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A Pure Crete holiday "Crete in Bloom" 4th-13th April 2017. We were a party of 31, with sunny and dry but disappointingly cold weather, lead by Clive Daws and Steven Waters

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Tuesday 4th April  Up very early to catch the 04:20 train to Gatwick. We caught the one before and arrived by 05:45!

My Geotags for the holiday

Our plane at Gatwick Airport

Hania Airport on the peninsular

Our  Bathroom

Zantedeschia from the Garden

Our Courtyard. We heard a Scops Owl squeaking away at night

Water Bottle Tree in our garden

Orange Blossom, it gave an exotic smell by the front door

Our cold bedroom , no heating!

Metoche Family House sitting room has a wood burning stove which did heat the room

Olive Oil Lamp

Our house at night. After the briefing at the Taverna, we had a meal plus wine, of many different Cretan starters, then I had a Moussaka , on Pure Crete

Wednesday 5th April;  We Visited the Aptera Archaeological site with Steven's birthday meal in the evening

Helen's  Geo-track in pink of this day

In Aptera village.

After shopping in Souda we walked to the archaeological  site on the headland, walking via the village.

Guard dog

Bermuda Buttercup, Oxalis pes caprae, a foreign import

The half-built house opposite ours

The view from our "Pick up Point" to the White Mountains.

Mount Pachnes is 2,452m


Galactites tomentosa

On the track up to Aptera, it was too big a group for every one to see every plant of note

Chrysanthemum coronarium


Vicia hybrida

Aptera ruins, more overgrown since our 2008 visit

Red backed bumble bee

A visiting family in the Monastery Courtyard where we ate lunch

The Turkish fort

Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Restored wall beside the track

Echium plantagineum


Ready to unfurl

Cistern's Arched roof

Euphorbia helioscopia

G checks sound at the Roman theatre  focal point

Adonis microcarpa

The village seen from the Aptera ruins

Mating Lygaeus saxatilis

Ranunculus asiaticus, We saw them all over the island


Poppy and Anagallis Arvensis

Painted Lady.  We saw very few butterflies this time, probably it was too cold.

Olive tree and sheep

Echium plantagineum

Nepeta scordotis

A Second World War  gun emplacement, marked as such

Muscari comosum

Wild Marigold left and Hawkweed right

Italian wall Lizard

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Long view of the Aptera site

Nepeta scordotis

Hawkweed and Muscari

Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum

Watching us

Flooded Roman cisterns

Milkweed Bug kills a cricket

Guardhouse ruin

Lunaria annua

The deserted Monastery

Almond tree

The Roman Theatre

C at the sound focus point

Looking down at the coast road 

Psoralea bitumosa colour variant?

Euphorbia dendroides at rear left

The ruined city wall

Naval base on the opposite side of the bay and seen from our sitting room window

Disused prison

Old Fort on the opposite side of Souda Bay

C walks past the fort

Towards the White  Mountains

Gynandiris sisyrinchium

Crepis Rubra

Gynandiris sisyrinchium

Psoralea bitumosa, it was not smelling of pitch at this time

Papaver rhoeas

Hottentot figs, an import from South Africa

Orobanche ramosa

Ophrys cretica


Aptera ruins

Tragopogon sinuatus, Salsify

The passage through our house

The Coffee Bar on the Aptera village square

Cretan Corner Taverna

Inside "Taverna ta Aptera " building

Pensive H with empty wine can

Stevens birthday "do" on that  evening. Only the Annex was big enough for all of us.

Stevens birthday cake with a really bright candle! (joke)

Steven at his birthday "do" with Clive

In the Annex.  I had Beef Stifado this time.

Thursday 6th April Ormalos Plain 1050m via Vrysse

The Ormalos Plain

Admiring the view from the Pick up Point where we got on the coach each day

Our stop for coffee, buy honey etc at Taverna Gephyra.    The rain soon stopped.  They were slow to produce the coffee but were manning the stall on the opposite side of the road too.

Easter Painted Eggs in the cafe

Orange Tree

Loquat tree

Vrysse Cafe as we drove past

Helen beside the river in Vrysse

The river in Vrysse

A swallow lands under the eaves


Our Coffee Stop cafe. We sat under the trees opposite

Our Group, the waitress ran across the road with coffee.

Wind driven water pump on the river




Spiral Staircase

In the shade

The through road

Off home

Permanent Discussion Group

On the Main Square

Well fed

Catching up on the news

Broadly based

 A Grandma, Vrysse

Vrysse side street

Clive returns to the coach

Looking down the Samarian Gorge (closed that day) We had lunch here.

 A brief roadside stop, where I lost my glasses in 2008 (no sign of them today)

C walks past some goat cropped sessile oaks

Daphne Sericia

Geranium Lucidum

A glimpse of the Omalos plain from the approach road

Reasonable grazing for sheep on the 1050m high plain

Ranunculus ficaria

Anemone coronaria

Omalos plain


Anemone Pink form

Ormalos Pond

Tree Frog by the pond, not a tree in sight

Stoney habitat


Anemones coronaria

Tree Frog (hiding)

Tulipa bakeri

Tulipa bakeri

Tulipa bakeri, the only open one

A new reservoir under construction on the plain.

That evening I had Lamb Stifado  which might mean "hacked to bits"  But the wine goes down well and leaves no hangover

Friday 7th April Vrisses, then the Minoan Slot Tombs at Armenoi, the dunes and an evening meal in Maza

Aerial View of the site

The Olive Grove around the Minoan  tombs

Asphodel aestivus

Cistus salivifolius

Resting between the tombs after lunch which we ate here


Searching for Orchids

Ophrys scolopax

This enlarges!

Ophrys scolopax

Orchis italica

Gagea Graeca


Lupinus albus ssp graecus


C amongst the Asphodels

Star of Bethlehem

Balia robertiana

Ophrys tenthredinifera

Anthemis filicaulis?

Trifolium repens

Ophrys tenthredinifera

Cyclamen creticum

Ophrys scolopax

Blue Pea


Arabis Verna

Ophrys tenthredinifera

Anagallis Arvensis

Ophrys episcopalis

Entrance to a slot tomb

Inside the tomb


Lathyrus annuus

Lathyrus aphaca

Biscutella  Laevigata


Lathyrus cicera


Ophrys scolopax hybrid?

Erodium ciconium or Gruinum

Ophrys scolopax

Ophrys tenthredinifera


Ophrys scolopax



7th April The Dunes

The Dunes

Clive photographing in the dunes

Roadside shrine where we parked

Spotted Pollen Beetle

Yellow horned Poppy

Sea Holly, Eryngium Maritimum

Medicago marina

Silene colorata

Brave swimmers


G paddles


Orobanche ramosa

A poses

Double Oxalis pes caprae

Medicago marina

Rumex bucephalophorus

Sandy Habitat

Galactites tomentosa

Fumaria capreolata

Gynandriris sisyrinchium

Scarlet Pimpernel (anagallis)

Rumex bucephalophorus

Silene colorata

Oxalis pes-caprae curled up

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Mixed Beach Flora

7th April Georgioupoli

Georgioupoli from above

The Quayside still has working  fishing boats


The only bit of street art I saw

Not busy today

Window Box

Curious cat

Central Square

Sleepy dog at the Police Station

Garden Ornaments for sale???

Mending his nets

Solid sofas


Sheep lorry

Inland of the Bridge

D, C & H waiting for ice-cream

7th April The Spring, the Start of Almiros River

Satellite view

The pond, home to lots of ducks


Steven snaps the lizard, the spring, start of the river, is pictured bubbling up beyond

Gaganey Ducks

Lantana camara


More terrapins

Spanish Broom Spartium junceum

Little Ibis

7th April Maza Village for our evening meal

Arriving at Maza for our evening meal,  20 each

Closed houses

Maza Taverna

Getting ready for us

R and S

The old Raki Still

The condenser tank

Where the Raki Still is stoked

Dead car,  there are a lot of empty house in Maza

Curious old lady



Maza Taverna Bar

Yanni and C and puppy

Locals check their smart phones

The Duo played during the meal covered by a whip round later


The Duo

Is  L saying "Naughty!" ?

Learning to Greek Dance: S, Yanni, G and C

Saturday 8th April A free day when we explored Aptera village and attended the 25 year celebration in the evening

White Bryony "springs"

Looking down from the road to the church

The Village Church that broadcast their services on a loud speaker


The road to Souda.

We saw men gathering Mountain Greens from the road verge

The Village shop opens at 10am

Silene Vulgaris

Farm Guard Dog

Our guide round the village, right, and a wheezing guard dog seeing us past

Farm House

Dracunculus vulgaris, about 4ft high

Empty Farmhouse.

We met an old women near-bye collecting snails to eat . Yanni later told us how to prepare them

Monkey Orchid

Coronilla parviflora? pink form.

There were "trees "of water meters dotted around with one meter  for each olive grove

Figure curled up (olive tree bark)

Government Office at village centre. I believe a Wi-Fi server is here, private routers are throughout the village. Cables run along all the main roads

Small Brown Job some way off

Chapel on the road down to Souda

A tired smile on the rock's face


A smart mansion, with a garage in the basement access from behind and down hill

White Mountains In the Clouds

Giant Fennels

Bin Robbers (Most cats have been neutered under a village scheme)

Road back from the Aptera Archaeological site

A cat lady supports many cats and a dog here in the village


The village and our route around

Pure Crete kindly decided to celebrate 25 years of "Crete in Bloom" by having a meal with wine for the Group, with Traditional Greek Dancing at the "Taverna ta Aptera". A pleasant  surprise for Steven and Clive. The dancers worked very hard and encouraged participation!. One later challenging L's boyfriend to a press-up contest

A still from a video of the young dancers, I should have used flash!

The light was low and the dancers later changed out of traditional dress

Sunday 9th April: Imbros Village, along the Imbros Gorge to the Taverna Dionysios in Komitades


Turkish hill top fort beside the road

Out of the coach window.

We stopped in Imbros village for coffee or freshly squeezed orange juice and Sfakian pies, a sort of cheese filled pancake

Trifolium uniflorum

 Iris Tuberosa

Almond Blossom



Anchusa variegata

 Asphodel lutea not quite out

Stone Guard Horse at the entrance kiosk to the11Km long Imbros Gorge.

Picnic Table?

Anthemis filicaulis?

 Ranunculus ficaria, Lesser celandine

Arabis Verna

On our way down the gorge

Saxifraga chrysosplenifolia

The winding path


Arabis Verna

Ricotia cretica

Orchis Lactea

Euphorbia acanthothamnos, Greek Spiny Spurge

Ophrys Lutea

Ophrys tenthredinifera

A headless dancer?

Side of the Gorge

Club Moss on the rock wall

Arisarum vulgare, Monks Cowl

Getting narrower

Olive log


C strides out

Linum arborem,  high on the cliff face

Valeriana asarifolia

"Rock Gate" ? Probably a poor translation.

A cluster of snails

What were they up to?

A.. looks at blue rock.

It was suggested that some of the cobbles were put down by Royal Engineers in 1940

The minimum width of the gorge is about 2m

Salvia fruticosa

A natural arch.

Asphodelus Lutea, fully open as we are lower down

View from the balcony of Taverna Dionysios, our Coffee and Loo Stop, as we waited for those who avoided the Gorge with its rough path.

I tried Bourecki at supper that evening, it was very good

Monday 10th April Spili and on to Phaistos archaeological site

Main Street Spili

Opposite our Cafe

The Spa Spili


G and C try Yoghurt, Fruit and Honey

Local embroidery shop

Various gifts were bought

Long view from the bus

Cafe Society

 Phaistos Archaeological  site



Seats at the forum

A cave with Pythoi


Giant Molded Pythoi

More Drainage

The Church next door

Overview of Phaistos where the Linear A and Linear B disks were found amongst other treasures

Satellite view of Phaistos

Convolvulus elegentissimus

Trifolium stellatum

Ophrys Cretica

Anacamptis pyramidalis


Nosed Grasshopper (look at those thighs)

Gladiolus italicus


Red Pea, Tetrangonolobus purpureus

Pink tipped Ranunculus Asiaticus

Orchis collina

Muscari comosum

Ebenus cretica

Ophrys Cretica


Scorzonera cretica

Echium plantagineum

Snakes Tongue Orchid, Ophrys phryganae

Anchusa italica

Mandrake with its fruit

Gynandriris sisyrinchium

A different Swallowtail (reduced red spot)

Gynandriris sisyrinchium

Bees at Work on Salvia Pomifera



Ophrys Italica

Orchis Laxiflora

Balia Robertiana

Orchis Quadripuctata

The Group Botanising

Coronilla yellow form


Tuesday 11th April  Visit to the Allied War Cemetery, Souda then Hania Town 

Long Horned Beetle

Wild Carrot, Daucus carota

Goat up a tree

Mole Cricket

A local shepherd, he thought he deserved a fee to pose

Early morning rowing practice in Souda Harbour

Acacia another import

A detail

Debris collected from the shore-line


D in the Allied War Cemetery Souda

Dark Clouds

Pallensis spinosa

Lupinus albus ssp graecus



11th April  Hania Town, Agia Reservoir and the Therisso Gorge

Satellite map of Hania

Hania Harbour after our look  at the Cemetery and Yellow Cretan Wagtails

Hania Sea Front

Hania Old Town

A carpet Shop

Red House

Down to the front

Another alley

Enetikon" for a light lunch where we had mixed Cretan Pies (Like Samosas) and cheese croquettes

A pottery shop

Main Square Hania

The Main  Market

Femme Fatale

Turkish Bath, Hammam

The closed Mosque, now a museum

Long view of the front

Harbour view

We explored the Old Town a little, but did not have time to do much

On the sea front



Just fishing

An odd parking spot

Bracket Fungus on a tree at the coach park

11th April  Agia Reservoir

This is primarily a spot for bird watching, but most birds were too far away for my camera

Henbane, Hyoscyamus albus

Red stemmed Euphorbia

Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum besides the reservoir damn

Borago officinalis

A swampy area

Horses tails

Muscovy Duck

Ruined Mill

A huge plane tree in the mill ruins

Gaganey duck.  

We had had drinks and a complementary rose jelly at the Enasma Cafe beside the reservoir

 11th April Therisso Gorge

Map of the Therisso Gorge

Gorge side

Cyclamen Creticum

Rosularia serrata

Carob Tree

Petromarula pinnata

Umbilicus paviflorus

Rusty backed Fern

Therisso Gorge

Sedum rebens


Looking back

Enlargement, NB Goats, enlarges more!

Crepis Auriculifolia

Phlomis Fruticosa

Sheep skull??


Wednesday 12th April  To Spili for Coffee, Shopping and then on to Spili Knoll

Granny bringing the coal in

Spili Old Town

Cretan Pottery for sale


12th April Spili Knoll

Map of the Knoll

Iris Cretensis

Erodium Gruinum


Orchis Laxiflora

Dutchman's Pipe

Aristolachia Cretica

Rose Chafer

Ophrys scolopax

Orchis quadripunctata

Arisarum vulgare

Ophrys Italica


Where the Aristolachia were found

Orchis quadripunctata

The field above Spili

Two forms of Orchis quadripunctata


Ophrys tenthredinifera

Off back to the coach

Ophrys heldreichii

Ophrys episcopalis

Tulipa doerfleri


Ophrys fusca


Orchis lactea

Orchis pauciflora

Ophrys  heldreichii

Ophrys Italica

Ophrys Italica

Orchis pauciflora


Anemone  heldreichii

Orchis Lactea

Iris Tuberosa

Iris Cretensis

Bumblebee Orchids

Bean (broad?)

Iris Tuberosa

Daphne Sericia

Orchis Lactea

Ophris  episcopalis

Orchis Laciniata

Tulipa saxatilis with black stamens

Tulipa doerfleri

 Bee on a Helychrysum Heidreichii



Ophrys tenthredinifera


Thursday 13th April: To  pack and return home

From the Internet

Orobanche Crenata, Bean Broomrape (for Alison)

We saw Cretan Festoon but this from from a previous visit

From the Internet

"Taverna ta Aptera" at night. It serves Cretan village food.

We arrived at Hania airport 2.5 hours before the flight and ate a sandwich lunch.

After a uneventful flight we reached Gatwick on schedule and quickly caught the train to St Albans where a taxi took us home for a meal cooked by Matthew