Search This Blog

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Ierapetra, Mirtos and Chania

Ierapetra, translated means "Sacred Stone". It is the largest city on the south side of Crete. For those who prefer a quieter stay on the island, away from the young and boisterous, this is a good destination.

Marble paved boulevard

The town is a port city with trade to the African continent. It is also an agricultural centre with its southern exposure. The growing season is lengthened with countless greenhouses dotting the countryside. We arrived here in the mid morning, parked the rental car and began wandering around town. There is a boulevard along the water's edge paved with marble flagstone which leads from the town centre westward to a modest hotel zone. The old centre is quaint and welcoming with many little shops and tavernas, however we noticed that temperatures here are quite a bit higher than on the north side of Crete. The harbour is flanked by an old fort with large stone buttresses and ammo storage areas. We enjoyed the views for a while, but then the heat became too much and we had to move on.

Some people can just sunbathe all day

Just a short drive west of Ierapetra lies the village of Mirtos. It's a very quaint peaceful little town with a few hotels and rooms to let. The waterfront is lined with restaurants and tavernas. Here we stopped for another walk through town and lunch. The food is great no matter where you choose to go, and we had some tasty Greek appies and beer. While we were enjoying our lunch, three ladies went into the water and bobbed about for quite some time, their conversation was in Dutch, although I could not really make out what they were talking about, jst as well, not my business, but I was envious of their fearlessness in the water, I have a terrible sea creature phobia.

Our lunch stop in Mirtos

Three Dutch ladies bobbin'

Room for rent



Just loved this little restaurant

 After a scrummy lunch we continued westward. I had a circle route planned that would eventually take us back to Agios Nikolaos via the mountains of Lasiti. But as we progressed up the hills along roads that had no guard rails it became clear the we had to turn back because that's when Shelagh's phobia kicked in. Narrow roads along kliffs are not her strong suit, in hind sight, maybe she should have been the driver... Carefully I found a place to turn the car around and we went back to town the way we came.

At some spots you just have to go for a quick dip

Our ride, patiently waiting

I stayed in the water as long as I could handle it, just too creepy

 Along the way back down the mountain we came upon a war memorial. Europe is dotted with war memorials, most towns and villages have one dedicated to the locals who perished during the first and second world wars. This memorial is different. Located at Viannos, it is modern and strikingly haunting. Silhouettes of falling people made of stone have lists of the perished. There is a small chapel like building where a narration in various languages plays and explaines the story of this site.





 Back at the hotel we relaxed by the pool with a lovely bottle of chilled white wine and some snacks. We were already planning our next adventure with the VW Polo. Chania beconed.

 After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we made our way to Chania, on the west side of Crete. The landscape changes to more green and lush, but still quite arid. In the west the influence is more Venetian, the way the harbours are designed and the architecture relflects this too. It's a bit of a haul across the island, but with a few stops along the way to take pictures it's quite a fun drive, besides we're on "Island Time" and in no hurry.

Along the way, a cloudy day

Cretan beach goddess

 When we arrived in town we followed the signs to a parking garage near the center of the old town. Left the car there and started walking the narrow streets. Little shops selling anything from really nice stuff to touristy trinkets, and then suddenly you come upon the harbour. A long breakwater ending with a lighthouse comes into view and all you can really do is look at the beauty of it. The harbour is lined with restaurants and the hosts outside coax you over to view their daily catch. We find a cozy little place and make ourselves comfy, as usual we opt for a table full of meze instead of the fish platter of the day. Add a bottle of wine and life is perfect. Our waiter offers to take our picture and we hand him our camera. "Nice camera" he says and starts running off with it, funny guy, he walks back laughing and takes our picture. He was completely blown away by the fact that we drove to Chania from Agios Nikolaos to have lunch. He had not left Chania his entire life! We met a nice retired couple from England, the guy did not say much so I can't remember much about him, but the woman chatted with us and she shared that she had spent her entire life as a travel writer, travelling all over the world, and had just recently decided to retire and get married. Her reason for getting married was to force her to slow down and enjoy life with a partner. Interesting lady.

Chania harbour












This restaurant was set up in a WWII ruin.


 After lunch we walked off the wine and headed for the newer marina to look at the boats of lucky people sailing the Med. All nicely moored stern to shore, the yachts have gang planks going from the cockpit to shore. That's the life! From very posh Beneteaus to modest boats, they all share the same place and they all share the same experience. On the boulevard a man with his horse and carriage waits for his next fare. The sun is shining and this day is a ten!