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Livre d'or

 

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Ierapetra (Crète)

Crete de l'est voir carte)

You wouldn’t say at first glance, but Ierapetra has the highest income per capita in Greece. The source of this is not tourism and the beautiful unspoiled beaches but …tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits, grown in thousand of greenhouses you can see all over the area, thanks to the insight of a Dutch agriculturist who has foreseen that the climate conditions are ideal to bring to our table precocious, high-quality and highly-priced vegetables, exported through out the whole world. Paul Coopers, an invisible hero of contemporary Crete, hasn’t lived long enough to see the success of his vision (he was killed in a road accident in 1968), but the farmers of Ierapetra have honored him with a statue, on the site of his first greenhouse.
Besides the greenhouses, the virgin beaches and tropical heat all year long (migrant birds do not leave for Africa, as in the rest of Greece), this southernmost town of Europe has a strange, quiet charm of a new society which has to define it’s rules, though it’s history goes as back in the past as in the rest of Crete.

 

RESTAURANTS

Most of the city’s eating joints are at or around General Samuel’s St. NAPOLEON for instance, preferred by the President of the Republic when he comes to town (happened once). It’s specialty is rabbit stew with potatoes, a delicacy. There are many tourist traps and visually CASTELLO looks like one of those, it doesn’t happen to be the case though (not if you don’t look too much like a dollar - spending victim, I suppose, anyway). Red mullets from Libyan sea were preferred by Neron (the emperor of Rome, you know) who organized special fishing expeditions to have them brought to him (in a dubious state of freshness, presumably). The same fish still has an exquisite taste, but we still prefer "skaros", a parrot fish named scientifically "scarus cretensis" as it only lives here in the Mediterranean, often cooked as "stifado" (stew with onions) or served with gumbos, a very exotic dish. In spring and early summer you can order mini artichokes from Gaidouronisi ("Donkey Island"), a rare species endemic to this islet facing Ierapetra, with a certainly very rare taste and texture. Some other propositions: LAMBRAKIS for fresh fish, steaks and little cheese pies with honey ("tyropitakia me meli"). More fresh fish at ARHODIKO TOU BABI near the Kale castle at the port and "mezedes" accompanied by ouzo at O KALLES. Out of town HAWAII at Makrys Gialos, ELENA at Ferma, AHLIA at the beach with the same name and NIKOS at Koutsounari. After dinner everybody seems to enjoy a baklava or kadaifi at ORIENTAL, at the main square.

 

NIGHTLIFE

There is a neighborhood called "Soho" by locals, as in Aghios Nikolaos, where all the bars clubs are concentrated, neatly arranged, those playing Greek music along the sea front, while those with more international listenings a street inland. You can try EXODOS, PRIORITY or FOUGARO

 

BEACHES - GETTING AROUND

Some of the more scenic routes in Crete begin from Ierapetra. From KOUTSOUNARI to KOUTSOURA, the white beach is perfect and the water swallow for several kilometers, a swimmer’s paradise. Harder to access but less crowded are AGHIA FOTIA, GALINI and AHLIA. Going west, MYRTOS used to be a backpacker’s meeting point, less nowadays. The dirt trail to TERTSA runs by a series of magical little bays and white rocks carvened smoothly by the waves, to human-like forms. Nice subjects for black and white arty pictures. Finally, a visit to HRYSSI or GAIDOURONISSI is a must for any visitor wishing to live for some hours in a tropical paradise (protected by a usually rough sea and more heat than Ierapetra, if that is possible). Sand dunes, turquoise waters, two cantinas and - unfortunately - some recently introduced chairs and umbrellas to rent.

 

Source: Stigmes, Crete's magasine

Nikos Papadogeorgakis


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