WESTERN CRETE(PALM BEACH)

 

After breakfast on the balcony, we drove back towards Plakias, enjoying those Libyan Sea views again then headed 10km beyond the town to a turn off at an old arched bridge which led to two of Crete’s most celebrated beaches. I love a good beach so was looking forward to seeing them.

You can walk to Preveli from here but I’m glad we didn’t though the road was a torture, a rough bumpy gravel track which took about 40 mins to drive each way. Some slightly precipitous sections, no barriers as such. I must admit my first thought at arriving at Preveli was – is this it? Grey gravelly sand, somehow a little scruffy. A large barking dog didn’t add to the atmosphere. Then we noticed a signpost to Palm Beach, which was a short walk away on a well constructed spectacular path high above the sea.

Was it worth it? Not really for either beach.Palm beach also was quite small and the sand greyish. The place was busy even in early April and it felt a bit claustrophobic and cramped. In summer, these two spots must be heaving with people and noise. There’s a nice palm grove at the back of the beach and a very pretty little whitewashed chapel amongst wildflowers.

But what we did enjoy was the lovely short walk between Preveli and Palm beach, 15 mins at most, with beautiful wildflowers and superb coastal views all around. Just perching somewhere up here was much more enjoyable and spectacular.

We passed several people walking to and from the beaches along the gravel road, but I didn’t find the landscape attractive enough to warrant the effort. You would be a candidate for sunstroke in mid summer as there is no shade along the route.

I admit I was glad to get that drive finished on the way back too. It’s always a risk taking a car on a gravel road with loose stones and boulders, as we weren’t insured for that (I don’t think you ever are.)

We detoured to see the monastery of Moni Preveli, which played a big role in supporting Allied troops and hiding them during WW2.

There is an impressive bronze statue of an Abbot armed with a rifle and an Allied soldier beside him, high above the deep blue sea.

The Rough Guide (which I had lost some patience with) had recommended a restaurant in the village of Myrthios called Plateia with ‘the finest views in Crete.’ I would say that was an exaggeration. The village sits high above the coast and is quite modern; the restaurant was closed for the season. But the equally praised next door option – Panorama – was open so we opted for that. Got a corner table with, yes,  a lovely view and shared an octopus salad and a Greek salad to start. The octopus tasted quite rubbery and I reckon was probably tinned. We’ve had home made octopus salad in Symi, made by a lovely local lady who ran the accommodation we stayed in and who invited us in for a meal one night. Have also had some excellent octopus in a couple of other simple tavernas but this was poor; odd taste. Lamb souvlaki arrived for mains and the meat was as dry as a bone and tough….a bit of a feat with lamb. No lovely charcoal grilled taste either, just overcooked lamb threaded on skewers with a piece of red pepper at each end. We did say politely to the waiter about the lamb being pretty tough and were offered free, a chocolate mousse each. It came, I think, in one of those small cardboard cartons and sat looking quite depressing on the large plate. The kind of thing you can buy in a supermarket freezer (if that is your idea of a good dessert.) Chris , manfully, (he went to boarding school and it’s drilled in him to finish what is on his plate) tried to finish it but it was sickly sweet.I just left mine after the first mouthful, keeping my chocolate calories for the real thing later. Neither of us was looking for anything from that gently made ‘complaint’ yet I doubt the waiter even bothered to say anything to the cook.That was the main point; let the kitchen know.We weren’t trying to get money off or an extra course on the house.Just get this simple, tasty dish right.  And please – make your own desserts.

Anyways, off we headed down to Plakias and a spirits-reviving coffee in the café at the end of the beach. Picked up some cold meat, tomatoes, cheese and nice bread for a nice supper later. It was great to eat out on our own little terrace in the evening with a glass of sparkling wine as the sun went down.

One of the great delights of southern Europe/warmer climes, sitting out at night for hours. Simple pleasures.

NEXT DAY: WESTERN CRETE( HORA SFAKIA to FALASARNA) 

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