Escape for a walk

The tourist season has started which limits my time for walking since I am back at work. However, I am so lucky that a part of my job involves checking some walks that tourists can do on their own so I can inform them correctly.

So off I went today for a short and easy walk in the area of Tavronitis. This walk involves mainly unpaved roads or agrotiko as the Cretans say.

view during my walk

view during my walk

As it is early in the morning, it is still a bit damp and there are plenty of snails. I imagine Cretan women collecting them, just after a good rain. They are a delicacy and Cretans say they are good for the stomach. For sure they would pick maratho (fennel) too, which grows in large quantities here. It is a herb that I like to use in salads but it is also used for making marathopita, a delicious pita filled with fennel.

many butterflies

many butterflies

I walk along olive groves, fields dotted with yellow flowers. The only sound I hear is the singing of the birds. The scent of wild lavender.
Suddenly I spot a buzzard catching a mouse. Some hawks are searching for prey, high in the sky. Colorful butterflies flying from one fragrant flower to another. The view on the peninsula of Rodopou is impressive. The majestic Lefka Ori (White Mountains) which can be seen from here, have still a bit of snow on its peaks. I think how fortunate I am for living on this beautiful island.

scent of wild lavender

scent of wild lavender

After this lovely 2 hour walk I need to head back to my office. But I decided to leave my walking boots in the trunk of my car. Just in case that I have a spare hour to escape for a nice walk…

peninsula of Rodopou

peninsula of Rodopou

Out for a walk in Crete

Lately I have made many beautiful walks with great enthusiasm and I did not have the patience to sit down and write about them. So the dilemma: shall I tell you about Karanou, a place widely known for its excellent taverns and where I found a gorge of extreme natural beauty? It attracted me so much that I went already four times! It is not a very easy walk since it involves a bit of climbing but hey, that is also part of the adventure. At some places you feel like walking in a jungle. Every now and then you have to cross a stream and small waterfalls make the scenery amazing. Here I spotted the first Barlia orchid, also called Giant orchid which has a delicious scent.

beautiful nature

beautiful nature

Or shall I tell you about the circular walk near the monastery of Gouverneto where I found (thanks to a friend) a great “off the beaten track” trail that leads into the wild gorge of Avlaki? Actually, this walk was one with many highlights. First of all the weather was great. One of the reasons why I will keep on telling you to come to Crete during winter, there are great sunny days for walks.

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Another highlight was finding wild stamnagathi which grows mainly on Crete. Stamnagathi is a green leaf that has a slightly bitter taste. It is very hard to pick since it grows around a thorny bush. Fortunately it is today widely available since it is cultivated all year round. So if you want to try stamnagathi, just go to the Agora in Chania or ask a local tavern. It is delicious and very healthy. Last but not least, spotting some rare Cretan tulips and a butterfly orchid that just started to bloom made my day. It means spring is in the air!!!

wild tulips growing on rocks

wild tulips growing on rocks

The perfect walk

What is actually the perfect walk?

  • The perfect walk should not be too tiring and should last up to 3 hours, so you have enough time after your walk to enjoy the rest of the day on the beach, have a cold beer or visit other places of interest.
  • The perfect walk means having good company: some nice fellow walkers that can make you laugh until you cry. In the end, we walk to have fun!
  • The perfect walk should be in an area of natural beauty with the scent of herbs, flowers and plants surrounding you.
  • The perfect walk should be on tracks or land roads.
  • The perfect walk brings you beautiful views towards the sea or the mountains.
  • The icing on the cake during the perfect walk can simply be a beautiful orchid that you spot or an unknown trail that you discover while walking.

And where can you make the perfect walk? No need to say that for me this is on the island of Crete. Crete’s magnificent and varied landscape makes some excellent walking opportunities and it is one of the best opportunities of appreciating and exploring the island.

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A walk to Nóxia starting from Marathokefála

Exploring Crete on foot is a great way to discover it. There are plenty of good books with excellent walk descriptions. For me however, still the adventurous way is to take a map, find a place and see if there are any paths in that specific area. If I do not see them on a map, I simply ask the people in the kafeneion. Usually the elderly people still know where the “monopatia” (trails) can be found. If they know a trail, they will explain it to me in several ways, but always tell my that it is easier by car.

This time I started my walk at the church of St. John the Hermit, located in a cave near the village of Marathokefála. I take my time to enjoy the marvelous view. It is a clear day and I can even see Chaniá. A nice path leads me initially downhill. Suddenly the path becomes invisible and it involves some climbing to get back on a proper trail. Something I like, one never knows if a trails leads to somewhere and I love finding new paths.

My plan is to walk to the village of Nóxia. In the prefecture of Chaniá, Nóxia is the only village where traditional potters are still at work. It is well worth a visit.

It only takes an hour to get to Nóxia and I take my time to visit the pottery. Then I find my way to the kafeneion for a Greek coffee. I can’t leave without drinking a raki that a farmer offers me.

Since I like to make detours, I decide to take a different route on my way back. A short walk brings me to the hamlet of Gerakanía. Surprisingly no kafeneion here. As I leave the village walking uphill , I can even see Rócca , which are the ruins of a Byzantine fortress. They are on a steep hill, called Troúli, next to the village of Rócca.

An unpaved road passing through olive groves, offers fantastic views at the lush green landscape and the sea. Before I realize, I am back at the parking place where I left my car.

I feel happy and full of energy after this pleasant 3 hours walk.Cave of St. John the HermitPath with a view

Gorge of Deliana or Mesavlia

Just 20 minutes drive from the village of Kolymbari is Deliana. Here you will find the well-preserved frescoes in the beautiful Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis. A “must see” before you start your walk through the gorge.

An unpaved road will take you in about 10 minutes to enter the gorge. The gorge of Deliana is one of the most easiest gorges to walk. It is more a wide track that gradually ascends. You might be lucky and spot some vultures. On the day that I passed the gorge, I counted twelve!

If you want to make a circular walk, you continue the path that goes up at the end of the gorge. At some places it is even marked, although not very clear. What I loved about the circular walk is the small detour that you can make on your way back. There is a sign to a Byzantine castle. It is more a hike than a walk when you walk along this trail, but it is definitely worth it since from this point you will have the most amazing views over the island of Crete. On a clear day you can even see Roka and the Polyrrinia. Imagine living in Byzantine times…. they must have been able to communicate with each other from these castles! Take the same trail back from were you came from and continue the road. It is partly paved, mainly downhill and a small steep part uphill before the road takes you back to the village of Deliana.Image