Category Archives: crete

The monster gyros from Archanes

After our walk, Erica and I started to get hungry. My cousin strongly recommended eating anywhere in the village, and so I saw out of the corner of my eye a gyros/souvlakeria and decided we should eat there.


The cook was a matronly woman who was very shy, but agreed to let me take a picture of her doing her cooking.


The proprietor or  local gadfly was very friendly and insisted that I drink the local wine. When I tried to explain to him the nature of drinking and driving, he explained the need to take things slowly. After my lessons yesterday, I agreed and drank.

When the gyros arrived, Erica and I were stunned by the size.

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The top layer pictured to the left was full of french fries. Once you removed the french fries there was a huge amount of mean underneath.


We were both very happy eating this giant gyros.

As we sat and enjoyed the time passing away, a couple of dogs came around, and I suppose because I do miss my dog,  I snapped some photos of the puppies as they lounged in the sun.

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At some point an older dog came around, and the puppies tried to assert their dominance.


The older dog on the right let them bug her and then at some point, just gave up and put the two puppies in their place. The yellow puppy ran away. The black/brown puppy was not as easily intimidated. The owner had to come out and chase the posturing dogs away. Posturing dogs are not great for business. Hard to walk through them… 

Local Shops in Archanes

I really enjoyed that Archanes had a real local downtown that had not yet been obliterated by Costco and Walmart or other big-box retailers. There were a variety of small stores selling daily goods. And those small stores were what created the local life.

Although this is not a store it is a center for the soldiers of the resistance against the Nazis.


Here we have a grocer/supermarket


and a jeweler


and an iron worker.



Today my wife had to attend the Eurographics 2008 conference, so Erica, a classmate from Stanford who was here as the spouse, and I decided to go for a quick drive.

My cousin Kostas Tsigaridis who had lived on Crete for many years in Heraklion while he worked on his BS, MS and Ph.D. in Chemistry had strongly recommended we go to Archanes. He said that was the last truly pretty village of Crete.

The drive to the village was made worse by the Piece of Shit GPS system that we used. There is a fine easy to use road that will quickly take one to Archanes. Unforutnately the GPS had stale map information so it took us along one of those scenic Cretan 1 lane roads that are bi-directional with a cliff to one side.

On the positive side it did allow us to take take in some pretty vistas  of the interior of Crete.



The village has a lot of well preserved traditional homes with their traditional colors, and traditional verandas that are decorated with many potted plants. We were able to peak through open doors and take pictures of the interior.

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One of the more interesting aspects of the village was that the signs were all traditional hand-painted signs of the form that used to adorn all village stores throughout Greece. This is, in my mind, is another example of Greece in many ways becoming less fawning of foreign styles and prouder of it’s own heritage. Only 20 years ago, the notion of a Greek store with a Greek sign on an island with this many tourists would have been laughable.

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Like all villages there were a great many older men who were walking around taking in the sounds or drinking their coffees in the local kafenion.

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The gentlemen in this photo were gossiping about the local hotties.

As we walked around the village we took pictures of the small houses

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including the only three story building.


Windmills near Lassithi, Crete

On the way to Lassithi, the plateau in the mountains of Crete, my wife, Andrew and I stopped to take some photos of the surround countryside.

 road to lassithi

Almost 100 feet later there was a church and we stopped again, because we could not resist the temptation to take a picture of a Church in Greece. I one-upped the one church quota with this two church shot …


The windmills themselves are nothing but ruins, relics of an era when wind was used to grind grains.

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The view from the top of the ride is spectacular and most definitely worth stopping to check out.

 windmills of lassithi

Once we entered the plateau it was somewhat of a disappointment. As a child the plateau made a tremendous impression on me because it was the only bit of flat land I had ever seen on a Greek island. I suppose, when I was a child, I had found the notion that in the middle of these mountains there would be something flat to be very disturbing.

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But in the end, a plateau that is used to farm, is just that, a plateau that is used to farm. I suspect if you stayed in this area for a month, you would notice some very subtle rhythms that seemed to speak out to me, but were ultimately lost in our rush to get in and get out.

Eating at Taverna Kronio in Tzermiado, Crete

After our hike up what we thought was Karfi, we were very hungry. The oranges were very tasty, but somewhat insubstantial.

The guide book offered a few places to go eat, but I wanted to check out what was available before I committed to anything.

We parked in front of a house that belonged to an old widow that I could not resist taking a picture of.


Our walk around the town made it quite clear that the right place to eat was at Taverna Kronio.

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A small tavern that had been in business since 1965. The current owner, pictured below,  was a local who had married a French woman which explained why the wait staff (husband and son) spoke perfect French and the menu was written in perfect French cursive.


When we arrived at the restaurant, I was very hungry and demanded to start ordering. His reaction was funny. He goes:

Sit down, relax, this is not a Mc. Donald’s. There is a pace to how you will eat here.

He started the menu with an aperitif offering ouzo. I told him that I was a designated driver, and he gave me a priceless reaction:

Spare me. Soon we will be like Denmark. One little drink will not hurt.

And so we ordered food, chastised for being in a rush, and told to drink and if we needed to wait for the alcohol to be digested to sit and wait because there was no rush.

Across the way from us was a Kafenion with a set of locals who were drinking their coffee. Their mustaches and their looks were quintessentially Cretan.


Their patience and willingness to take their time to drink their coffee did much to convince this hurried man that he should slow down. P1000586 P1000588

The food was very tasty and very colorful. What I find most interesting in Crete is how vivid the food colors are. The stifado is very red. The yellows/green of the artichoke was very yellow/green. There is something to be said for organically grown produce.

As we were about to leave to head towards the cave where Zeus was supposedly born, the owner warned us to not go. He said, there is a cave, and there is a fee to park, a fee to enter, a fee to smile, a fee to exit, a fee to frown, and if the local bureaucrat smiles he made decide that your car is a fee. With that warning, we decided to turn around and head back to Xersonissos.

Climbing Karfi in Lassithi Crete

When we arrived in Lassithi we decided it would be lots of fun if we went for a hike up Karfi, a small peak with a spectacular view of the plateau and the northern coast of Crete.

The road to the hike began near the village of Tzermiado. The road was a tiny one lane road that winded itself up slowly up the mountain leading to a Stavros Church. We were supposed to get off the road before we got to the church and take a dirt road, but we misread the instructions. We knew we had misread the instructions when we reached a dead end


and I had to do a three point turn in my Nissan Micra (huzzah for small cars!).


The hike began in a small valley near a much smaller church off the main road.


The hike was extremely easy to follow


with lots of goats pointing the way

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The guide book claimed that there was plenty of shade on the mountain for a picnic. We found no shade except for this tree:


I suppose if you consider that you are on a mountain top in Crete which was deforested in the Minoan era the mountain looks downright lush with this lone tree providing shade …

There were many pretty flowers, that I could not resist taking pictures of.P1000527 P1000531

We finally reached a fork in the road with a sign that pointed to Karfi


The only problem is that Karfi was in the opposite direction of the arrow (or so we think based on our guide book) and looks like this P1000563

Unfortunately we only discovered our mistake on the way down from this other peak.

At the top of the mountain


we took a group photo


Unfortunately, in our first attempt, I tripped and fell before I could get to my spot next to Andrew. Funnily enough the camera was able to take a picture of the reaction of my wife and Andrew to my fall


Which looked more gruesome than it was.P1000559

While on the top of the mountain I did put together this 300 degree panorama that looks kinda cool


The way down was uneventful, and after my fall, I wasn’t that interested in taking any more pictures.

The best oranges, ever

Andrew had remarked the other day that he liked the oranges in Crete, and wondered if we could could buy some. Since the kinds of oranges he wanted could not be bought in a supermarket, I had to find a street side stall or a farmer’s market. Fortunately on the way to Lasithi there was an older man selling all kinds of Cretan produce.


His oranges looked quite miserable. They were beaten up and dirty and small. Our reaction was to be disdainful of the whole affair and turn to leave. The Cretan noticed our disdain, noticed how we were gingerly picking through his produce, and in a fit of pique, reached for a bag, and began to fill the bag himself.

Convinced that we had offended his Cretan pride, we bought the oranges and headed out, convinced that we had been had. These dirty, small, beaten oranges could not be that tasty, now could they?

Boy were we wrong! These must have been the tastiest oranges we have ever eaten without a hit of the acidity. They were pure breathtaking sweetness. Just look at the orange…


Andrew heard me moan in pleasure as I ate my orange, and could not be bothered to completely peel his, removing enough skin to begin to eat.


And he attacked the orange with passion and energy.


Just look at how juicy the were…


Agios Nikolaos, Crete

Agios Nikolaos is the home of a bottomless lake (60 meters in depth). What’s interesting about this lake is that it has the same urban legend about Jacques Cousteau that Santorini’s caldera has. In both locations, the bottom is invisible to the naked eye. In both cases, there is a legend about some connection to Atlantis. In both cases, Cousteau, ostensibly, came to survey the bottom and was unable to see anything because it was too dark. In Agios Nikolaos, this is proof of the lake’s mystery and connection to Ancient Atlantis. In Santorini, this is proof of the caldera’s mystery and proof of our relationship to Ancient Atlantis…*

So here’s a couple of pictures of the lake: Crete 14-04-08 192

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When we went down to drink some coffee we passed by some old fishing boats, and I could not resist the temptation to take some photos Crete 14-04-08 198

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In the cafe, I took this picture of the lake.

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While I was drinking my Frappe metrio me gala, I took advantage of my 10x optical zoom to take this picture of the waiter (owner?)

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The frown he has on his face is very similar to the frown’s I saw in Venice on the paintings in the palazzo’s. My wife has this theory that we Roussos’ who have a similar frown, must be descended from Venetians. A book on genealogy in Santorini that my mother read has the same theory. My father agrees with this theory, but adds an addendum, that the Venetians who were our ancestors were originally Greeks who had migrated to Venice and then resettled in Greece! So we Roussos’ are still really Greek …

* Turns out Cousteau did visit both locations…

Delfini Tavern, Plaka Crete

After our taking many, many pretty photos, swimming it was time to eat. So we decided to go to a restaurant recommend by the Rough Guide Crete called Delfini Tavern.

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This was a classic Greek fish taverna, whose tables were right next to the sea.

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The owners had a menu with a laundry list of useless food items. The right way to order was to ask the waitress what kind of fresh fish was available. You then picked the kind and quantity (500 grams, 750 grams, 1kg), the method of cooking and then she brought them to you. You can also order some appetizers. The tzatziki was well done with the right amount of garlic. The Greek salad had some amazingly tasty tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Here we see Andrew eating an octopus

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and some tzatziki.

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We had some amazing fish including my all time favorite Barbounia or Red Mullet.

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As you can see very little was left after I finished eating my share of the fish.

After we paid, we got up to leave the table, when the owners came after us saying: But how you can leave without eating some fresh fruit? And boy was the fruit fresh. The oranges were unbelievably tasty!

As we left the restaurant, I noticed that one of the interior walls of taverna were being painted by a local painter. As we left, I took a picture at him working…

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