5 Chrissi - Ierapetra

After leaving the hotel, we have gone towards the south to Ierapetra, the most southern city of Europe. There we had to purchase the tickets to the small Chrissí island (Gaidouronísi), which is located at 8 miles south of Ierapetra in the Libyan Sea. To be honest, we had doubts whether ships continue to go there during October.

After leaving the car on the paid parking in the pier, we have approached the ticket office, where we were sent directly aboard the ship. At the coast there was moored the not great vessel "Ifigenia-Anna". After entering inside, we have paid at 20 euros apiece and we were given the cards instead of the tickets, which they have taken away on the way back. After rounding the island and after passing past the small islet Mikronísi, the ship havs delivered us to the moorage Vougioú Máti on the southern shore of Chrissi.

Click the images to enlarge them.

At the pier is located a beach and a cafe, there are also stalls with the sellers of cockleshells (although it is forbidden to take cockleshells out from the island). The greater part of newcomers has gone along the sandy path to the another coast of the island, the north one. Yielding to gregarious feeling, we have gone together with the rest, since it was not long to go.

The island is almost flat and has oblong form, it is 5 kilometres long, the width does not exceed 1 kilometre. The greater part of its surface is covered with sand. Everywhere at the places that we were stand the low, maximum 5 metres high, spreading trees, which resemble juniper, with short pointed leaves and black or green berry-like cones. Further westwards the trees become small, being changed into the bushes of the same kind.

After moving to the northern coast, we have come to be on the "Golden beach". The coast of Crete was visible far in a haze. The bright sun and the amazing greenish color of the sea water disposed to remain there till the departure of the ship, so we have done.

Furthermore, I have passed not far along the rocky shore to the west. At one of the small rock coves I have noted the interesting phenomenon: the waves, rolling in and running away, leave on the shore the sea foam which collected there without being destroyed, and then it is passed away from the sea by wind gusts.

At 16.30 our ship has gathered the tourists and has gone back to Ierápetra.

After descending to the land, we have walked on the street, which goes along the coast and are filled with restaurants, and then we have come to the small fortress at the sea named Kalés, built by Venetians in the 1626. The fortress has proved to be closed, we have gone around it and have returned to the car. The parking that we have left the car in, had the hourly pay, and it was counted 5 euros for the entire time of our absence (about 7 hours).

On the way back after Episkopí village we have turned to the right, hoping to drive up to Ha Gorge. We have left the car near some plant, the road has ended and further we went on foot. We have approached the church, unfortunately, further it was not even a path. We have admired the cliffs which raised not far off, have returned to the car and have gone home.


6 Sitia - Toplou Monastery - Vai - Kato Zakros - Xerokambos

Our way passed to the extreme east of Crete. Following the road signs, we have gone to the first point of our route - Sitia city. Along the way we have stopped at the observation point with the panoramic view from the top of Mirabelo Bay.

In the city the road has taken us to the harbour, we have parked on the pier and have gone to see the sights of the city. Sitía is the picturesque city on the hill at the bay of the same name. Many-colored two-three-storied houses go down by steps from the hill to the sea.

The city several times was destroyed and was restored. Before the last restoration in the 1869 it was in desolation more than two hundred years.

Perhaps, together with Chania, this is the one of the most attractive cities of Crete. The charm of Sitia is in the absence of mass tourism and in the high activity of local life. If one rise from the embankment up one level, then one get into another world, with the small shops and the street stalls of the sellers not of souvenir production, with the numerous Greek buyers, with the loud noise of children's voices behind the high fence of a church (why they shout so loud?). And there are very few of the representatives of the well recognizable army of tourists, it is incomprehensible why they have come there. On the whole, there are no place for them, just nobody understands them (foreign languages are not in demand).

As it is appropriate, Sitia has a Venetian fortress. Here it is located on the hill with the view of the harbour and it is called Kazarma. Like the entire city, it underwent numerous reconstructions.

After looking around the fortress, we have walked on the bystreets of the city, have passed along the embankment and have gone further.

All-round panorama from the embankment of Sitia

The next stop in the way to the east was the Toploú Monastery. Over the road from the monastery behind the fence it is located the Church of Holy Cross (Tímios Stavrós) with ascetic architecture. The monastery is a small fortress and has thick walls, a small yard, a church, a museum and the pay 2.50 euros for the admission.

The monastery was found in XV century and over a period of its history it was the center of the fight both with the Turkish and with the German occupation. Once the monastery had even a gun (the name of the monastery means "with the gun" in Turkish).

In the church, among other interesting icons it is notable the one named "Great Art Thou, O Lord ", with the size of 133x85 cm, it was written in the 1770, the author is Ioánis Kornáros. There are represented on it many biblical characters, and also the paradise, the hell and the earth, separated by water flows. It is a pity that it was not possible to photograph the icon. (generally, in monasteries it is forbidden to photograph, especially in churches and in museums; and all my photographs, which were made in such places, are executed in the absence of witnesses, tourists not couned). However, one can look at the diminished image of this icon here.

In the museum there are the great number of the pages of church books, including Russian bilingual menology of XIX century. In another hall the weapon and the military form of past years are represented.

After passing a little further, we have come to the east coast of Crete, just to the palm-tree beach called Vái. There are realy a lot of palms here: the small clump of trees is on the beach and the entire forest is further after a fence.

A little before the beach we have left the car in the free parking and have passed to the sandy coast. At the right side there is a rise to the observation point. At the distance of 80 metres from the coast is located a rocky islet, one can swim to it. The weather was sunny, the sea was warm and we have remained there for a pair of hours.

Our further way passed southwards, through Palékastro, Zákros. We have gone down to the coast in the small settlement Káto Zákros, noted for its palace of the Minoan epoch. The palace, built about the 1600 B.C. on the ruins of more ancient structure, was finally destroyed about the 1450 B.C. together with the other centers of Minoan civilization.

After looking around the ruins, we have come to the main street and to the pebble beach of the settlement. After the departure of the sightseeing bus with the merry and drunk Italians, the village was completely deserted.

And generally, these places make the impression of complete desolation: empty roads, empty beaches, almost empty villages. Perhaps, this is the least developed region of Crete in respect of tourism, although it is not less beautiful than the other places. It’s the ideal place for the solitary leisure.

Our next and last stop was in Xerókambos settlement. We have seen only the one pair of vacationers on the sufficiently extensive sandy beach, although there are enough of hotels here. The coast of the settlement is divided by cliff into two beaches, at the sea not far from the coast there are three rocky islets called Kavali. Leaving, we have risen along the road to the mountain, and the remarkable view of entire coast was opened before us.

Further the road have changed to the habitual serpentine, the sun was setting, and we have returned to the hotel.



Looking back and summing up, I have to say that Crete is a remarkable place both for beach leisure and for journeys, with the diverse natural landscapes, with the picturesque cities and villages, with the original culture and with the numerous historical monuments of various epochs.

After spending every day in the travellings, after passing altogether approximately three thousand kilometres along the roads of the island and after visiting many places, we never got a sense of the fact that something like this we already saw, each place has uniqueness. And it comes a feeling of regret about the fact that we were not everywhere, where we planned. Certainly, you can't embrace the unembraceable, however you want. Even that plan of the trips and sightseeings which we followed, one can call too hasty and perfunctory, in many places it would be better to us to remain longer.

The north coast of Crete is most populated and developed in respect of tourism. The main road of the island, E75, which pass along the north coast, never is empty. The long beaches of the coast which are build on by hotels, met us with the storm waves of the Cretan Sea. However, there are exceptions, for example, the closed bay in Stavros settlement.

Mirabelo Bay stands apart, with the smooth sea, with the picturesque islets, bays, beautiful views from the top... and with the a little haughty inhabitants.

The south coast of the island, higher and steeper, is populated a lot less. The roads which pass along the coast, are not characterized by the great traffic intensity and they turn frequently into serpentine roads. The local sea, Libyan, was calm during our stay. The various beaches which are small substantially, surrounded by cliffs, were very popular among tourists.

But the best beaches of Crete: Balos, Elafonissi, Vai - are located along the edges of the island, on the west and on the east coasts. The problem is that there are no hotels, and it is hard to reach them, especially from the middle of the island.

I want to note the cities of Crete, each of which is beautiful in its own way (we liked especially Chania and Sitia); and also the various settlements and villages, located sometimes near a small bay at the sea, sometimes on the banks of a dried up small river, some of them lie on the plain among the wide olive fields, some of them stuck to the slope of mountain. There are the real pearls among them, for example Fodele.

The olive tree is a dominant crop in Crete. It seems to be in some places that these trees are not cultivated specially, but grow everywhere where they like. Mainly because of them the surrounding “verdure” in many regions of the island has typical silvery-cyan color.

The natural beauties of Crete produce a great impression: the mountains, the gorges, which determine the unique landscape of the island; and also the caves which always served here as religious places.

It is worth mentioning the cloisters, each of which possesses uniqueness and it gives to the surroundings a portion of some sublime spirituality. Many of them became the tourist sights now.

And certainly, as everywhere in Greece, in Crete are many churches, various by architecture, by size and by age.

The distinguishing characteristic of the island is the presence of an enormous quantity of miniature churches, situated on pedestals by the road and were put up, as it is considered, in remembrance of dead in the traffic accidents.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, also this our journey have ended. However, the arrangement of the impressions remained from the trip, in the course of which was written this story, it allowed me to visit this remarkable island again. I hope to God, it allowed you to do it too!

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