Despite all the opportunities to ‘Explore’ further afield, many visitors to Paleochora, especially during the hot summer months, venture no further than our beaches.  And who can blame them. The enticing Libyan Sea, close to a sunbed under a shady parasol with a good book, nearby cafenia and tavernas  – what else would you need?  And there are so many beaches to choose from, some only a short walk away, others easily reached by cycle, car, or a ferry journey.

Not being able to relax on a beach for long, many of my visits to those nearby have been by kayak.  West from Pachia Ammos (or “sandy” beach) are Kalamia, Psilos Volakas, little-known Trochalou, Karavopetra and the two Plakaki beaches, then Azzurro before the popular Grameno peninsula. The road ends near Krios, but the E4 path continues over to Viena, two unfrequented beaches below Agios Ioannis, then Kedrodasos (cedar) beach before reaching Elafonisi lagoons.

East from Paleochora is Chalikia, or “stony” beach, a usually deserted shingle strand below the Camping, then Keratides and numerous often empty stretches of coastline before the three beaches at Ianiskari.  The walk to Sougia passes tiny Thunder Cove before the climb over and down to Lissos.

The “Samaria” ferry will carry kayaks to Sougia, Agia Roumeli and Loutro, and journies along the coast using this service have visited the more remote Domata and Agios Pavlos beaches, often for an overnight camp.

For this year’s puzzle, all you have to do is match the ten photographs to ten beaches.  For example, if you think that Domata beach is Photo C (and it’s not), write  “C” in the field next to for Domata beach on the entry form.

In keeping with the current Greek economic situation, the Prize Voucher for the winner has been reduced to 5 Euros.  It’s still enough to exchange in “To Delfini” bookshop for several postcards & stamps to send to friends, telling them what a marvelous place Paleochora is ….

Beach A

Beach A

Beach B

Beach B

Beach C

Beach C

Beach D

Beach D

Beach E

Beach E

Beach F

Beach F

Beach G

Beach G

Beach H

Beach H

Beach I

Beach I

Beach J

Beach J

 

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Closing date for entries is the 31st December, and the winning entry drawn by Monica in her cafe on the Main St the following evening.

Good Luck,  Kales Giortes, and more “Explore” in 2016.

 

 

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Three villages from Sarakina

Sarakina sign

A somewhat ambiguous title, as Sarakina itself is barely a village (its population just 25 in the 2011 Census), and Stavros, Kefali and Deliana are all considerably smaller.  The 12 km drive north from Paleochora to Sarakina (by car or taxi, no bus service) is delightful ; the river alongside the road flows down the valley all-year-round, below Kondokinigi and Tsaliana, and  reaches the sea at Karavopetra beach.

The first thing to do, as you enter the village, is stop and visit the little Byzantine church of Archangel Michael, dating from the 13th century.  If it’s not open, the key is easily located.  From the church, lift up your eyes to the summit of Kastri, 820m, and almost Matterhorn-like from this angle, seemingly unattainable but easily climbed from Stavros, described below.

Arch Michael

Arch. Michael

Park a little further on, and decide which of three walks to tackle first, or alternatively walk up to the village cafenion for coffee.

Sarakina cafe

Sarakina cafe

The shortest is to Kefali, just 1 km each way, so let’s go there first, and save the longest, to Stavros, for last.  Continue out of Sarakina, and take the road right, over a stream, on past the olive press and below shady olive groves into the few houses, some now derelict, of Kefali.  The road ahead, later a track, climbs to over 600m and would take you to Mahia, best left for another day, so retrace your steps back to Sarakina.

Kefali wall

Kefali wall

Deliana is 2 km north-west of Sarakina, along a rising, surfaced road, from where, one late August evening, I picked almonds, figs and pears from trees seemingly abandoned.  So too appears Deliana, where the road ends.  Wander around, and visit the church of Ag. Kyriaki, which has some surprising artefacts, before returning to Sarakina.

Deliana

Deliana

The 3km walk up to Stavros, combined with an ascent of Kastri (meaning “fortress” or “castle”)
could make a day in itself.  The surfaced road, signed from just south of Sarakina, climbs, twists and turns, passing the former village school, the views widening with ascent gained, before ending in a small ‘platea’ with a nearby church (Ag. Konstantinou & Eleni), water if you need it, and some fierce-sounding dogs.

Kastri Mt

Kastri Mt

To continue, follow the track out of Stavros, always uphill, before forking left, steadily up to reach a ‘col’, with a tiny white shrine.  The climb to Kastri will take around 30 minutes, rather less to descend, although it seems steeper.  There’s no path, easiest way is to keep to rocky ground directly ahead, then swinging left to the summit, 820m, marked by a surveying pillar.

At the top! Try & guess the year!

At the top! Try & guess the year!

The 360-degree panorama is, in my opinion at least, the best in this area.  Spread a map out, and identify many landmarks in SW Crete  –   Gavdos island, the White Mountain fringes, many “Explore” locations such as Sklavopoula, Agias Zinas, Yrtakina, Spina Gorge, Kandanos, the Turkish fort above Spaniakos, and the masts above Paleochora.

Stavros from Kastri

Stavros from Kastri

And closer, far below you, are Stavros, larger than it appears, Deliana, Kefali, and of course Sarakina, where in an hour or so’s time, you could be relaxing in the shady cafe with cold refreshing drinks, reflecting on the climb.

To complete a “nap hand” of walks from Sarakina, you could also visit Platanos and Perivola, both just a short distance away.

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