July 2006

Saturday, 1st July - July started very warm, 35C in the shade. I enjoyed a swim at Kalami - which is a beach west of Kalives where lots of local people swim.  There is just one taverna which is open in the summer months. The beach is just where the river reaches the sea from the mountains and the water can be rather cool.

That evening we watched England lose their match in the World Cup. The picture on our Greek TV was adequate - but not the best quality! The TV has given up completely now.

Sunday, 2nd July - We had a swim at Kalami again around 1 p.m. It was absolutely packed with local people. Cars were parked everywhere possible and people continued to arrive while we were there. Some of them set up 'camp' with tents and barbeques. It became a bit cloudy and cooler as we left after our swim.

That evening we had been invited to a barbeque at Alan and Margaret's house. We enjoyed a delicious spread as usual. We were sitting outside eating, around 10ish, when we had our first rain shower since 13th June. We grabbed the food and dashed inside.

The weather continued to be cooler, 25C on 4th July when there were a couple of heavy showers and more overnight and during the next day. We understand that this is unusual for July in Crete.

The first two weeks of July remained cooler below 30C - a comfortable temperature so we were able to go out more.

Wednesday, 5th July - My sister in England was due to return home after an eight day stay in hospital - having a knee replacement. I ordered some flowers for her on the internet from Tesco. We wish her a speedy recovery and return to full mobility.

Thursday, 6th July - more sun today and 25C. We had a walk in Dictamus gorge - now completely dry. We then went to the river walk by the church outside Stilos. The trees in the area by the church are in full leaf. They are full of Cicadas (picture of this insect on Roy's pages). The noise they make is deafening. As the weather gets hotter they get louder. Any oranges remaining seem to have just fallen off the trees.
 

Dry river bed - Dictamus

Unwanted oranges
by river

Still green
 - river near church


Saturday, 8th July -
yet another invite from Alan and Margaret to a barbeque. This was the first attempt at sardines - really delicious. Another very enjoyable evening. We sat outside on one of the top terraces with glorious views of Georgioupoli Bay and the coast beyond.


Sunday, 9th July -
a pleasant 27C. Had a swim about 11ish at Kalives and left by 1 p.m. before it became really crowded.

Monday, 10th July - We drove over to the eastern side of the Apokonoras to the area around Kefalas and Drapano. There are wells here where Roy hoped to find  dragonflies. The weather was cloudy with sunny spells and just 26C.  We called in at the lookout point at Likotinara with lovely views out over the sea. While there we had an interesting conversation with a lady who had been born in the village but had spent most of her life in America. She was from New Jersey and visiting her sister who still lived in the village. As we looked down the high cliffs to the sea below she told us that as a child she remembered clambering down paths, from the village, to the sea. When the sea was rough it would fill the many rock pools and in the hot sun the water would evaporate leaving sea salt behind. She said she would love to find the way down and take some salt back to her daughter in America.


Tuesday, 11th July - was overcast and 26C.  Late in the afternoon we drove up to Aptera - another favourite haunt. We had a walk and good views of the Minoan excavations. Dozens of Alpine swifts put on a flying display.

Back at Provarma as it was getting dark we had a call from friends at Xirosterni saying they could see a black cloud - possibly of insects - in the darkening sky. We went onto the balcony but it was too dark to see any clouds in the sky. However, as we watched we saw a rosy glow behind Neo Horio and a huge reddish 'harvest' moon appeared over the horizon. It rose really quickly becoming yellow, higher in the sky.

Cisterns below monastery
(Roman era) 

Ruins of ancient Aptera
(Minoan)


Wednesday, 12th July -
a sunny day with blue sky and a pleasant 27C. We went to our favourite spot - church by the river outside Stilos. We were surprised to find the whole area around the church and under the trees had been taken over by a 'Scout' camp. It was a group of 35 teenagers, boys and girls from Heraklion plus their leaders. The camp looked very neat and well organised and had been built by the scouts themselves. They were there for 10 days. On a walk along by the river we had an interesting chat with one of the leaders. We discussed the environment, conservation and the water quality of the river.


In the evening we had a lovely meal at Xirosterni at the home of friends. We sat out on the huge terrace with wonderful views of Souda Bay and the White Mountains. Another enjoyable evening.

The next few days we swam when the sea was not too rough. The weather remained unsettled with cloudy spells and respite from the heat with temperatures under 30C.

Wednesday, 19th July- we were joined by Alan and Margaret for an evening meal in Provarma. The meal was all cold so we were able to go for a stroll by the Dictamus Gorge in the cool of the evening. We called in at the oldest church in Stilos to look at the large fossil in the grounds. We also had a look at Provarma and then ate our meal outside on the back balcony overlooking the valley. Another pleasant evening.

Thursday, 20th July - we visited Petres Gorge (dragonflies) and had lunch at Lake Kournas. We have not been in Crete in July before and everywhere is really busy.

River and Oleander
at Petres Gorge

Lake Kournas
 - busy with boats and swimmers


Sunday, 23rd July -
we had been planning to have a meal out with friends Pat and Roy for some time. It was a glorious sunny day with blue sky and the mountains were clear. We decided to join the Greeks and travel to one of the distant tavernas for Sunday lunch. We went to Ψυxро Пnyaδι again. We have been there a few times but not in the summer. The views are always breathtaking as you go up into the mountains to over 700 metres above sea level - possibly a little scary as well! There were families using the picnic area - wrapped in blankets.  When we sat down in the taverna, outside in the shade, we realised why. It was quite chilly although the sun was hot and the temperature 26C. We enjoyed a good meal of rabbit, pork, lamb, smoked pork, salad and red wine. When we paid the bill we were given a plate piled high with small, honey-soaked doughnut-type cakes with tscouthia to wash them down. We had a short walk into the mountains but the walk is more suited to the cooler months of the year. Two spectacular Griffon vultures flew overhead which completed the wonderful picture of mountains and a dense blue sky. Another lovely day.

Cool taverna in the mountains

View- a short stroll from taverna


Monday, 24th July -
the temperature is rising - 31C. The sea at Kalives was calmer so I enjoyed a swim in the warm water. We had coffee later at the taverna - Roy has taken a liking to frappe (iced coffee) with ice cream!

The lifeguard, at Kalives, often has to go out to the end of the harbour, in his dingy, to stop people jumping and diving off the harbour wall. He also has to go out to warn people swimming in the entrance to the harbour (marked with buoys) to keep swimmers safe and away from the boats going in and out.  

Sea watching at Kalives

Harbour and Bay at Kalives
where we swim


Now that the weather is so hot and dry lots of the plants and grasses are turning brown but there are so many evergreen trees e.g. orange and olive and herbs, lots of the countryside is still quite green. It is also noisy with the Cicadas making their presence known from dawn to dusk. Here, we are above the trees where they gather so it is not as noisy as being under the trees.

We have noticed that there are more traders selling their wares from vans and lorries now that summer is here. They go around the villages - often with music blaring and a running commentary of what they are selling. The bread, fish and vegetable vans have been joined by traders with clothes, tables and chairs, garden trees and plants, huge garden pots, scrap metal and more I am sure.

In Provarma many of the houses have an outside kitchen which is excellent in the hot weather. Cooking in the house is just too hot and makes it difficult to cool it down.

England has had a heat wave while we had our cooler 26/28C temperatures. Our hottest weather is yet to come. We hope the sea will not be too rough to swim in. It is the ideal way to cool off.

That's it for now.  Continue to enjoy your summer wherever you are.

Time for a postscript to July:

Thursday, 27th July - we enjoyed a day trip to Spilli. It was 31c when we left Provarma and a pleasant 28c in the higher area around Spilli. It is a picturesque drive with lots of interesting and varied scenery. Spilli has had a 'makeover' around the famous fountains and there is also a new road which bypasses the town - even traffic lights - but not in operation when we were there. Roy was on a dragonfly search so we headed for the cool, green areas where the rivers were still flowing. Lots of rivers obviously dry up during the summer months but areas remain green where there is running water. The river area close to Spilli was a haven for butterflies. We enjoyed lunch at a cool taverna by the main street in Spilli

Spilli fountains

Green area by river

Scarce Swallowtail

 


The last few days of July became hotter reaching 34C - we swam a few times in the sea. We also visited our favourite spot along by the river outside Stilos. We took a picnic and sat by the river on a shingle beach, under the shade of the trees. It was very pleasant and cool.  We stayed for several hours searching for dragonflies.

For several weeks there had been two large cacti flowers, overhanging the road, just outside Stilos. On the way to the river the road was clear but a gust of wind had toppled one of the cacti flowers by the time we returned.

The orange trees are already bearing the fruit for the next crop. Where crops are irrigated they grow at an amazing rate.

It is hot almost as soon as the sun appears over the horizon. I have seen several sunrises when closing the shutter in the bedroom (which faces East) in an attempt to keep the house cool. Sunrise is around 6.30 to 7 a.m. 


We have met several Greek couples who live in Athens or Chania but have summer homes in their original villages. Many of them move here for July and August to escape the heat of the cities. I have had several conversations with Greek people while in the sea - the talking never stops. We had an interesting conversation with one couple who had spent 3 years in Southampton. They live in Athens and spend two months in their family house in Neo Horio. Lots of the area - particularly around the beaches is crowded, noisy and vibrant with people enjoying themselves

We ended July with a meal at Litzarda - an enjoyable evening with Alan and Margaret.

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