“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness …” And how better to spend an autumn morning or afternoon than with a short walk, followed by lunch or dinner at the O Milos taverna in Plemeniana, 14 km from Paleochora on the way to Kantanos and Chania. The taverna is not difficult to locate, just 300m off the main road, with colourful signs welcoming you from all approaches.
Park by the river, and maybe after coffee or herbal/mountain tea, tell Eleni that you’ll return (hungry) in a couple of hours or so. Set off along the road towards Dris, past the old mill, closed for many years now, and above groves of avocado trees. After 200m turn right, up to the few houses of Tereziana, and there swing left, rising slightly to a cross-tracks. En route are seasonal fruits of pomegranates, and bright yellow autumn daffodils (Sternbergia lutea.)
Go right at the junction, the track now level below sweet chestnuts, and when the road forks, turn down right, to pass below tall eucalyptus trees.
Soon, as you head north, ignore a turning left ; if the track then becomes concrete, you’re on the correct route. Now comes a steady climb to the ridge, which you follow right until a sharp bend brings you to a water cistern, at 470m almost the highest point on this walk. Kantanos is (just) in view from here in a very rural landscape, and it’s hard to believe that the beaches of Paleochora, as the eagle flies, are only 10 km away.
Just 300m beyond the cistern, around a bend and passing rows of bee hives, take the track left downhill, rough at first. Further down, after an ‘S’ bend, are more fruit trees – apple, pears and passion fruit – and vineyards. Below these, turn right to soon join the outward route near the eucalyptus trees, and so return through Tereziana back to O Milos.
The taverna menu is traditional Cretan home cooking, often with dishes not found elsewhere, both vegetarian and meat. Eels are in the river below, not on the menu, and the ducks and geese similarly.
Across a bridge is a children’s playground, and in winter, food is served indoors by a fiercely hot woodstove. Eleni came to Greece from Ukraine some twenty-one years ago, and has been running the taverna with husband Nicos for over nineteen years. Neither speaks very much English, but with a friendly welcome and smiling faces, communication is never difficult.
Bear in mind that the taverna closes at 9pm, and in autumn it can be cold in the evening sitting outside at tables overlooking the river. But a late lunch at O Milos, after a brisk walk in the hills, far from any madding crowds, is pure enjoyment, and as a prelude to approaching winter, you may watch “Gathering swallows twitter in the skies …” or on the wires above the taverna.