IANOYAPIOΣ - January - 2007
Monday, 1st January, 2007 - we started the New Year with blue skies and sunshine and breakfast outside, on the balcony. We drove into the mountains near our home - to Kares - where we parked and walked into the mountains towards Gournes. After a couple of hours walking through the mountains with glorious views we retraced our steps and enjoyed a picnic overlooking Kares. That evening Alan and Margaret joined us for a meal at Provarma. It was a great start to the New Year.

Snow-capped mountain

View over to Drapanos

Looking down on Kares

January continued to provide good weather with only a couple of days when it rained. The temperature averaged around 18C - one day reaching 28C. We enjoyed the good weather by having several trips exploring the immediate area and further a field to the west and south coasts.

We re-visited the area around the Imbros gorge a few times - noticing a drop of about 4C in the temperature when in the mountains. We parked, one day, by the 'precarious' taverna on the road to Sfakia. Roy was delighted to see a Bearded vulture, several Griffons and Bonellie's Eagles  - details on his wildlife pages. Another day we drove up along the road towards Kalikratis giving great views of Imbros village below. We walked high in the mountains and explored a 'double' stone shepherd's hut in excellent condition.

Imbros Parking Spot

'Precarious' Cafe

Looking down on Imbros

Double shepherd's hut

Observatory on peak

Mountains onto Kalikratis

On 5th January - 'Carol Singers' serenaded us at our front door. The next day was Epiphany - when all the open water on the island is blessed. At Kalives and other seaside locations young people dive into the sea to retrieve a cross - thrown into the water by the priest. The competition to reach the cross first is intense. Photographs and more details for this occasion appear in the diary for Thursday, 6th January, 2005.

Sunday, 7th January - we decided to take a picnic and try to reach a plateau above Tzitzifes, in the mountains, to the east of Vrysses. We had attempted to walk to the plateau previously but after about three hours had to turn back. This time we drove further into the mountains by car and then walked to the Vothonas plateau. We were rewarded with wonderful all round views of the north west coast of Crete. The terrain was very rocky - with scrub and just a few trees. We had just goats and sheep for company during the time we walked and explored the area.

Akrotiri way below

Sparse trees and rocks

Looking down from plateau

Goat shed

Another goat shed

Sheep joining us on walk

The next day we joined Alan, Margaret, Sue and Tony for a walk along the Deliana gorge - where we had a picnic. We then re-visited the unusual rock formations at Potamia - which we think may have been shaped by erosion.

Deliana Gorge

Potamia 'sculptures' - note person in centre of photograph

That evening we had been invited for 'coffee' at 5 p.m. at Hanse and Elfrieda's house (Austrian friends). We were pleased to see that Bert and Koo from Belgium were also there. We spent several hours talking and enjoying delicious cake, liqueurs, coffee, then wine and 'nibbles'. We arrived back home at 9.30 p.m. - a long 'coffee!'

On local walks we have noticed that the once dusty football pitch - just outside Stilos - is now a brilliant green and marked out neatly with white lines. This area is near a ford which we crossed and found a lovely display of anemones.

The leaves have fallen from the trees which normally hide the church - by the river walk - making it easily visible from the road. There are numerous lambs in the fields - ready for Easter?

'Astro' turf?

Church by river now visible

Lambs in Stilos

Wednesday, 10th January - we re-visited Petres gorge and spend a considerable time sitting in the sunshine watching Griffons - in the gorge and on the hillside by the steps leading down to the gorge and church which is set into the western side of the gorge.

Top of steps leading down into Petres

Final steps onto side of Petres Gorge

Monday, 15th January - we had an afternoon walk, with Renee and Ron, around Xerosterni. We visited the restoration project that some friends are undertaking. We look forward to watching the transformation.

Door of renovation project

Outdoor oven ready for renovation

Wednesday, 17th January - we had a day trip out with Alan and Margaret. It was a pleasant 18C and sunny. We travelled along the National Road towards Rethymnon - turning off onto the old road at Gerani. We drove through wonderful scenery - with a patchwork of fields, hills and mountains. Mount Psiloritis - snow covered - dominated the area. We stopped to take photographs of the views and noticed a party of Griffon vultures on a nearby hillside. We were then rewarded with a magnificent 'flypast' of about forty vultures at close range. We eventually moved on joining the main road to Spilli. We had a picnic above Spilli and then drove off road to a flat, meadow area which eventually led to a new gorge - for us. We travelled to the south coast where the sun was low in the sky - dusk was fast approaching. We returned to the north coast and then enjoyed a delicious meal at Alan and Margaret's home - another lovely day. When we drove home around 11 p.m. the temperature was 1C at Vamos.

Patchwork of fields on 'old road' south

Snow on Psiloritis - highest mountain

Dusk over Libyan Sea on south coast of Crete

Saturday, 20th January -  Alan and Margaret joined us for a trip to Elafonisi on the south west coast of Crete. We visited the monastery of Hrissoskalitissa about 5 kms. before Elafonisi.  With weathered, white walls it is situated in a lovely position on a rocky promontory above the aqua-marine sea. There is reputed to be a 'golden step' but we did not find it! It was 22C but in the hot sun it seemed a lot more! We approached Elafonisi with its palm trees, vast expanse of sand, lagoon and island. The area has been designated as a National Park as it contains several endemic species of plants and animals. We had a picnic, on the beach, in hot sunshine.  It was very windy. We paddled across to the island to explore. We needed more time as it is quite large. We didn't find the endemic plant we had set out to find - but we will try again later. We returned to Provarma after another great day.

Hrissoskalitissa Monastery

Bell tower at Monastery

Sea from Monastery

Approaching Elafonisi

Paddling over to island View from island
Tuesday, 23rd January - we visited Argiroupolis, south of Episkopi, which is the site of the ancient Greek-Roman city of Lappa. The village is split in two. The lower part is the site of the famous springs. There is abundant water cascading down the rocky, wooded hillside. There are several tavernas which have incorporated water features in their grounds. The area is very green with plane and chestnut trees and even banana plants. The upper part of the village, which can be reached by climbing stone steps from the wooded slopes below, is founded on ancient Lappa.  It is a fascinating place to wander through. We were unable to find the route to recent excavations of Lappa but hope to return and explore more.

Shrine near springs

Water feature

'New' village of Argiroupolis

Wednesday, 24th January -
was a very special day. At 11.10 pm Samuel Toby was born (in the UK) weighing 8lbs 4ozs - a son for Ian and Jan (son and his wife) and a brother for Sophie - now 3 years 9 months. We are delighted and look forward to seeing them soon.

We enjoyed breakfast outside in hot sunshine and then took a picnic to Omalos and Samaria. It was 19C when we left Provarma but as we approached the Omalas plain it was only 8C. Omalos was bathed in sunshine but at the head of the Samaria gorge visibility was nil, due to low cloud. We also drove into the beautiful Agia Irini gorge which is reached from the Omalos plain. Here again there was low cloud obscuring the full scenic vista. We retuned to the north coast, stopping several times to admire the views around Lakki. We then visited Agia reservoir, where in the early evening, the temperature was 17C.

Redundant tractor by road

Into Omalos Plain

Church where view taken

Samaria Gorge in cloud

Omalos Plain in sunshine

Church at head of Irini Gorge

 Scenic Lakki village

Lakki houses edge of Gorge

Dusk at Agia Reservoir

The next day was hot - 28C in the sun and 25C in the shade. We enjoyed the sunshine on the balcony.

Friday, 26th January - it was too hot on the balcony at 10 a.m.!! We took a picnic and headed for the Akrotiri peninsula calling in at the Moronis nature reserve (near the Allied War Cemetery) on Souda Bay. I walked along on the sand by the bay.  It was so peaceful and very warm. We had not visited Akrotiri for some months and were amazed at the vast development in progress - buildings everywhere!! Driving towards Stavros we drove past a bank of post-boxes which I had to photograph. We stopped to admire Kalathas bay. It was such a warm day that there were people enjoying the beaches - in swimwear. It was quiet at Stavros with just a few people on the beach. We had our picnic and then explored the sandstone formations where there was sea salt drying in the pools of sea water. There were several kinds of wild flowers. We wandered around for a while and then drove across to the east and the monasteries. On the approach road were lots of wild anemones and mandrakes. We wandered around the grounds of the Ayia Triadha with its carefully tended olives and vines. I was surprised to see a boat under the trees at the side of the monastery.

Bank of Post-boxes

Stavros - Akrotiri

Pool of 'sea' salt

Sandstone formations

Gangway - Stavros

Ayia Triadha Monastery

The next day we re-visited Petres gorge with friends Renee and Ron. It was very windy and warm - 26C. We called in at Lake Kournas on the way back.  It was so windy there were waves on the lake!

We have visited Aptera several times and seen several wild orchids, anemones and other wild flowers.

Wednesday, 31st January -
the last day of the month and again we had blue skies and sunshine. We had a trip to Ancient Falasarna - just over 70 kms away along the National Road to the west coast. The views of the sweep of Falasarna beach and the wonderful coastline never fail to impress. We had blue skies all day and it was calm. We wandered around the area looking at the ongoing excavations. This ancient city was founded prior to the 6th century BC. Towards the entrance there is a huge stone 'throne'. All around the site of the ancient city (which was originally at sea level with a harbour and a canal) are vast sandstone blocks and other constructions which have been discovered. There are also some impressive, well preserved terracotta baths - protected by a canopy.

The surrounding hills and coastline are impressive and photo opportunities endless. This is also an area abundant in wild flowers.

We arrived back at Provarma just before dusk and the temperature had fallen to 10C. Another most enjoyable day to round off the month of January - difficult to remember that this is winter! 

Falasarna coastline towards Ancient Falasarna

Church - sandstone blocks

Next bay towards west

Rugged scenery -church

Terracotta baths

Another imposing structure

The rock 'Throne' at entrance

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