This year's holiday on Crete was a little different than in previous years. We took Ulrike's daughter Luisa, who us accompanied in the first week of vacation. In the second week, Eddy and Gunda were on the island and saw a few sights and show the pool at Minos Mare.
Both Luisa and Eddy and Gunda were on the island for the first time. Of course, that gave us the opportunity to drive to many beautiful places that we already knew, but which are always worth visiting. As always, we sat in our jeep and let ourselves go beautiful weather to our destinations via main and secondary routes.
Since the jeep has space for four people, we took Michael on a tour of the island in the first week. As always, we left the busy tourist routes and drove to various places on the south coast via gravel roads and donkey paths.
Of course, Luisa couldn’t miss out on the actual holiday feeling, so the beach or pool was the order of the day in the afternoon before we went to our regular restaurants in the evening and usually ate together with Ingo. Since Luisa has already registered with us for next year, she seems to have liked Crete and our way of organizing her vacation.
In the second week my longtime friend Eddy and his wife Gunda were on the island. They too got to see some of our favorite routes and destinations, spent many hours by the pool and enjoyed the culinary delights with us in various restaurants.
After taking Eddy and Gunda to the airport after eight days, we were on our own for the last week. Of course we wanted to get to know some worthwhile routes and places on Crete, so we asked Michael and his wife Elke again to work out a few more routes. The two didn't need to be told twice. In our last week of vacation we did two grandiose jeep excursions.
Our first tour took us to the deserted one Monastery of Profitis Ιlias in the municipality of Roustika, about 20 km south-west of Rethymnon. We picked up Michael and Elke at 9 a.m. in Pigi and Michael led us to our first destination via some winding paths.
The monastery is in very good condition and it is hard to believe that no monks live there anymore. Unfortunately, the internet doesn't give much, apart from a few not very meaningful comments in Wikipedia. But I don't want to give you any history lessons either, look at the photos, you'll get more out of them.
From the monastery we went to the abandoned mountain village of Nisi (= island).
"Frente" describes Nisi on its website as "island between two ravines". It is believed that the village was cut off from its surroundings during the rainy season in winter, hence the name.
According to Frente's research, the last resident of this village died in the late 1980s. Since then the village has been empty and is rapidly deteriorating. Only the cemetery chapel "Agios Giorgos" is still in a well-preserved condition.
At Patsianos, about 700 meters high, we made a short stop to follow the serpentines to the south coast with our eyes from this height.
Shortly before Kallikratis, about 2 km north-west of Frangokastello, we stopped at Jannina's Kafenion and strengthened ourselves with a very tasty organic frappé. Even Ulrike was enthusiastic about this refreshing drink, although she otherwise doesn't like the frappé.
It continued south. As we neared the coast, we left the tarmac and headed east again along dirt roads along the south coast. We took a last break at a taverna right on the Libyan Sea, bought drinks and then continued along the coast.
Eventually we turned north-east and drove through the Kourtaliotiko Gorge Direction Rethymnon. Arriving back in Pigi in the late afternoon, we refilled our water supply with Elke and Michael and then drove to our accommodation. It was an unforgettable day with indelible impressions!
Our last tour had two destinations: the monastery Agia Irini and Reythmnon's local mountain, the "Vrysinas" .
The Abbey of Saint Irene was destroyed during the uprisings against Ottoman rule in 1866 and has been derelict ever since; in 1989 it was restored and is now inhabited again. The nunnery houses a small ecclesiastical museum. Icons, textiles and handicrafts made by the nuns are also for sale (source: wikipedia).
Since Michael was (of course) also known here, we were given a short private tour of the monastery and soon set off on our second and last stage.
We went to Rethymnon's local mountain, the Vrysinas. Thanks to our jeep it was possible to drive almost to the summit, a good 800 meters above Retymnon. "From there it is only about 100 meters to to the summit", Michael explained to us, but forgot to say that he meant altitude.
The climb wasn't that bad after all. It went about 20 minutes over rocks and undergrowth until we were in front of the chapel "Agios Pneumatos". (Holy Spirit) stood and could enjoy the wonderful view over the mountains and over Rethymnon.
The vacation was coming to an end. We then did ourselves and the "Friends of Animals" a favor and rebooked our return flight. Originally, the flight from Heraklion to Hanover left after 10 p.m., so we would not have been home before 4 a.m. Ultimately are we flew 12 hours earlier from Chania and also took a puppy with us.
As always, it was a fantastic holiday and we will have to draw on it for the next 49 weeks.