This year we spend our holiday in Crete for the
second time. We stayed at appartment complex
Ambelos in a small village called
Agia Pelagia (Aghia Pelaghia)
. 15km to the west of Heraklion. All appartments are situated
in the middle of a vineyard.
The main goal of our holiday was to have no obligations and
just discover all of crete. We hired a Suzuki Samurai during
our stay, so no dirt road can stop us. The only organized trip
we have planed, was the Cretan Night at the Traditional (authentic) Village of
Kato Karouzana (Karzanos) Pediados.
can eat, drink as much as you can handle.
The wine is made by Jannis and Mathios and is served in
3 litre bottles.
When the bottle is half empty, the next bottle
is served by Jannis.
It's getting hot!
words needed. Bye bye.....
From our balcony we had a great
view at night when we where reading our books by moonlight.
Crete you should drive by jeep. Many of the inland roads are dirt roads.
You will never forget the experience!
One day we found the
astronomical Observatory, near Skinakas. It
took us 4 hours through a moon shaped country to a hight of 1752m. Please do not
go there because you will disturbe a astronomer preaparing measurements for
the comming night.
Skinakas Observatory is located in the Ida mountain in Central Crete at an altitude
of 1750m, 25km line- of- sight distance and 60km by road from the city of Heraklion.
The favourable climatological conditions prevailing in Crete (large number of clear-sky nights per year)
combined with the high mountains; place the island of Crete among the best locations in Europe for high
quality astronomical observations.
We were lucky to find an astronomer preaparing a measurement
of the comming night. He openend the roof, and
pointed the telescoop
to the target.
I was fascinated by the hard an
software, needed for the telescope to work. The whole telescope was build
by the University of Crete of Herakilion. Many astronomers
use the observatory. A 1000x1000 picel CCD camera is used.
The camera temperature is cooled to -100 degrees to reduce the thermical
The new, yet
undiscoverd solar system. At the moment
it only has a number.
Near the observatory you will find the "Ideon Andron" Cave. Inside of the cave
i found ice!
According to legends, the Ideon Cave was the birthplace of Zeus. In the myth, Rhea brought the infant
Zeus to the Ideon cave to protect him from his father, Kronos, who would have swallowed him alive,
as he had previously done with his brothers and sisters.
This cave is positioned very high, 1491m. Near this cave you will
find a very large green grass field (Nida Plateau).
Nida Plateau is located in the centre of Crete on Mt. Ida (Psiloritis),
about 20 km south of the town of Anogia.
Crete has many archeological monuments.
is one of them. You will not miss it when you drive from Heraklion
to the south cost.
Church of St. Titus (basilica of Agios Titos). Large,
stone-built cruciform church with three semicircular conches.
The church has many successive architectural phases (the one seen dates from the 6th
century A.D.) and was destroyed by the Arabs in A.D. 824.
Odeion. It is a typical Roman theatre
of the 1st century A.D. with two entrances on the north side and an almost
semicircular orchestra. The north wall of the formerly raised skene
(stage) had four niches for statues. Only three rows of benches are
preserved of the cavea.
The first try to get to
Spinalonga in 2000 failed. The weather was to rough. No boats
where allowed to sail. We decided to get as close as possible
to the island and try to get a view from every possible side.
picture gives a N-E view of
In the background you can see Elounda.
Do not forget to stop in
(thanks Geert). You will find a beach with beautifull round shaped
You can reach beautifull spots after driving many hours of dirt road.
For Instance, driving in the direction of
Acra Agios Ioannis. The road
is realy tough. You can seen how Annemieke had to hold on to the
When you drive in the inland, you will often have to watch out for "the workers". So drive carefully.
"All that is written by me about Spinalonga is based on
what I have read or heard. I do not know the exact history of Spinalonga, so I am
not able to write it."
Even in the Netherlands we have heard of Spinalonga. In 1993 "Jos Brink" interviewed
Victor Zorbas. Victor Zorbas "was" at that time a guide on the island
Spinalonga. Before that we have indirectly heard about the island. The English
BBC once recorded the famous tv serie "Who pays the ferryman". What the title
realy could means, was explained during the guided tour of Victor Zorbas on
the island. The name Spinalonga means: Spina= thorn loga=
long . In 1954, the island was renamed to Kalidonia. However, I have never
found this name on any map?
We tried to get as much information about the island
as possible. Many People how had done the guided tour recently, told us different
stories, after their guided tour with Dimitrios.
Dimitrios story about Spinalonga is
in many ways different from the story of Victor Zorbas. Some
people told us that Victor Zorbas was exiled from the island because he
was not telling the truth about the island's history. Other people told
us that Victor was not on Crete because he had a family problem in the
Netherlands. Because of this we were getting curious.
In 1993, I bought this book "Het
Eiland der verdoemde
", written by Victor Zorbas. I must say, Victor has written
this book with great passion. I had studied the book
carefully before doing the guided tour with Dimitrios.
After a late night at the apartment pool bar, it was not easy to get up early for the second try
to catch the boat to Spinalonga, but we were successfull. Only on a good map, the island
spinalonga is shown.
Only the litle island marked as "Spinalonga (Castle)
" is Spinalonga. The peninsula can be reached trough Elounda, but the roads are VERY rough!
There are several way's to get to the island but we drove
to Agios Nikolaos to get on the boat "Venus". Because on that boat we would
have a guided tour with Dimitrios. It seemed that the early moring trip
(10:00), Victor is the guide and the afternoon trip (13:30) Dimitrios.
Here the Venus arived at
Spinalonga (right boat).
During the boat trip we stopped, so we where able to take a
dive into the cristal clear water.
Dimitrios in action, during
his Dutch tour on the island.
The tour will take approximately one hour. You will walk around
the cemetery of
Spinalonga. The story you will hear about the cemetery during
the tour, differs from Victor and Dimitrios.
On the boat trip back to Agios
Nikolaos I asked Dimitrios several questions about all the roumors we have
heard. One of the questions was: "Is it true that Victor Zorbas is not
allowed on the island Spinalonga anymore". Dimitrios's answer: "Yes, but
this is because Victor has no official guide licence". Dimitrios also
told me that he will also publish a book about Spinaloga.
During the tour on Spinalonga, I was very
disappointed. Since I visited the island in 1993 many authentic
buildings where restored. The reason is obvious, when no restoring is
done, the buildings will collapse. But my oppinion is, to keep it in
the original state. Now it looks as if a new city is build,
almost nothing is autentic anymore.
Fodele is a dangerous place
to visite. When you walk through the village you will find lots of fancy
needlework. The village is also known as the Birth place of the Greek painter
Theotokopoulos, later know as El Greco.
We were lucky to find the
chapel of Fodele
open for public, it closes at 17:00 hours. If you watch carefully, you can
see pillars in front of the chappel. These pillars show that the chappel
was bigger in the past. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any
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