The caves in Matala

Matala is a small village at the south side of Crete, where the Lybian sea is, there is a beautiful bay there with a sandy beach. The beach and the caves of Matala are well known all over the world because during the 1960s and ’70s hippies from all over the world lived there. They had no rules, no bills and no restrictions. They were free people living from nature in nature.

Every year now you have the chance to relive the hippie atmosphere here in Matala, every third weekend of June there is a hippie festival where ‘everything’ is allowed.

When I go to Matala I usually have lunch in Taverne Minos Palace, Stefanos cooks here for 24 years now, no need to say more about it’s kitchen. The staff is very friendly and professional too, just give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

The mules in the Samaria gorge

A lot of people who come to Crete want to walk the famous Samaria gorge, but not everybody has the strength to walk 16km over rocks and stones and pebbles, starting at a hight of 1200 meter and walking down untill sea level.

That is why we have these mules here, they are empty today so it was a day without accidents or people that gave up.

Mules are a crossing of a horse and a donkey, they are very strong animals and they are trained on bringing people up or down the gorge.

Archeological museum in Heraklion

The archaeological museum in Heraklion has become one of the best museums in Europe,  the finds of the Minoan civilization exhibited there are beautiful, it is unbelievable what the Minoans could make 4000 years ago, I am amazed at every display again and ag, no matter how many times I see them.

The entrance fee for the museum is only 10€, students with a student card of the EU do not pay any entrance fee and senior sitizens of the EU pay half price.

You can also pay a combination ticket for both the archeological museum and the archeological site of Knossos, that costs 16€.  But than you have to visit both place within 2 days.

In case you will visit both, take my advice and visit first the archeological museum, because then you will be able to imagine life in the palace during the Minoan sivilization much more easy.  And that is what you need on the archeological site of Knossos, a lot of imagination, YOUR imagination, so feel free to create your own story with the what you will see on both places.

On Sunday, September 30, 2018 access is free so if you are in Crete, do not miss this opportunity!

Here are pictures of some of the finds.

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The Egyptian lighthouse in the Venetian port of Chania

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Although the lighthouse was built during the Venetian occupation we call it an Egyptian lighthouse because it was restored by the Egyptians during their rule on Crete from 1830 until 1840, that’s right, during the Ottoman occupation.  It was the Protocol of England that granted Crete to Mehmet Ali who was Regent of Egypt at that time.

As you can see on the picture the base of the lighthouse has 8 angles, the part above the base has 16 angles and the highest part has a round shape.  During days of threat the entrance of the port was closed by tying a chain from the lighthouse to the Venetian fortress Firka that is situated opposit of it.

The Egyptian administration made big efforts to have equality on the island for both the Christians (Cretans) and the Moslims (Ottomans). They also achieved to have a time of peace on the island.  Because of these changes, many Moslims left Crete and went to Asia Minor and many Christians left to go live in Greece.

Besides a time of peace, this was also a period of the reconstruction of roads, aquaducts, bridges and harbours that had been destroyed during the many revolutions of the Cretans against the Ottomans.  Also education was organized again for both the Cretans and Moslims, even a newspaper was published (1931) in the 2 spoken languages of the island.

Map Rethimnon city walk

kaart rethimnon

We start the walk at the parking place of the busses behind the old Venetian port, we leave the parking place and go to the left until we reach the old Venetian port. We walk through the port until the path turns to the left, we go to the right and after 10 meter we we reach the loggia.

We cross the street and walk by the loggia from the right hand side until we see the Rimondi fountain at our right

standing in front of the Rimondi fountain we go to the left and after 20 meter you will see on your left hand side a narrow street with at the end of it the highest minaret that was built on the island.

Now you are in the center of the old venetian town.

These beautiful paintings are made by mister Franco, you can see him work at the street that looks over the minaret.

Map Chania city walk

wegwijzer kaart Chania

We start the walk at the market hall that is a copy of the market hall of Marseille France.

We enter the market hall from the south side and leave it at the north side. Walk down the steps and go to the left, you now walk in the Tsouderon street. After about 100 meter you will reach what we call the leather street (Skridlof street on the map)

at the end of the leather street you go to the right (Chalidon street) and you walk down until you reach the old Venetian port, with its Egyptian lighthouse.

Down here a full map of the old Venetian town of Chania

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Hiking in the Samaria gorge

When you say to your friends that you go on holidays in Crete they will probably tell you that you should go walk the Samaria gorge!  And I agree, but here is what you should know before you book your excursion to the gorge.

The entrance of the Samaria gorge is on a hight of 1200 meter, the exit is at sea level and  the gorge is 16km long.

It is a mountain walk which means that you will walk all the time over rocks and stones and pebbles, in the video below you can see a small part of the path that you will walk.

Because of this stone path you will have to look all the time where you put your feet and that means that you will have to stand still from time to time to look around you and admire the beautiful nature.  Every time you look up you will have a totaly different view.

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  • Now before you enter the gorge make sure to take the following with you :a small bottle that you can refill in the gorge at the rest areas or from the stream.
    sun protection, a hat or cap and sunglasses.
    good walking shoes and walking poles can help a lot during the descent.
    something to eat, best fruit or a light vitamin meal.
    a backpack

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The gorge has only one exit and that one is after 16km so you can not stop walking after 3 or 5 or more km, you have to go all the way.  Unless you decide to walk back up after a few km.  But in case you are injured and you can not walk any more then maybe the doctor or the wardens will decide to put you on a mule, like these

 

Now don’t you think that there is always a doctor in the gorge, mostly during the months July and August there is a doctor and that’s it, but don’t worry, the wardens and the guides are very experienced and will be able to help you with any small issue you have. Don’t expect though that they can help people with serieus health problems, they should not even walk the gorge.

Children can walk the gorge and they are mostly faster than the parents, so make sure they stick with you so you don’t have to run up and down the path to find them.

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The map below shows you the path in the gorge with its rest areas.  You can make a screen shot of it and have it with you in the gorge.  You can also print it but don’t waste paper if not necessairy.

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The first large rest area has the name Agios Nikolaos, you can sit there at one of its tables and eat some off the food you brought with you to eat in the gorge.  Look below how this rest area looks like when you enter it.

When you reach this area you have made the steepest part of the gorge.  At the next part the path goes up and down untill you reach after 3 km the Samaria village.  The next video shows you the entrance of the village

It is in the Samaria village on the 7th km that you can see some Kri kri goats, this kind of goat is endemic and protected so you should not feed them, otherwise they won’t know how to search for food in winter when the gorge is closed.

 

 

In the samaria village there is a guest book in which you can write down your impression about the gorge, the walk, the stunning views etc.  In the evening, when the wardens are all alone in the village, they like to read what visitors wrote in the book, so this is your chance to make their day!

It is here in the samaria village that you will find the doctor and/or the wardens and guides.

After your rest in the samaria village, you cross the bridge again and you follow the path to the left, after aproximatly 500m you will start walking deep down in the gorge, on the bottom of the gorge.  Here to me the views are realy stunning

 

 

When you want to walk the gorge in one day and catch the boat in Agia Roumeli then make sure you are on time because the last boat to Chora Sfakion leaves at 17.45 and the last one to Sougia at 17.30.  You can buy tickets for both trips at Agia Roumeli.  http://www.anendyk.gr