Kallikratis

It is April in Crete, a couple of days before Easter. We have come down to meet and to celebrate the Holy-days together with our Cretan families, but also, as
usual, to explore the island.
The sky is blue, Lefka Ori covered by snow, the landscape below fresh and
green and we are saluting the sun, now warming the air to a very pleasant
degree.
The covered Samurai jeep, which we have rented, looks eager to take off,

as if it knows, today will be a funny day.
We leave Chania behind and drive towards Rethymnon.
It is still early in the morning and no traffic at this hour. We drive through a beautiful landscape.

On our left hand-side is Souda bay, today like a mirror, on our right Lefka Ori,

the White Mountains with green valleys below.
After 40 minutes we turn right towards Lake Kournas, the only lake
(personally I am not sure of this though) in Crete. As we have been here
before we continue towards the village with the same name.
Halfway there we stop for a pause and now we can see the lake from above.

The water is very bright close to the shores, then light blue and almost black in
the middle. You can almost hear the mountains surrounding this mirror
say:” Mirror, mirror tell who is the most beautiful mountain on the island of
Crete". The mirror though is clever and says nothing.


We pass the village of Kournas and head for Kastellos. The road is
narrow with old houses on both sides.
In Kastellos the road ends up just in front of an old kafenion. A man with a
huge black beard has heard the sound from the jeep and ask if we
need some help.
We leave the jeep and follow him to the kafenion where the owner, a very old
woman, ask us what we would like to have. The answer is very simple:

"Dio metrios, parakalo".

 She almost staggers back to a table where she prepares the coffee in a "briki".
 It is served strong and perfect in small cups with kaimaki (scum) on top and
katakathi (grounds) on the bottom. There is a big toothless smile on her
face when we tell her how much we like her coffee.
The men sitting around looking at us ask a lot of questions: "Apo pou
eisai (where do you come from), pou menete (where do stay)" and so on.
We try to answer in their language and also to tell them how much we like their
village,
We pay and leave the kafenion for a walk in the village. There are many old
houses, some without roofs, some with just three walls all of course abandoned.
From the village you can see Georgioupoli down by the sea and in the other
directions the villages of Kournas, Episkopi and Patima.
As we leave Kastellos behind, we yet do not know, that this village is the
home village of our best friend, Antonis.
Here we will from now on always celebrate Easter, harvest grapes and
olives and sometime even enjoy New Years day. It will also be the place,
where my wife will get her new name Sofia from Antonis father,
παπας
Kostice.


We are on the road again and when we reach Argiroupoli, we stop and ask for
the road to Kallikratis and if it is ok to drive there at this time of the year.

The answer is positive and we carry on.
There are two roads to Kallikratis, one to left and one to the right and we choose

the first one. After 1 kilometre, the asphalt road changes into a dirt road and after

1 kilometre more, this dirt road changes into a "dirt-river-road with huge holes".
The face colour of my wife changes slowly while the Samurai and smile

together.
Finally, we have found an exciting road and it is even without grass in the
middle. This looks good!
As we continue my wife is screaming out loud that we have to turn around and
go back.
The luck is on our side though; we are meeting another jeep driving in the
opposite direction; the mountain police.
My wife is desperately trying to convince them that we have to go back but
the very kind police officer says that it is ok to drive on because: "You have a
good and strong jeep".
Vrooooooooom BrooooooooooomVroooooooooom says the Samurai and we

are on our way again.
The road is now really bad and there is a lot of water coming down from the
melting snow.
On the other side, across the valley, you can see Asia Gonia and the
mountains behind. It is very beautiful.
After a while, there is a crossroad with no visible road sign. Which way to
go, right or left?
Luck is still on our side, on the ground we find a wooden sign saying
Kallikratis, but is it pointing in the right direction?
We make our choice and continue on the left road and soon we can see the
plateau, the houses and the church in Kallikratis.
The landscape between the mountains is beautiful, green and with flowers all
over. The trees though are still naked and look a little frozen, but soon,
very soon the warming sun will give them new life and beauty.


It seems my wife has survived and tells me to stop at Nikitas Manouzelis
kafenion next to the church.
Maybe she needs a raki or two and after she will enter the church to say her
prayers.
Well, she runs towards the kafenion, enters and disappears. When she
comes out again she looks relieved. Why, I do not know? Toilet? Maybe!
During the time she is disappeared, we, the Samurai and I, have come to the
conclusion that a glass of raki certainly would calm her down.

 While I use my video camera for some nice shots, my wife and Nikitas, have a

good time drinking  raki together.
When I get back there is food on the table. A whisper from my wife:

”I think it is liver, you have to eat it all".

Poor girl, it is not her day today, she simply hates liver and I love it.
I have never ever had a better dish of liver than this one, simply delicious.

Made from sheep and cooked by Nikitas wife Ariadne.
Time to pay and leave.  I hand over 5.000 drx and without showing any
expression what so ever Nikitas puts the money in his pocket and asks if he
can join us in the jeep; he has some sheep to attend to.
We smile and away we go. We just love these Cretans.
After 5 minutes, we drop him off and are on our own again. The road is nice
..at least for the moment.


Now we have to climb in order to reach Asfendos and Askifou.
In the distance I can see the road leading up, up, up but what the he..
is that in middle of the road?
It is a big lorry and in front of it a big road grader. Silence! Not a word
about this to my wife, soon she will find out anyway.
We pass a crossroad not marked on the map and therefore we continue straight
ahead.
A lot of old houses, ruins all over, and no one to ask about the road.
We are closing in on the lorry and a scream from my left is telling me that
my wife has now discovered what is ahead of us.
We have to stop behind the huge lorry and on trembling legs my wife walk
towards the lorry to ask the driver if this is the right road to Askifou.
She looks like a midget compared to the lorry but she is brave and I love
my brave woman!!!!!

Yes, we are on the right road so it is just to pass the lorry!

"W H E R E??!!" a new scream from my left.
It is deep down on left side and steep mountain on the right side.
"Please darling close your eyes, the Samurai will fix it" is my answer.
Before she even notice it, we are safe in front of the lorry and the road
grader.
In every 50 metres or so there are now high heaps of gravel for the road grader
to work on. The wife is now almost unconscious and silent and the views
from here are truly stunning.
Crete is fantastic.
Finally we reach the road from Chora Sfakion to Vrisses. The natural colour
on the face of my wife slowly returns and it is possible to communicate
again.


We continue to Kares to visit kiria Maria, the old mother of our landlord Stavros.
Again, we meet the warm smiling eyes of hers; we just love this old woman.
She lives in a very nice house overlooking the Askifou plateau, where you
also find the villages of Askifou, Ammoudari and Goni.
She serves warm goat milk and some cakes. The expression in the eyes of my
wife is tells me, that warm goat milk is not her cup of tea and will not be
her favourite in the future.
The road back to Chania is like a ladder to heaven to my wife. Hallelujah!!!

This happened many years ago and since then we have been to Kallikratis many
times.
My wife has got used to the roads (but still she does not like when I am
driving with one hand and using the other for my video camera) and I have no
problems showing her remote places up in the mountains.


Greetings
lars and Sofia
Kriti stis kardies mas. Crete in our hearts.


PS. The day after Kallikratis, I noticed that my right leg was
almost blue all over from the kicking of my wife. Men we have to put up with
many things, don't we?
DS

   Souda Bay.

 

      Lefka Ori  

 

 

Kournas lake

     Lake Kournas

 

Kastellos

     View from Kastellos

 

Asi Gonia

       Asi Gonia

 

Nikita

       Nikita prepares Easter

 

Kallikratis

   Kallikratis when the roads were ok, now it is unfortunately asphalt.

 

Kallikratis

In every 50 metres or so there are high heaps of gravel