East Crete

East Crete
Click at the route on the map to jump to its description.

From Ierapetra the straight and flat road crosses Crete from the south to the north in the narrowest part of it - 14 km, and comes at Mirabélo Bay. We have turned to the left and went along the sea on the twisting slope of the hill: Pahiá Ámmos, Ístro, Amoudára. Here the road comes to a small beach, here is a parking and over the road are the "Faedra beach" apartments, where we intended to spend the last week in Crete.

Amoudara is the small settlement at the distance of three kilometres from Agios Nikolaos, with a pair of hotels beside the beach and a pair of dozens of houses of the Greeks. Concerning position it is almost ideal place, situated equidistantly from all sights of East Crete, mainly because of this we have chosen this hotel.

The good enough sandy beach, surrounded by cliffs, to this season is almost deserted, only the large inflatable circle, which lies now on the sand, indicates about the elapsed summer. However, the season yet did not end, the most popular beaches are still populous, the days are still hot, water is warm, and only in the evenings it becomes noticeably cooler.

Click the images to enlarge them.

The hotel proved to be less than I thought, it has only one house, which has from one side two floors, from another - three. We have got a room again on the first, the upper, floor with the view of the sea and of the road.

This road, which is located 30 metres away from our windows, is the only highway, which connects Agios Nikolaos, the capital of the Lassiti nome, with other cities of this nome, Ierapetra and Sitia; therefore it remained busy and noisy even at night, therefore we had to close the balcony door at night. Furthermore, the parking is located on the other side of the road, and each time, passing to the car or else to the sea or returning to the hotel, we had to cross this road, looking round and risking to fall under the wheels of sweeping past automobiles. Although the signs hang here, which limit speed to 40 km/h, and also there is the permanently blinking yellow light signal, the least of drivers loses velocity in this place. The waiters of the adjacent taverna risk too when they constantly cross the road with trays to the tables at the sea.

There is a restaurant with the tables at the sea also under our hotel, but during the day we have arrived, the tables was taken away, October has begun, the high season has ended.

There were in the studio room: the bedroom with a bed, a wardrobe, a television set and a door to a sufficiently spacious balcony; the bathroom with the bath; and in the corridor it was the kitchenette, small and cramped. In the corridor also it was located the closed door into the adjacent studio, from which we could hear any sound. A small pool was located under our windows.

The absence of normal stores hereabout has unpleasantly surprised us. There was one, but with the half-empty counters, apparently, the end of the season affected. For the foodstuffs we drove to Istro settlement at the distance of 10 km.

In the last day of our stay in Crete we have decided to have a dinner in the fish taverna "Amoudara" next to the hotel. We might to take a table on the veranda at the sea, but, as already mentioned, it had to be cool out of doors by the evening, and we have settleed inside of the restaurant. We have ordered a bottle of retsina, a Greek salad and a "mix fish for two". After cooking, they have carried out to us the large oblong plate, on which in the fried state were presented: the piece of the fillet of large fish in the middle, 2 circles of fish a little less, 2 gigantic shrimps, 2 feet of large octopus, 2 small octopi, 4 squids, 4 oysters in the shells and a dozen of small fry (I fear, something was missed). As the garnish there were located potatoes, carrots and verdure. After overpowering all this (together with the salad) with difficulty, with interruptions, we have asked a check. Together with the check (53 euros) the waiter have brought to us the dessert, which looked like baked pudding with honey. The wife has not born up and has not touch the dessert, but I have heroically overpowered my helping.

     

1 Fodele - Agia Pelagia

The picturesque Fódele village, the native land of El Greco, we have visited two times. And both times it has happened when we lived in Stavromenos, i.e. in the west of the island. The first time this place was the continuation of the route, which passed to the east from Retimno. When we have arrived there, I have already got tired - that was our first day in Crete, the sun declined in the west, therefore we just have walked a little along the main street of Fodele, which was filled with souvenir stores, and then we have gone further, promising to ourselves to return here with the first opportunity.

And this opportunity has occurred. After the first puncture of the wheel in our car, the representatives of the car rental company promised to come next day and to take away the car in order to change the spare wheel for the standard one, and to bring to us another automobile for one day. They have done so, have brought a jeep, but we had no time for the distant trip in that day. And we have gone to Fodele.

After parking the jeep in the place under trees, we have come for the stroll through the village. We went down to the river, which flows along the road, with geese and swans. We have passed upstream. All round were buried in verdure, cypresses, orange gardens, the house on an eminence, covered with blossoming bushes. The fountain, which flows from a stone pedestal, was met us along the way, and at the end of the path one can see a small waterfall.

After returning to the center of the village, we have turned to the left and, after passing 700 m, we have come to the small Byzantine Church of Mother of God (Panagía), built in the 1383. Next is located the museum of Domonikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) the famous Spanish artist, as it is considered, here is his birthplace.

It was not easy to leave the village, the narrow road was not expected for this quantity of newcomers. In the narrowest place the congestion was formed. However, a local old lady, who sold souvenirs, temporarily has become the traffic policeman and rapidly has improved the situation and the way has become free. At moments like this it is especially realized the advantage of the small car for the trips along the local roads.

Further we have gone to the sea, to Agía Pelagía settlement. The weather was cloudy and did not dispose to the beach pleasures; therefore we have not got down to the coast, just have admired from the top to the picturesque views of cliffs with the houses of hotels on them, and then have gone back.

     

2 Gouverniotissa Monastery - Knossos - Iraklion

Indeed this route is composed of two, the unforeseen circumstances have interfered again. For the first time, after going from the west of the island, we visited the Knossos Palace and the fortress of Iraklion, further we have gone to the Archaelogical Museum, and the battery of my camera has died there, and were not imprinted the valuable exhibits and the other sights of the capital of Crete. I wasn't going to let this and have promised to myself to return here after the passage to the east of the island.

Another time, after going from the east, we have gone for a ride through the inner regions of Crete and have come to Iraklion from the south. I have finished the photographing in the museum, we have walked around the city and, while we departed from there the tire have burst, for the second time! Of course, after this our further trip has come to nothing more than the return to the hotel.

Hereby, of two halved routes I have composed a whole, taking the second one as the basis.

Thus, after leaving from Amoudara to the direction of Agios Nikolaos, we have passed straight at the first intersection with the traffic lights, and at the next one we have turned to the left. The new national road E75 begins here, which intersects island from the east to the west.

I have to say that in the east of Crete this road is not such smooth as in the west. In the popular resort Malia the road is passed through the center of the settlement, and everybody have to slow down, sometimes to stuck in traffic jam. Then the road unexpectedly turns to the left at the intersection (however this is owing to an unfinished road, in some maps is plotted the bypass road without any turnings). Furthermore, two times the road enters into the tunnel.

After the second tunnel we turned to the left inland. Soon, not far from Potamiés village, we have turned to the Gouverniótissa Monastery.

According to a legend, the monastery was found by the Byzantine emperor, who arrived in Crete after the liberation of island from the Arabs in the 961. In the yard of the monastery it is located the Church of the Mother of God (Panagia Gouverniotissa), whose internal walls are decorated with frescoes of XIV century. In front of the church it stands a tree which looks dry, without leaves, however, was abundantly hung by yellow lemons. I have approached more closely to be convinced of their authenticity. Strange phenomenon. However, in other photographs of this place the tree looks usual and green.

Further our way passed along the roads of the inner regions of Crete. There are olive fields all round - it is not in vain this island is called the olive one. The harvest somewhere occurred, and the bags lay beside the road or the pickups stood which were loaded by bags.

Somewhere the road was transformed into the new broad highway, which incomprehensibly why was built in the Cretan remote. It is strange to go alone in broad daylight along the empty multiline highway. However, such sections are small and they end rapidly, being turned into the usual road.

Thus, without extra stops, we have reached Iraklion. But first I will tell about the Knossós Palace, as it is located on the way, and we would surely visit it, if only we did not do it earlier.

At the entrance to the Knossos settlement I have yielded to gesticulation of a local barker, who called all passers-by to turn to the parking, but I shouldn't. The parking was paid (4 euros) and not close to the place of excavations. Moreover in spite of the plenty of tourists, the place for parking one can find freely.

By the entrance there is a queue for tickets (6 euros). Undoubtedly the Knossos Palace is the main place of interest of Crete. And must see one: to be in Crete and not to visit the palace, is just the same as to be in Athens and not to visit the Acropolis (by the way, the queues for tickets into these places were approximately identical).

The Knossos Palace, the main symbol of the Minoan civilization, was built in XX century B.C., it was destroyed and was rebuilt anew. The ruins, which one can see here, basically date from XVI century B.C. In ancient times the palace was in the center of the kingdoms capital city. The myths about King Minos, Labyrinth, Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus are related to the palace.

The excavations and the restoration of the palace are related to the name of the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, whose bust stands here behind the entrance. The part of the local ruins was rebuilt and was painted in bright colors in accordance with the supposed initial appearance. This gives the colourfulness to the sad grayness of ancient ruins, however it is the disputable solution; it is uncustomary to restore the ancient monuments this way (however, maybe Im wrong; I recall Athenian Acropolis again, in the columns of the Parthenon one can see the new marble inserts instead of lost ones, being a little differed in the color from the original).

In the territory of the palace are hung the copies of the wall pictures, whose originals now are kept in the Archaelogical Museum of Iraklion. A queue was formed at the entrance into the not great room - this is the Throne Room, sufficiently small for the throne room, with the simple stone chair as a throne.

After looking round everywhere, we have gone out, have returned to the car and have gone to Iraklion (Iráklio).

In Iraklion we were three times (the third time we were there in the day of departure, during the waiting of the delayed flight). Besides the strolls around the city, we have visited the Venetian fortress Koúles and the Archaelogical Museum.

The fortress is located on the pier in the old harbour, it was built by Venetians in the 1211, it was reconstructed after earthquake in the 1523, it was used as a prison with the Turkish administration. The admission costs 2 euros. The structure is two-story, the rooms of the first floor are the gloomy halls, at the walls of which here and there are located cannons and clay vessels. In one place the storage of stone cannonballs is located. The smoothed and polished by time staircase leads upstairs. The beautiful panoramic view of city is opened from the upper, open-air floor of the fortress, several loop holes and a small tower are located here.

After passing along the harbour and past the old shipyard (arsenal), we have gone deep into the city and have begun to rise along the Bofor street that passes on the high fortress wall, which surrounds the center of Iraklion. Here is located the building of the Archeological Museum, which was under the reconstruction during our stay in the island; therefore the museum was enclosed with a continuous metallic fence. However, at the corner of the street the fence has a gate exactly in front of the only small hall of the museum, opened for the visits (the temporary exhibition). The booking office is located to the right: 4 euros, on Sundays free of charge.

In the hall are assembled the the main exhibits of the museum, which basically present the Minoan civilization: the Festos Disk, the Bulls Head, Double Axes, wall pictures from Knossos and other places, gold adornments. There are several sculptures of classical epoch, including Pluto with the trecephalous dog Cerberus. There were few visitors and no organized excursions here. In the hall it is permitted to photograph, but only without a flash.

The other our walks through Iraklion were limited to the several central streets, among which I note the 25 August street, where are located the Church of Saint Titus which was a mosque in the time of the Turks, and the picturesque fountain with lions, it was built during the Venetian governor Morozini's time in the 1628.

Further...

     
Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.