In Greek twilight goes under the name of lykofos, literally (and appropriately) 'wolf light'.

In Greek twilight goes under the name of lykofos, literally (and appropriately) ‘wolf light’.

Over the week we decided to spend some days on the warm Southern coast of Crete.

We knew it would take a long time to get there and a long drive, so we decided to set off on Friday straight after school and spend two nights in Chora Sfakion.

After the pass, past Askifou, we were welcomed by some awesome ‘wolf light’ with a view on the Lybian sea, Gavdos and Gavdopoula. The air was crisp on the mountains, then hazy towards the sea.

In Chora Sfakion we had a look around the small harbour with huge cement blocks before going back to our hotel for dinner and bed. On the first night we did two amazing discoveries. First both Giulia and Sofia were so hungry that they both devoured cabbage and carrot salad. When it was finished Sofia asked for more, and she has requested it again in the following days. Then at night we saw a moonbow, a fuzzy wide light circle around the not quite full moon.

Sunset on Gavdos descending into Chora Sfakion

Sunset on Gavdos descending into Chora Sfakion

On Saturday we bought some lunch from the bakery and we set off towards Finikas. We took the long and winding road West of Chora towards Anopoli. We saw many griffon vultures on the way, six flying all together. Past the quiet village of Anopoli, we got to Aradena and stopped for a look around the famous bridge over the narrow gorge. Very impressive drop, we saw signs for bungee jumping from the bridge. It was built only some 25 years ago. It’s made of wood planks resting on the metal structure. The chilling experience is made of the wide gaps between the free-moving planks. It’s impossible to resist the temptation to look at the 100m drop underneath.

Then we took the partly dirt road descending to Finikas. The slow drive let us take in the wild landscape. When we got to Finikas nobody was around, it was like the scene in “Mediterraneo” when the Italian soldiers arrive at the small seafront village and it appears abandoned. Except Finikas is even smaller, and nobody turned up even later. So we put down our stuff on a small jetty and dutifully proceeded to swim in the chilling water. I went snorkelling but the swell was strong just out of the bay and visibility so and so. Giugiu and Sofia bathed merrily in the sun with their floats, playing with the inflatable ball we found floating behind a rock. Even Fiona jumped in, if only for one minute.

So we thought to hike up the hill over towards Loutro. The path is good but a bit steep for Sofia. We stopped at the top and had lunch in the Frankish ruins of a castle. Then we walked a bit more to take a peek of Loutro before turning back. By this point Sofia was tired of walking and the good mood was turning too. We made our way back to the car and drove back to see more vultures flying very close to the road after Anopoli before descending to Chora.

Back in Chora we had showers, then we goofed and walked around a bit more. Eventually we went to have dinner ‘downtown’. We saw some people eating in one of the only restaurants. It turned out to be the owner and his friends, but they were very welcoming and probably a bit drunk. They joked about omelettes while we had our delicious dinner. We had some more good tsikoudia to finish the meal, not quite as good as the one we tasted the night before though.

On Sunday we left Chora and drove to Frangokastelo. On the way we took a turn to a beach a few km before Frangokastelo. The sun was out but so was the wind. We climbed over a rock hoping to find a more sheltered shore, but it was just as exposed and the water was full of shallow rocks. I went in for a snorkel and monofinned my way West. Visibility was not so good by the shore, temperature was decent. I found some rocky coastline but didn’t see much life. I was surprised because I’d seen two spearfishermen and a fishing boat so I thought it would be a great place. Back nearby the beach I found that the sea bottom was more interesting, with plenty of small rocky arches rising from the seabed. I dived under one of them and hit my foot causing my fin to come off. In the meantime Giulia had been playing with the waves a bit.

Then we went to Frangokastelo itself, where we had a look around the castle (literally, because it was closed) and a yummy picnic with leftovers from the night before. Few people around, a mum with her kid, some ‘mature beachgoers’. We also walked to the shore, Giugiu and Sofia splashed around, then we got back in the car. We drove a long time to get home. It was well worth it.

Around Ancient Falasarna

Today we went for a little walk around ancient Falasarna. Giugiu has learned to say automatically ‘I want to go to ancient Falasarna’ every time we say we’re going to Falasarna. So today that’s what we did.

Looking West from above ancient Falasarna

Looking West from above ancient Falasarna

The archaeological site was closed, but we’d seen it before. We took the path that goes past the site towards Balos. After some reckoning, we tried to go up and reach a small chapel on the side of the hill. Half way up we were surrounded by goats. We couldn’t see a clear path and the slope increased, so we decided to spare Sofia and Giugiu the climb and go back down.

Antikythira was clearly visible and the day was beautiful. We trekked over big rocks to reach an opening in the coastline. No easy access to the sea as I’d hoped, but a nice little cave just on sea level.

We went back to the car with some good pictures.

Around Kissamos: November swims, rides, hikes, paddles and otherwise outdoor excursions

November 18th: rode the kids down to school with the trolley. Beautiful warm sunny day. Counted about 22 minutes down and 23 minutes up.

Total distance: 6.45 km
Max elevation: 89 m
Min elevation: -44 m
Total climbing: 173 m
Total descent: -75 m
Total time: 00:28:39

November 17th: we went down to Viglia, in the first bay after the port. Had a nice swim with goggles and gloves, 25 minutes. Sea temperature was decent, some West wind, flat by the shore but quite wavy out. Warm sun. Giugiu and Sofia went in to their waist.

November 15th: in the morning we drove to Sougia, a good 2 hours. We went to the East end of the beach. We saw a couple of kayakers getting ready to set off East. Had a nice swim with snorkel and fin. Saw some big grey mullets, sea breams, a nice grouper! Swam around big rock, strong currents. North wind, especially strong a bit out. Nice sun. Then had lunch with the Italians from Chania that we met there, Matteo, Agamennone and their families.

November 14th: quick morning swim in Viglia just me and Fi, only goggles. Swam one triangle in the bay just before port.

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In Kissamos


Balos on a stormy day

Balos on a stormy day

While Markus was with us, on a day of mixed weather we embarked on a trip to Balos.

We drove the long broken road to get there. We paid the 1€/person ‘Nature protection’ charge to enter.

The drive was long, but the view made it worth it. The path down was full with people even on this early autumn day. The wind was sweeping the lagoon. We saw a tourist boat approaching in the big waves and felt sorry for them.

There wasn’t much chance to swim in the big waves, so we walked around. Eventually we found a semi-sheltered spot around some big rocks on the West side of the lagoon, and we had our picnic there.

Then we saw lightning. We picked up our stuff and walked quickly back towards the path. It started raining, so we took shelter in the cafe, like most other people. When the rain stopped we sat on the sunbeds for a while. There was tiredness, and we made our way back up the path.

Resting on the sunbeds in Balos

Resting on the sunbeds in Balos

Kayak to Ravdoucha

Markus always loved to play cavemen

Markus always loved to play cavemen

With Markus we’re always keen to do some kayaking together.

During the time he was here the weather was often windy though, and my energy was quite low from little sleep and I guess a new beginning.

On this day we decided to take the kayak to Ravdoucha, starting from Nopigia.

The wind was blowing, and we had to paddle quite hard. We landed at a very small beach on the way. Then we had another break at a partially sheltered groove in the coastline below a cave. While I held the boat, Markus went up to have a look at the cave. We kayaked past the old pillars, which I later found out were part of some German iron extracting plant during the war. We had a look at Ravdoucha from just around the rocky outcrop, but had had enough of wind and cold splashes, so we turned back.

We put the sail up only to find out it was broken. The wired frame had snapped in 2 points, and the wind was very irregular and not exactly behind us anyway. We paddled back with a good lateral wind.

Pillars in the sea. Iron mining?

Pillars in the sea. Iron mining?


We spent 2 weeks volunteering with Giorgos at Paliomylos: http://oldwatermill.wordpress.com/

Day 81 – May 20th – Rovies
First work day – Fiona digs out a bed for some tomato plants. Giorgo, Manu + Gabriela get to work on a new bed, which turns out to be very hard with a big wall buried underneath!  In afternoon Fi helps for a few hours transplanting some small plants, then we go to find the beach. It’s rather rocky, there’s a nice pine forest a bit further down. The sea looks like a mirror, not even a sign of waves, very hazy. Some stone skimming, Manu goes for a swim but isn’t very impressed with the underwater life.

Day 82 – May 21st – Rovies
Manu helps in morning, mulching + planting tomato plants in beds, then we walk to the river for a swim to cool off. In afternoon we go with Giorgos down to his parents house, which is right by the beach so we can leave the kayak there.  Another very still day, on the way home we see dolphins swim very close by the shore, super sunset.



Day 83 – May 22nd – Rovies
Fi helps in morning – transplanting young plants from the nursery (kids helped), planting out some more tomato plants, sieving compost, etc.  Afternoon we go down to try kayak for the first time, but it’s not a great day, quite windy, looks like it might rain.  However, we manage to get out, all 4 of us, without difficulty, but we only stay out for 5 minutes due to the wind and waves. First kayak attempt is classed as a success!

Day 84 – May 23rd – Rovies
Manu helps in morning, all morning setting out automatic irrigation system for vege beds down. Fi + kids go to playpark and a few errands to run around Rovies village. Afternoon we go to beach but it’s very windy so back to the playpark, kids are happy though as they want to go on the swings again, apparently hours of swinging in the morning hasn’t bored them yet.


Day 85 – May 24th – Rovies
Fiona helps – mulching tomatoes, more work on irrigation system, planting beans with kids. Afternoon Manu + kids go out in kayak, more sun this time! Manu launches and gets kids into boat by himself, however at landing time it’s quite a lot more wavy, landing a bit more challenging.

Day 86 – May 25th – Around Northern Evia
Day off, we go to waterfall on mountain, nice, but frozen water!  Full of butterflies and dragonflies.  Manu swims, a picnic lunch, then we drive to beach on Northern side of Evia, stay in the cool shade for a while in the early afternoon, we attempt a swim with Sofia but waves are rough and sea is scummy. Manu swims again, but is disappointed again, Poseidonia beds but lots of scum. Then we drive more North, get lost on little roads along coast, stop for ice cream, stop for tortoise, arrive in Istiea just in time to do some grocery shopping, dinner at souvlaki place, drive back in the dark through mountain road.


Beautiful waterfall, all to ourselves

Family portrait

Family portrait


Nice beach, shame about the water

Day 87 – May 26th – Rovies
Manu helps: pruning apple trees which takes most of morning while Fiona and kids go to town for internet and playground. We spend most of the rest of the day researching flights + travel options for Cyprus, as a last minute place on a cob workshop being held there has opened up. In the end we decide against it.

Day 88 – May 27th – Rovies
Fiona helps in morning: A bit more planting, making natural pesticide with soap, checking over the corn, making some supports for the tomato plants, and sanding down some big pieces of olive wood for future projects.  Afternoon we bike to Rovies, quick icecream stop then we go in the canoe, first nice flat canoeing day.  Giulia + Manu do capsize practice!

Day 89 – May 28th – Rovies
Manu + Giorgos collect + transport soil for cob project back to house, do some work spreading olive waste on another garden-to-be, and fix the watering pipes on the gardens.

Day 90 – May 29th – Rovies
Fi helps – sieving soil, making test cob batches + a model of the future bench in preparation for cob work over next few days. Many bags of soil to sieve! Boys collect stones from the river and lay the foundation for the bench. Manu + girls walk down to the river.
Afternoon we cycle to Limni, 11km up and down but we both agree that it wasn’t too hard a cycle.  Limni is nice, a little port town enclosed in a small bay. Manu goes for a swim then we go to a restaurant for dinner, usual seaside greek fare, tzatziki, xorta, octopus, gavros, dogfish. All very nice and washed down with plenty of Retsina, means the way back home (up + down hills again) we feel rather heavier.  We cycle fast as the sun is setting, but still make it home after dark.

Day 91 – May 30th – Rovies
Cob morning – Some more stone moving to finish the foundation, then we all help to make the first cob mix, then Fi + girls go down to Rovies to get bread + play on the swings (yet again!).  First layer of cob on the bench seems to be a success.  Afternoon we go down to the beach, a bit of work for Fi and then another trip in the canoe, this time we go towards Rovies but we don’t go very far as it’s quite late.

Day 92 – May 31st – Rovies
Cob morning #2 – plenty more cob batches, we manage to make 2-3 batches and a pretty decent layer of cob on the bench, which is starting to look very bench-like now!  Unfortunately the cob from yesterday has cracked quite a lot*

* Giorgos found out later that cracking was caused by drying too fast in the hot weather, solved by covering with a wet blanket and plastic sheet.


Evolution of a bench

Day 93 – June 1st – Rovies
Canoe trip: We lod up our kayak and head south along the coast.  We get to Katounia, the end of the road, so launch the kayak from there. It takes us quite a while to load all of our stuff, towels, spare clothes, manu’s leg, water, picnic etc, but eventually we are away. A nice paddle along the coast, under a very high steep cliff then some little beaches. We paddle for about an hour or so, and decide to stop as we hit a patch of strong headwind.  Super beach with pines behind, completely inaccessible apart from by sea, nice big shady patch for our lunch.  Then we try to have a little rest but kids are not very sleepy yet!  We re-load the kayak and decide to try out the canoe-sail as the headwind we fought against to get here is now our tailwind as we go back.  A bit of a fight to get the sail installed, but soon we are away, Fi + kids hold onto the sail and Manu steers. A great success as we get back fast and with no paddling!  Quick stop in Limni for cake and internet, and on the way home we see a fox and her 2 cubs, right next to the road.

Around Paliomylos


Looking back – In Katelios

In Katelios we stayed with Angeliki and her nice family at Dreams:


Day 76 – May 15th – Katelios
At court all morning, fixed with Makis. See Stacey + bump into a few other friends during the morning in Argostoli, we also see turtles and a pipefish in the lagoon!

Day 77 – May 16th – Katelios
Sofia quite ill, high temperature, so we postpone departure by a couple of days. Morning drive by Mounda, see volunteers, house in Ratza, collect our very old and mouldy post – nothing important – then to Skala.

Day 78 – May 17th – Katelios
Lazy day around village, Fiona goes to see Louisa + new baby Elena, without G+S who are both a bit coughy. Manu + kids stay at Dreams and play with Marisa.

Day 79 – May 18th – Katelios
Afternoon swim on Mounda, saw a turtle! “Last supper” at Garden restaurant, takeaway pita gyros.

Day 80 – May 19th – Katelios-Rovies
Long drive and 3 ferries to get to Evia: Poros-Kyllini in the late morning, drive to Rio, take ferry across to Antirio, drive through Itea, up towards Lamia then another ferry from Arkitsa to Edipsos. Arrive in Rovies and stay with Giorgos.

A second start; old home to old home (Bologna to Katelios)

Day 73 – May 12th – Bologna-Ancona-Igoumenitsa
Get up early to finish packing, load the car -we’ve managed to trim to 2 main bags of clothes now – and mount the racks. Putting kayak and bikes on top of car requires quite an effort and some help. Whole family is up (or is forcibly gotten up) on Sunday morning to say goodbye. Fast drive to Ancona, get on ferry, all smooth. Apart from a small wobble from G, who wants to stay longer, Giugiu and Sofia don’t even blink that we’re leaving again, it’s natural. Ferry goes by quickly.

Day 74 – May 13th – Igoumenitsa-Vassiliki
Arrive earlyish in Igoumenitsa, quick drive along nice coast, some rain. We stop at Nekromanteio to visit the oracle of the dead, not much to see but a nice heavy rain shower just as we arrive! Quick play on playground, then set off again. Arrive in Vassiliki at lunch time to find out afternoon ferry to Fiskardo is not going due to “wind”; weather doesn’t look so bad to us. We decide to stop for the night and hope it goes next morning so find a surfers hotel on the beach. Manu and Fiona sleep while kids stay awake after lunch! Then we go to the beach to fly the kite. Pasta for dinner.

Day 75 – May 14th – Vassiliki-Astakos-Katelios
Sofia coughs most of the night, she’s not very well, 5 days in Bologna were enough to get a cough. When we get up in the early morning it looks windier than yesterday, so we’re not very suprised to learn that ferry from Vassiliki is not running today either. Drive to Astakos, great stretch of coast between Preveza and there, especially around Mytikas. Ferry ride is not bad, a little choppy but nothing serious. Arrive in Sami and drive straight to Katelios. Very weird to be back. We stay at Dreams where they welcome us nicely. We go to the beach, Agia Barbara, in the late afternoon, Manu goes for a swim, water not too cold, see some Pinna nobilis, attempts equalizing technique learned from Flo.

Bologna in the springtime

Day 68 – May 7th – Bologna
Easy day, the only thing we really do is make a trip to the supermarket late morning, where G manages to lose her new sunhat! Chill out around garden in the afternoon.

Day 69 – May 8th – Bologna
Manu spends morning looking for roof rack and seeing Niccolò in bank. Then we go see Lolò’s bees. Play some ping pong with Usi.

Day 70 – May 9th – Sasso & Anzola
We take Sofia and Giulia to Sofia’s school. After some initial resistance, they’re happy to stay and they’re happy to see them so we leave them there while we go to Decathlon for some clothes shopping.
Afternoon we go see Niccolò, Stefi, Dani and Giada in Anzola’s park, then have dinner with them.

Day 71 – May 10th – Puianello
In the morning we buy the kayak! Which is missing two covers, so we get a super discount. Then we go to Puianello with Lolò where we have lunch with Gabri, Chico, Fra, Luca. See Giova in the afternoon as well. Family stories. Giugiu sleeps straight from 5pm to morning while Sofia has a bath. Some more ping pong.

Day 72 – May 11th – Monte S.Pietro
We drive to Monte S. Pietro to see a house that Lolò and Auri are interested in. A great location on top of a hill, somewhat far, and a very big house. Davide joins us and we go for lunch all together to Matarrozzi, good food and crescentine. We drive straight to supermarket for travel food, then go back to do some packing. Mounting roof rack and bike carriers takes longer than expected, so we haven’t really finished when Macca, Paola, Lorenzo and Francesco come and join us for evening and dinner. Eat last dinner with them, then also Leti arrives. Go to bed latish to finish some packing.

Visiting friends in Spain and France (Cullera – Bologna)

Among many other things, Flo is a great underwater photographer:



Day 63 – May 2nd – Cullera-Barcelona
Another long drive. Set off in the morning after breakfast, arrive for dinner. Take a long detour around some nice mountain inland area -Tirig – apparently an important Paleolithic area for cave paintings, but miss the guided tour time so we can only see museum. In Barcelona for the evening, nice to see Cavuz and Elisa who give up their bed for us in their apartment in Poble Sec. Pasta and ice cream for dinner.

Day 64 – May 3rd – Barcelona
Walk around in the morning towards Mont Juic. Our plan is to take the telecabin down to port, so we cajole the kids along with stories of flying cabins, but when we get there, it’s not running today! We hang around on the panoramic terrace for a while, have our picnic lunch there, then walk back. Spend the afternoon mostly in house, then an evening walk out to urban playground with Cavuz, G+S are a little intimidated by the playground, which is full of boisterous Latino kids, but they eventually warm up enough to try playing a bit. Dinner with tapas in small cava place, we order a lot of stuff, nice but heavy.

Day 65 – May 4th – Barcelona-Rayol sur mer
Breakfast then “bye bye Cavuz”: then 10 hours in car later we arrive in Rayol around 8pm. Another nice welcome from Flo, who makes us a great dinner (much appreciated as we have only snacked in car all day) grilling a huge grey mullet he fished himself for the eggs! We set up our tent at dusk, takes a while to inflate our many mattresses with our tiny hand pump, but the end result is great. Kids are very excited about sleeping in the tent (it’s the first time we use it), but eventually we get to sleep in our little campsite.

Day 66 – May 5th – Rayol
Manu + Flo swim in morning, long time to get ready with full wetsuits, weights, fins. We see a spirograph (big worm), big octopus, cuttlefish, flat fish, weever. Manu gets cold quickly so we don’t stay long. Also feels very cumbersome with wetsuit and visibility bad. Still a good swim. Fi + kids play on beach + in park, it’s cloudy and intermittently rainy but still warm, so we picnic at beach with Flo’s special home made bottarga. Afternoon we go for a little walk around house along old train track, very nice place. All tired at night.

Day 67 – May 6th – Rayol-Bologna
Long drive, set off earlish after breakfast and goodbye to Flo, quiche and baguette for lunch. Drive is smooth, narrow lanes and long tunnels, past Genova to Pistoia then get off highway and cross the Apennines on Porrettana. Another very long day, we make short stops every now and then, and finally arrive in Bologna at dinnertime. Lolò bought gnocchi! Tired but happy.