expected. It was sunny, so we really enjoyed this place. In the village Ammoudara Beach (around the corner) there was also a very good tavern where we had dinner a few times. Although there is a nice pool at the Cretan Village Hotel and beaches were near, it was mostly a period of driving around in the car, because we wanted to see a few things that were in the area.

The first on the program was the ancient Dorian city of Lato just north of Agios Nikolaos. This site is interesting and coincidentally that day there was a free entrance. There are remnants of houses, shops, temples, workshops, reservoirs and a theater. Here and there in the streets you see big stone utensils or pieces of ancient columns. From Lato you look out over the sea and see Agios Nikolaos. After Lato we simply started driving around and we ended up in various villages and monasteries.

The monks of the monastery Gouvernetou can learn something from the clergy of the Koufi Petra Monastery that was closed when we arrived, but they esprcially opened the doors for us when we rattled at the door. Next a nun with a key appeared to open the church so we could see the wall paintings and the interior. After that they gave us a biscuit at the exit. This is how it should be ;).

We saw a number of old mountain villages, including Vrisses and then went for lunch in the town of Neapoli. After lunch we visited some small villages north of the city. The nicest village was Houmeriakos with its many churches and old houses. The striking Koumpelidiki Panagia (Our Lady of the domes) that stands here, dates from the 11th century. The end of the day was for the Aretiou monastery that dates from the 16th century.

Gouves, Kreta, Crete. Amnissos Beach, Amnissos Crete, Kreta Ammoudara Amoudara Beach, Crete, Kreta Lygaria Beach, Ligaria Beach, Kreta, Crete Spiros Soula Apartments, Ligaria Beach, Crete, Kreta

After two days in the Cretan Village Hotel, we went back towards the Apokoronas (near Chania). In between we stayed overnight at Lygaria Beach in the Spiros Soula Apartments. We left early and interrupted the journey for a brief visit to the village of Limnes with its pretty churches and after that we had some breakfast at the coastal village of Gouves. After breakfast we drove over the old national road that runs along the coast to Heraklion. In Kokini Chani we took a look at the remains of a Minoan villa (the site was closed) and then we went through to the beach of Vathianos Kambos and Karteros Beach (in Amnissos where another Minoan villa is located) to the capital of the island, Heraklion. There we walked around for a bit: nice, but busy with traffic and people. On Ammadoura Beach (another Ammadoura Beach than the one I mentioned earlier in the newsletter) we drank an - expensive - cup of cappuccino and then we went on to the Spiros Soula Apartments in Lygaria Beach.

The reception in Spiros Soula Apartments was extremely friendly. What a lovely family runs this place. We had a nice apartment where we immediately felt at home. The balcony looked out over the sea and the bay where the village of Agia Pelagia is situated. We had a cup of coffee and quickly decided to lie down on the beach of Lygaria for an hour. That night we ate at the restaurant of Spiros Soula: so close and easy. We also had breakfast here the next morning.

Gerani Cave, Gerani Beach, Crete, Kreta Xirosterni, Crete, Kreta. Villa Almyrida View, Villa in Crete, Almirida, Kreta Villa Almyrida View, Villa in Crete, Almirida, Kreta Chania harbour, Chania haven, Kreta, Crete

After breakfast the luggage was put back back in the car and we went to the Apokoronas. We held a short break at the Gerani Cave and then we had a (bad) lunch in the village of Plaka, where the "club sandwich" was just a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese and the fries were soft and fat. We looked at some villages in the area, including Palailoni and Xirosterni and then we had a drink at the beach of the seaside village of Almyrida. This is one of our favorite villages, where we often go for lunch or to pick up some of the the great pastry of the bakery in the village. We stayed four days in the village itself in the amazingly beautiful Almyrida View Villa, with a private pool and a beautiful view over the village and the sea. That day and the day after we really didn't do much. We stayed at home and relaxed by the pool with a book.

After two days in Villa Almyrida View Villa the weather suddenly changed and during a lunch meeting with two of our friends the water came pouring from the sky. It also did not stop anymore. The next day it had cleared a little but there was still an occasional shower. Because the weather was not really made to enjoy sunbathing, we decided to visit the beautiful city of Chania and take a good look at it, including a visit to the Archaeological Museum and the remains of the ancient city that was once situated here, the old city of Kydonia. The remains of this old Kydonia are spread throughout the old town of Chania. During the day the sun began to shine through the clouds again

Villa Amalia, Villa in Crete, Megala Chorafia, Kreta Alikianos, Crete, Kreta. Alikianos, Crete, Kreta. Koufos, Crete, Kreta. Psathogiannos, Crete, Kreta.

After these four days in Almyrida it was time for the final part of the holiday, which we spent in Megala Chorafia. These last six days we were at a really beautiful spot on a hill in Villa Amalia, where We looked out over the bay of Souda, the naval base there, two islands (including one with a Turkish fortress on it) and the Akrotiri peninsula. This villa was wonderful and large and there was a nice big pool with. Sometimes it was sunny and sometimes it became cloudy, so if the weather was nice we stayed at home and then when it got cloudy we took the car to drive around the area. Usually it was not really cold, so in the evening we could at least eat dinner outside, or sit on a veranda with a glass of wine and watch the sea, the lights on the Akrotiri peninsula and the lighted ferry boats pass by. We also saw quite a few naval boats and a few times even a submarine.

The trips in the car these last days were mostly inland, to villages that lie at the foot of the White Mountains. In the village of Alkianos for instance there is a beautiful church. In Alikianos there are also the ruins of the Venetian castle that once belonged to the aristocratic Molini family has in a street a little further you can see the 14th century church of Agios Ioannis. The village lies in an area where many oranges are grown and there is a small factory where orange juice is made. When we passed by this factory we got a load of oranges from someone who worked there. Also surrounding villages such as Koufos and Psathogiannos, with its church and bell tower, all fields with orange and lemon trees around them.

Kontopoula, Crete, Kreta. Katochori, Katohori, Crete, Kreta. Stylos, Stilos, Crete, Kreta. Pemonia, Crete, Kreta. Melidoni, Crete, Kreta.

In the following days we visited a variety of other villages, like the quiet villages of Malaxa and Kontopoula with its olive trees, grape fields, herds of sheep and the Agios Antonio church, which stands on a hill just outside the village. In Katechori, a farming village with many sheep, is the beginning of the Diktamos Gorge, which runs to the charming village of Stylos, which is famous for its bottled spring water (Samaria water). At the entrance of the village of Stylos is the small Panagia church next to a field with chickens, and in the village itself there are two more beautiful churches. The great new cream-colored church in the village is on a rise where you can go by climbing a staircase. It has a dome and two towers. More interesting still is the ruined stone Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis Theologos, which has remains of frescoes. We also had a look around in the mountain villages of Kares and Ramni, which are closeby.

The next days we visited a whole row of villages. There are so many of them in this area. In Pemonia I burned a candle in the Agios Antonios church on the hill above the village. Here time stood still. People keep chickens in front of their house and almost everyone has a garden with vegetables in it. In this area there are a lot of nice churches. The village of Melidoni with its open views and beautiful church is also worth a visit.

Fres, Apokoronas, Kreta, Crete Nipos, Crete, Kreta. Kalami Beach, Crete, Kreta. Aptera, Crete, Kreta Top Hotel Stalos Beach, Crete, Kreta.

Now we were entering the last few days of our holiday. We still had some time to have a look at a couple of things and to see some friends to say goodbye. We visited the little light yellow Panagia church on the Two Rocks with its magnificent frescoes, situated in Fres. All interrior of the church is painted, including the ceiling, and most of the frescoes are in good condition. Less spectacular but also nice churches we found in Tzitzifes and Nipos.

On Monday we wanted to go to the remains of the ancient city of Aptera to take a closer look, but we came to conclusion that this was not possible because on Monday all archaeological sites on Crete are closed. so we drove further up to the old Turkish fortress of Izzedin and after that we found some nice beaches that We had never seen before, down at the village of Kalami. So you see: you can always discover something new in the area where you have been so often. The next day we visited Aptera again and this time it was open. It was worth the visit.

I also found some time to say hello to an internet friend of mine, Sophia. She lives in the coastal village of Stalos and together with her family she runs a hotel on a hill, where you have a spendid view on the village and the sea. In the sea in front of the coast lies the island Agii Theodori. According to legend this island was never there and is originally a sea monster that was petrified because of the prayers of the islanders. In this tradition the large opening on the side of the island is not a cave but in fact the mouth of the monster. The island has always been uninhabited, except in the Venetian period, when the Venetians have built two fortresses on it and turned it into a military base. In an attack by the Turks in 1645 the island was unable to withstand the violence of the invading army. The Venetians fled to the highest fortress and blew himself up. After that the island became uninhabited again. Nowadays you will only find some wild animals on it.

Almyrida, Café Francoise, Crete, Kreta, Pat and Frankie Villa Amalia, Villa in Crete, Megala Chorafia, Kreta Ancient Falassarna, het antieke Falassarna, Kreta, Crete Ancient Falassarna, het antieke Falassarna, Kreta, Crete Café Tavern Kozakas, Kissamos, Kreta, Crete

Two days before we left we had a lunch with our friends Frankie and Pat, who both live in the Apokoronas. Oh ... and not to forget Molly, Frankie's dog ;). We had dinner in Almyrida. It took some time before the food came to the table and so it became a long lunch. In the meanwhile the sun was shining like never before, so after we finished lunch we rushed to the bakery for four pastries and then drove like an arrow from a bow to our pool at Villa Amalia for some coffee and swimming.

The last day before our departure we had an appointment with Arianne and Raymond of Kastania Lodge in Kissamos, where we had begun our vacation. Arianne's mother was over and we reallywanted to meet her. What a lovely person she was: so sweet and enthusiastic about the island. the three of us visited the excavations in Falassarna. This old town has just recently been discovered. The excavation of Falassarna lies north of the beach at the end of a roughly two kilometers long, but easy to drive dirt road. At he end is a parking area where you can park your car. Around this place you'll find most of the site, but on your way to the parking you will already pass some of the excavation (like the "throne" and several large stones and pieces of walls - much of Falassarna is still unexcavated). If you drive further after the parking lot you will past the city walls and finally end up at a place with a wonderful view over the sea and coastline.

We ended the visit with a stroll through Kissamos, where the mother Arianne treated us to an extended lunch. After lunch it was time to go back to our villa in Chorafia Megala villa and begin final preparations for our departure back to Amsterdam the next day. In the evening we enjoyed a drink on the terrace and then it was time to go to bed, because the plane would take off early in the day.

Okay people I am going to end this newsletter because I believe I have chatted enough. I am always interested in your information, experiences and photos to brighten my website. Talk to you soon in the next newsletter. We have already booked something for Santorini next year May, and after that definitely a new newsletter will go out. End of year I'm going to try get some special deals / offers again from the people on my website, which will hopefully be in the next newsletter....

Kind regards, Hans Huisman.


Hans Huisman 2010