Chania to Elafonisi, Crete, Greece

A Crete-style Beach Trip


inflatable summer
Exposed buoys on the side of a Kissamos road on the way to Topolio Gorge.
untraditional error
Placa promotes traditional Cretan products, with a natural error in those who use the Greek alphabet, not the Latin one.
love kri kri
Giorgos holds a large kri kri goat by the side of the road through Topolio Gorge.
Acted. Sofia
Orthodox chapel of the grotto of Agia Sofia.
A Starry Belfry
Icons of Orthodoxy
Images of Christ reinforce the orthodox religiosity of the Agia Sofia grotto.
Giorgos in Voulgaro
Cretan dressed in traditional island fashion.
marine attraction
Bathers on the edge of the almost shallow Mediterranean of Elafonisi.
Cretan Beach Watched
Watchtower of one of Elafonisi's shallow beaches.
Deep Sea Craving
Bather runs across the Elafonisi Sea.
shallow flight
Seagull makes a flight over a cliff on the edge of the Elafonisi Sea.
East of Elafonisi
Bay to the east of Elafonisi, as seen from the top of the island.
Discovering the Cretan west, we left Chania, followed the Topolia gorge and less marked gorges. A few kilometers later, we reach a Mediterranean corner of watercolor and dream, that of the island of Elafonisi and its lagoon.

The alternative would turn out to be a winding and costly improvised road, like many others in which, in the days we were already wandering around Crete, we had gotten involved.

Thus, we chose the easiest route on the Greek highway 90, better known as VOAK, the island's supreme route, which runs along its north coast and from which countless secondary roads depart, serving as many places to the south.

In the middle of Kolpos Kissamou, the Bay of Kissamos, we diverted to one of them, Epar.Od. Kaloudianon-Chrisoskalitissas.

Even at its beginning, the inflatable window of a store gives us the impression that we are on the right path. It is filled with a formation of gaudy buoys, flamingos, white swans and even unicorns.

Beach shop, Kissamos, Crete, Greece

Exposed buoys on the side of a Kissamos road on the way to Topolio Gorge.

Above the building's detached sign, a sign informs the store's address and contact details. In Greek, and in blue and white, the colors of the Greek flag, so that there is no doubt about the patriotism of the business. Disguised behind the buoys, a green panel almost identical to the one on the façade, versa, in English "Going to the Sea".

Kaloudianon-Chrisoskalitissas Road Down Towards Topolia Gorge

From there down, there was almost no mistaking it. Back to the nations and their alphabets, that's what the owners of a rural produce stall did, one of many serving the Kissamos region, especially at the end of spring and summer, when fertile Crete becomes even more prolific.

This time in white, red and green, a sign was promoting TraNditional Products, even so, with an unnecessary N, a derisory error considering how much the Greek alphabet could mislead us.

Bad sign, Kissamos, Crete, Greece

Placa promotes traditional Cretan products, with a natural error in those who use the Greek alphabet, not the Latin one.

Above all, we must boast about the diversity and quality of everything that comes out of the agricultural land and small farms in the Kissamos region: cheeses and smoked meats, olive oil, jams, rakomelo (raki with honey) and, the exponent of the exponents, the famous thyme honey that we will soon find, in different viewpoints over the Topolia gorge.

Distraction after distraction, we find ourselves at your entrance. We parked next to one of these lookouts, in the opposite direction to the one we were following, overlooking the depths of the canyon.

We devoted ourselves to appreciating the rocky cliffs ahead and a pair of large golden eagles that, it seemed, hovered around a nest on top of the cliff.

Golden Eagles, Goats kri kri and the Cretan Fashion of Dress

A salesman from the stall approaches us and approaches us, in English with some Hellenic accent: “I understand that eagles deserve your full attention. It's the same with us. Here, in these parts, we are in the territory of the goats kri kri (Crete goats). And, believe it or not, these eagles have the strength to catch the smallest goats and take them to their nests. It is not the first time, nor the second that we have witnessed it. In fact, peasants from here have already gone there to try to rescue their goats. Want to go peek at the nest? If you want, I'll take you there and take amazing pictures!”

Confronted with our excuse, Savvas – that was the name of the interlocutor – directs us to the window of his honey and introduces us to his friend Giorgos Papantonakis. This one immediately dazzles us. Giorgos wears traditional clothes from the area, a black shirt with a scarf ending in an X with different legs.

Shepherd in traditional dress, Topolia, Crete, Greece

Cretan dressed in traditional island fashion.

He is also wearing light gray trousers, the same shade as the handkerchief, tucked into tall boots just below his knee. Giorgos still held a crooked wooden staff. And he has a reddish beard and mustache that matched the outfit, as genuine as Crete could prove.

As if that wasn't enough, he didn't speak English.

From time to time, he made an effort to do so. But his speech soon fell to the Greek and forced Savvas to come to his aid. “He is asking if you want to see his goat” the translator tells us.

Curious, we agreed. Giorgos, look at a small corral below the wall that separated us from the back of the gorge. We heard him call “Yero! Yero!” In a flash, a huge goat throws its front legs over the wall, straddles its owner and kisses him on the cheek.

Giorgos takes the staff. Without even having to suggest it, he holds the animal's black beard and composes a Cretan-goat production that takes us out of our minds. We photographed the unexpected duo. Soon, Giorgos sends the goat to his quarters. Savvas resumes his speech. “It's four years old. Have you seen the size well? Amazing isn't it?”

Cretan in traditional dress, Voulgaro, Crete, Greece

Giorgos holds a large kri kri goat by the side of the road through Topolio Gorge.

We say goodbye. We continued down the Topolia Gorge, just a few kilometers, just enough to reach Kythira.

The Inescapable Visit to the Agia Sofia Grotto

In this village, a large brown sign to the right of the road indicates the Agia Sofia cave, and the windy beginning of the one hundred and fifty steps that give access to it.

We reached the staircase imposed on the cliff, among wild fig trees and other trees that renewed the unmistakable aroma of the Cretan summer. Higher up, certain openings revealed the canyon's grip to the north. And how, to get rid of it, the road zigzagged in trouble, one of the steepest climbs on the route.

At the top of the stairs, already inside the cave, we come across a lone employee, seated at a table overlooking a gallery of stalagmites and stalactites in front of us. The employee raises his head. He gazes at us with a mole's gaze, from behind some glasses with full-bottle lenses.

He greets us with a “kalispera” contained and leaves us free to explore the dismal and orthodox sacredness of the sanctuary, also known as the Wisdom of God, according to the icon brought from a temple in Constantinople by Cretan fighters.

In a corner of the cave, a simple wall and a roof crowned by a belfry with a stone cross and an electric star make up a chapel.

Agia Sofia Grotto, Topolia, Crete, Greece

Orthodox chapel of the grotto of Agia Sofia.

Inside, we find an area exclusive to priests, delimited by a screen filled with an assortment of iconographic images of Christ, Our Lady, angels and the like, set in a golden setting that the natural light that ventured there and that of some lamps made shine.

Around it, a large wooden armchair and several other icons lined up on a low wall completed the grotto's Greek Orthodoxy.

Agia Sofia Grotto, Topolia, Crete, Greece

Images of Christ reinforce the orthodox religiosity of the Agia Sofia grotto.

Despite its historical and religious importance, in the time we spent there, we were the only visitors. We didn't stay long.

By the time of the Hi Myloi Iliakis Michael Tavern, we had left Topolia's throat behind.

We continue along its sequence, the long, albeit less constricted and deep gorge of the Potamos River. Even diminished by the summer's dryness, the river gave itself to the Mediterranean in the bay of Ormos Stómio. We, bend south, towards the southwestern ends of Crete.

We spotted Elafonisi from the top of a point overlooking the road, next to a restaurant that, with positional and etymological justice, called itself Panorama.

From there, we see a half-island and half-peninsula extending into the blue of the sea, separated from land only by a shallow lagoon and, as such, much clearer, with a translucent gradient of cyan and emerald.

Bay, Elafonisi, Crete, Greece

Bay to the east of Elafonisi, as seen from the top of the island.

Although distant from the main cities in the north of the island – Chania, Heraklion, Retimo – Elafonisi has become one of Crete's revered coastal domains.

Thousands of Cretans, other Greeks and foreigners frequent it, many of whom rent country and beach houses at the back of the island.

To prove it, when we went down to sea level, we came across a makeshift car park among the pine cones.

At that hour, the tide was as low as possible. It kept uncovered the amphibious isthmus that separated the island of Elafonisi from greater Crete and that, at the same time, opened onto two opposite beaches.

The turn to the east preserved a sea almost worthy of the name, less shallow, even if it took several dozen steps to climb up to the waist.

Despite the shallowness and immobility of the Mediterranean, the Greek authorities took their responsibilities seriously. A watchtower prominent high above the Straw Hat colonies watched the bathers' movements.

Elafonisi, Crete, Greece

Watchtower of one of Elafonisi's shallow beaches.

It was identified in red, as "Lifeguard” but, in order to demonstrate the Hellenicity of that domain, it sported a blue and white striped flag waving in the wind.

In the shadow cast by the top of the structure, a young lifeguard kept his post, not quite post. “Do you, with this sea, have anything to do? we shoot, as a joke, in order to establish a conversation. Giorgis is surprised by the approach.

"Hello! Look, it's not quite what you think. Last month a foreign lady died here. Of course it wasn't about waves or currents. He was the victim of an epilepsy attack and no one noticed it in time. I was off duty”.

"Where are you from? In Portugal? Oh, so glad I went there. I did an entire Erasmus in Lisbon, did you know? The hardest part was studying, I don't need to explain why, right?” and winks at us mischievously. “Climb up. Take some pictures from up here! My shift is up. I'm walking. That way they even have more space”.

For a good ten minutes, we enjoyed the benefit. Back on the sand, we walk to the permanent ground of Elafonisi Island, a nature reserve protected from the crowds that hides delightful mini-beaches.

Elafonisi, Crete, Greece

Bather runs across the Elafonisi Sea.

We explore its dunes. We admired the immaculate Mediterranean of that remote south, stretching out to a jagged bay to the east, at the foot of the mountains that hid the fishing village, now more of a summer resort than anything else, of Gialos.

Even the paradise that surrounded us preserved its macabre past.

As is the case in so many other parts of the Hellenic homeland, it was caused by the conflict between Greece and Turkey for centuries and vice versa.

In April 1824, in full expansion of the Ottoman Empire, hundreds of Greek inhabitants of these parts took shelter from enemy incursions. Unfortunately, the Turkish troops decided to be quartered nearby. As if that wasn't enough, one of his horses ran away. In the commotion generated, the animal ended up revealing the Cretan's hiding place.

Gull, Elafonisi, Crete, Greece

Seagull makes a flight over a cliff on the edge of the Elafonisi Sea.

The story goes that, between 650 and 850 Greeks, a good part were killed, and the survivors taken to Egypt, where they found themselves sold into slavery.

A plaque at the top of Elafonisi marks the tragedy and the eternal Turkish-Hellenic dispute, which is now fiercer than ever, over the dispute over the Mediterranean treasures, minerals, not bathing.

We live and praise Elafonisi's wealth in peace. Until the sun disappeared towards the sides of Sicily, from Malta de Gozo and it dictated the return to the less distant Chania.

Iraklio, CreteGreece

From Minos to Minus

We arrived in Iraklio and, as far as big cities are concerned, Greece stops there. As for history and mythology, the capital of Crete branches without end. Minos, son of Europa, had both his palace and the labyrinth in which the minotaur closed. The Arabs, the Byzantines, the Venetians and the Ottomans passed through Iraklio. The Greeks who inhabit it fail to appreciate it.
Mykonos, Greece

The Greek Island Where the World Celebrates Summer

During the 1960th century Mykonos was once just a poor island, but by XNUMX Cycladic winds of change transformed it. First, at the main gay shelter in the Mediterranean. Then, at the crowded, cosmopolitan and bohemian vanity fair that we find when we visit.
Thira Santorini, Greece

Fira: Between the Heights and the Depths of Atlantis

Around 1500 BC a devastating eruption sank much of the volcano-island Fira into the Aegean Sea and led to the collapse of the Minoan civilization, referred to over and over again as Atlantis. Whatever the past, 3500 years later, Thira, the city of the same name, is as real as it is mythical.
Nea Kameni, Santorini, Greece

The Volcanic Core of Santorini

About three millennia had passed since the Minoan eruption that tore apart the largest volcano island in the Aegean. The cliff-top inhabitants watched land emerge from the center of the flooded caldera. Nea Kameni, the smoking heart of Santorini, was born.
Gozo, Malta

Mediterranean Days of Utter Joy

The island of Gozo is a third the size of Malta but only thirty of the small nation's three hundred thousand inhabitants. In duo with Comino's beach recreation, it houses a more down-to-earth and serene version of the always peculiar Maltese life.
Valletta, Malta

An ex-Humble Amazing Capital

At the time of its foundation, the Order of Knights Hospitaller called it "the most humble". Over the centuries, the title ceased to serve him. In 2018, Valletta was the tiniest European Capital of Culture ever and one of the most steeped in history and dazzling in memory.
Senglea, Malta

An Overcrowded Malta

At the turn of the 8.000th century, Senglea housed 0.2 inhabitants in 2 km3.000, a European record, today, it has “only” XNUMX neighborhood Christians. It is the smallest, most overcrowded and genuine of the Maltese cities.
Chania, Crete, Greece

Chania: In the West of Crete's History

Chania was Minoan, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Venetian and Ottoman. It got to the present Hellenic nation as the most seductive city in Crete.
Balos a Seitan Limani, Crete, Greece

The Bathing Olympus of Chania

It's not just Chania, the centuries-old polis, steeped in Mediterranean history, in the far northeast of Crete that dazzles. Refreshing it and its residents and visitors, Balos, Stavros and Seitan have three of the most exuberant coastlines in Greece.

Athens, Greece

The City That Perpetuates the Metropolis

After three and a half millennia, Athens resists and prospers. From a belligerent city-state, it became the capital of the vast Hellenic nation. Modernized and sophisticated, it preserves, in a rocky core, the legacy of its glorious Classical Era.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Safari
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Yaks
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
Sirocco, Arabia, Helsinki
Architecture & Design
Helsinki, Finland

The Design that Came from the Cold

With much of the territory above the Arctic Circle, Finns respond to the climate with efficient solutions and an obsession with art, aesthetics and modernism inspired by neighboring Scandinavia.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Adventure
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Ice cream, Moriones Festival, Marinduque, Philippines
Ceremonies and Festivities
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
Oranjestad city, Aruba, Dutch architecture building
Cities
Oranjestad, Aruba

The Dutch Soul of Aruba

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the depths of the Caribbean, Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, displays much of the legacy left in the ABC islands by settlers from the Netherlands. The natives call it “Playa”. The city comes alive with exuberant bathing parties.
Meal
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Tabatô, Guinea Bissau, tabanca Mandingo musicians. Baidi
Culture
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

The Tabanca of Mandinga Poets Musicians

In 1870, a community of traveling Mandingo musicians settled next to the current city of Bafatá. From the Tabatô they founded, their culture and, in particular, their prodigious balaphonists, dazzle the world.
Sport
Competitions

Man: an Ever Tested Species

It's in our genes. For the pleasure of participating, for titles, honor or money, competitions give meaning to the world. Some are more eccentric than others.
very coarse salt
Traveling
Salta and Jujuy, Argentina

Through the Highlands of Deep Argentina

A tour through the provinces of Salta and Jujuy takes us to discover a country with no sign of the pampas. Vanished in the Andean vastness, these ends of the Northwest of Argentina have also been lost in time.
Barrancas del Cobre, Chihuahua, Rarámuri woman
Ethnic
Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Chihuahua, Mexico

The Deep Mexico of the Barrancas del Cobre

Without warning, the Chihuahua highlands give way to endless ravines. Sixty million geological years have furrowed them and made them inhospitable. The Rarámuri indigenous people continue to call them home.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Pilgrims at the top, Mount Sinai, Egypt
History
Mount Sinai, Egypt

Strength in the Legs, Faith in God

Moses received the Ten Commandments on the summit of Mount Sinai and revealed them to the people of Israel. Today, hundreds of pilgrims climb, every night, the 4000 steps of that painful but mystical ascent.
Moa on a beach in Rapa Nui/Easter Island
Islands
Easter Island, Chile

The Take-off and Fall of the Bird-Man Cult

Until the XNUMXth century, the natives of Easter Island they carved and worshiped great stone gods. All of a sudden, they started to drop their moai. The veneration of tanatu manu, a half-human, half-sacred leader, decreed after a dramatic competition for an egg.
Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox
Winter White
Lapland, Finland

In Search of the Fire Fox

Unique to the heights of the Earth are the northern or southern auroras, light phenomena generated by solar explosions. You Sami natives from Lapland they believed it to be a fiery fox that spread sparkles in the sky. Whatever they are, not even the nearly 30 degrees below zero that were felt in the far north of Finland could deter us from admiring them.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Literature
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Eternal Spring Shrine
Nature

Taroko George

Deep in Taiwan

In 1956, skeptical Taiwanese doubted that the initial 20km of Central Cross-Island Hwy was possible. The marble canyon that challenged it is today the most remarkable natural setting in Formosa.

Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Autumn
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Maui, Hawaii, Polynesia,
Natural Parks
Maui, Hawaii

Maui: The Divine Hawaii That Succumbed to Fire

Maui is a former chief and hero of Hawaiian religious and traditional imagery. In the mythology of this archipelago, the demigod lassos the sun, raises the sky and performs a series of other feats on behalf of humans. Its namesake island, which the natives believe they created in the North Pacific, is itself prodigious.
Kigurumi Satoko, Hachiman Temple, Ogimashi, Japan
UNESCO World Heritage
Ogimashi, Japan

An Historical-Virtual Japan

"Higurashi no Naku Koro never” was a highly successful Japanese animation and computer game series. In Ogimashi, Shirakawa-Go village, we live with a group of kigurumi of their characters.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
Characters
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Varela Guinea Bissau, Nhiquim beach
Beaches
Varela, Guinea Bissau

Dazzling, Deserted Coastline, all the way to Senegal

Somewhat remote, with challenging access, the peaceful fishing village of Varela compensates those who reach it with the friendliness of its people and one of the stunning, but at risk, coastlines in Guinea Bissau.
Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Religion
Tawang, India

The Mystic Valley of Deep Discord

On the northern edge of the Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is home to dramatic mountain scenery, ethnic Mompa villages and majestic Buddhist monasteries. Even if Chinese rivals have not passed him since 1962, Beijing look at this domain as part of your Tibet. Accordingly, religiosity and spiritualism there have long shared with a strong militarism.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Society
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Ditching, Alaska Fashion Life, Talkeetna
Daily life
Talkeetna, Alaska

Talkeetna's Alaska-Style Life

Once a mere mining outpost, Talkeetna rejuvenated in 1950 to serve Mt. McKinley climbers. The town is by far the most alternative and most captivating town between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Everglades National Park, Florida, United States, flight over the Everglades canals
Wildlife
Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

Florida's Great Weedy River

Anyone who flies over the south of the 27th state is amazed by the green, smooth and soggy vastness that contrasts with the surrounding oceanic tones. This unique U.S. marsh-prairie ecosystem is home to a prolific fauna dominated by 200 of Florida's 1.25 million alligators.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.