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In Love with Crete

In October 2015 I was able to make a much appreciated trip to Crete and concentrated on its eastern region having centred myself in Agios Nikolaos.  The outstanding Gulf of Mirabello, Spinalonga the island with its long history and its recent sad past and now focus as a heritage island, the glorious beach at Vai with the palm trees, the awesome archaeology in Lato, the Monastery at Toplou and last but not least the wonderful Archaeological Museum in Heraklion itself where one could spend hours and still only touch the surface. This was all most enticing and so when someone suggested that I return to Crete I said it had to be for the spring flowers.  Well we were there in early April a few weeks ago and it was astoundingly beautiful with awesome archaeology at Eleutherna where I was invited to see the necropolis and museum ahead of its official opening on 19th June, the flowers everywhere, Lappa a village with layers of ancient heritage, Aptera with its wonderful ancient theatre amongst the olives, and of course beautiful Rethymno which I loved – we stayed in a comfortable hotel and so enjoyed walking through the Old Town and experiencing its lovely restaurants and ambience; we went to the lovely convent of St Irini and of course the Venetian Fortress and a wonderful pottery up in a village near Eleutherna that is still creating in the same way that has been done for 1000 years!  Historic Chania too with its Old Town, the Maritime Museum and other museums, restaurants, shops, sunshine and spring is a great place to visit!  We paid our respects at the Souda Bay War Cemetery for the Fallen Heroes of the Battle for Crete. We returned to Heraklion with its many treasures like the newly opened Icon Museum and of course the cathedral and other heritage sites.  Gazing out on the Venetian Fortress on my first morning I felt so fortunate to be back so soon. Crete is an engaging island with its beautiful beaches, wonderful flora, famous healthy Cretan Cuisine and warmth of its People who made us very welcome let alone that it is truly the Cradle of Western Civilization with the many archaeological discoveries that astound. Everyone knows about Knossos but this time we visited and were absorbed in its antiquity and the beautiful peacocks that still patrol the old ruins of the palace.  I would return again with enthusiasm in late summer to this island to enjoy swimming and sunshine perhaps after the peak season at the end of August.   For those like me a passionate gardener and lover of all flowers I really suggest early spring. This wonderful island lights up with beauty, bees, butterflies and warmth and good food! article and photos by Aline Dobbie www.thepeacockscall.co.uk