After the mildest, and (worryingly) the driest winter for decades in Paleochora, the searing heat of summer is now here, making long walks inadvisable and potentially dangerous. So why not ‘Explore’ the small peninsula of Grameno, just 5km west of the town, where there is much to discover, then relax under shady juniper bushes, swim off either of two beaches, and enjoy a meal at one of the nearby restaurants.
Grameno is just ten minutes away by car or taxi, but walking or cycling there in heat, with fast traffic, is not recommended. The 10.15am KTEL bus to Krios (summer only) will drop you off, returning at approx. 2.50pm, giving an ample four hours to explore.
The south facing peninsula gives a beach to either side ; the east, facing Paleochora, of shingle, the sandy west enclosed by a shallow bay, both provided with sun-beds & parasols, and each with a small “cantina”. Small paths disappear into the juniper bushes; it’s easy to find a secluded spot among the dunes, although access to the sea is often difficult away from the two beaches.
A walk around the perimeter of Grameno, boulder-hopping over the rocks, will take around an hour. At the south tip, in June/July, it’s possible to collect sea salt from pools where the winter waves have washed in and subsequently dried out.
Near the SW tip of the peninsula is a shallow ‘lake’ with a cave behind, which is connected to the sea by an underwater passage. Strong swimmers (only!) can take a face mask & flippers, deep breath, and head (literally) for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Slightly less intimidating is a climb to the concrete surveying pillar, on rocks at the highest point of Grameno, at only 4m a.s.l. giving fine views to Paleochora ; but even this isn’t easy, so be sure to remember the way down again.
Spring at Grameno sees the arrival of many migratory birds, especially the unmistakable hoopoes, always seen here in March/April, in passage from Africa northwards. And from August to October the sands are covered with ‘sea daffodils’ (Pancratium maritimum), which decorate the beaches every summer. In late autumn the lightweight black seeds float away on the sea, which disperses them along the shoreline.
For most of the year, apart from rough seas in winter, Grameno is calm and peaceful. The exception is on “Clean Monday” – ‘kathara deftera’ – which marks the first day of Lent, and falls 40 days before Easter. Here the community meets to fly kites, and enjoy a buffet provided by the town council, with traditional food of ‘lagana’ bread, black-eyed beans, and sea-food. Weather permitting, this is a fine day out, enjoyed by all.
To conclude your visit, why not visit either of the two nearby restaurants, ‘Houmas’ on the shores of the sandy bay, or ‘To Grameno’, slightly further away, both highly recommended, and offering a wide range of Cretan and Greek dishes.