Friday, October 17, 2008

Crete - the Island of Dreams

"Out in the dark blue sea there lies a land called Crete, a rich and lovely land, washed by the waves on every side..." --- The Odyssey

Crete island is the largest of Greece and is located in the south of the Aegean Sea. It inhabitants about 630 000 people and is 8336 km² large.

The tourist guide says, that Crete has everything to offer: mountainous landscapes, a coast with many beautiful beaches and rocky coves, beautiful towns and charming villages and harbors, excellent food, ruins of the Minoan Civilization, one of the greatest civilization ever, an exciting nightlife - hence it's called "the Island of Dreams".
I and Erik visited Crete in the end of September and beginning of October (I due to work and Erik just enjoyed a free week from work). Unfortunately we couldn't experience all the things Crete has to offer, but indeed it was a lovely island, though quite touristic (at least in the area where we stayed). But we loved our apartment, the beach, the nice warm days (compared to Estonian during this time of the year) and olive trees :).
OUR VILLAGE - Koutouloufari in Hersonissos
My Conference took place in Hersonissos which is a very, very touristic area. You can walk in the main street near the beach with loads of other tourists and enter all kind of different tourist shops and sit in loads of different restaurant, seeing many hotels everywhere. Luckily our accommodation was outside of this touristic area - in Koutouloufari village which lies on the foot of Mount Harakas. It had a beautiful view over to other places and the little village was just lovely. I booked our apartment from internet and both I and Erik were very satisfied with it.
Photo: The view from our apartment.

Photo: Our apartment situated in the house in the middle, on the first floor.
Photo: Our pool next to the house. But the water was quite cold... Once I went swimming there (dark in the evening) and I stayed in the water only for a few minutes... The Mediterranean Sea was warmer :).
Photo: Lovely blooming trees in our village :)
Photo: This is how our apartment looked inside.
BLUE CRETE
Like in other parts of Creece, you see a lot of blue colour in Crete as well.
Why Creek people like blue so much? The preference comes from an old belief of man, that the sky-blue shade had the power to keep Evil away. The radiation of the color composes an invisible shield, which prevents the approach of bad spirits.
That's why you see blue colour in the streets of Crete!
Photo: Blue is represented also in the flag of Creece.
Photo: Those white houses with blue windows are so romantic...

Photo: An open-air caffe place with blue chairs and tables.

HIKING IN CRETE
Crete island is very mountainous. Deep gorges split its huge mountains (Lefka, Ori, Psiloritis, Dikti) leading to lovely valleys.
The Creten people say only one is the gorge and they are referringo of course the the famous Samaria gorge which is Crete's pride, as no such other exists in Europe. They are right, but this time, I and Erik couldn't visit it (I wasn't feeling the best during the days in Crete and we thought that we'll go to Samaria - the 18-kms-long-hike next time when we visit Crete). But we still wanted to do a hike as we always do it while being abroad. So we decided to go to Imbros gorge. It's certainly much smaller than Samaria, but also well worth seeing as it's very picturesque and full of wildness. We loved the hike though it was far too easy for us!
Photo: Entrance to Imbros Gorge. You need to pay 2 euros to hike there.
Photo: I in the start of the hike.
Photo: Some places in Imbros Gorge look like that... Quite stony! Photo: I and Erik in the middle of the hike.
Photo: Erik in a small cave.
Photo: The narrowest place in the gorge - 1.60 m wide.

Photo: Even when the day wasn't totally sunny, Erik hoped to get some tan already there...

Photo: I in one of the dark places in the gorge.

FRANGOKASTELLO
After doing the hike, we went to swim in Frangocastello - it is know for its Venetian castle and being unusually flat area for Crete there are nice beaches. One of which we visited, too, and had a nice swim in the Libyan Sea.
Photo: The Venetian Castle and the beach in Frangokastello.

Photo: Some lovely blossoms in Frangokastello...

MY CONFERENCE PLACE
Each morning, we took a 40-minutes-walk to Hersonissos, when I went to the Conference and Erik went to the beach. It was so lovely to have a fresh start for the day, and enjoy the small walk in the narrow streets of our village.
Photo: The start of the day in fron of our house.
Photo: My Conference Centre.