After four whole years, I finally had the chance to visit again the beautiful island of Crete. As a guest of my friends Aris and Ada at Kato Gouves (Heraklion) we passed the first four days, drinking “raki” and eating some delicious Cretan “meze” (variety of small dishes), as the rain outside did not want to stop!
The fickle weather and the threatening weather reports were not enough to keep us from riding our motorbikes for a small trip to Rethymnon, using the provincial road. It is a rather mountainous road, parallel to the National Road of Rethymnon-Heraklion. We headed west, passed out of Heraklion. At the junction for Gazi we continued on the way for Anogeia and then followed the signs fro Rethymnon.
Our first stop was the area called “Voulismeno Aloni” (in free transl. means “crazy thresh”). It is a big circle pit (15-50m in depth and diameter 90m). Geological explorations came to the conclusion thatt underneath this area was a cave. Due to an earthquake, this went down in earth and created this geological phenomenon. On the other hand, the tradition says that there was really a place of thresh at this area. On the celebration day of Prophitis Helias (local Saint), the owner went there to thresh. The Saint wanted to punish him for his action, so he made the earth go down and all animals and the people on it, to the bowels of the earth…
The route goes up to the roots of Psiloritis Mountain through a narrow, low quality road. You can find many spots where you can enjoy the view of the area and the wide ocean of Cretan Sea.
Just before the village Damasta, we saw the sign for Keratidi. We made a small detour (2-3 km) to visit the place where 30 villagers from Damasta were executed by the Germans, in the year 1948. The families of the victims raised the money and build a small church.
After Damasta, the landscape was changing. The rough rocks gave their place to green, though the altitude was getting lower. At the village Drosia we made a quick stop. The old and most known name of this area is “Yeni Gave”, a Turkish name meaning “the new coffee shop”. At the center of the village there is a huge platan with a faucet. They say that this tree was there since the time of the Turkish occupation. At the small tavern we ordered “raki” and “meze”. They offered about half a kilo of “myzithra” (Cretan cheese)!!! When we asked for the bill, the owner’s son said to us: “Have a nice trip, my friends… the treat is on me!” and he gave us a couple of apples for the road. We thanked him and continued.
Just before the village Perama (25km before Rethymnon) we found the house where Stavros Kallergis spent his last years. Stavros Kallergis was the first socialist leader and organizer of the first “Labor Day” in Greece, in the year 1893.
At the village Stavromenos, the provincial road meets with the National Road. About 11km further, we reached the traditional port of Rethymnon, where I met my friend from the army and colleague of mine, Apostolos. We had a pleasant time. Late in the afternoon we started coming back (100km).
This route is a good choice for those who want to avoid the monotonous national road. The island of Crete is definitely a place of great beauty and varieties in every season of the year. The sure thing is that during the summer –due to tourism- you may loose its individual character.