ΜΑΡΤІΟΣ - March - 2007
 
The weather in March was a mixture of quite cool weather, some very warm days and around four days of rain. Day temperatures ranged from 14C to 28C.

Thursday, 1st March -  Friends Colin and Sue (from Gramvousa) visited us in Provarma for the first time. We went to Lake Kournas and Georgioupoli in the morning returning to our house for lunch. After lunch we drove up past the Maheri gorge into the foothills of the white mountains to the church at Tsakistra. The weather was calm with blue skies and sunshine all day, 20C.  It was a very enjoyable day.

The harbour at Georgioupoli

Georgioupoli Water

 Maheri Gorge to the coast


Friday, 2nd March -
Alan and Margaret joined us for a day out. We began  by searching for orchids at the Minoan cemetery - just south of Rethymnon. We drove on to Spilli, admiring the wonderful scenery in that area. We enjoyed searching for various flowers. It was a cooler day 17C and only 12C in the mountains so we had a picnic in the car. We enjoyed the day and found several orchids, narcissi and irises.

Minoan Cemetery

Colourful Wild Iris

Village House


The next day the temperature reached 28C by noon.  On Sunday we were having a leisurely breakfast outside on the balcony. Weather warm and sunny.  The sound of the priest chanting, drifted down the valley. Church bells were ringing. Then the sounds of a Cretan village started:  Shooting, chain saws, radio blaring next door and then a fire was lit nearby to burn the prunings from the trees and shrubs. As the smoke drifted across the balcony we gave up on eating alfresco and moved inside.  Real, weekend life in an agricultural Cretan village.

The next few days were cooler. On 6th March north western Crete experienced another earthquake - 4.4  

Wednesday,7th March - we had a trip to Omalos, Samaria and the Agia Irini gorge. The Omalos plain was clear but the Samaria gorge was full of cloud as was most of the Irini gorge.  We had always had clear weather previously.  We had to have the car headlights on as we descended from Omalos. There were lots of wild lupins by the roadside.

Wild Lupins

Close-up of Lupin

Lichen on roadside rocks


Another day on a local walk to Maheri we watched a coach negotiate the narrow road avoiding a flock of goats.  A walk below Maheri provided a photo of a perhaps, once grand, Zorba's hotel.

Coach negotiating narrow road and goats - Maheri Gorge
This hotel sign has seen 'better' days but put to good use in Maheri


We had a trip to Akrotiri peninsula where we found areas by the roadside covered with orchids. We called in at the Moronis  nature reserve. where I walked along the beach to the beautiful setting of the Allied War Cemetery, on the shore of Souda bay.

We also had an enjoyable walk around the hillsides near Paleloni with Alan, Margaret, Sue and Tony, again searching for orchids.  

Tamarisk Tree in Blossom

War Memorial at Souda Bay

Carefully tendered graves


Torrential rain arrived on Sunday. We had rain on three days that week. Margaret, Sue and I had a pleasant few hours shopping - mostly in Jumbo.

Wednesday,14th March - we joined Alan and Margaret for a day out. Alan drove towards Omalos via the Sougia road. We drove down to the southern end of the Agia Irini gorge. It is a very pretty area. Lots of trees and very green. It was an ideal place for a picnic. We walked down into the gorge (there was a shower of rain but mostly sunny) and found lots of orchids. We travelled to the south coast and stopped in the sheltered harbour at Sougia. The wind was very strong but we were sheltered by the picturesque harbour. We headed north again turning right onto a high, winding mountain road leading to the ancient village of Koustoyerako.  The village has a long history of resistance to foreign occupation. The last occasion being resistance to German occupation, in 1943, which resulted in the houses being blown up. A modern war memorial has been erected at the entrance to the village which commemorates loss of life in Koustoyerako and two nearby villages Moni and Livadas. Each village has a separate memorial. There is also a striking statue in the village square. The E4 path to Omalos leads from the top of the village. We returned home after yet another wonderful day exploring this beautiful island.

Southern end of Irini Gorge

Rock in bed of Gorge

'Man' Orchid

     

Information Board for Samaria Area

 

Lovely south coast views

Secluded Harbour

   

War Monument at Koustoyerako

Monument in square at Koustoyerako

   

Koustoyerako

Livardas

Moni


The next day we drove to Drapanos calling in on Margaret and Chris at Vamos. We collected the ever essential tea bags they had kindly brought over from the UK. We drove down to the picturesque bay at Ombrosgialos. While near Drapanos we visited the wells which were flooded - we had not seen the area as wet previously. We also searched for orchids.

Colourful bay - Ombrosgialos

Ornate decoration on bay

Flooded wells - Drapanos


The following day we drove to Kares and walked towards Gournes where we had a picnic. This is a very pleasant region. We found orchids in the surrounding area.

Area just outside Kares of permanent cascade of water and several orchids


Saturday, 17th March -
was a lovely sunny day 18C. We took a picnic to Kalavaki beach at Georgioupoli. We enjoyed exploring the area, again searching for orchids. There were several varieties of colourful flowers on the beach. We crossed the 'bridge' over the river and then scrambled around the hillside by the church.

'Casting' nets Georgioupoli

'Bridge' over river

Boat close by sea shore


Sunday 18th March -
We had planned Sunday lunch out with Margaret and Chris from Vamos. We took them to our favourite taverna way up in the White Mountains. Quite a frightening drive if you are not used to it.  We enjoyed a walk into the mountains and then a delicious lunch at Ψνχρό Ππуάγδι. We returned to Provarma around 5.30 for coffee.

Ψνχρό Ππуάγδι taverna high in the White Mountains


The next day we had another trip to Spilli - again searching for orchids and other flowers. It was a lovely sunny day, 20C at Provarama and 18C at Spilli.

Cascade of permanent water above Spilli - an orchid area


Mid week we had gales and heavy rain. The weather improved by Saturday. We went to Lake Kournas and Georgioupoli, where we had a picnic.

Roy's information sign at Georgioupoli with permission from local environment officer


Monday, 26th March -
we drove over to the west of the island - to Gramvousa where Colin and Sue have a house with glorious views. It is an ideal spot for bird watching.  Colin drove us along the rough track towards the end of Gramvousa to Balos bay. The views are splendid over the sea to Rodopos. We stopped along the way at a pretty, rocky, sheltered bay for our picnic. We then continued towards the end of the peninsula with several stops for the numerous migrating birds we were to see and for Colin to photograph. On one stop we found a natural fountain which was attracting several birds. We left the car at the end of the road and walked towards the track that leads to the steps down to Balos bay. The views were fantastic - a photo opportunity at every turn. It was dark by the time we left Colin and Sue after another wonderful trip. 

View over to Rodopos

Picnic time in bay

North along track to end

     

Natural water fountain

Towards end of Gramvousa

Balos bay


Thursday, 29th March -
was a lovely day 21C. We had a day out in the area of the Preveli monastery. We drove east along the National Road towards Rethymnon and then turned south heading for the Kourtaliotiko gorge. This is very impressive and often windy. There are places to stop, to picnic and to admire the glorious scenery and the birds of prey which soar overhead. We continued to the coast and the beautiful setting of Preveli monastery. There is a recent addition of a war memorial on the cliff top above the sea. This has a life size Abbot - with gun and an allied soldier close by. The monks and Abbot sheltered thousands of Allied soldiers and helped them to escape from the island during the 2nd World War.

'The monument stands for ideology, memory and communication of friendship and peace.  Dedicated to the resistance of our people, dedicated to all the countries who believe and fight for the idealism of democracy and freedom.'

We returned to the National Road via the impressive Kosifou gorge - another lovely day with wonderful scenery.

Outside Kourtaliotiko Gorge

Into the Gorge

Yellow Hillside

     

Abbot with gun on headland

Allied soldier

War Memorial

     

Beautiful setting of Preveli Monastery


The last two days of March were warm and sunny 20C+. We visited Agia Reservoir and explored the area towards the coast. It is an interesting area with a river, taverna and very old church - with the church bell in a tree.

We somehow arrived at Kato Stalos and called in to see Adonis (where I used to stay 25 years ago). As usual we were greeted warmly and given coffee and delicious cakes. We were able to have a chat with Barry and Belsan who have been staying at Adonis's apartments. They have now moved to Provarma having bought the house from our friends Elfrieda and Hanse - who have returned to Austria. The next day we walked by the river near Stilos and then drove above Stilos to explore.

Another very enjoyable, full month.

Ancient church

Church Bell in Tree

A 'Cretan' ladder


Back to diary index