We are Cretans now, Mihaela, Paul, and I. We don’t speak Greek, but we do communicate in the caring way the islanders here do. Many times I tell people who do not know me, how I’ve written more words in English about Crete than anyone alive or dead. I know, it’s a prideful thing, but it’s almost true. There is one person who’s done more to tell the world about our island. His name is Alexandros Roniotis, the founder of Cretan Beaches. For people here, he needs no introduction. But for the rest of you, here’s someone with an extraordinary love for his homeland.
Oh, I almost forgot, Dr. Alexandros Roniotis is also an ITC instructor for the Ministry of Education, the co-founder of DigiExplore app, a computing scientist and engineer, a graduate of the Imperial College of London, a volunteer who teaches robotics, as well as an explorer. Now, let’s see what kind of Cretan Beaches. He’s also a kind human being, who allows me to share all his content and images. I know he won’t mind me using his genius contextually here, to frame other friends in focus. Anyhow.
Many people coming to Crete are adventurous only to a point. Trekking Samaria Gorge or trying to reach the magical Agioferago are not on their agenda because of the semi-arduous nature of those experiences. There are, however, places the rival these which can be reached by car. One such place is Trypiti Gorge. To give you an idea of the magnitude of what Roniotis accomplished with Cretan Beaches, here’s a short passage from the page on this amazing destination.
The gorge of Trypiti is formed at the range Asterousia, to the south of the village Vassiliki and transfers the water from the valley east of the village Miamou through Agiosavvitis river. The length of the canyon reaches 4 km and the beautiful pebble beach Tripiti is formed at its exit. The beach is reached though a dirt road that runs high along the eastern side of the canyon for several kilometers before reaching its riverbed, just before the exit to the sea.
The ruggesest landscapes of Crete are in the Sfakia region that occupies portions of Rethymno and Chania Prefectures. This is the region the Germans in World War II were afraid to enter, a vertitable fortress inhabited by the sternest Crete resistance fighters. I’ve not venture too far there so far. A function of a bad heart and bad economics, let’s just say. In my younger days I’d have probably become one of them. They’d not mind me wearing my pistols, or shooting my sniper rifle either. Anyway, as you can tell from the photo below from Alexandros, this is a place you can touch the face of God, if you dare. The White Mountains,
The Facebook share below from Alexandros is headlined with a quote about our duty to our kids. Let me quote directly from his post of the image of Rouves Gorge.
Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives. –
— Thomas Berry
This gorge beneath mighty Psiloritis, is where you’ll find the magnifient holly grove known as Rouvas Forest. Located about 55km south of Heraklion, it is in another of Crete most rugged and secluded areas. As you can tell from Alexandros’ photo, it is also breathtakingly beautiful, expecially given the stark contrast with most Crete topography.
When I think of the village of Kapetanianá in the Asterousia Mountains, I always think about a guy name Markos Skordalakis, who created an amazing traditional Cretan experience at Thalori Retreat there. I’ve never met Markos in person, though I’ve written about his efforts (just a few of dozens) many times. My son Rhett was there a few years back, reporting for me on eco-friendly resorts on the island.
Anyhow, Markos speaks like zero English, I think, so perhaps he never reads all the nice things I write about him? As you can see from the image below, the Libyan Sea beneath Thalori is a rugged natural wonder as well. As for the region, most people do not realize that the Asterousia Range is a vital ecological treasure that is home to over 55% of the island’s animal and plant species. I believe Markos leads birdwatching and other ecological adventures too.
For the Minoans (the Keftiu) Mt. Juktas was one of their most sacred places. If you visit Archanes, at the foot of this solitary megolith, you’ll understand why. It’s a surreal place on Crete island, with facets few outside visitors catch. The image below reminds me of my familiars, all the birds of prey that have followed me my whole life. Only Mihaela and my son Paul know about this, but if a falcon or eagle flies near me, it’s a sign of good times or congruety.
I’ll never forget riding a lonely road not far from Juktas when a huge Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) glided down to touch his wingtip to my hand, hanging outside the car window. He stared right into my eyes, and sailed there beside me for a minute, then veered away to lite in a big plane tree near the two lane road. I tell people all the time, “God loves this place. He is here. Here stong.” Only those in touch believe me, which is sad to me. Anyhow, Alexandros has capture a wonder here. They happen so often on Crete.
The image below shows a glimpse of two islets I am enchanted by. Those little humps you see there are Paxamadia Ena and Dio. The myth has it, Apollo and his sister Artemis were born there. Yeah, I know. Hey, it’s Crete, the nail of the world. Anyhow, Alexandros shared this wonderful image on Facebook with the title “Don’t waste sunrises on people who will be gone by sunset.” Ditto that.
A couple of weeks ago Mihaela and I were with a wonderful friend Marina from Switzerland when I asked, “Are you with me?” We were leaving our friends Anna and Nikos Gavalas of wine fame, and I wanted to share a brilliant Cretan sunset like this one, only from farther up the beach where the islets look like a little elephant laying down. They said “sure,” and then noticed the Mesara Gulf and Kokkinos Pyrgos was fifty minutes away. Women, you know. Anyway Mihaela and Marina, I’ll leave you two with this. You’re loved ones that matter, it should have been enough for me to take you there. Feel guilty yet? LOL
A final note about Alexandros, with a fitting imagery above. He’s not a real journalist. Not even an editor, in a traditional sense. He is an adventurer. His explorations are laid out in what amounts to a perfect guide journal of the extraordinary, about his home on Crete. No one, no company, no corporation, or even the Greek government has equalled what he accomplished with Cretan Beaches. I am in awe of the accomplishment, but sad that someone out there did not fund Alexandros’ furthering the app and the information portal. Oh my, what the visitor to Crete could find with a little help from this amazing individual. It’s astonishing, I do not think Alexandros has ever recieved a penny for his unequalled effort to reveal Indredible Crete.
Oh, and this sunset over one of our favorite parts of our island reminds me of something my wife Mig always says when we catch such wonders; “Fuck Santorini,” we live on the most beautiful island in the world.