Well here we are again, off on our travels. Following on from the excellent day out Steve Lenton and I had last year with Yvonne and Alan Payne, traversing the seven Plateaus of Lassithi, we decided to try another route.
This time we also invited Steve Daniels (a Naturalist from Ierapetra) and his wife Christine, to join us in the car with Yvonne and Alan. With Steve (D) not owning a suitable vehicle for ‘off road’ travelling it was a great opportunity for them to join us to explore the delights of a new mountainous area.
We all met up at Pachy Ammos for a 9.30 am start, and set off for Kavousi. On reaching the village, we turned right onto a cemented track leading to a famous Ancient Olive Tree which has been classified as ‘monumental’ by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities. It is estimated to be 3250 years old, dating back to the Post-Palatial Minoan Period. Just imagine what this tree could tell us, if only it could talk!!!
We had then planned to start the main journey with a coffee at the Taverna next door to the tree, and have a chat about the route we were taking. Ha Ha, so much for the ‘ plans of mice and men’ – It was CLOSED.
Oh well, never mind, we agreed just to start off and hopefully find a small taverna in one of the villages along the way. Steve and I led the way on the Quad, and the others followed in the car, with instructions to wave out the window if they wanted to stop for photographs, or exploration of a specific area along the way.
Slowly, slowly we made our way up into the mountains, with the quad jumping and bumping along, over rocks and boulders (and the occasional sudden drop into an unforeseen hole which nearly threw me off!!! – silly me, thought I was being clever – I’d been riding over rocky terrain for so many years, and was showing off – no holding on!!!!!!!) oh well, as they say pride comes before a fall (or at least in my case – almost a fall) That will teach me to at least hold on with one hand over the rougher parts.
We were heading for the village of Chrysopigi, well into the mountains, and stopped many times along the way for photo shoots and short breaks! The scenery in places was beyond belief, mountains soaring in the distance, so many pathways and tracks leading off to secret places, and Steve Daniels wandering off to look for his bugs, birds and butterflies.
Finally we arrived at Chrysopigi, a small village in the middle of nowhere, unfortunately with no taverna – still no coffee break, oh well onwards and upwards.
The next planned destination was Orino, (Approxiately 14 kilometers from Makrigialos). Most of this part of the journey was back on tarmac, so we made good time, pulling up at a favourite stopping place of Steve’s along the way, so that Steve (D) could browse among the flora and trees for anything of interest to him. Again, another opportunity for photos of the beautiful scenery and rugged mountains. On having a chat with Christine, and commenting on the fact that it was good that Steve had actually found enough of interest to photograph and make notes, she replied – ‘Yes, I already have two snails in my bag!!!’. Brilliant.
Ah well, off we go again. Running downwards towards Orino, the wind blowing strongly, and sitting on the quad, the wind in my hair, leaning back looking up at the sky, my arms outstretched once again, travelling fast around the ‘s bends’ It felt just like I imagine a bird of prey feels when it catches an upstream of warm air. Absolutely free and wild. Totally fantastic experience.
Oh well, time to come back down to earth! Orino lies at the beginning of a gorge, which is known for its red butterflies. Unfortunately in 1993 there was a forest fire which badly affected the nature and the amount of butterflies in the gorge, but it is still considered a beautiful nature reserve. We pulled up in the square to have a wander round, and yea, we finally find a Kafé Neon. The owners were good enough to bring chairs outside to a small covered area where we ordered coffee and beer, and to our surprise we received several plates of free mezes. So, great, we thought, we can eat, drink, discuss the journey, and generally relax for a while. It is actually quite stressful travelling over rough rocky terrain, and it was good for Alan, and Steve, to have a break, …… Oh, and look what Steve(D) has found, sitting on a flower pot, enjoying a rest – A Black Beetle, but one with a beautiful, unusual, white lacy pattern covering its head. (More photos….)
So here we are, sitting outside a traditional Kafe Neon, in a lovely little village, in the middle of nowhere, watching the locals sitting opposite, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine …
Or So We Thought!!!! NO. NO. NO, ITS RAINING!!!!!!! I can’t believe it, the black clouds have crept up on us and spilt their contents like a cracked glass pouring beer down the drain…… softly at first, like drops of moisture on a hot sticky day, petering off to nothing, as we breathe a sigh of relief (only a shower!) but no, here comes the hard stuff. Oh well, chairs and people back inside. What a disappointment, oh well, we can still eat, drink and talk, and discuss how this will affect the journey onwards.
Fortunately the rain did not last too long, and following my quick walk around the village to take photos of the Church and Memorial, we set off for Thripti, our next port of call.
Unfortunately, the black clouds set off as well, following us, only running a little quicker than us, overtaking us, and punishing us for having such a lovely day out. It was ok for the others in the car, at least they had protection, not so comfy on the quad- large icy drops as big as hail stones drummed into us, like a vicious storm, leaving us with no option but to press on urgently to the Taverna at Thripti, and hope Allan managed to follow on ok.
Ah Well, we all arrived ok, and I shot off to the Ladies, to wring out my t-shirt, and change into my fleece. (I always travel with fleece and waterproof in the mountains, because you never know how the weather will react, and it really is best to be prepared for anything!!!)
So, once again we sat down to drinks, and more free mezzes, and of course further discussions on where we go from here……
Our next planned stop was over the back of the mountain, Afendis Kavousi, down to Aghios Yiannis, then hit the mountain trail above the village, and onwards to meet up once again with the main road running from Thripti to Kato Horio, but with the rain, this was a slightly dubious route, so we stopped a while longer to consider the odds. More drinks and mezzes! – although Steve (D) was more interested in catching a Warbler on film, than drinking and eating.
Well, during our time of feasting and drinking the sky lightened ahead of us, whilst behind us the black clouds seemed to sink lower and lower covering the mountains rapidly. Such a shame, because the village and the Taverna is overlooked by the sharp searing crags of Afendis Kavousi, and today none of its majestic prowess was visible, so sadly no photos.
Well, deciding to look forward, not backwards we followed the ever-lightening sky towards Aghios Yiannis. After all, we had come this far, might as well follow the itinerary all the way, regardless. We were all so glad we did, it was a lovely view all the way over the back of Efendis Kavousi, looking out at the long stretch of mountains leading down to the Libyan Sea, with patches of blue sky and watery sunshine ahead of us, (much to our surprise, considering what we left behind us),
… and as we neared the village, Steve asked me, as supposed Navigator, if I could remember the turn off to the mountain trail, and I promptly yelled, “its next to the second church” HA HA, WRONG AGAIN. There is only ONE church, and ONE turning, leading up through the upper end of the village and out to the mountains, and that’s just before the sign post for Aghios Yannis, and we had just passed it, into the lower end of the village. Feeling like an absolute fool, I signalled backwards to Alan, to make the turn behind us, and set off once again duly chastised by Steve. (Don’t think I will be asked to navigate again … oh well we can’t get it right all the time!) actually, its more fun when you don’t get it right all the time!!!!!!!
The journey upwards went well, in spite of the rain, the terrain was fine, so no slipping or sliding in wet mud, as was half expected, and so we came to our last stop and photo shoot of the trip. A large open area with a church, beautifully kept, surrounded by mountains, and flying above, a family of what looked like vultures, from a distance, but too far away to be sure.
A lovely ending to a lovely trip, with a comment from Yvonne, that the trip would have been great even without the detour to Aghios Yiannis, but with it, we had the ‘icing on the cake’. So True.
All that was left was to meander down the mountain to meet up with the road to Kato Horio, and back to Pachy Ammos, for a fond farewell, to Yvonne and Alan, Christine and Steve,
Until the next time ………..