05/22: Amari Gorge Tour

Since the last trip, we’ve had some fun, mostly based at home.  Highlights include:

  • A musical lunch at the Botanical Gardens with friends
  • Various meals with friends …. still not loosing weight!

And Danny and Lisa visited from Thornaby.  They became part of our Turkish lockdown family.  We’ve been up to see them and they stayed in our Devon house in January.  Danny had been unable to get a dental appointment for 18 months … what is that all about?!  So for EUR50, he had a filling replaced over here.  could have had a next day appointment, so we are moving into Dental Tourism as a money making exercise!  just don’t expect your flight to arrive on time!  Once that was down, we headed off to Spinalonga for 2 nights.  Lisa only just managed to finish ‘The Island’ before we arrived.  We parked up at Plaka beach for 2 nights, visited the island and ate out.  Super hot so used a bar’s sun loungers and had a few swims.  En route, we stopped at Knossos (Minoan main city) and on the way back at Moni Arkadi.   And we managed just fine all 4 of us plus CO2 in the van.    We also has a WW2 tour about the start of the invasion … will probably repeat this with the Aged Ps in October.

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Knossos.

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Spinalonga Island and Elounda behind.

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Danny and Lisa are not lepers, honest!

So Danny and Lisa left on Monday.  House cleaned Tuesday.  Next guests arrive on the 11th June … we have a few weeks to head off in the van … yay!

 

Potamon / Potamoi Dam

Wednesday 25th May 2022 (IRemembering Nicky’s who would have been 57th today)

Before we collected Jez, we went via Chania for J to pick up his repaired hearing aid … he’s been on one working for over a week.  And let me tell you 50% of hearing aids is not equal to 50% hearing loss.  I am sure people think I must be more unpleasant than I am, due to the aggressive sounding shouting.  And he has missed most of the conversations when any background noise.  

Our 2nd chore was to take Jez to a Fiat garage to have a new remote key programmed.  When we were thinking of selling Jez last summer, I hid 2 sets of remote keys, along with all locker etc keys somewhere SAFE.  Of course, we kept hoping they would turn up.  The van has been emptied and turned over, but at some point (probably much earlier than now) it is sensible to get a replacement key.  Especially as we are thinking of Turkey come July.  So down some narrow lanes to the Fiat service centre.  A chap came out and wanted to drive Jez down to the back of the garage, between a wall and lots of parked cars.  It was TIGHT.  I don’t know if he had ever driven a right hand vehicle before.  Keys programmed … apparently if we do find the missing 2 sets they will no longer work anyway!  But then I had to reverse out.  J was my rear end man and another man on the front …. big sigh of relief when out onto the road.

Only 1.5 hours drive to Potomon Resevoir  We’ve stayed here before, but this time we’ve moved around the other side of the dam.  So hot, we got the chairs out and sat in the shade of the van reading and knitting.  Peaceful views only briefly disturbed by a drone!  What?!?  Two photographers and a bride and groom for a photo shoot.    And thankfully CO2 didn’t jump on her!  Once it cooled down, I walked CO2 to the junction of the road we want tomorrow.  It was impassable on our last visit here due to massive subsidence.  It’s been re- tarmaced and slipped again.  Along with landslip across the carriageway and encroaching foliage making sections single track, but passable.  Signs up declaring it a ’slow speed road’!  And no prizes guessing for the person who didn’t pack the mossie spray! I’m OK, J is my decoy!

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Potomon Resevoir.  For the second night we moved up to the chapel.

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We’d gone cheap on a replacement roof light, and it doesnt open as far as the previous one.  After exploring lots of alternative routes up the roof, I finally managed to get through the aperture and cleaned off the various Sahara dust storms.

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The wedding shoot.  Do wish men would have their too long trousers turned up!  Lovely dress, but grey from the dirt at the bottom.

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View for the chapel parking.

Patsos Gorge

Thursday 26th May

We ran the dodgy road but only for a 3km run.  Getting warm.  And recently we’ve been driving to where it is virtually flat to run, so the hills were taking it out of us.  A short drive the Patsos Gorge.  Anther revisit.  Very pretty … a (much) younger couple ahead of us indicated that it was impassable from the bridge, so we aborted on part of the climb down.  Into the taverna there for lunch.  Decided to head back to Potomon reservoir, but stayed next to the chapel.  More shade and higher up to less mossies.

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A prayer to St Anthony and you don’t need your crutches to walk out of the gorge.

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Lots of prayer offerings and scraps of written prayers stuck into the rocks.

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Patsos Gorge.

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Syvritos by Thronos, Monistraki a mistake, and Moni Asmaton a ruin

Friday 27th May

We stopped by a church in Agia Fotini to ’steel’ some water.  Such high pressure, it should have been called Agia Fountainii!  I did a mini hand wash, filled the van.  Proper working town so managed to buy mossie repellant and itch cream from a pharmacy.  J suggested a cold drink at the cafe …. good to ‘pay’ the town for the water.

A sort hop onto Thronos, destination Syvritos.  J is normally up for most of my suggestions.  He had some comments on this mini excursion though.  Mostly along the lines of the sense in climbing a rocky track in the heat of the day.  And hadn’t we seen enough Minoan sites already.  At the top, he sat with CO2 in the shade and I went to explore Syvritos.  I was back pretty quickly.  It was so overgrown that there was very little to see.  Just a few signs denoting building A or B.  Thorny bushes so couldn’t even walk around what was there.  Ho hum!  It was much quicker going back down to Jez.  Had to move the van from a dirt area as apparently that was the bus parking!  Lunch in the shade with a breeze.

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View from the climb to Syvritos.

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Was the climb worth it James?

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Not when this is all there is to be seen!

Then onto Moni Asmaton and just before we arrived, J suggested an ice cream at a cafe …a quick swerve and parked.  Coffee and ice cream. I looked at the map … Mono Asmaton was all of 150m away.  So I left J with CO2.  A stunning ruin with an intact chapel in the middle.  From 1927 to the 80’s it had been an agricultural school.  One much newer building had been replastered recently.  It would make a good hotel complex.  I was tempted to ‘lift’ a couple of shutters and doors to decorate the patio area in Almyrida, but would have had to walk back past the cafe with my swag!  Too embarrassing.  

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Is Moni Asmaton worth walking to James?

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 Yes, it was! 

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We drove towards Monistraki.  Another ancient site with a parking that promised views (ergo a breeze) and water.  Errr … not down that road we aint!  Sat nav re-routed us to another unfeasibly narrow road with over hanging trees and parked cars.  A 5 point turn and the bemused faces of locals as we passed by them on the way outta town!  Similarly we headed to Amari, but it didn’t seem to have any larger roads.  Another 5 point turn.  Ooh a lovely parking identified with water, a breeze and on a hill top.  We arrived and decided we may have got Jez up there and under the arch, but then again … Abort.  Tired now, we went for safety.  And drove down to Komos Beach.  We had cycled here previously when we have stayed at Matala.  Much as we like Matala, we knew it would be rammed with a small beach.

We arrived.  Parked.  I swam.  And availed ourselves of cold drinks from the mobile snack bar.  Once the beach front parking cleared out, I moved the van into a prime position.

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Our prime beach front parking at Komos Beach.

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We used the Snack Shack … 

Having been the solo van it felt a bit congested to now be one of 4 vans.  A D, Ch and Greek rental.  The German Swiss chap I disliked.  He seemed to think it was to let his large German Shepard roam free.  Disturbed CO2, who promptly shot out under our new £600 door flatscreen.  Minor damage.  The concertina trellis was no deterrent.  Humpf! 

04.22: Mini Road Trip East Crete 1

Heading East

Friday 19th April

Kalimera readers – James here blogging after a long gap – for all kinds of reasons…..   We Jazzed to the east of Kriti – via Heraklion for a new Jez key – we seem to misplace keys – occasionally…  (K:  What he kindly doesn’t say is that I hid two sets of Jez keys somewhere safe.  Along with the roof box keys.  News sets all round required!) We wild camped overnight in exactly the same spot as 4 years ago – big Spinalonga.

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A repeat overnight … just over onto Big Spinalonga

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K walked up to a chapel and later when looked oat our blog from 4 years ago saw I’d taken the exact same photo.

Pachia Ammos

Saturday 30th April 2020

While wrestling with the roof box on our Suzuki car, I strained my wrist – painful – so Nurse Clune bandaged (not banjaxed) me up. No running and an easy day and Lidl shopping… 

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Nurse Katherine LOL!  A tea towel was sacrificed to make a bandage and dog lead used as a sling.  K wasn’t a Girl Guide for nothing, even if they did ask her to leave!

Tholos Beach

Sunday 1st May 2020

Another lovely beach overnight – hair pruning – moi and big O…In the morning, I ran and K did Pilates of the Caribbean – or Aegean…I’ve got up to 5Km walking and running – keeping my pulse rate below 106/120 max. We’ll run/walk a half marathon in October – to accompany Maddy and Jordan – virtually – raising money for MacMillan nurses…

We liked Tholos.  One close Taverna and a few bodies (alive).  Only the Brits were sunbathing with a needed wind break. Walked to the end of the beach and spotted a chemical loo  (which we used: not us but our cassette). 

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Tholos Granary was used in Roman times.  Goods were shipped in and stored until they were sent by pack horse to a port on the South.  The question has to be, why didn’t the ship just sail to the next port?

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Tholos Beach and some geezer taken from the granary.

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 Corrie STOP!

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Oscar post pruning.  J had his head sheared too! 

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We do not have a choice.  Too many so called friends have spoilt CO2 and now they expect to have a bed snuggle every morning.  Corrie goes to extremes and lays her head on a pillow and is often under the duvet!

Mochlos

Monday 2nd May 2020

Parked at Mochlos – as 4 years ago…  Am – drove to the town – it rained – sought refuge in a taverna – for local lunch – aubergine salad, fava and moussaka (K:  You forgot about your side order of fries James!) – noshtimo! 

Overnight was near Sitia … a turtle hatching beach.  Again a spot revisited.  K checked when turtles come up to lay eggs on the beach (May-to September is the answer) and did a recconnaisance walk before releasing our beasts.  Locals smiled and waved at us or even came and had a CO2 cuddle.  Nowhere have we found people to be as friendly as in Greece.

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Looking back to Tholos Beach.  

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Mochlos.  When it rains  what to do but have lunch.  Last time we were here we sat outside and watched a cat try to climb a pole to reach a squid hung out to dry.  Today we watched rivulets of water come under the restaurant awning.

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Fortunately the sun came out as we walked back to Jez.

Sitia and onto Chiona

Tuesday 3rd May 2020

City of Sitia  – walk – seeking a phone case, cable – no luck so will order online. Lovely city Sitia.  Proper working town. Obligatory coffee… 

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Yep, cold and windy.  May in Crete!

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Roman Fisheries.

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Coffee stop.

Drove to Toplou Monastery – famous building – and scene of defences against Ottomans and Germans…..Well worth the Euro 8 for entrance. Ecclesiastical vestments and altar bits – reminded me of being an altor boy in Glasthule St Joseph’s…

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Toplou Mnastery.  It’s wealthy as they own tracts of land on this this western point.

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And it does look like a fortress.  Part of the museum was guns from the Ottoman resistance and WW2.  It seems incongruous but most Greek priests and monks took up arms.

On to our overnight stay at Chiona.  We chose a different restaurant to last time we we were here, just to shake it up a bit!

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So far it has been too cold, wet and windy to get the stand up paddle board out.  It is travelling strapped into CO2’s sofa …. they have to take turns and occasionally they both manage to get up there.

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Chiona Beach Wetlands.

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Chiona Beach.

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Nearby Palaikastro Minoan site.  It was second in size to Knossos but not fully excavated.  Free to wander as no warden or box for the EUR3 fee.

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Local sausages for J.

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Possibly the best shrimp saganaki I’ve had.


Another Catch Up!

Update … Another One!

Feb to April 2022

We parted the UK shores with Jez fully laden with more stuff destined for our Crete house.  Still had to leave some things behind, but we’ve been ‘allowed’ a storage unit in the Aged P’s new house car barn.  You can imagine our excitement after having had to remove everything down to a toothbrush as the Aged p’s downsized.  The storage unit is currently is home to a heavy combination microwave cooker and various items of camping kit.  Plus some things we will use when we are back in the UK in the motorhome.

We travelled to Crete via Antibes to spend 2 days with James’ daughter Sarah and family.  Quite a compliment that 5 year old Jade wanted to spend a few hours with us alone whilst Sarah was at a party with Cian.  Jade was amazed at our strange home on wheels.  A bed that comes down from the roof.  A wardrobe under the bed.  Cupboards under the floor.  She was determined to use our strange toilet and so did!

Back on Crete we spent a few nights in Jez in the Kalives carpark, near our house.  We needed to clean (or so we thought, but our lovely gardener who had been checking on the house had cleaned for us!) and unpack.  We picked up a hire car, another Andy Pandy Car (Fiat Panda).  Small but serviceable, but it took several loads to get our stuff up to our house.  And the house needed a lot of sorting to accommodate our new stuff.

We had ordered a new car, a Suzuki Vitara back in November.  We knew ETAs were sliding with supply issues so we popped into the Suzuki dealership to ascertain a realistic date.  Yep, not March, more likely May/June.  Ooh er … we are paying for a hire car.  Do you have anything else available?  An, XXX but another EUR2000.  The charming Mathew said I’ll check the computer but I really don’t think so.  Then his eyebrows waggled and we held our breath.  Yes, exactly the same spec as ours due in 3 weeks.  Destined for a lease company but they wouldn’t know / mind if they had ours many months later.  And it came with a better media panel (basically and android tablet).  Under 3 weeks later, it was ours.  Any names suggestions welcome … it’s grey and reg is XNY3632?  After the debacle with Zorba, which was such a great name, we’ve not thought of anything suitable.  So we now have a hopefully reliable car with a 5 year warranty, after all the car and van costs of last summer!

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Nameless car.

I was back to the UK for a few days in March for the Aged p’s 60th birthday celebration and Mum’s birthday a few days before … no diet then!

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Jez has been stored at an airport car park with CCTV, gates and security 24/7.  A great rate of EUR180 for 5 months.  We’ve taken him out twice now, leaving the car in his place.  Robyn came over in March and we headed off around the main sights of the west.  The weather was bloody awful  The first night was sooo windy, only James slept.  Must be the sleep of the innocent!  I lay there thinking that I couldn’t wake Robyn in the bed over the cab to move the van to a more sheltered spot.  And Robyn lay there thinking, if this were my van I’d move it.  We made sure we found more sheltered spots after!  Our trip included Stavros (Zorba’s famous dance was filmed here), Falsarna, Elephonisi, Paleochora and Matala.  There is no road along the south coast, so twice we headed north only to come south again.  On one such drive, we had snow piled 2ft high either side of us, hail, snow, rain and wind!  We were wearing all our clothes and using the van heating … in March in Crete!  The worst March weather Crete has had in 35 years!

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Got a stick happy dance from Oscar on Elaphonisi.

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Sheltered overnight at a monastery.

The Aged P’s came over for 11 days.  We rented an AirBnB house near Agious Nikolas.  An ice cream in Ag Nik, Big Spinalonga walk and a meal in Plaka and a drive around the Lasithi Plateau.  Great mini trip, but again cold and windy.  Given the Aged P’s are wine connoisseurs (alcoholics!), we did a wine tasting and compared wines from another tasting J and I had done.  You wouldn’t come to Crete for the wine … it’s expensive for the quality compared to other EU countries … as the Aged P’s have told me after their Bulgarian wine tasting 2 days ago!

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Chill time on our patio.

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Navigating a steep down, up and a ford at the Botanical Gardens.  A good lunch was at the reward.

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The Ag Nik Glutton.  A rare species 

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View finally of the Lasithi Plateau a bendy drive up.

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The wine snob.  To be fair, it was rank.

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A chicken diner delivery on our balcony, after a couple of mojitos!

Maddy arrived for 6 days.  She’s in the last throes of her MA so did a few hours most days essay writing, sleeping and chilling.  She and Jordan are back in June for 2 weeks.

Otherwise, we’ve met up with good friends who live near us, had a few walks, and done admin.  Amazing how the time flies!  We finally got to meet our lovely landlady, who was over staying with her partner’s family.  She has assured us that she’s happy for us to continue renting long term, so we’re good to do a few things to the house.  Small world here.  I had admired a painting in one of our favourite restaurants.  Googled the artist and messaged her.  Lives not far and yes she has a studio / gallery near her home  I booked to view her work for a couple of weeks hence.  Half an hour later a message from our landlady … the artist is the mother of her partner!  The artist’s name is an unlikely Balsam Wood … how cool is that. And we now have a lovely painting hanging on our wall.

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