I may not have chosen the best day to walk across the Lasithi Plateau as temperatures were in the 30s and there isn’t a lot of shade, but I’m so glad I did it. Another concern was the air -at an altitude of 840m / 2,750ft above sea level, I was worried that I would find myself getting short of breath quickly, but surprisingly it didn’t seem to be an issue at all.
I plotted my own route through the fields from where I am staying for a few nights (Psychro) across to Tzermiado and back again. I decided to have lunch in Tzermiado which meant I stupidly embarked on my journey as the sun was reaching its highest point, but I survived.
I packed a small rucksack with a bottle of mostly frozen water (1.5 litres), my maps, sun cream and a cap and off I headed on to the plateau. It wasn’t long before I’d already got myself lost and came face to face with a slightly irate donkey, but it was only a short distance out of the way.
I found the right path and followed it east for a while, skirting the edges of the plateau, before turning north and enveloping myself amid crops of leeks, apples, artichokes, kale and much more.
The entire plateau is dotted with the skeletons of the old fabric windmills which were used to help push the water and irrigate the crops. This is now largely done by diesel motors, but a few of the windmills were still in use. Even the rusty shells of those not used are a spectacular addition to the landscape.
An hour in, the heat was so intense that I began struggling a bit, but I could see the village rising up the mountain just ahead of me so I pushed on towards it.
Tzermiado itself was a lovely place and I wandered around the streets for a while before I stopped for lunch at one of the tavernas. The food was delicious – salad, pork souvlaki, potatoes and tzatziki, followed by a complimentary plate of ice cold watermelon and a bag of mountain tea (diktamos) – and it was just what I needed to give me the energy to make the return journey.
Coming back seemed a lot easier, and I even got brave and went along some more rustic looking paths. I must have looked very hot and sweaty though as one man stopped his truck to offer me a lift. “Pou pas?” he asked. But I told him I was fine and he went on his way, still looking a little concerned.
The round trip was just over eight miles, but the heat made it feel like I’d run a marathon. As soon as I got back this evening, I jumped in a cold shower and that still didn’t cool me down enough. But now that it’s early evening, the temperature is dipping slightly, I’ve got a cold glass of white wine, and I’m looking forward to walking up to the Diktaion cave tomorrow, perhaps a little redder than I was yesterday.