Day trips

October 06, 2008

The Iris Museum in Agios Nikolaos (at last!)

Whilst we were recently on holiday in Elounda we made a day trip to Agios Nikolaos. Whilst we were there we got to visit the Iris Museum.


We'd wanted to see the Iris Museum during our road trip last year, but when we were visiting then it was shut. It is a folklore-ish museum, about the history of herbs on the island. It is particularly concerned with how Crete's plants were traditionally used to dye wool.

Most of the exhibition consisted of cuttings from the many, many herbs that naturally occur on the island, with descriptions of their medicinal properties. These were framed on the wall. Large cases in the centre of the room contained samples of yarn dyed using different recipes, with booklets explaining the different recipes used for each colour.


At the end of the museum there were a range of sample bottles were you could smell preparations made from herbs. I didn't quite understand the full story, but there was an information panel that made us laugh as it described the process of making "The Raki of the Smelling".


There was also a poem on display, inspired by herbs, written by Costis Hatziphotinos.


It was certainly a quirky little museum, but we really enjoyed it and were glad we'd finally got the chance to visit it.

July 11, 2008

The ghosts of Frangokastello

One of the things that had attracted us to stay at Frangokastello last year was the ghost story attached to the castle. The Hora Sfakian region has always been a thorn in the side to whoever was trying to conquer and occupy Crete, and the fort was originally built by the Venetians in the 14th century, and later used by the Turks.


The most famous rebellion occurred in 1828, when Hadzi Mihalis Dalanis and his 400-strong band of Cretan rebels lost a bloody pitched battle at the fort, but took twice as many Turks with them. On the anniversary of the their deaths - 17th May - the Cretan rebels are said to appear at dawn as misty shapes around the fort, and march into the sea.

Those who don't believe in the superstition believe that the visual effect is caused by atmospheric conditions specific to that time of year, and that the figures that appear are some sort of reflection from the Libyan desert which is across the water from southern Crete.

When we visited it in 2007, we stayed the night of the 15th of May, 2 days before the anniversary. Well, we decided it seemed churlish not to try and spot this effect - which if it was just down to the vague time of year might not be restricted to the 17th itself.

We were staying in the Flisvos apartments, with the sea literally lapping at the foot of our chalet door. Some of the rooms are in a converted old windmill, and we had a room in one of the old out-houses.


We got up at 5am, and sat on the rocks outside our room to watch dawn come up over the Eastern mountains of Crete. And hopefully spot some ghosts.


We did get a little spooked at one point by a small animal running across the rocks near us, which could have been a rat or a weasel, but needless to say, we didn't see any visions. Dawn was, nevertheless, as spectacular as you'd imagine as we huddled together with our little flask of coffee.


July 09, 2008

The (rocky) road South

Last year, when Claire and I took our road trip around Crete, I seemed to be blogging about it bit-by-bit for months. Despite that, I never quite reached the last day, when we stayed in Frangokastello at Flisvos Apartments, which are literally on the beach. It is a beautiful place, and so this year we took our recent guests there for a day trip.


It was partly because it has a nice beach, partly because it has a castle, and partly because of the spectacular, if terrifying, drive. The journey from Chania to Frangokastello means taking the main road south from Vryses towards Chora Sfakia, and passing through the Imbros Gorge. We though this would give our visitors a taste of the amazing gorge countryside that Crete has to offer, without inflicting the 16km of the Samaria trek on them in 34° heat.


The journey there was more fraught than usual, since a large amount of EU funded work is being done on the road. It is being widened, and some of it is being replaced with tunnels through the mountains. Whilst we totally approve of this work, we weren't quite so happy getting caught up in it.

As it is the only route south, it hasn't been possible to close the road whilst the work is carried out, and so for some parts of the journey, the narrow stretch of road that could barely let two cars pass had been stripped of tarmac, strewn with boulders, and we had to weave our way through rock-drillers, diggers, trucks and workmen.

It was a bit like being in some kind of crazy driving video game - except that you were perched on side of a cliff and the danger was real. We'd certainly earned our lunch and a relax on the beach by the time we reached Frangokastello!

July 04, 2008

Beer. Bay. Puppy!

After our trip to see the picturesque Balos lagoon on the Gramvousa Peninsula, we headed to another new destination on the west of the island, Falasarna.

Falasarna is a long strip of beach facing west, and the approach sees you winding down the hillside, passing sign after sign promising the best beach, free parking, the best food and the best apartments. Spoilt for choice, we did what any self-respecting indecisive bunch of people would do - drive on until the road stopped and we had no choices left.

This turned out to be a great idea, as we ended up at a bar with a view out across the whole of Livadi Bay.


A bar with beer...


...and a selection of delicious Cretan snacks...

...and a puppy!!!!!


Here she is dutifully sitting under the table looking forlornly at me in the hope that I'm going to spill some of my food.

A lemon tree of our own

  • The journal of a British couple who left the UK to set up home in Hania, Crete.
  • Homepage

Search this site

Powered by TypePad