1418-1424: Southern Scenery Wows

1418: Farewell Dinner

Tuesday 21st January 2019

We returned north to Kissamos to spend the evening with Brian.  He had booked the daytime ferry for Wednesday morning which would take him to Glythio on the Peloponnese.  We had booked the restaurant in Kissamos that J and I had eaten at twice before, and bespoke a special meal … the daughter / waitress had told us that it was her favourite dish after I’d said how good her mother’s flavours are. She’d given me her mobile number so I could contact her to let them know when we were coming!

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Morning CO2 walk up in the hills behind Sougia. 

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Wild flowers creating a New Year carpet.

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Farewell dinner with Brian.   Chicken cooked in the pressure cooker for 45 mins.  The rice cooked in the chicken broth and run through with sheep’s butter and lemon juice.  The rice, particularly, had a lovely delicate flavour, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy old chicken again.

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We played cards … J tried to focus as Zoa straddled his lap.  As soon as anyone passed the fridge … Zoa was all attention – he’s quickly leaned that frozen kongs are an evening treat.

1419: Kalives … High Maintenance Woman This Time

 Wednesday 22nd January 

Quite a few people had picked up colds at the New Year’s Eve dinner.  J and I very rarely get colds, due to our fresh air lifestyle.  But when I do, it usually goes to my sinuses and I cant shake it off.  So I paid a visit to the Kalives doctor … they know us quite well now … wonder if they have our address down as … Camper, Beach Car Park?  UK doctors will reluctantly give me 5 days of Amoxycilin (I know the reasons why!), but I always have to go back for more.  This doctor gave me 10 days worth, probiotic for my tum and a nasal spray.  EUR 20 for the consolation and EUR25 for the meds.  Very happy with that.  And thank you for asking … the antibiotics are working already.

1420: South to Sfakia

Thursday 23rd January 2019

I drove to Chania and topped up on our Lidl shop, whilst J sorted Jez and CO2 out.  Showers and services.  After lunch we convoyed to Chora Sfakion … it really is a stunning route over the White Mountains.  The snow we went looking for, a week or so back, has largely melted.

We are parked up at the entrance to the harbour, which is mostly full of boats lifted from the water, advertising day trips to Gavdos and Loutro.  Coffee with the locals … the toilet was interesting … a portaloo perched on the edge of a cliff with the wind howling round!   Amazing stars again, given so little light pollution.

1421: Top Gorge Walk

Friday 21st January 

A pretty rubbish night’s sleep … before bed we had moved Jez to face the wind, but in the night the wind moved.  A late start!  J slept worse than I, so he rested whilst I took CO2 off in the AndyPandyCar.  I had a BIG smile on my face the whole trip.  Stunning views from the switch backs up and then down to my parking at Livaniana, which had no sign of life other than free roaming goats.   A narrow road down, covered in red dirt, that then gave way to a dirt track.  Oh well, done these before – just concentrate!

The actual gorge walk is described as strenuous with plenty of climbing over rocks and ladders … not one to do with CO2.  Apparently descending from Livaniana would have meant I could have walked the easier part and done a circular walk.  Had I been able to find the path!  So I followed a path I could find, with CO2 strapped to my waist … far too much goat temptation.  I didn’t feel at all hard done by as the the views of the gorge were simply stunning and I got to walk in the warmth of the sun.  

On the way home to J and Jez, I did a slight detour to nearby Aradena … I’d read about a steel and wood bridge spanning the gorge.  It’s installation was paid for by a wealthy business family whose village would have been cut off else.  The village access being a very steep foot / donkey path down the steep gorge and back up the other side … gotta bring James here tomorrow.

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Up the road moving west from Chora Sfakion.

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The Aradhena Gorge clefting its way across the landscape.

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The gorge approaching the coast.




CO2 and I stopped for an H2O and sun break at the chapel.


Enough shell cases to smelt into a church brass bell.  And BBQ fire pits … CO2 trying to consume all the cooked bones left behind!


 On the way back down … this is our destination in a few days … park at the bottom and walk over to Loutro … accessible only by foot, donkey or boat.


 Aradhena, perched over the gorge.

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Distant view of the steel and wood bridge.  Built in 1986 by a wealthy international business family, as a lifeline to their village further on. I’m sure it dips in the middle!



The guide book states ‘Rumble across it in a car and the terrifying crack of the wooden boards against the metal thunders around the gorge below”.  It was surely a stomach in mouth moment, to walk it too, as there are cracks between the boards, and the boards move …  I will take J back for the experience tomorrow … he will want to inspect the rivets!


And now you can see how deep the drop below is!!!  In the summer, you can bungee jump off!



1422: Wood and Cave Walk

 Saturday 22nd January 

I was a bizarrely a tad disappointed that J who is not over keen about heights, was absolutely fine on the bridge.   He won’t do the platforms on the Willis or Hancock Towers.  I should have remembered that he knows bridges.  Not even a single rivet inspection.  What I found particularly strange was the lack of max weight sign … was it OK to hold a 15 ton lorry then?  Would not have wanted to drive Jez over at around 4.5 tons. 

We drove onto Agios Ioannis on the road to no where.  At the end of the road, we spontaneously decided to respond to a walking sign heading to Kormopos Cave; Loutro could wait till tomorrow.  Although we had no views until near the destination, it was interesting as it was wooded, whereas most of the landscape is low scrub.  The height we attained … and it was a looooooong up, and then a looong down, meant that we found both cloud and snow.

We picnicked over looking the cave, not chancing the wet, steep and narrow path down to it.  


No need to check the rivets … J’s a bridge man!  I did spot that the last one had popped up, but we were over by then.


CO2 reluctantly set off over the bridge, thinking this was the way we were headed … only to have to come back again.


A curious gaze and a very large bell.


A totally different landscape and we found snow.

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Picnic spot overlooking the cave, our target.


This is Chora Sfakion – you can see Jez’ nose poking out behind the rock.  Our home for 6 nights. 

1423: An Interesting Journey to Loutro

 Sunday 23rd January 

Loutro today.  It is named as one of Crete’s gems … inaccessible by car.  A lot of trippers catch a boat here for the day.  A scenic drive to Finikas, brushing the donkey with the wing mirror as we inched past, and then down the super steep and nerving road / track down.  A really pretty walk around the head land, with views and passing and archeological site. 

We had been ripped off at cafe in Sfakia … tourist prices and had been using a taverna up in Anopoli for the last few days for our morning and afternoon coffees.  There was a restaurant open in Sfakia, but TripAdvisor had mixed reviews … so we went back up the hill to Anopoli for supper.  Really excellent quality and good prices.  On the way back down the head lights picked out lots of boulders … no the goats were all tucked up on the tarmac, so we chicane’d around them.

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Unmovable object blocking road.

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Tarmac to start, but a good half is dirt track…

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… narrow with sheer drops.


Looking back to Finikas, the hamlet, where we left the car.


Walking around the headland; the archeological site is behind the church bell.


Chora Sfakion is just in the distance.





We climbed a bit and then decided it was too hot and too steep, so we returned the way we came.  Loutro is not inhabited … it is all restaurants and holiday accommodation.  They day trippers pile in on boats.  The beach is TINY … so where do they all sit?  In high season, you must physically be rubbing shoulders with neighbours.  


Loutro picnic spot.  All the awnings and verandas removed for the window.  We and a chap, painting the mandatory white, were the only living souls.

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Lots of large birds of prey near the gorge, and the odd one came for supper!

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Amazing quality food at the Anopoli Taverna … J said they were the best meatballs and my pork with peppers was just yummy.  We ate the lot!

1424: Chania Jobs

 Monday 24th January 

The weather forecast was not marvellous, so we decided to drive back across the mountains to Chania … 3 full loads of laundry, e juice for J, a new phone screen protector and woolly tights for me.  On the way back down south, we stopped off at Icarus restaurant in Kalives … another yummy plateful and a good chat with owners Michelle and Micahlis.   I’ve just got on the scales … 4lbs on this week!


1323-1329: Same Aged P’s, Different Location

1323:  Travelling South Via Aryiroupoli

Saturday 19th October 2019

We used the beach shower to fill with water as Mother did her daily fast morning walk.  She’s done more exercise than James or I!  We were 10 mins from setting off when a chap from the hotel behind asked us if we could move Jez … the new guests had complained about the van blocking their sea view and we were much higher than cars would be.  Can’t resent this, as they are probably on a week’s precious holiday and had paid for a sea view … not the not so clean rear end of a grey van!  


This is the view we were blocking the hotel guests from!


The Aged P’s flat was behind and to the left of Rentacar.

I drove the hire car with the Aged P’s and J followed in the van. Don’t usually like driving in convoy, but the roads here are pretty empty and the larger ones have an extra half lane so the slow vehicles can allow others to overtake … which they do despite bends and double lines in the middle of the road.  We’d planned to picnic lunch as Aryiroupoli, but got there earlier than expected and as we parked up Jez, a restaurant owner was concerned that we would park where his customers might like the shortest walk to a meal at his establishment.  He must have been expecting coach loads judging by the amount of meat barbecuing.  No, just staying for a few hours and (as and appeasement), was he serving coffee?    There are two parts to Aryiroupoli, predictably, Lower and Upper!  The Lower has Springs, water flowing trough loads of channels in the restaurants and further down.  The Upper consists of a small village centre with a few shops and some Roman mosaics.  Good olive oil products shop.  We didn’t even stay a couple of hours in the end, as the rain came down … so we set off again for our south coast destination.  

Home for the next 6 nights was a very small hamlet with a few restaurants with rooms and a small, but well stocked shop.  The Aged P’s were staying in a room at the latter.  It is a bit off the normal tourist trail (good!), being known to locals and overseas regulars.  Friends of ours have been coming here since 1980; one of the restaurants lets them empty their black waste in his toilet and another washes sheets and towels for them.  Food in the restaurants was super tasty and inexpensive.  A really restful place.  However, we did day trips out!

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Apparently this was ‘erected’ as a German kept getting his tackle out!

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Our beach.

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The next beach along.  Lots of cairns.

1324:  Prevelli Monasteries

Sunday 20th October 

There are two monasteries.  The old Lower one had been destroyed a number of times and the Monks finally moved into the new one about 50 years ago as the upkeep was difficult.  There are now only 2 monks in the Upper Monastery.  The guide at the Lower Monastery explained that there are too many tourists and not enough meditation time at this location, so monks tend to go elsewhere.  


The Lower Monastery.


A short drive to the Upper Monastery … a large car park with an H painted on the tarmac for helicopters.  A number of coaches at this one. The buildings were not remarkable, but the history is.  During the wars of independence again the Turks, some of the Monks actually took up arms and there are pictures of gun toting monks in the old monastery museum.  Although they did not fight in WW2, they were active in aiding the Allies.  After the Battle of Crete was lost, thousands of Allies headed south through the gorges.  Preveli hid a lot of them and then assisted them onto a submarine.  They first effort was so successful, a second was attempted, but by this time the Germans were wise to it.  They raided and ransacked the monastery.  A number of the Monks were arrested.  Intervention by one of the Bishops had them released, but the head Monk had to escape to N Africa, sadly only dying a few days before the end of the war.  The monastery continued to support and feed soldiers and the residence.

The main relic of the Monastery was being held by a Monk in the church and kissed by the coach passengers … a Cross.  The story about this cross is fascinating.  It had been captured by the Turks at the end of the C18 and sold to Genoese sailors, who later happened to be passing by.  Their boat stalled, if boats can stall?  It wouldn’t move, so the superstitious sailors returned the cross to the monastery.  Then the Germans tried to fly it to Berlin, but the plane had a fault and would not take off.  They changed plane and this one also refused to budge … so the cross was once more returned to the monks.


The new Monastery church housing the True Cross.


Many of the evacuated soldiers were from New Zealand and Australia and have donated / paid for monuments expressing their thanks.

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Picnic view … this south coast is stunning with mountains and gorges running right down to the sea.


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The monument to the monks and the Allies.

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Coffee and ice cream back on the deck at the Aged P’s accommodation.

1325:  Frangokastello and Up

Monday 21st October 

Frangokastello is a great coffee / lunch stop.  Good beaches if that’s your thing.  The castle 1371 is fairly impressive, built to protect the Venetian occupiers from invaders and pirates, but now just a shell.  Being badly restored at the moment … a few workmen slapping on non matching mortar and therefore not open to visitors.  


After coffee we headed up a gorge to Kallikratis.  The guide book described the road as ‘the steepest, most winding and spectacular in Crete’.  So it had to be done.  A friend told me that she remembered it being built and had driven it before it was widened … coming down the car bonnet was over the edge of the drop.  Going up was much easier, aided by the fact we didn’t meet any other traffic until the top, and we came back a different route.

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Kallikratis Gorge.



Picnic stop.


Local inhabitants tormenting CO2.  How do they get up here?

1326:  Plakias

Tuesday 22nd October 

Plakias is another holiday destination, with a good number of restaurants and bars.  However, all the buildings are low rise so it has not been spoilt.

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Don’t know how or why this van had made it into the water.

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We had ice creams, but Mum had a Pinicolda!  She could taste the copious alcohol in it … yummy … for her.  No taster sips for us, as we are still battling through Sober for October.

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1327:  Chora Sfakion and Imbros Gorge

Wednesday 23rd October 

Chora Skaflion is the capital of the region, but is relatively small.  Growth has been restricted due to the surrounding mountains.  Busy with a coach park and a nearly full paid for car parking … EUR3 per day.  We arrived, coffeed, walked around and then sat on admiring the small port for and ice cream.  Not one to break a trend, Mum had another booze laden cocktail.

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The waterfront with wall to wall restaurants.  The fresh fish on display looked good … but we have a picnic.

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Whilst we ate ice cream, we watch this trip boat fill up.  Surely it is a bit top heavy and the wind was blowing!

We drove up the main road from Chania to Chora Sfakion, which goes along the Imbros Gorge.  This is the second most visited gorge and even at this time of year there were 4 coaches parked up at the bottom waiting for their passengers to walk down.  We established that a car (taxi) to drive to the top of the gorge is EUR25 … I may do this when James flies to Dublin in December.  As we climbed, the mists came in and views diminished.  It was also much chillier, so we almost descended the whole way before we picnicked.

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Did I mention the wind … we had to hold everything down, even the food.

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Goat Gate:  Oscar does like a stick and brought this one home after a walk.  He left it in his bed, where Corrie found it.  She has a habit to shred sticks, so I grabbed it to chuck it out … only to discover it was part of a goat’s leg, with hoof attached.  YUK!  But what happened to the rest of the goat?

1328:  Fish Fest

Thursday 24th October 

Our last full day with the Aged P’s :(.  We had a coffee on the deck at their accommodation and then we went to the taverna on the neighbouring beach.  Ordered a few meze to start and then ordered some fresh fish.  We’ve worked out that to make the meal last, order the courses as you want them.  The two large fish, bream and sea bass, were just beautifully cooked … double yummy.  The Aged P’s managed to NOT hold back on the booze front … whilst we are STILL dry for Go Sober for October.   


1329:  North and South

Friday 25th October 

A drive up to Chania Airport for the Aged P’s to catch their flight home.  Gonna miss them lots.  People seem to think that having one’s parents around for 11 nights would be a chore, but they are such good company.  More of a chore for them, I suspect!

We headed back south through the White Mountains, but a bit further along the coast east … to Kokkinos Pirgos.  We walked along the beach to the restaurant next to the small harbour … but flavourless and expensive off a huge tourist menu. Worst meal we’ve had so far.  Shame as fab location.