European trail E4 in West Crete.
Chrisoskalisissa – Paleohora.
20km +5 by taxi
From the monastery its 5-6 kmby the road. Just along the olive groves. Nothing special. It was strong wind. Of course, against us. Then we arrived to Elafonisi. Two hotels with taverns were opened. Nothing on the beach except of Katesurfers. The wind was strong.
We were lucky because the tide was low and we get to the island by the sandy bar. Island is full of small dunes and juniper bushes. They will never grow big – this island is all time under the winds.
So, we start our adventure to Paleohora. We didn’t see Agios Ioannis. Its too small. We passed Kedrodasos- incredible area with big trees, sandy beach. We were completely alone. There were numerous small bays. But temperature of the water was not comfortable for me and wind was too much strong.
Agios Ioannis appears may be after 1,5 hours of walk. It was not on the shore were we suppose to see it. It was above the beach, on the trail, approx 70m up. It was orientated to the East. Big tree gave us shadow. Spring source gave us water. Nor only to us, but to goats also.
The only water till Krios, where possible ask farmers.
Mediterranean was turquoise blue color with white foam on the waves horns. This strong South-East wind was siroccos. Its dry us and not allowed to move fast. When this wind came locals stops their fishing. Ferry stops their schedule trips.
Flowers on the slopes were in blossom. Azaleas with its pink flowers, big yellow ones.
Next point was Vienna. We waited for this place. We took with us neoprene T-shirts and glasses. But this dry wind, its took our strength, it was impossible even to think about swimming. Yes, the beach was with real ancient marmara columns! And we believe that underwater there were Roman tombs. But even this small bay was full of waves!
Ancient Viena lies in big amphitheater. To rich Krios we ascent and descent again. Krios, deserted, with huge roar waves was here.
After Krios it was asphalt road between the winter vegetation of tomatoes. I think that afghans or Pakistanis work here. They mix chemical powder in big barrels and received pink foam to feed the tomatoes. Better newer know and see such a picture.
We tried auto stop because we were tired and it wasn’t interesting walking on this road. Nothing. Near the first marked we waited for taxi one hour(!). Nothing . Then we rich Gramenno. Before camping it was restaurant. We were dead. Wind wanted swept us from the road. Camping was not organized. Its became cold. We need a place for overnight.
After huge dinner taxi was ordered and its came! Just 6 Euros,5 km and we are in Lissos Hotel in charming village of Paleohora! 35 Euros per night. Very clean and beautiful!
This village is really nice. It has numerous multicolor taverns, blue and white houses, east and west beaches. Venetian fortress not exist any more.
Day 2. Pilicaniotis gorge.
15 km +5 around the city
At night was so strong wind that i think it will crash our window!
In the morning, with wind, changing its direction twice in minute we returned to Gramina. 200 m before is a turn to Pilicaniotis gorge. There is no water here. There are azaleas in blossom, goats and Dragon Arum. This wild miracle I saw first time in my life! This flower is huge! It has navy purple color and long stick from inside! It can be 125 sm long! I dig few bulbs. Will try to plant at home.
After 2,5 km the road became more wild, some fences we crossed more or less successfully. And then we found tiny church. We search it and it was here! Agios Mamas. Old one. With frescoes inside, with eyes, scratched by Turks and with huge azalea in blossom! Lines if the roof repeated mountain profile. It was really beautiful place!
Thus day we finished with lamb, fish and Greek salad.
Day 3. Paleohora-Lissos.
Today is quiet day. We are walking to Sougia, but want to overnight in ancient Lissos.
We follow the path to the pebble beach. We were not alone here. But we had been the only persons with the tent. Huge lawn, plate space under the tree, in shadow and protected from drizzle. Near the beach Agios Kiriko church. I don’t know when it was rebuilt, but people use everything founded around – marble columns, elements of decoration ext. Marble parts of ancient city were under my foots – in the ground, under the bush, on the slope.
I went little bit up the slope. There were numerous ruins of Roman necropolis.
After 5 pm we were alone in this ancient city. It was very peaceful place. Only goats tried to find something near our tent.
This night was warm. Early morning it was small rain.
4. What to do? Lissos- Sougia.
4km + 8km in Omalos
After cup of tea we came to spring water. Today, before crowd of people, we visited Asclepius temple. It was ruined , as all Lissos, by heavy earthquaqe. Water system was destroyed. Houses fall dawn. It was the end of civilization in this area. Romans constructed temples of good quality. Thats why till now the mosaic floor still exist.
We left this unique place, ascending from one ancient terrace to another.
Last km to Souglia pass through the Lissos gorge. Its very short but really impressive! Its narrow. The walls are high and before the exit became curve and multicolor. And as usual, Gorge was full with azaleas.
Souglia met us with tiny port. This village have two or three streets. Every house have rooms for Rent. Taverns are better and better.
Weather forecast shows something special – like Apocalypse for next two days.
We took tickets to Omalos.
In Galini restaurant when I explore internet accommodation in Omalos, owner of Galini, like an Eagle, jump and ask me, what is this? He will phone to his friend. How much i found hotel? 30 Euros? Ok. His friend has better for this price. I was speechless. He phoned to Omalos. Hotel Exile. His friend wait for us.
It was mistake. Big.
Bus drop of us in Omalos. Here were 4 hotels. We passed pretty one which i was ready to book…. We stopped near old one. Owner waited. Inside all was old, dirty, unpleasant. 30 Euros.
Nothing on plateau. Just gardens and fields. And mountains around. With lenticular clouds. That mean that Apocalypse is not far away.
It was impossible to stay on this rat hole. We decided to make a walk toSamaria. Wind was strong. Clouds like rockets crossed the sky.
Small walk to gorge entrance, hot chocolate ,return to Omalos. Vultures are still in wind torrents.
We took dinner in unbooked hotel. We ate homemade olives ( in salt water and vine), boiled local herbs ( stafaka) and another delicious dishes.
3 min after our return the storm began. It was horizontal rain, its seems that trees will be broken, balcony door clutched.
The storm was during the night.
In the morning it was clear that Samaria is closed.
After in Sougia locals said us that Samaria will be closed during at least three days. It was an accident few year before and now the rules are very strictly.
But here, in Omalos, old beach said that we can stay in this hole one day more, Samaria will be open tomorrow! She welcomed us to eat the breakfast. We had our own with us. But she insisted.
Account was lodging 30+ breakfast 10! I refused to pay because she didn’t said, that meal not included.
5. Irini -Fughi gorges.
Weather was more or less good. We asked drop of us near old Byzantium road to make Fughi and Irini Gorge.
Byzantium road is something exceptional! In some places its in perfect condition! Amazing.
Fughi gorge approx 1 kmlong. Its much colder here, so azalea is only think to blossom and Dragon Arum is also only start to blossom. Flowers were everywhere. In this part we had been alone. In Irini numerous groups appears. There are places to rest in Irini with portable spring water threw pipes every 1,5 km. The gorges are beautiful. I prefer Fughi.
It was additional 5 easy km to Souglia.
After this rains and due to the weather conditions we decided to rich Agia Romeli by boat. But sea was rough! Boat taxi too small for thus waves, ferry also will not come today, and who knows, tomorrow also, may be.
We took the room. Rain starts. Waves roared.
6.-7. Sougia-Agia Romeli
20 km , +-1200 m
Hardest part of E4 on Crete
In the morning locals told us that its a storm in the sea. No taxi, no ferry. Samaria closed. We are in the trap, but not big one. We have our tent and all camping equipment.
At 9 am we start our trekking.
8 liters with water for two days and one additional empty bottle.
First 3-4 km are just plane road. Nothing special. Then ascend became. The sea was all different colors of blue, green and turquoise. Unreal beauty.
Up and down.
Before Pilikanoss and Venetian fortress its a small source. The water came from the mountain threw pipe. The stream is very very thin but it is!
We didn’t come to Elias church on the top. One person show us a pictures. Just white building. Not very pretty.
We start descending to Tripity gorge.
Here, during WWII troops on New Zealanders, Australians and English tried to escape from Germans. It were more then 15000 soldiers here. I cannot understand how they crossed White mountains in summer without the water, how they stay here. Not all of the withdrew from Tripiti gorge. The boats were too small. Part of soldiers cannot escape from Crete.
In the mouth of gorge east wall make semicircle and west wall follow to the sea. In the east pocket happens many interesting things – memorial to Anglo sacs troops, oldchurch of St. Nicolas, grown from the wall , huge caves, well with nit portable but water and tunnel to the sea! A lot of for one entrance of gorge! Near the west wall there were only two houses and long pipe , hope that with portable water.
Goats and sheep’s are everywhere!
We passed the tunnel. Roaring, crazy Libyan sea! Waves crashed on the rocks! We need to pass near the wall with numerous caves. But the pass is in water! From one stone to another, jumping between the waves and hide all valuable things inside the backpack we reach the beekeepers beach. There was small house. Door was opened. Human stay near. Here was another pipe with water.
This small area was one of the best in our trip!
Next 4 hours we walked up and dawn. Domata became closer.
In one place it was a plastic barrel with rain water. I fulfill my last bottle. Now i have 5 liters!
Before the beach we saw our first and last kri kri. She slowly eat the grass and turn her head, looking on us. Then, after 5 minutes of observing the situation, she again slowly went away.
Domata is the nature wonder
Huge gorge from Gigilos came to sea. But altitude of this gorge slope is 30 m. At the east side is mountain fiver. Of course dry.
Someone took the magic knife and cut the slope near the river from north to south and near the water.
We see the pie with pines on its plateau. Incredible!
Our tent we put on between the trees just before the River, on east slope of the gorge.
We were tired.14 km, +-700 m, heavy backpacks.
Next day on Agia Romeli locals told us how many problems they have with those, who tried to make in one day Sougia-Agia Romeli. They all arrive at night, completely dead and don’t know that last 800 m to the village are really dangerous. People loose their way and fall from the 85 grade slope.
It was rain at night. But morning was calm. And the sea first time during this week was quite.
First we pass the beach. From left we had the wall( cut by magic knife), from right side it was sea.
Next three hours we ascend.500 m up. Turquoise sea from the right side then descent to Agia Romeli. Last part was on 85 degree slope with chain pf caves above.
5 hours and we are in this mysterious place! Its full of azaleas. There are two charming Venetian bridges here. Its possible to make pleasant walk to Samaria entrance.
This most difficult stage is over. We are proud! We saw 6 persons moving opposite direction during this two days. But we were the only two who follow to Agia Romeli.
8. Fishing villages. Loutro. 16 km.
Early morning start from Agia Romeli. Today was first normal night when we can sleep in tent with real Mediterranean pleasure. But after this two stages we prefer small room.
Camp place in Agia is near the sea and near the gorge water. Nice place.
Next3 km till Agia Pavlos we walk on sandy beach. I cannot say that this is my favorite.
But Agia Pavlos is very special place! I wanted overnight here. But plans changed. Here is tavern, water springs and church. Its old. Local sea round stones used in her construction. 11 A.C.
Next part was the easiest pass we had – threw the pine forest, firm, wide and plane, with blue water left side.
After turn to Agia Ioanis may be 3 more km were annoyed for me. Only goats with their crazy eyes and their childish voices help me not to sleep.
When we saw Marmara beach with tavern we understand, that this is a paradise. And also i understand that from here civilization is coming into our life. It wad possibility to rent a room on Marmara. But we were SO stupid and decided only make a short walk into Aradena gorge and go to Loutro.
This 500 m inside Aragena are majestic! We cannot get inside Samaria because it was closed. But i think, this one is not worth. Terracotta-reddish walls 150 m up, narrow slots and bushes with blossom azalea.
There was a pleasant pass on the rocks to charming Lycos. Then was Phoenix bay. Motorboats crossed the bay.
We ascend last hill before fishing village Loutro. Here were ruins of castle and unfinished strange house with sculptures inside.
Then we saw Loutro. Tree rows of white and blue hotels. Taverns one by one near the transparent sea. And people. Crowds of people. Boats with people, ferry with people.
We made mistake. We rented room in Sifici hotel. Just above the restaurant. Owner fraud us. Trey proposed the choose of two rooms- cheap and more expensive. We took cheap. In 15 min owner knocked and with excuses said, that this room was booked. They have only one more expensive. At that time we were half dressed and in silence change the room. We asked for discount. No.
Cheap room was empty till night. No one rented it. Its a trick with room.
In addition – near our windows all time parked ferries, one overnight. In the morning instead of mountains and sunrise we saw the ferry…. Room was noisy, with restaurant odors and clicks.
Loutro was the worth village we saw during our 120 km journey.
9. Chora Sfakion. 7 km
End of the trip.
By the way to Chora it were two stunning points.
Glyka Nera – jam in the crown of Crete E4 with its tavern on the water.
And last ascent. Trail was cut in rock mountain, without safety boards, sometime narrow and all rime with vertigo view into the sea.
In 2,5 hours we reached Chora Sfakion.
Here we understood, that forgot the drive license and our itinerary will change again.