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Rethymnon - Ierapetra

 

14. RETHYMNON - IERAPETRA (Travelling inland) (see Map )

14.1 Rethymnon to Amari Valley 14.2 Amari Valley 14.3 Psiloritis mountain 14.4 Dikti mountain
14.5 From Dikti to Ierapetra 14.6 To Agios Nikolaos 14.7 Lato  

From Mountain Dikti to Ierapetra via the Omalos plateau

The route to the Omalos plateau (Viannos or Viannou plateau) is the most impressive one on Mountain. Dikti. It starts right after the east exit of Katofigi. The dirtroad is generally good (D2 / D3), except for two or three kilometres shortly before the plateau where it has a steep inclination. The plateau is 1300 metres above sea level and it is truly beautiful. It has a small lake at its centre, a little chapel, and a primitive stone hut that is the home of three shepherds, the Stavrakakis brothers.

Map, Rethymnon to Ierapetra, via plateau Omalos

Needless to say, you can pitch camp anywhere you like; the best idea would probably be to set up your tent at a nice spot and then pay a visit to the shepherds. They will offer you raki and wonderful cream cheese of their own production, and they will be very happy if in return you give them three or four packs of cigarettes, which for them is a precious little gift since they rarely leave the mountain to go down to the village. If you have a warm sleeping bag and sleep outside your tent, and if you are lucky and the night is cloudless and moonless, you’ll have an experience to remember all your life. The stars are so bright and the stillness is so deep that you’ll have the magic feeling of being on a spacecraft travelling through the galaxies...

The road crosses the Omalos plateau from west to east and then goes downhill. It winds through the thickest and most beautiful pine forest of Crete and takes you to the abandoned (Ep)ano Simi and to the very lively Kato Simi. Since it is fairly easy, it allows quick off-road driving and will not tire you. If you get hot, you can take an ice-cold shower at the small waterfall that you’ll find just before Kato Simi. About one kilometre earlier, you will see a fenced area next to the road.

Omalos or Viannou plateau

This encloses what’s left of the Sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite, which has an uninterrupted history spanning the years from the Middle Minoan period till the third century AD. It was discovered very recently (1972) and was excavated systematically by Mrs. A. Lembessi. Among other valuable items, she found many clay and bronze statuettes, tiles of the temple engraved with the names of donors, and several sacred vessels. Some of these findings are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Iraklio.

At the village of Kato Simi you will see a war memorial. This was built to remind the world of the five hundred men executed here in 1943, when the Germans decided to punish the locals for the murder of two German soldiers. Their rage was such that they also burned six villages to the ground...

By now you may have had enough of driving on the mountains and you may be dreaming of a refreshing swim. As you follow the main road leading to Ierapetra you will see many intersections where you can turn right (south) and head for the beach. If you decide to continue on the main road it will take you to Mirtos, a seaside village with a nice pebbly beach where you can also take a swim. If you are looking for a nice beach to camp, there is one two kilometres west of Mirtos, although the best beaches lie west of Keratokambos, many kilometres away. East of Mirtos there is little to see, except for the Minoan site between this village and Nea Mirtos which we mentioned earlier From Mirtos all you have to do is follow the coastal road until you reach Ierapetra.

A taste of Paradise
What are we made of? The things we eat, the air we breathe, what we see and hear. Giorgos Tzanakis, shepherd and cheese maker at the Katharos plateau, was born between the sheep in the fields sometime in winter.

Tzanakis Giorgos

The first bed he lay on was a warm sheepskin, the first sounds he heard were the bleating and the bells of the sheep, and the first smells he ever knew were those of sage and marjoram.

When we arrived at his small hut we found him chopping wood for the stove. It was the beginning of December, and the weather was cold and rainy.
“Welcome, lads! Come in and have a raki with me to warm up a bit. But you must be hungry too.”

By the time we had taken our helmets and raincoats off, he had unearthed five or six potatoes, cut a couple of tomatoes from his small greenhouse, fetched two eggs from the hencoop, cut a large piece of hard cheese of his own production, taken out some barley biscuits, olives and raki, and filled the table with goodies...


He shook the earth off the potatoes, cut them in large pieces and threw them in the pan with the sizzling olive oil.

The wonderful smells of the French fries, the freshly sliced tomato with the oregano and the burning wood became the incense that turned the poor shepherd’s hut into a chapel. This was no lunch he was offering us; it was like a Holy Communion. We got a taste of his personal paradise ans continued with our own trip and lives...


THE ROUTES THE ROUTES

Routes starting from Hania

Hania
1. Hania - Akrotiri
2. Hania - Paleochora
3. Hania - Sameria
4. Hania - Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
5. Hania - Kissamos (Kasteli)

Routes starting from Kissamos
Kissamos (Kasteli)
6. Kissamos - Gramvoussa
7. Kissamos - Elafonissos
8. Kissamos - Paleochora (through the Topolian Gorge)
9. Kissamos - Paleochora (through Episkopi)
10. Kissamos - Sirikari

Routes starting from Hora Sfakion (Sfakia)
11. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (travelling inland)
12. Hora Sfakion - Rethimno (Rethymnon) (following the coast)

Routes starting from Rethimno (Rethymnon)
Rethimno (Rethymnon)
13. Rethimno - Ierapetra (following the south coast)
14. Rethimno - Ierapetra (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Ierapetra
Ierapetra
15. Ierapetra - Zakros (coastal road)
16. Ierapetra - Zakros (inland route)

Routes starting from Iraklio (Heraklion)
Iraklio (Heraklion)
17. Heraklion - Rethymnon (coastal road)
18. Heraklion - Rethymnon (travelling inland)
19.Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (coastal road)
20. Heraklioon - Agios Nikolaos (travelling inland)

Routes starting from Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos
21. Agios Nikolaos - Zakros


Source of the information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”, Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of Greece, click here.

 

 

Tip of the day

In the small but organized city museum you will see findings from excavations in ancient Kissamos and its surrounding areas. The museum’s collection includes floor mosaics of 2nd and 3rd century houses found in Kissamos city, as well as findings from the archeological sites of Polirrinia and Falasarna (mainly statues, reliefs and ceramics dating back to the Hellenistic and Roman times).
The present town is famous for its amazing wine which is produced here and is celebrated with “the Feast of Wine" at the beginning of August. During the feast local wine is offered in great quantities under the sound of lyre and lute and in a very enthusiastic atmosphere.
The beaches surrounding Kastelli that you can visit for swimming in the homonym gulf are Molos beach covered by thick pebbles, Ghipedo beach surrounded by trees and Telonio beach with view of the Venetian walls. It is better though to take the road to the famous Gramvousa peninsula.

 

 

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