How Easy it is to be Happy When You Live on Crete

The weather here on Crete for the whole of November has been absolutely fabulous!  We’ve had day after day of warm sunny weather, perfect for beachcombing and walking.  I’ve also spent countless hours on my art.. as I start to build up my Seashell Mosaic Collage Paintings for next summer.  I sold so well this year that I have a full and busy winter ahead.  Such is my life here that I pack it to the rafters with things I love to do both in my work and leisure time.

Beautiful Falasarna - so many seashells

Beautiful Falasarna – so many seashells

The most important ingredient of my art is of course – the seashells.  So as well as sourcing the ones I have to buy – the rest are acquired by way of my favourite pastime of beachcombing.  Since my last post, Lisa, Debbie, Kathy and I have visited beautiful Falasarna again.  We were so lucky that day as there were literally trillions of seashells on the shorelines, especially further up the coast from the main beach at Falasarna.

Further up the coast in Falasarna

Further up the coast in Falasarna

We also visited Frangokastello, Bali and Georgioupoli but sadly these trips didn’t yield much in the way of seashells, although they were as always.. wonderful days out.  Talking of beautiful beaches I must mention something that has deeply shocked us all!

“A monstrous hotel of 850 beds & associated paraphenalia has been planned for the fabulous long west coast beach of Falasarna. One of Crete’s most renowned beaches – turquiose waters , pink coral sand at edge, backed by sand dunes with unique flora, host to the extremely rare endemic plant Androcymbium Rechingeri. ‘Commoners’ will be excluded from access to nearly a kilometre of beach and these plants will be wiped out as will the sand dunes. It is one incredibly wealthy family who want to make the ‘investment’ and they also have bought up land at the other fabulous beach of Elafonisi. If this development at Falasarna goes ahead, it also means that Elafonisi will be lost in turn and then probably Balos also on the west coast in the north. ALL these places are supposedly areas designated as areas of exceptional natural beauty and are covered by Natura 2000. But where are the teeth of this project??? Money always speaks louder!! Along with the Samaria gorge, these are the 3 top destinations for visitors to western Crete. If they are ruined, then ALL of western Crete will suffer a drop in tourism as they will no longer be worth visiting. Certainly the existing rooms/ hotels at falasarna will lose business as people want to see the beautiful beach & sea with cliffs & sand dunes behind, not a huge hotel complex. The existing tavernas will not benefit either as all the guests at the hotel will use the hotel’s own facilities. The mere idea is an insult.  Various environmental studies have disapproved of the plans. BUT it seems money is again speaking & rules are probably being bent & WHO you know/bribery is probably still playing a major role.”

Scenery en route of the 2 Gorges Walk

Scenery en route of the 2 Gorges Walk

Naturally we have all signed a major petition against the planning and also contacted an EU department that specialises in protecting areas of natural beauty, rare plants, etc., so hopefully, if the EU can get on board with this, the planning will eventually be denied.   I can’t believe the Greek government has even sold this land in the first place!

I went on a walk with David’s group early in November, all around the outskirts of Kalyves and I returned with a backpack full of avocados!  We passed by orchards with many of the branches overhanging the tracks we were walking on.  So I picked as many as I could carry.  I think they will last me for months as I store them in my fridge and ripen them gradually one at a time.

The most recent Happy Wanderers walks have been as enjoyable as ever!  There have been two and the first involved two gorges, was 11 kilometres long and 5 hours of quite strenuous walking. We started from Kato Poros near Argiroupoli, descending via donkey track to the Vilandredo Gorge. We walked up this gorge then crossed over to the top of Moudriano Gorge, walking down to meet another donkey track. We then returned to Kato Poros which involved a couple of stiff climbs and a chance to look at the abandoned village of Nisi. This village was abandoned because they could not get water or electricity to it. Lunch was mid afternoon at the main taverna in Kato Poros village and it was dark and late by the time I got home.

The other walk was centred around Exopoli and Likotinara and involved more donkey tracks and a gradual climb on a narrow track with great views, continuing to Likotinara Wells and Sellia. This was about 9 kilometres and took about three and a half hours.  But lunch at a taverna in Kalamitsi  Alexandrou afterwards was great fun, with most of us getting rather tipsy on the local village wine, which was unusually palatable!  Most village wine is rather like sherry and very strong.  The food here was also excellent and a couple of newcomers to the group could not believe how long we spent on our lunches.  As I mentioned in my last post – these walks encompass whole days out.

Socially I have also been having a great time!  I’ve enjoyed quite a few wild, late and boozy nights in my local, Vangeli’s Taverna!  I also celebrated my birthday there and have been watching some of the World Cup matches in there too.  But now I am doing my final bits of packing before I catch the early morning flight from Chania to Athens tomorrow, ahead of my connecting flight to Manchester Airport.  I can’t wait to see my family and friends and am really excited about spending Christmas week in a luxury barn conversion in south Wales, which my girls and I have been saving towards during the last 2 years. It’s in a lovely location close to several beautiful beaches, which we are going to take long winter walks on.  Yes.. it’s going to be a magical Christmas time…