Walking in Western Crete

Walking in Western Crete

A Week in Crete 10 April – 17 April, 2012

 

I knew the beach and had wanted to go there for decades. And suddenly there I was – exhausted, and delighted, in the great sandy bay that so memorably played host to the famous 1960s film Zorba the Greek.

 

RWH leader Yvonne Gribben had been telling us about the movie version of Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel on the wondrous hike that terminated on the sandy shores at Stavros, east of Chania, which is where this holiday is based. That morning we’d left the charming old port to travel a dozen miles up to the enigmatic Gouverneto Monastery for what our guide promised would be a “wild, windy, rough and lonely walk on the Akrotiri Peninsula”.

 

It was all of those things, and more. I’d say this walk sums up and encapsulates the magic of Western Crete like no other. But the trouble with walking in Crete is that you find yourself thinking this a lot…

After a well deserved rest in Zorba’s bay it was time for the bus home to Chania, which is one of the most appealing ports I know in the whole Mediterranean. A place of much history, and even more bustle.

We did six walks and each had its own highlights and charm. Most dramatic of all was the great descent down the Imbros Gorge on the southern coast – terminating with a delicious lunch at Komitades, a village that hugs the coastal mountain slopes.

 

Talk of food inspires me to mention the subject more fully, because the meals we enjoyed in Western Crete were first class, which should not be surprising as the island is known for its cuisine.

The family run Hotel Falassarna was perfectly adequate – the staff were enormously friendly and accommodating – not that we spent much time there.

If there’s one difficulty in summing up this holiday it is in trying to decide which walk I liked best. If I single out the White Mountain hike from Therisso, then it’s probably only because it was the last we did and therefore freshest in my memory.

Think: tree-clad foothills, mule paths, towering mountains and a village taverna perched on a hilltop.

If I was forced to put it in a nutshell I’d say this vacation was all a walking holiday should be. Not only was every hike superb, but the whole holiday took us, magically, into another world.

 

One of blue vistas, intimate valleys, gorges and snow capped mountains – a small universe of floral delight – a galaxy of ancient and modern, sand and sea, olive and grape, excellent food and even better scenery.