I’ve had an absolutely fabulous time up on the Lasithi plateau. I wasn’t sure where to go on my mini-break, as I don’t really know much about the rest of Crete, so it was a stick-a-pin-in-a-map-and-see-where-it-lands kind of decision. But I’m so glad it ended up where it did.
I drove up to the Plateau on the Sunday (the drive was a little scary to say the least – read more about in my earlier blog post) and didn’t arrive until early evening so I just unpacked and headed out for dinner. The owner of the house where I was staying had recommended the Taverna in the village square, if you can call it that as it was only a little more open than the rest of the village. He said the Taverna would serve up traditional Cretan food, a real local place.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t that enamoured with the food. The starter and the main came at exactly the same time so I couldn’t really enjoy the fava I had ordered for fear of my main meal getting cold. The main, a lamb ragu, was very fatty and oily, and most of the ‘meat’ was bone or gristle. The green beans in the tomato sauce were nice, but everything was covered in a greasy layer of oil or fat. Needless to say, I left the Taverna hungry.
Not ready to give up on the evening yet, I decided to take an evening walk around the village. The sun was on its way down but I figured I had another thirty minutes or so before it got dark. It was such a lovely village. Not very big, but incredibly pretty and very clean.
The next morning I awoke early and planned my walk across the Plateau. I wanted to eat lunch in the village on the other side so I planned to leave at 11am, guessing it to be about a two-hour walk. The heat was in the mid-30s and leaving that close to midday was a bit of a mistake. The Plateau, as you can probably imagine, is an open expanse of land with not much in the way of shade. There is a separate blog entry describing it in more detail here.
On my final morning, I went up to the Diktaean cave, one of the supposed sites of Zeus’ birth – read more here. After that, I packed up my stuff and headed off back to southern Crete, but this time I decided to follow the well-travelled roads. My phone overheated so I couldn’t use the satnav, but Heraklion was well signposted and I had no trouble getting there (and I could do the drive from Heraklion to Pitsidia with my eyes shut now…but I won’t because that would be dangerous!).
I went the opposite way round the Plateau on the way back, and I’m glad I didn’t get lost on my walk. There are parts of the Plateau that looked completely barren and desserted. If I’d ended up in those areas I think I would still be there! I also passed Karfi, which was somewhere else I wanted to walk to if I’d had more time (an early and particularly important Minoan settlement).
Although I’m kind of glad I did the dangerous route, I found the views on the way back to be just as breathtaking. And it probably was a bit quicker coming back. I took a wrong turn too and accidentally passed through a vibrant village called Mochos which is maybe forty minutes from Heraklion. It was relatively close to Karfi and had a few different places to eat and stay so I think I may go back there and do the walk another time.
All in all I had an excellent few days, and definitely want to explore more of this richly cultured island.