Cretan spring of colors

It was a long and tough winter 2014/2015. Rainy, windy, foggy weather and lots of snow on the tops of White Mountains surrounding Chania. 

But it finally arrived! Full of colors and crazy sents Cretan spring. The whole island looks like a well-painted rainbow. Flowers everywhere, herbs spreading their scents on each hill.

Cretan spring is definitely the best moment to visit the island for its colors at full.

At this time, do not forget to visit botanical park in Chania which will serve you the best images of Cretan nature, right now, in May!

Autumn trip to Vatolakkos

I love this area! Vatolakkos village, sitting at the bottom of White Mountains. When you drive towards Omalos, at the intersection take a right turn. Narrow bridge will let you into the traditional Cretan villages. 

Even during the hot Cretan summers, the region stays green and there is a refreshing breeze coming from the surrounding hills. 

Autumn can be magical as well with its olives, oranges, pomegranates and AVOCADO! 

I just couldn't resist to take a few from the tree growing right next to the village road. 

You can combine your trip there with a visit to a great and picturesque Winery Manousakis!

 

Old Town in Autumn

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Walking along the Old Town Harbour at the end of October, has its pastel colors, chilly breeze and a feeling of something ending right here right there!

Most people think about the end of the year around December time,but on the island  we are caught by those thoughts within the end of tourism season.

Some restaurants facing the sea are still open, the narrow streets are lit up still waiting for a few tourists coming and leaving with last chart flights.

If you do not like heats and crowds, would love to drive around, taste fresh chestnuts, quince, squids! October is a definitely time for you!

 

Old paths never die!

Hot air blowing into our faces through the whole way to Paleohora! It takes us approximately 1,5 hour to get to this oasis of wilderness. Twisting through the small villages and olive groves makes me feel so excited for 2 night stay in the South! 

If you search for relaxing and easy going atmosphere, especially during week days when less Chania people come over, you will never be mistaken to choose Paleohora! 

We dine at the harbour and next day, early in the morning head to the beach Gianniskari. It takes your breath the view of the sea, roughness of the mountain. Even the dust coming from the road makes you happy...you just know you enter the world of different dimension. 

This is where we sit all day long under the Almirikia, eat simple souvlaki and french fries from beach canteen! (delicious, fresh, recommended after diving into the crystally clear waters of Libyan Sea!). 

Babies get calmer here, playing with beach stones, exploring tavernas good (hihi!)

There is an excellent beach SPA with a great hairdresser - we tried with Penelope and she got her haircut fast and easy! 8 euro it is worth paying for the 2 year old accepting someone to touch their hair!

The only nostalgy it is about the duration of the whole state! Hope next time we will come back for longer. 

Definitely, all those years, the place I manage to charge my batteries!

Spring is in a hurry

Poppy flowers of Crete

Poppy flowers of Crete

The soil is still wet but the sun touches anything that dared to come out, and here are the results.

Looks like someone is in a hurry to blossom so at the end of February we enjoy the images of real spring.

Clovers remain their deep green shade, but slowly they grow long, fragile stalks ending with fluffy yellow flowers. Here come the first bees and the tiny butterfliles.

Poppy flowers pop out from the long grass, varying with colors from white, purple to red ones.

Just watching all those little miracles, your heart feels like singing.

You must see it for yourself, that's for sure! For more amazing images click here

Visitor on clover's flower

Visitor on clover's flower

In my garden

In my garden

Prolonging your Cretan summer

Limassol's park

Limassol's park

Nicosia, Turkish side

Nicosia, Turkish side

Peekaboo in the ancient ruins of Limassol

Peekaboo in the ancient ruins of Limassol

Spa in Alasia boutique hotel

Spa in Alasia boutique hotel

We loved our hotel!

We loved our hotel!

It is such an easy trip that you almost forget you are changing the country. A little longer than an hour and you land from Chania in Paphos. Right at the beginning of November, and it's +30 degrees. Dry wave of air bursts into our faces.

We drive to Limassol. Car rental for one week at this time of the year is around 100 euro!!! (must love Cyprus!). Our hotel is wonderful. One of those boutique hotels with well-thought lighting and modest,modern, naturally looking design. Alasia hotel pampers us in a professional and discreet way.

We came to rest and we get most of it. There is a seaside promenade, zoo park (paradise for kids!) located in the main city park. There are places to play with your child and to feel the history of this island! There are malls and lots of fast food (so look for the hotel with a good restaurant).

We love sleeping with an open door balcony in the middle of November!

...and we suggest prolonging your Cretan summer on the island of Aphrodite...easy and pleasant. You should try it!

 

 

Season of clover

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Lots of rain, humidity, shorter days make winter Crete a green paradise. Red soil becomes a carpet made of clovers and moss. Clovers grow thick and high. It is like diving into the pool full of wet stalks.

Such a pleasure to watch the soil breathing a green life.

For the small ones it's a fun of going through the jungle touching their knees.

More fun comes when you take the fragile clovers out of the ground and feed with them local sheep.

Be, be, be...crunchy stalks disappear in the animals' mouth.

 

Blessing the Cretan waters...Epiphany!

Getting ready for the cross to touch the waters

Diving for the cross in Kouloura of Chalepa, Chania 6.01.2014

Crete is all about its beaches, tiny bays, wild coasts surrounding the island from all sides. Thalassa (θαλασσα) - sea in Greek, it is a magic word for Cretans and Greeks!

It has its wide range of colors, its smell, its unique peace and wildness. On a sunny island's day, it tempts with a shade of azure and an immaculate surface. On a rainy, windy day, it may become dark blue turning grey, with high waves splashing white waters against the Cretan cliffs.

If you live next to the sea, you want it tamed and approachable to experience the best of this nature's element.

This is the reason why Cretans (and the whole Greece as well), at the beginning of each year, devote one day to bless their waters. On the 6th of January, they pray in the church while white pigeons fly over the heads of believers. Their prayers end up at the nearby coast where priest throws a cross into the sea. Brave volunteers dive into the freezing waters to search the bottom and bring the cross back.

The sea has been tamed!

 

Chania by winter holidays

Little town on the island of Crete, going through a winter holiday period.

Chania has no craziness to offer, but it has its own charm with carousels, few christmas stands, ice rink and balloons being sold by Gipsies.

At this time of the year chestnuts from charcoal street grills and Greek coffee in plastic cups taste like heaven.

Few light decorations with no change through the past years give some brightness to the families slowly wandering around the town.

Sleepy atmosphere takes you into another dimension.

Saint Nicolas at the sea

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Crete has so many magic places and everything is so close to each other.  It is a treasure of locations!

Those white tiny churches are the pearls of island. Minimalistic architecure, the smell of stone covered with the smell of salty sea.  

Saint Nicolas is exceptional. It is a rough walk to enter its arches but you would not miss the feeling of looking at the coast from under the church's roof.  

Stepping on the slippery rocks being washed by the sea waves has some element of adventure in it! 

Microscopic, black crabs escape from under your feet.

Do not forget to light a candle and make a wish...or simply say "Thank you" for what you already have!  

One of those places that can make you a happy pilgrim! 

And one more thing...this place can even make your child to behave herself/himself.  

If you find it unique, have a look at some recent images of Crete for Love 

Autumn waterfalls

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It wasn't a day for walking on a beach. Strong wind, drizzle, dust spinning in the air.

Where to go, what to do? It was already late in the afternoon but we headed towards Rethymnon.

Past village of Episkopi, we drove into a green oasis hidden among hills and their waterfalls. Sound of water breaking against rocks, smell of burnt wood, trouts swimming in the small tavernas' ponds. I could even smell some roasted sausages which reminded me how much I was missing my childhood's flavors.

We went down to the small valley hosting a group from Jeep Safari Excursion. A few people walking around, tasting local products. We had a sip of some rakomelo (raki with honey) and bought a big bottle for home usage. One of those Cretan medicines that helps you "survive" humid winters on the island. Believe me, after so many sunny days, you can really get depressed when for a few weeks it may rain and the sky is grey!

Little springs were appearing from each corner and there were so many bananas trees!  

Spooky wall fountains were spitting mountain water.  

It must be a perfect refuge for summer heats!

It was a perfect refuge while the rest of island was taken by the wind! 

Falassarna ...summer memoirs

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You drive down the hill to see the patches of greenhouses and the long blue coast. Past Kissamos, easy road, here you will find the most favorite beach of many Greeks and toursits.

To be honest, this is not my place. Not yet. I am still a fan of smaller and cosier bays but each year I try to come back to Falassarna to learn more about its atmosphere and waters.  

Waves can be strong and winds ruthless so it is good to choose a peaceful day to enjoy Falassarna beach. Otherwise, it can get you a really big headache.

Entrance to the waters isn't totally flat and I remember how difficult it was to walk there with one year old child.  

But the sea is crystal clear and there are a few taverns at the back of sandy coast that may host a romantic meal at the end of a day. 

Sunset!? Yes, it is definitely a place to admire Cretan sun finishing its day! 

Hersonissos...s.o.s...

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You reach the suburbs of this little town to see here and there shops announcing, in Russian language, sales of furs. There are big billboards showing sexy women wearing fur coats...under the sun serving a +30 degree day! Literally, I'm waiting for the sweat to start coming off the paper!

For some reason, some of those shops are painted in black which makes them look a little bit like coffins. I assume the intention was to make them look elegant? 

What is it all about buying a fur in Greece, I always wondered. Then I'm taught that Greek furs are of a high quality and cold countries are mostly floaded by Chinese production which is not so reliable but still expensive, Precious discovery since I was never a fur person even while living in a pretty chilly climate!

We enter the town of Hersonissos. First impression...what a mess! Narrow, packed roads, architecture straight from 80ties. Each corner decorated with Russian or English signs makes me wonder if I'm still on the Greek land.  

Coast is pretty, curving into the horseshoe shape, packed with cafes and restaurants.

There is a picturesque port and that is pretty much what can be said about Hersonissos itself.  

Just a quick drive a little bit away, through dusty village roads and you enter a world of 5* resorts.  

Grande complexes, with many tip top facilities, rich gardens,pools and direct access to the sea.

That is what I call Holidays!

 

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Your summer friend...Tzitzikas

Hot days started, light is more intense than ever during the year. Not a single cloud on a light blue sky.  

And they come from underground leaving particular holes in your garden. Their dance begins.

They come out from their skin, decorating various surfaces with crunchy cocoons. 

They fly in the air, bumping into the walls, tree trunks and your arms. Long, brownish creatures making tzitzi noise from early in the morning till late at night.  

They sound like a broken doorbell, finding warm and bright space.

They may look scary for the sensitive ones, but they are harmless in general.  

Some even like to consume them, as it was in Ancient Greece.  

For the most common ear, they may seem to be annoying, but afterwhile you just get used to their song.  

May it last the longest possible, so the summer will.  

Wild, wild South

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A world created by higher spirits?  

Space, fresh air, cliffs like Santorini's or Grand Canyon. Plateaux sitting at the bottom of mountains facing enormous, blue sea.

Those plateau are almost empty, with a very few buildings, taverns, old churches surrounded by tiny cementaries.  

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There are dry plants with thorns and bunches of freshly rising, at this time of the year (July,) thyme.  If not thyme mini purple flowers, this southern land would overwhelm with yellowish and brownish colors.

And again, another Venetian tower! An absolute obssession around Cretan Southern coast! Simple as it looks, it not enough to conquer, you built immediately on the taken land! Smart people lived in the past years, let's not forget! Those Venetian towers, walls still remain a significant symbol of Southern Chania region.

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Cicadas, here on South, perform with all their heart loudly and steadily. It is a performance that lasts till late at night. It is a noise that you do not listen to after a while. It is also a noise that all of us will miss during the long winter nights.  

So much pure nature, strong sun, air full of steam coming from the evaporating sea.  

Sharp cliffs, hidden beaches and dust that covers those roads for ages.

 

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When Cinderella drinks wine

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Happy car of three women and a baby is heading through the well-maintained olive groves. Narrow road with some gentle curves leads to the main destination - Loupakis Winery.

It's this time of a day when the sun is setting behind the hills and its red light is covering nearby valleys.

On the horizon the winery is already blinking with its soft lighting, spreading in a dark a spirit of a fairy tale.  The absence of any other buildings around the estate just enlarges the mystery of this place.

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Doors of the winery are open from each side. Us and moderate crowds are welcomed with soft drinks, excellent wine by Loupakis family, some very local snacks and baskets of freshly cut lemons set here and there as an accent of decoration.

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Right below the rooms, where guests are mingling holding a glass of wine and passing by the candle light, there is a cellar hosting this year exhibition. Freud and his shoe theory is a main subject. Not too many canvas, objects, however, enough to grasp a concept. Red pieces of shoes spread on the part of cellar floor. Ceramic shoes, yellow high-heels held by the lady in red.

 

We go upstairs to leave home but the exposition and wines are there, waiting for you! Just take a right turn (on your right coming from Chania) on your way to Paleohora to visit Cinderella and sip some excellent wines! 

 

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I love Paleohora

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Whether for one day or one week, this place provides you with an ultimate relax! 

I absolutely love this little piece of land, located only 1,5 hour drive from Chania.  

It was a love at first sight and although so many years went by, I could say, I'm still in love. 

It has an atmosphere of Southern village, with no traffic, no rush. Peace for your tired brain! 

Coming down to Paleohora, we stop in Palm Tree cafe. This is were you sip you coffee and do your research: which side of the village is less windy, what temperature is going to be for the rest of your stay! Yeap, winds can be pretty strong around this area. Though, Paleohora is a blessed land with its various beaches, sandy or pebbly, open or bays! 

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Sandy carpet of beach in front of Palm Tree is moving too much today. And so we head towards Gianiskari coast, 4 km out of the village. We hit the dusty road by car to reach a tiny peninsula spotted with some sunbeds and steady umbrellas.From the Paleohora port, it takes approximately 10 minutes by car and 20 minutes on foot to get those beaches.

This is where you will find a famous Paleohora crocodile! Water is a dream: so clean, slightly freezing. Those waves and water temperature are the perfect combination with a burning sun of South.

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It's calm right at the beginning but gets windy in the late afternoon. Our sun station and umbrella (our own, of the lighter than local umbreallas construction) is a mess.  

But it all does not matter.  

We get some suntan, we leave our brains on the burning pebbles and we enjoy each moment with flavor of canned Greek beer and fresh french fries from beach canteen! 

This is what I call "Spa for your mind!" 

XANIaRT 2013 CHANIaRT 2013

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Another great event, initiative, happening (yes, all together!) is taking place in the prefecture of Chania!  

For the second year, starting from June and ending in September 2013, CHANIaRT is leaving its footprints around Western Crete!  

It is a unique chain of various, but always interesting and inspiring art exhibitions that are held around places that have a soul and unforgettable atmosphere.

This year organization started from its roots.

40 Exhibitions involving

40 curators

400 artists started from Dromonero! 

On 30.06 an expo named "Black-White Dreams" took place in Contemporary Art Museum Olivepress. It is a special place (for more info check here) located in the village of Dromonero (on a way to Paleohora). It is a must to visit for all those who love Chania and Art! Olivepress is even more special due to the person who runs it!. This gentelmen name is Ioannis Arhontakis and he does something very unique!!!! He promotes art and region in a combintation full of respect, sensitivity and aesthetics! He is the one who stands firmly behind CHANIaRT!

Yesterday, there was another grand opening of second exhibition "Discreet Absence" held in Chania, in Poly-Technio (40 Xatzimihali Daliani Str). 

If you are interested in CHANIaRT, and would like to follow forthcoming events, follow on daily basis this blog announcements!  

...and enjoy, because you have a chance to become a part of something special! 

NOTE: All grand openings of which dates and places will be provided here, are free of charge! 

 

Afrata because pebbles are bright!

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Right above the tops of olive trees, at the bottom of tiny gorge, there is a small beach named Afrata.

Go through Kolimvari, pass a picturesque Monastiri and up the hill to the village Afrata!

Don't speed up! Stop to admire some views! Take some pictures with local goats (they may seem to be shy but they like to be in the center of your attention).

Village is tiny tiny, just a few cottages and local houses. It's narrow with lots of turns so use your car horn if you feel safer this way.  

Half a day it's just enough to have a swim and relax at Afrata. Sea pebbles are big but steady. Water is warm, yellowish due to the stones colors and sun rays hitting the sea surface.  

If your child, as mine, is vivid and curious, there is not much to do. Enjoy your afternoon swim and move back to the village for a genuine local meal at 

Real Cretan lagoon and Venetian tower

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Three times and it stills makes a grand impression on me.

T-shirts of a boat and a port crew announce " Spend some time in paradise"!

So it is indeed. Kind of paradise, Cretan lagoon,  some say European version of Caribbean sea!

There is nothing else on Crete that could duplicate this place. It just knocks you down with its extreme beauty and rich scale of any shade of blue color.  

One day trip on a one of three available boats. It is a high season and we manage to get on the second cruise at 10:40 ( departing at 11:00 according to Greek time, hihi). The first one leaves a harbour at 10:20, the last one is scheduled for 12:30. Tickets for adults cost 25 euro per person +1 euro some kind of tax. Your total will be 26 euros.

It takes us first to Balos where small boats float along the shallow covered with white sand beach.  

Plenty of tourists from Russian and Ukraine can make you feel a little bit like you were moved to their village. Sergiey and Tatiana are there!

It's hot and very bright. Wind is getting stronger through those 3 hours we enjoy a paradise.  

Then we hop to Gramvousa and its spectacular tower located on the top of very dry, with lots of blooming thyme and agaves mountain. They had a nerve those Venetians to build with heavy stones in the middle of nowhere. How the heck they were climbing this hill every day? It must have been Cretan diet. No kidding, they were people in shape!

It takes approximately, even with small stops, 20 minutes to reach the top! However, it is worth all the effort!  

The view compensates your sweat. You are moved into eternity. It is a world where you forget about the rest of it, existing somewhere, daily behind this dark blue horizon and those volcano cliffs.  

White yachts are blinking in the blue Gramvousa bay.  

After descending, it is a must to dip in the freezeing water. It's so refreshing and cold! A real natural lifting for your mushy from heat body.  

Coming back is calm and interesing if you like watching people (discretely, of course). Fever of starting a trip at the beginning of a day faded and there is a peaceful atmosphere on the deck.

Kids are playing games on their parents I-phones. A classy Italian woman (Botticelli face!) reads Virginia's Woolf novel. Baboosha is playing cards with her grandson.
Most passengers tired and drowsy are resting their hands on the wooden tables.

I know  I will be back!  

A few tips you may implement:

1. Don't drag too much food with you. There is a descent bar on a boat serving just fine meals and any kind of drinks. 

2. Get some comfy shoes! You don't really want to climb Gramvousa with your flip-flop sandals! Especially after a fresh pedicure! 

3. You may use sweater or something to cover yourself while on your way back. It may turn windy and cool after the whole day you spent on the hot beaches.