Tales from Crete | 66
Look closely at the picture for this story. It is the road that leads to the Omalos Plateau at the entrance to the Samaria Gorge and yes, there is snow covering the area. The last time I was there, in October 2019, it was nice and warm. Not like it can sometimes be in Crete in the height of summer, but warm enough that the flip-flops I like to wear down there were warm on my feet. Yes, even the short-sleeved, loose-fitting cotton shirt was almost too warm to wear. People who have walked in the Samaria gorge or in some of the other scenic gorges or in the mountains know that you must always make sure to have plenty of drinking water with you when you walk on these edges, but it is not the most necessary now. On the other hand, there are snow chains for the car, lots of blankets to warm up with and some hot tea or coffee in the thermos.
For the many who only come to Crete in the summer, it is an almost unreal sight. But it is quite common that the high altitude areas are covered with snow at this time of year and the meltwater that comes when the snow melts in the spring is important for the vegetation and animal life in the mountains. Crete is generally quite mountainous with four mountain ranges. In Western Crete lies Léfka Ori, the White Mountains , which alone have more than 40 peaks rising more than 2,000 meters into the air. The island's highest point, Psiloritis, is 2,456 meters above sea level. It is located in the Ida mountain massif of Central Crete. So Omalos, with a height of only 1,041 metres, is by no means among the highest. Yet it rises majestically with its plateau towering above the entrance to Samaria, from which there is an immeasurably beautiful view that can make a grown-up man feel tiny in this fantastic inferno of wonderfully unspoiled nature that stretches 170,000 years ago according to the Danish archaeologist Peder Mortensen, who in 2003 found various tools (hand wedges, pickaxes and a kind of ax or splitting knife) on the slope between Loutro and Anopoli that could be traced back to that time. Since the finds have only been made in southwestern Crete and on the island of Gavdos, it is assumed that these early human-like creatures originally came from North Africa. So even though Africa is "only" 300 km away, it is still an achievement that must necessarily make us reassess the abilities of these early humans.
Loutro is located on the southern coast of the Chania regional unit in western Crete between Hóra Sfakion and Agia Roumeli (the exit of the Samaria Gorge). The whole area is known as Sfakia. The village of Hóra Sfakion with only 265 inhabitants got its name from the Greek word for "bath" for the many old baths found in the area and on the Pilgrimage tour that we have in Elena's Travels, we actually come to the small town when we go through the Imbros gorge, which has its mouth right there.
Crete, its nature, climate, people, hospitality, culture, food and yes pretty much everything, starts for most, as it did for myself, by being captivated by the island. Before long, however, being captivated is replaced by another and stronger feeling of being obsessed, because it is an obsession for many. There are many words for that, such as Grecophile and Cretamania. Words that may not sound so good in the Danish language, but nonetheless words that suit all of us who just can't get Crete out of our minds and have to come back again and again and again, and each time experience new things.
Have you been inspired to go to Crete and have some new experiences, then we have a few free places left on our spring trips and free places on our late summer and autumn trips, all for adults over 50 and all the trips with me as travel Guide.
Maybe we'll see you in Crete
Have a nice weekend.