1349: Monastery Walk and Dance

1349: Monastery Walk

Thursday 14th November

After Oscar’s feline stare-off – an honourable draw in footie terms… we Panda-car’d on to the monastery of Gouvemetou – using K’s agnosticism (she went Sunday School!) to swiftly tread past the ‘no dogs’ sign – anyway they’re children, not just K9s.  The path down was mostly well paved and steep – past the ‘Bear Cave’ and on to the older ruined monastery – massive arch bridge – the pre-16th century scaffolding contract must have been very lucrative…   Once we found the next path, the scrabbling commenced – bums on the rocks – K vetoed one of my bum pics!  Not a photo of my bottom you realise…. “Does my bum look big on this rock?”  Move on James!   Down to the gorge bottom (can we avoid the bottom theme, please?) and the path was easier – Corry was goatspotting – a lot like train spotting but with goats on tracks – no, she wasn’t wearing a duffle coat…  Back on the lead, young lady!

Another great picnic perched on the rocks above the pirates cove. Before the return ascent, I attempted the Zorba happy dance (we watched the film last night) – crashed and burned, readers!!!


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We’d overnighted next to a wild cat feeding station … this little puss was not going to be intimidated by the Oscar fixed stare!

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Monastery Gouvernetou:  reachable along several km of lonely road.  Dated 1573, it looks more like a fortress than a monastery.  To start our walk we followed the gated and flowered path, which clearly stated ‘No Dogs anywhere on the monastery grounds’ … I had my agnostic arguments ready!

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The expansive view from the saddle as you leave the gardens.

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WW2 memorial.

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Bear Cave … a dripstone one.

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Inside were cathedral sized columns of stalagmites and stalactites.

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And massive stalagmite that is supposed to resemble a bear … more like a bearded St John, I think.  The steps lead up to a cistern …

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… But where has Corrie gone?  James investigates the faint whimpers …

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… aah … she jumped in and couldn’t get out!

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The walk led down to the ruins of the original Monastery Katholiko.  Abandoned due to the frequent raids from pirates who game up the gorge from the sea.

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Monastery Katholiko, with a rock chapel.

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St John the Hermit’s Cave … yes another one.  He apparently died in this one.  

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The descent down into the gorge … the only difficult part of the walk.

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The pirate landing place and our picnic spot, before the return ascent.

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Having watched Zorba the Greek last night, as we are parked up where his famous dance at the end was filmed, James’ cup flowed over, and he enacted his own happy dance …

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or is that dad Dancing moves?

1346-1348: Time to Vamos!

1346: Vamos – A Walk!

Monday 11th November 2019

We are still at Kalyves … such a handy place to park up and use the hire car.  Today’s destination was a walk around Vamos, one of the main local hill towns and an administrative centre.  This was the first walk out of the books local Ann donated to our so very worthy cause.  

In the afternoon we managed some laundry in Jez again (and it was all dry by morning – result!) and showers for us.  Supper was intended to be in a recommended restaurant, but it was shut (Monday closures), so we ended up in the grill … any meat you want so long as it is grilled, and served with chips, a bit of salad and tzatziki.  Not having great expectations for our meal, we ordered a half litre of white and two chicken dinners.  OMG … I don’t know what herbs they coated the meat with, and then cooked over coals, but the flavour was just superb.  We ate it all.  We paid … all of EUR14 … but as we were about to leave, we were told to sit down … Greek yogurt with candied lime peel and the Raki arrived!  Wow!

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Coffee stop on arrival in the small square … friends of Ann’s had recommended Anna’s bar … we recognised it by the description of Anna’s friendly large black dog, that CO2 were desperate to play with .. but not in the square with the odd passing car.

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An old olive press.

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 It was a walk of animals … a fair while before we could let CO2 off the leads.  We’ve noticed a lot of young lambs … seems strange to us in November.

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Goat tethered under a tree, plus sheep, chickens and, until we got out of Vamos, a LOT of raucous barking dogs.

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An old cobbled street in Vamos, built during the Ottoman occupation by enforced local labour.

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Back to Anna’s bar for a 0% beer … and fresh juice.  James has only not been able to get 0% alcohol beer from one bar, as it was about to close after the season.

1347: On the Move!

Tuesday 12th November

After 11 nights in Kalyves … we very rarely stay this long anywhere.  But that was the whole point of having the hire car … park up and explore in the Panda.  And Kalyves was becoming another home from home.   We did the services, and shopping … sea bass for supper.  LPG fill on the way … no need yet for heating, but when we do need it, it does burn gas.

We parked up at a pretty fishing harbour called Agios Onouphrios, on the Akrotiri peninsula (where Chania airport is).  

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Our overnight parking.  The gaggle of geese were being camera shy!

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Another fab view from our front window.  No need to point out in case of ‘vanevac’ (Van Evacuation in case of undesirables) in Greece, we can face the best view.

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Caught up with the geese.

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Nearby dog walk. 

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After lunch, we drove in the Panda to the Venizelos Graves and the Souda War Cemetery.

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Simple stone slab tombs for Eleftherios Venizelos, Crete’s most famous statesman, and his son Sophocles.  Both were Greek Prime Minister several times and Eleftherios Venizelos is akin to Italy’s Garibaldi .. he unified Crete with Greece.  In Italy no town is complete without a Piazza Garibaldi … here is is Venizelos Square / Street.   The graves are set in gardens …

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… with stunning views over Chania.

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The site was the scene in 1987 of an illegal raising of the Greek flag by rebels, led by Eleftherios Venizelos in defiance of the Turks and other European Powers.  The flag pole was smashed by a volley, but a Cretan became a human flagpole.

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The little church of Profitis Elias … 

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… and its guardian who hissed to prevent CO2 from entering.

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The Allied War Cemetery at Souda.  

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2000 graves, of which just under 900 were British the rest were New Zealand or Australian …

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… a significant number were unnamed …Known Unto God.

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In search of coffee, we drove to Kalathas … pretty beach but nothing open, and onto Horafakia, where we found coffee and a bun!  Just to mention, our sea bass with caponata was nostimo … delicious.  Note:  some people refuse to cook fish in a  motorhome … rubbish, no smell at all, so long as its fresh. But do dispose of the bones etc before going to bed!

We woke early hours to a massive thunder and lightening storm.  I got up to batten down the hatches and our little ‘puss was sitting bolt upright, shaking and not looking happy. Up to now, we’ve had her on our laps during thunderstorms, but now we’re in bed.  The choice was for one of us to get up and cuddle her, or we let her on our bed and cuddle here there.  Sheer laziness and we went for the latter option.  Once invited up, she was like the proverbial ferret.  Not to lie between our bodies, but up on the pillows.  We were breathing in her hair through mouths and nostrils, and she has lots of it.  Oscar is not nervous of storms, not to be left out, went between us, but was very restless and moved every 10 mins to shove one part of our anatomy out of his way.  Not our best night’s sleep and NOT to be repeated.

 

1348: Stavros and Zorba the Greek

Wednesday 13th November

The rain eased and I took CO2 back out along the peninsula, where we watched a tanker connect what looked like a very small bore pipe across the water to the petroleum plant.  No wonder it was there hours.  We did some admin … J more than I … lack of sleep and I was on a go slow.  After lunch we packed up and drove all of 15mins to Stavros.

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Massive puddle on one side, so the puddle ducks took a muddy bath.

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 Corrie avoiding the puddles by leaping from rock to rock.  Oscar ploughs on through.

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Tanker at work at the mouth of the inlet.  We were able to google where is had come from … the massive petrochemical area just west of Pireaus.

Stavros is a circular bay, almost a lagoon, with the craggy sheer mountain rising opposite which was where the final dance scene of Zorba the Greek was filmed.  And guess what we will watch tonight!  A stunning location and I took advantage of a lull in the rain to walk CO2 between the mountains.

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Our overnight with Zorba’s mountain.

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My walk.

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Some weird rock formations.

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And then the heavens opened a bare 15 mins after I got back.

1342-1245: We Have Time, A Lot, Did Not

1342-43: Oozing

Thursday 7th and Friday 8th November

OK, so we coffee’d, lunched and suppered.  Not sure what else we did.  We are starting to feel so relaxed here in Kalyves, that we’ve forgotten what we did!

We do remember going to Simon’s Italian pizza and pasta place with a room full of Brits to listen to a young Greek trio perform some great rock music.  Needless to say a lot of wine was drunk, and not just by us!  

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Another beachside coffee.

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And another.

1344: Douliana Walk

Saturday 9th November

A circular walk through olive groves and a bit of a gorge started with a coffee in the village.  Lovely lunch in Drapanos’ Eleanoras restaurant … one starter and two dishes … EUR18.50, with chicken and chips left over to go … to be souped.  A restaurant to go back to.

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Douliana:  The only place that seemed open was a tiny coffee shop … the choice was sugar or not.  No Latte, Americano etc.  Greek coffee it was; there was no milk.  But lovely to sit in the sun listening to the sheep bells.

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The walk took us to two cave chapels.

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 Some lovely views and Autumn is ‘trying’ to make its presence known.

 1345: Remembrance Sunday

Sunday 10th November

We had a coffee in Vrysses and observed the 2 minuted silence.  And then, listening to Radio 2 back in the van 2 hours later, observed it again with the last post.  

We had gone to Vyrsses on the promise of a bazaar with Christmas gifts, bric a brac and crafts as advertised in the Living in Crete website forum.  I spotted the stall holders discussing how quiet it was ..yep , lack lustre,  We did manage to come away with two books … inlacing Victoria Hislpos’ ‘The Island’, about Spinalonga, which we visited last Crete trip and I’ve been meaning to read for ages.  And a ‘silver’ (i think not at the price and weight) bracelet AND two cakes … home-made eccles cake and a bakewell tart … nostimos (yummy in Greek!).  As coffee and wandering the 6 stalls had not taken as long as we’d anticipated, we drove back to Kalyves to potter for a few hours.

Heading out for a 3.00 p.m. supper we bumped into Ann again with another couple of ex-Pats with their two hounds.  Once the barking abated, and bum sniffing was the calm-ish order of the day, we were able to converse.  I queried outstaying our welcome in the car park … no the owners are overseas and we shouldn’t feel concerned.  Ann mentioned a trip on the 20th up to a hill village followed by lunch.  Tempting, but we can’t leave the dogs (well Oscar!) too long.  The other couple immediately offered doggy day care … how kind and generous people are, but we couldn’t inflict Oscar on anyone.  We need LPG, so will soon head up a peninsula via Chania (for LPG) for 4 days or so and then come back.  

Ann very kindly gave us two walking books on this area … really enjoying exploring the villages and surrounding areas in some detail.  In our first year we bombed from Nordcap to Sicily witha few side diversions, achieving 25,000 miles … and getting under the skin of – not a lot.  We have slowed up, but Crete is not massive and knowing we will be here until February-ish, gives us a really relaxing sense of time to chill.  If we were still looking to buy abroad, the idealistic approach is to immerse yourself in the local communities.  BUT learning a language sufficiently is virtually prohibitive; blame age and alcohol!  Kalyves has a strong ex-pat British contingent, so there seems to be a ready made social life.  A lot to be said for that.  Can see us renting here when we want to be still for months at a time.

Supper was fab again at Icarus restaurant … coupe of starters and then we shared a sea bass – wise to the portion sizes, if we had starters, we shared the main!  Nostimo … delicious.  A thunderstorm threatened close by and we watched the sea and hills change various shades from blue to grey.

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Little puss, needs cuddles with thunder.

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If she’s up and getting cuddles, I need one too!

1339- : Becoming Local

1339: Georgioupolis & Lake Kournas

Monday 4th November 2019

Off again in the Panda … coffee stop target was Georgioupolis, named after one of the kings.  Nothing regal here, a fairly smart beach resort with a square set back from said beach.  Here we found our coffee, a pastry for J and cake for me!  Then we set forth for Lake Kournas.  This is the only fresh water lake in Crete.  Fairly shallow and surrounded by hills on nearly 3 sides.  In summer you can, supposedly, walk around dit on a mixture of paths and the low shoreline.  Not today.  We had to turn back after about 1.5km, and consoled ourselves with a drink (and ice cream for me!).

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Georgioupolis has a river flowing through it.  Lots of tour and fishing boats.

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Seen a lot of chapels at the mouths of harbours.  

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Lake Kournas:  a popular summer time day trip.  Fortunately quiet today and we could actually see the lake as none of the pedalos were afloat.  They were all being cleaned and removed.

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In the afternoon I did some stealth laundry … the twin tub sits in the doorway of the van.  Whilst thus engaged, I was engaged in conversation with a local Brit who declared she was just being nosey.  Later on when J was being a water wallah, another British lady, Anne, with a Kokoni dog (Corrie is part Kokoni).  She was able to tell us that a band was playing in one of the Kalyves restaurants on Friday, but to book a table as it will get booked up, if we were interested.  Whilst chatting to Anne, another Brit of 25 years residency stopped to use the toilet in front of us and admired the van.  He is apparently an ex Cambridge don but now a pony tailed musician and part time small holding farmer.  He told us about an Open Mike night in Almyrida …  

After supper we headed off in the Panda, to the neighbouring village where we’d stayed with the Aged P’s.  Not many attended … only 4 musician compared to 12 last week, but all very high quality.  Impressed.

 

1340: Agia Reservoir & a Closed Church

Tuesday 5th November

Agia Reservoir was inaugurated in 1928 and had the first hydro electricity station in Crete.  It only stopped functioning in 2008 and the hydro plant is now an educational museum … lots of school coaches about, but fortunately the kids were all contained in a large restaurant.  We had coffee at zen restaurant … plants, flowing water and zen music.  We were able to circumnavigate this lake, although much of it was on road.  Lunch was another picnic overlooking the hills.

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The reservoir is the equivalent of an SSSI and hosts many rare and endangered species.  Though I think these geese were pretty ordinary.

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These terrapins are on the endangered lists. 

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We chuckled as one attempted to climb up on tho his mates, only to back flip back into the water and swim nonchalantly away!

After our picnic, we drove a few miles through Alikianos to a C14 church built on the site of 2 previous churches.  Sadly it was closed, so we didn’t get to see these frescoes either.

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 Ayios Zoodohos Piyi

Well, we are definitely here until Saturday.  We’ve booked a table at Simon’s Italian restaurant as there’s a live (certainly not dead) band.  And I took our bedding into the service laundry this morning … won’t be back till Friday.  And looking at the guide book, there’s still more we can explore locally using the car.  I think we’re pretty settled!

1341: The White Mountains & Omalos

Wednesday 6th November

James was tour guide today … we headed into the white mountains to the Omalos plateau.  It was an interesting drive up … the narrow road had obviously suffered land slides and mud from rains.  

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At Omalos, we stopped for our usual coffee in one of the huge but deserted restaurants.   I managed to throw the coffee all over myself … clever that!  Omalos is packed in the summer with coaches of walkers about to start the Samaria Gorge walk.  According to the guide book, the town is virtually uninhabited in the winter … snow and remote.  Think Heidi’s Uncle Peter, who took his sheep down the mountain come winter. We saw lots of goats and sheep.  Actually the local men and the goats had a lot in common … lean, rugged, weather beaten and bearded.  James had identified a walk up to a refuge, but we suspected we wouldn’t make it all the way and we didn’t.  There was a fair amount of loose stone, which is not the best navigated with dogs on leads who want to go in a different direction!  However, we got a fair way up and had some wonderful views.  Picnic and then a careful descent.  

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1336-1338: Booze, Car and Kalyves

1336:  A Booze Day

Friday 1st November

Woohoo.  We’ve done it.  A whole month sober.  Thank you very much to those of you who sponsored us to raise money for Macmillan Nurses.

We celebrated by driving up to the Peza, a wine growing area,  We bounced down a single lane dirt track, wondering how the bottles came out unbroken from the Stilianou winery.  The 4th generation owner told us last night’s rain had caused damage to the road and in a few days he would go out with a digger and repair it … not in time for us, so we bumped back down it.   He is a bio olive oil and wine maker … one of his wines also had no sulphates.  Unfortunately his oil and standard red had been sold out.  Got to taste the oil, which was really good.  He uses a mix of green and black grapes … green for sharpness and red for depth.  As I was driving, James got to finish some of my wine.  We wandered into Peza and saw a large winery with coach loads … this one buys local grapes, whereas the winery we went to you is a small family concern and we were the only customers. Not surprising given the state of the track!  At Peza I spotted the cafe had a good choice of ice cream … so that became lunch!  But then we had massive pastries and coffee before the winery.  

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White wine in the stainless steel.

We drove onto Kalyves, where we stayed the night before the Aged P’s arrived.  The champagne didn’t go on ice early enough and since it is Lauren Perrier, we were not going to drink it warm.  So we both had a large gin.  Then celebrated with supper at one of the beach front restaurants. Only a half litre of red … formerly, this would probably have been 1.5 or 2 litres over a meal.  Then we shared the raki and had a small night cap back in the van  I woke at 4 with a cloudy head … hangover?!  James, of course, had no ill effects.  

The first restaurant didn’t want our custom … dogs not allowed inside.  We know, but we’ve not had any issues with the covered outdoor spaces in all the months we’ve been in Crete.  Next door were happy for us to eat in their gazebo.  The lady was English, married to a Greek.  I suggested her Greek must be very good, quick as a flash she relied with “He’s not bad most of the time!”  Rather think she’s said that before.  Another table of 3 generations of English were next door on their half term holiday.  As soon as we arrived the heavens opened and the water started a torrent through the floor of the outside space …

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A slight flood through the restaurant.

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Corrie was very happy to climb on my lap, she doesn’t like going out in the rain even and certainly not sitting in it.  Oscar, was unperturbed by the flowing water.

1337: Rugby, Shopping and Car Collection 

Saturday 2nd November

We watched the rugby final in the van.  I had to keep knitting through it to stop myself from being over stressed!  We didn’t move much!  Dog walking on the beach and I walked into the main part of the town, finding a fish shop, a butcher, vet for dog food and a supermarket.  Cupboards re-stocked.  Caught up on a bit of admin and the blog.  Then, leaving CO2 in the van, we walked the couple of km to the car hire place.  The owner was South African and the rugby result was the first thing he mentioned.  Funny that!  Sadly he feels that racism and corruption are so entrenched in SA, the win won’t make any difference.  We now have the use of a Fiat Panda on a month by month basis.

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 Our water front pitch with our fleet of vehicles!  Suspect the e bikes won’t get used much at the moment.  The public toilet and water point are the tardis looking building on the right … nice and close.

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 Just showing off a bit … the King of Bream, Gilt Head, cooked under the grill with potatoes, tomatoes and red pepper cooked in the Remoska.  Yummy.

1338: Aptera, Hills and Churches

Sunday 3rd November

Picnic and table and chairs squished into the boot of the Panda, we set of to Aptera.  A popular spot given the 3 coaches of French tourists.  Being the first Sunday of the month, it was free entry.    Aptera has been inhabited since C14 BC and up to 1964, when the monastery was finally abandoned!  It has an amphitheatre, cisterns, Roman baths, old monastery, and small chapel (shut).  

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 James on the Hellenistic (!) path to the amphitheatre.

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And the amphitheatre. 

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The abandoned monastery complex.

 We drove onto the Church in Stylos.  Stylos was significant during the Battle of Crete as the New Zealanders and Australians made a final stand, enabling the Allies to be evacuated.  Many of the Antipodeans were stranded and made their way south … we visited some of the places some of them were evacuated from already, notably Preveli Monastery.  As the locals supported them, there were many villages were destroyed and residents murdered in reprisals.  Stylos was busy with restaurants open and lamb being BBQ’d on great spits.  But too early for lunch and we have our picnic!

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Stylos’ ancient church had some damaged frescoes and excavations inside. 

Past Samonas was the Church of Ayios Nikolas; medieval frescos ‘as good as any on Crete’.  We’ll have to just believe the guide book, as the church was shut!

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Church of Ayios Nikolas.  We could get through the gate, but not into the church.

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We stopped along the road of our picnic… great views out to the Souda Bay.  Only 7 cars passed us in the whole time.

Kalyves beach area seems to be getting ready to shut up for the winter.  After a coffee from the cafe opposite us, we watched them start to pack away all their tables and chairs.  This end of town might become really quite quiet.  Suits us.

 

Corrie and Oscar Blog (combined)

“Well Oscar – what do you think of this place?” “They say we’re in Grease again – in Creti – looks the same to me as Greece and Crete of 2 years ago!”  “By the way, happy birthday – 6-year-old chum!”  “Ok, now the owners are back on the booze again, we’ll have to be careful – mark the level on the gin bottle – and watch James’ heavy pouring hand”  “But Corrie, they say they’re going to drink a lot less…..” Yeah right, Oscar – pigs fly in Crete!”

“Since we arrived (again) in Kalyves, they’ve taken us to Hellenistics, churches, beaches, hilltop picnic areas – they forgot our lunchtime treats once – and put us in a piddly Fiat Pandycar……”

“All right old chum, but they’ve reinstated our sardine and kong rations – even if the old man forgot the feckin kongs last night! “

“let’s give them a chance – They’re good eggs really……”

“More anon, readers”  “Karrapolo, and Jassus – from sunny Crete”