CRETE – WILD FLOWER TRIPS.
A group of 9 norwegians had some wonderful days in Crete for Easter in 2011.
Before we left Norway, we contacted Julia Jones, if she could be our guide for 2 days. We wanted to have an excursion to the orchid rich fields and the fields with wild flowers at Crete for 1 day. We wanted her also to be our guide in the Plaka, Spinalonga and Pano Elounda for 1 day.
Here is what we got:
Day 1 .Orchids and other wildflowers – Spili and the surroundings.
Julia came to our villa in Prines, and we all started the excursions in a late Minoan Cemetery. Here we found a wealth of orchids, hyacinths, cyclamen and many other wildflowers at our first stop. Julia had a lot of interesting information for us, not only about the flowers of Crete, but she also knows a lot about the culture, nature and history of Crete. We stopped to botanize at her “secret places” for flowering plants, before we ended in Spili for lunch at a taverna. We all enjoyed her company and her information a lot! After lunch we went up in the mountains, a short drive above Spili. This area is one of the most orchid rich areas on Crete, and together with Julia we were able to see a lot of the orchids, wild tulips, anemones and other endemics which were in flower. After a drive in this beautiful landscape we ended our spring flower finding trip in Spili, in a charming taverna in this picturesque village. A wonderful day and we were all very happy with our guide and what we’ve seen at the trip. A trip where the photo opportunities are endless!
Day 2. Plaka – Spinalonga – Pano Elounda.
We’ve all read the book “The Island” of Victoria Hislop, so we wanted to go to Spinalonga. Julia met us in the city Agios Nikolaos where she had a very nice surprise for us! She guided us to a unique park and a museum of Cretan herbs and essential oil. The name of it is “BioAroma” and is a newly-founded production unit of essential oils from wild organic Cretan herbs. The raw materials, which BioAroma use, are either wild herbs, which are collected from the Cretan mountains, or herbs, which are cultivated organically. The essential oils are extracted with the method of the stem distillation, in stainless steel distillers in the lowest pressure and temperature. We had a delightful walk through the unique herbs of Crete and got a lot of information about their therapeutic characteristics. The herbal garden and the folklore museum was a very interesting and fun experience!!
A short drive from the museum we came to Plaka village, well known from the book. Plaka is a quiet village with a few tavernas and cafes by the waterfront. With Spinalonga in view, and a crystal clear pebble beach, it was a perfect place for lunch!
After lunch we had a boat trip to Spinalonga. At the island it is a 400 years old Venetian fortress with a lot of interesting history, and it famous for being the last active leper colony in Europe.
After this trip to Spinalonga we went to Pano Elounda, the village that was used for the filming of The Island for Greek tv. Julia has her home in Pano Elounda so we went to her house looking at her work. She portrays the Cretan flowers and plants in watercolour studies. Wonderful drawings and paintings! We met some of her good friends in her neighbourhood, a wonderful taste of the real Cretans. Very nice people with a great hospitality! At the end of the trip Julia went together with us to a local taverna for a great traditional meal.
We’re all very grateful for an excellent guiding and for Julia’s nice company. We are also very impressed of her knowledge about the flowers of Crete and very thankful for the wonderful way she let us get “the taste of the real Crete”. THANK YOU JULIA!