Loading driftwood on the kayak

Our steed on the driftwood beach

Our steed on the driftwood beach

Yesterday we finally went on our kayaking trip to collect some driftwood that we had planned for a while.

The sky was cloudy, so were not exactly kissed by the sun warmth. Luckily the air was still enough that we didn’t really get splashed and paddling was easy.

It took a while to reach our destination. I remembered it closer from the time we walked through there. We saw someone walking their dog on the way but they never got to the beach where we were.

Eventually we did get there, and Fiona set off in search of the best items. She came back with some nice bundles, and of course some rocks as well, to make sure the kayak wouldn’t be too light.

Fiona happy to have found a pallet, unaware of future developments

Fiona happy to have found a pallet, unaware of future developments

We also spotted a very nice and new looking pallet, which I wanted to take back. We tied it to the back of the kayak and set off from the beach like that, but soon realized that the drag was enormous. Fiona didn’t fail to make that clear for the whole 5 minutes we tried to kayak with it and also some of the following hour. So I untied the pallet and we left it there. The best prize then was a big dry sponge.

We got back to the car quite dry, if not exactly warm.

So we now know that it’s ok to kayak even in the winter, but it’s better to have not only a still, but also a sunny day.

Back to Nopigia with our driftwood load

Back to Nopigia with our driftwood load


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: -45 m
Total climbing: 175 m
Total descent: -76 m
Total time: 00:28:39
Download file: 20141118schoolhomecomp.gpx

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.

Click title to show track
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?

Alghero + Surroundings


& Around:

Christmas + NY 2013/14

First day of school

Friday was the introduction day for new arrivals to the scuola materna in Fertilia.  We arrived, all excited, but oops! an hour early – the lady on the phone had told us 8.30 but in actual fact it was 9.30 for the first day.  That at least explained the lack of other children!!

Other than that hiccup all was fine, no tears, no tantrums 🙂

In the afternoon we got an ice cream and played in the square above the Marina.