Friday, 13 September 2013

Vai Palm Grove and Beach

Today we drove to the eastern part of Crete stopping firstly at Agios Nikolaos. Lake Voulismeni or just "the Lake" for the locals, is located at the centre of the town of Agios Nikolaos. It has a circular shape of a diameter of 137 m and depth 64 m. The lake connects to the harbour of the town by a channel dug in 1870.

According to legend, the goddess Athena bathed in it. Every year at midnight turning to Orthodox Christian Easter day, the majority of the population of the town gathers around the lake to celebrate with fireworks, and firecrackers. It was reported that the German army during their withdrawal from the area at WW2, disposed parts of their weaponry and/or vehicles into the deep lake. A local urban legend has it that the lake is bottomless. That notion is potentially based on its impressively disproportional high depth compared to its width and on locals noticing disturbances at the surface or also the level of the water during the Santorini (Thera) earthquake of 1956. Because of the latter, many assume a possible geological relation of the two locations, but this claim has not been substantiated by known scientific surveys to date.

Agios Nikolaos seaside

The Lake

We next drove to Vai Palm Grove and Beach a palm tree forest stretching over a marvellous valley and sandy beach. It consists of self planted palm trees of Theophrastus (Phoenix Theophrasti). It is unique of its kind in Greece, Europe and probably the world. Vai because of its special value and beauty is protected by the Greek state, European Union and international contracts. The protected area covers 23.4 ha. The sandy beach of Vai is amongst the most beautiful in Crete and Greece. The small islets opposite the beach add a lot to the beauty of the place. A short walk to the south from Vai is Psili Ammos a lovely small beach with fine gold sand which is nested in a small cove.

Coastal view along our drive

We drove through Sitia on our way

Lunch under the Palms at Vai

Psili Ammos

Driving back along the south coast near Ierapetra we found some wildlife

I still can't believe that the olive grow in this harsh stony ground

I am often reminded of the Mama Mia movie as all the churches are on the top of hills
The fort, built by the Venetians and Known to Ierapetrans as the "Kalés", has been erected on the top of the southernmost mole of the ancient harbour. It is one of those monuments of the past which, because of its solid construction and the fact that it was still garrisoned until the latest years of the last century, still exists today to serve as a reminder of some of the nation's most difficult times.


On our drive home we passed through a few small villages about 5.30 - 6.00pm and on the sides of the road the more senior of the community still gather to share a wine and chat over the day. I really missed a great shot of about 20 people in the first village and was only able to discreetly take these couple of photos. I just love that this tradition of community is still happening today.

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