Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Astrakiano - Kounaviano Gorges of Karteros... with your dog

7 friends and 4 dogs - gorge walk at Karteros
I'm sad I don't have more photos from this hike we did last autumn. We had 4 dogs with us that day (Sage, Mayia, Betty and Poppy) and they had such a great time chasing each other through the gorge.

We started out from a point just outside the village of Skalani where the two gorges unite and continue to the coast. From here you have two options: to walk down through the Kounaviano Gorge to Karteros Beach; or to head up through the Astrakiano Gorge to the abandoned village of Kato Astraki, near Myrtia. This was the end of summer, 2012, and it was a bit hot for the slightly uphill, difficult, shadeless path from Skalani to Myrtia that we followed. It would probably have been a better choice to walk down to the sea, and figured out in advance a way to get back to the cars.

Anyway, the path started out easy enough, except for the lack of shade. Along the way you can harvest pomegranates, figs and almonds from the trees growing in the gorge. After 1-2km, the path became more difficult; at several points it was necessary to jump over the stream, and I think we lost the path altogether by the end.

We ended up with a long, hot slog uphill on an asphalt road, to reach Myrtia. From there we recovered with cool beers, while some of our group hitch hiked back to Skalani for the cars to take us home.

These gorges are great for hiking, as long as you plan your route according to the temperature and your energy/ability/time. The total length of the gorge is approximately 21km, and there are numerous points of interest along the way, such as caves, water mills, old churches, as well as interesting wildlife. I'd love to go back and do this hike again during winter.

Here's a link to the description of the gorges from the Cretanbeaches website:

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dangers of Crete (2) ...with your dog

Information booklet on Leishmaniosis 
Canine Leishmaniosis

Before traveling with your dog, make sure that you have protected them against all potential risks to their health.

In some areas of Europe (particularly the Mediterranean), there is a preventable disease - Leishmaniosis - that is carried by sandflies. An infected sandfly can transmit the disease to dogs through biting.

There are two types of Leishmaniasis, caused by different species of sandfly: the visceral form that affects internal organs; and the cutaneous form that affects the skin and hair.
The most common early symptoms to look for are loss of appetite, intolerance to exercise, weakness and listlessness.

Most tick and flea collars (Scalibor, Advantix, Frontline etc.) and medicines, also repel sandflies. Check on the packaging or with your vet if you know you will be visiting a country where there is a risk of infection.  

Sandflies are active during warmer seasons, so it is not always necessary for your dog to wear a collar, or to administer flea/sandfly protection, during the winter. However, from early spring onwards, make sure that your dog is protected, and replace collars/repeat applications regularly. Although most collars are water resistant, remove them if your dog is going for a swim or having a bath.

A friend of mine uses a chemical free insect repellent spray on her dog, in addition to the collar, when going out during the evening (when sandflies are most prevalent). She recommends Korres (citronella and myrtle) that is available from most pharmacies in Greece.

You can also try to avoid taking your dog outside from early evening until morning, when these insects are most active.

Finally, there is a vaccination against Leishmaniosis, although this has not proven to be 100% effective and needs further research. It is also quite expensive, and must be administered in doses over time. Do ask the opinion of your vet if you have any queries or concerns.

At present, there is no cure for Leishmaniosis, however the disease can be effectively managed with a simple therapy of drugs, and dogs can go on to lead normal lives

Take your dog to the vet if you notice any unusual behaviour or symptoms, and if you have visited an area where there is a possible risk of Leithmaniosis, be sure to give this information to your vet.

Have a look at this informative Facebook page about the disease:

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Have a rest stop at Spili...with your dog

Venetian lion head fountain at Spili
In the summer of 2012, wherever we were heading, it seemed we made a stop at the mountain village of Spili. We would drive from Heraklion in convoy and meet up with our group at Spili before heading down to the south coast. We would stop to buy last minute provisions at the grocery shop in Spili so as to not have food and drink in the hot car all the way from central Crete. But mostly, we would stop to enjoy the cooler climate of the mountains, to water our dogs, and to take a break from the hot south coast.

Spili is on the road from Rethymnon to Agia Galini on the south coast, just before the turn off for numerous lovely beaches (Preveli, Ligres, Agios Pavlos and many more). Apart from the fountains, there is a large carpark, a few shops selling local handicrafts, a couple of grocery shops, cafes and tavernas. I've sat at several of these cafes with Sage without any problems from the owners. In particular, we came for breakfast at the Panorama Taverna, which overlooks the lion head fountain. Here we sat on the balcony of the Panorama and, the clue is in the name, enjoyed fantastic views of the village and surrounding landscape. 
View of the square at Spili from the Panorama Taverna
There are rent rooms at Spili, and I'm sure it would be a great base for exploring the small neighbouring villages, and the nearby mountain trails. But I love this village as a break from the arid, rocky coast of the south - after a few days of heat and sand, it's wonderful to see flowing water, plane trees and shade. 

There is a website for this village that provides information on the local wildlife, the handicraft museum and life in the village:
On the balcony of the Panorama Taverna, Spili

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Enjoy the peaceful village of Agathia in East Crete...with your dog

Agathia in the 1960s (view from village towards Kastri and Xiona Beach)
 Ok, so it doesn't look exactly like this anymore...
Agathia in 2010 (view from Palaikastro-Xiona Beach road, facing Mt Petsofas)
But it is still a lovely, peaceful village.

I've written a few posts lately about this area of East Crete, so I'm not going to wax lyrical about the changing colours of the mountains as the sun sets, or the amazing contrast of bright blue sea and the silver-green of the endless olive groves...  well, maybe I will, a little.

I love this village for its natural surroundings, but architecturally it's not the prettiest of the Cretan villages. Of the traditional style of architecture, there are a few smaller, single storey houses, one or two crumbling mud brick walls and a small and pretty church.

Cafe-Taverna Anatoli, Agathia
However, there are a couple of good tavernas and raki 'bars', with great views, which have welcomed us with our dogs on several occasions.

The Cafe-Taverna Anatoli is a great, cheap option, serving the Cretan spirit raki with mezedes, and a limited but reasonable selection of meals. This summer we paid just 4€ there for a half litre carafe of wine and a small meze (cheese, olives, tomatoes, cold meats).

I just said I wasn't going to write too much about the views and the surroundings, but I have to. It's the best thing about the Anatoli. From the terrace at the front, you have a truly wonderful view - out over a sea of olive trees, down to the distinctive Kastri mountain at Xiona Beach, and in the other direction, up to Mount Petsofas and the mountains that separate Agathia from Zakros to the south.
View of Kastri from the Anatoli Cafe-Taverna
Mount Petsofas (from the Anatoli)
The owners were very friendly and welcoming when we asked whether we could bring Sage in too, and the other customers spent some time petting her and asking all about her.
On the terrace of the Anatoli Cafe-Taverna

The Anatoli is open throughout the year, but if you are there in winter it may be a good idea to let them know in advance if you are planning to eat there.

The Meltemi Taverna
Moving on, another taverna in Agathia that welcomed us with Sage (my friends also took Garby there), was the Meltemi. This taverna does not have the  wonderful views that the Anatoli does, but the food there is great. I have to say, even though I'm not a fan myself, that their speciality is the traditional Cretan dish - snails.
Garby at the Meltemi, waiting for leftover snails
The Meltemi serves a good variety of food, also fairly reasonably priced. We each paid about 10€ for a  dinner of many small plates - salads, chips, meat, cheeses, and quite a lot of wine.

Staff at the Meltemi were fine about us bringing Sage to dinner with us, under the covered terrace of the taverna.  They told me that they were also open during the winter, and that I could bring Sage inside the taverna, providing that she was well behaved, and we sat out of the way of the other customers.

Sage at the Meltemi
I have also stayed with Sage at Agathia, at the Filoxenia Rent Rooms (see post:

These rent rooms, near the entrance to the village from the road from Palaikastro, are quite spacious, very clean, have private bathroom, fridge and tv, and, most importantly, have balconies with views down to Kastri and beyond to Kouremenos Beach. It's lovely to wake up and have coffee on the balcony, and watch the windsurfers out in the bay.

A final note, this village is a great base if you want to explore the east end of the island. From here you can get to Zakros in less than half an hour, to the palm beach at Vai, to Toplou Monastery and Siteia, not to mention the numerous beautiful and deserted beaches all along this part of the coast. 

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Dangers of Crete (1)...with your dog

Van with hunting dogs 
While Crete is a wonderful place to live and travel with your dog, there are a few things it's best to be aware of, in order to keep your dog safe. Today I want to post about hunting, after seeing at least 3 vans with hunters and their dogs, last weekend while on a nature trail (in Cyprus, yep, happens there too!).

A few weeks ago, while still in Crete, I'd planned to go for a hike up to the mountain Petsofas in East Crete. It was a Sunday in early September. Luckily I had arranged to go with a friend, who gave me a timely warning: it was the first day of the legal hunting season, and the hunters were out in force. We decided to start out on the hike, and see how we felt along the way. Along the road leading to our trail up the mountain, we were passed by 3 or 4 vans, full of excited, barking dogs, at least 4 dogs per van. I struggled to keep Sage calm, and we continued a bit further, down through the olive groves.
As we were nearing the mountain, the barking intensified, and sounded like it was coming from all directions. Looking up, we saw the silhouette of a hunter, with a large rifle, and several hounds running at his side, walking along the ridge of the mountain.

At this point, sitting in a kafeneio with a view of the mountain and a glass of wine seemed like a better idea than risking a run in with a pack of hunting dogs. So that's what we did.

There are official dates for the hunting season each year, which I have not managed to find on-line. I'd appreciate any feedback on this! I found a useful site in English on the hunting laws and restrictions:  The hunting season starts from early September, and continues through the Autumn. Hunting is permitted in designated areas, on 2 days per week - Wednesdays and Sundays.
Van with hunting dogs

I don't want to give any opinion on the ethics of hunting here. I just want to pass on the advice that I have been given to avoid any possible accidents:

  • Where possible, avoid hunting areas during the Autumn, particularly on Wednesdays and Sundays
  • During hunting season wear bright colours if you are out walking in areas of hunting activity
  • Keep your dog on the leash 
  • Try to keep your dog still and calm if you hear hunting dogs close by
  • Be aware that people will hunt in areas of wildlife, despite signs etc that forbid it

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Athens to Crete by ferry... with your dog

I made the mistake of taking Sage for a trip to Athens, by ferry, when she was just a young pup. It was selfish of me, I wanted to celebrate my birthday with friends in Athens, and to show off my beautiful new dog. Arriving at the port in Heraklion, Sage immediately became skittish due to the loud noises and unusual smells of the ships and the sea, the passengers and the cars, the chaos. I had to coax her onto the gangway, amid a crush of people and luggage. Although young, she was a big girl even then, and people were pushing to get out of her way, tutting and looking annoyed. The situation didn't get any better. The dog-friendly area was right at the top of the ferry (this was Minoan Lines by the way), through various cafes and lounges, and up lots and lots of progressively steeper and narrower steps. Even the tried and tested method of holding a biscuit in front of her nose couldn't tempt her up the last few steps. So I had to carry her. And my bags. She was then about 20kgs.

We sat freezing on the deck for a few hours. This was January. Every time I left her to run to the bathroom, or go to buy something warm to drink, she got distressed and started barking uncontrollably. Eventually I put her in the kennels, right at the top of the ferry. These kennels are fairly exposed to the sea winds, especially during a cold January night. By the time I let her out, early next morning, she was freezing cold, frightened and disoriented.

The journey back to Crete was better, as we travelled during the afternoon, but still was not ideal. I haven't done this journey again since then. After spending so much of our time traveling around Crete (and now Cyprus), on all forms of transport, I don't think this ferry journey would bother Sage much these days. But for anyone feeling unsure, I have summarised the experiences and advice of friends of mine who regularly manage long ferry trips to and from Crete...with their dogs.
Mayia on a recent trip from Crete to Athens

Staying on deck with your dog
Sage's friend Mayia is a frequent traveller on ANEK lines ferry Olympic Champion between Crete and Athens. My friends have tried out the various companies and options, and find the Olympic Champion the most convenient for the following reasons:

  • This is one of the cheaper ferries 
  • Staff are quite relaxed about where you sleep (in terms of nodding off in a comfortable chair somewhere - some companies will actually wake you up!) 
  • The kennels at the back of the ferry where you can leave your animal if necessary are relatively clean and not so exposed to the elements as on other ferries
  • Facilities are available for cleaning up after your dog (a water hose and broom near the kennels) 
  • There is a sheltered area of the deck which protects from the weather if you are sleeping outside with your dog

Mayia on deck of the Olympic Champion
This type of ferry travel might not be for everyone, however. My friends stay on deck with Mayia, summer and winter. They make a camp with sleeping bags in the most sheltered area of the deck (dogs are not allowed inside the ferry), and tether Mayia to a table or post to ensure she stays close by.

In this case, your dog travels for free, and the only cost is your own ticket, at the cheapest rate (usually called 'economy' or 'deck').

While this might be fun with a group of friends, every once in a while... maybe... it's more difficult if you are travelling alone, or have any obligations the following day and don't want to arrive exhausted, or simply if you are not that fond of camping outside on ferries!
Dog-friendly cabin 
As she was getting older and frailer, Garby was treated to a night in a dog-friendly cabin at the end of this summer, as my friends travelled back to Athens. They also found ANEK lines to be the cheapest and best option. This option does cost more - I think about 80 Euros more than an ordinary cabin (ie without dog), but it does mean that you get a chance to sleep during the journey, without worrying about your dog.
Garby travelling in style this summer 
My friends kindly reported back to me about their journey. The main difference between the dog-friendly and the normal cabins are the lack of carpets in dog cabins, and the fact that these are clustered together out of the way of the other (sleeping) passengers. Sensible measures!

The website recommends that you book these cabins well in advance (particularly during the busier seasons). I would also say that there are often price deals on these ferries, and it's worth doing some research to find out current deals and promotions.

You may want to carry your dog's blanket or rug, to help them feel more at home in the strange environment of the ferry.

Kennels on deck
I previously wrote about my short journey from Sitia to Heraklion by ferry, and the friends I met on board who were travelling back from Rhodes with their dog Guinness:
My friends would put Guinness into the kennels for short periods of time, so they could sleep for a couple of hours, or go and buy something to eat. Rhodes to Heraklion (or further, the ferry continues on to Athens eventually...) is a long haul - probably too long to camp out on deck! So my friends made sure they were well organised (carrying a water bowl that is almost impossible to spill, for example, and stocking up on food they might need, in order to limit the times they had to keep Guinness in the kennels).
Guinness heading up to the kennels

Guinness was also travelling with ANEK, as there are few companies that run this route. He was travelling for free.

ANEK lines kennels
After the feedback from various friends, I have to say that ANEK does seem to be more dog-friendly than the other options (NOTE: ANEK and Superfast Ferries run some routes as a joint venture, but it is the ANEK-owned ferries, such as Olympic Champion which have proven to be the most convenient for travel with dogs!).

Here you can find some rules and regulations for ferry travel with pets on the various lines operating within Greece:

As a final note, I wanted to write briefly about leaving animals in cars in the garages while on board. I heard of a recent tragedy involving hunting dogs who were left in car trailers in the ships' garage, and were tragically killed. As there are facilities on board, there does not seem to be any reason to risk your dog over-heating, freezing, suffocating from endless car and diesel fumes etc etc. Simply, don't take this risk.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Lunch or dinner at Metohi Village Taverna, Vai... with your dog

Dinner at Metohi Village Taverna with Garby and Sage
When you are visiting East Crete, Metohi Village Taverna is a great place to stop for food. This taverna is a well-kept secret, hidden away off the road between Palaikastro and Vai, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

We went there for dinner this summer, with our two dogs - Garby and Sage. They owners were very welcoming. We sat outside, on the lower terrace of the taverna, with plenty of space so as not to disturb other customers.

Metohi serves a variety of dishes, and specialises in good quality, locally sourced meat. I'm not a liver fan, but my friends assure me this is one of the best places to eat liver in Crete. We ordered up a feast - slow-cooked lamb, liver, an enormous salad from vegetables grown locally, various mezedes, much more than the four of us could eat. The prices are also very reasonable; we paid about 15€ per person.

This place is usually fairly busy at lunchtimes during the summer, but you can always find a quiet corner to sit comfortably with your dog. It makes a nice change from eating out at the busier tavernas in the square at Palaikastro, or at the beach at Kouremenos, and provides a good escape from the crowds. The surrounding countryside is extremely wild and arid, which makes the Metohi seem like a welcome oasis. It's a great place to stop on the way back from a visit to the beautiful palm beach at Vai (or the smaller, more dog-friendly beaches beyond the sand dunes at Vai).

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Losing a friend

Garby in her favourite spot for travelling
I just received the sad news that our lovely friend Garby passed away. Since she has featured in quite a few of my posts, I wanted to share this news here.

Garby was just a pup when she was found abandoned in the garbage (hence the name). She was adopted by some friends of mine, and spent 12 happy years, travelling between her home in Athens, and her 'summer home' in Palaikastro, Crete. She became an important part of our team at the excavations there, galloping around the dig house and garden when she was young, lying in her basket in our workroom when she got older, and always following my friends. Whatever job they were doing, Garby would be there too.
A few years ago on a camping trip
She was very sweet natured, quiet and calm (at least when she was older), and became good friends with my Sage. This summer, especially, we had lots of trips out with Garby - to tavernas, to the beach, the excavation.

It's going to be a different, sad place next summer, without our friend Garby.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Explore the spectacular coastline beyond Hiona Beach... with your dog

On the coastal road behind Hiona Beach, with Mount Petsofas in the background
I spend a lot of time at Palaikastro, working for the excavations of the Bronze Age settlement which lies at the foot of Mount Petsofas, just beyond Hiona Beach. This area is breathtakingly beautiful. Due to the so-called 'Alpha Zone' which surrounds archaeological sites, building is restricted in this area. It is also fairly inaccessible, except by 4x4, again restricting development of this stark coastal strip. With the exception of a couple of shepherd huts and some abandoned lime kilns, there is nothing man-made as far as the eye can see. 

I love exploring this coastline, finding small coves for swimming, looking for evidence of Minoan civilisation (walls and pot sherds can be seen all over as the coast slowly erodes), and just sitting enjoying being absolutely in the middle of nowhere...with my dog. 

However, I am going to have to be a bit careful with this post for several reasons. For a start, there are signs forbidding dogs on both Hiona Beach, and the smaller coves to the South-east. I have been there, often, for an evening swim with Sage, but I feel I can't exactly recommend a beach that specifically states that dogs are not allowed. A dirt road runs behind Xiona Beach, passed the small coves, and continues up and around the coast to Skinias Beach. Along this path you can access the sea at various points, including some smooth limestone plaques that slope gently to the water, with overhanging rock for shade, and tiny deserted beaches. 

"No Dogs" sign at small coves at Hiona Beach
Secondly, I absolutely recommend stopping to visit the wonderful archaeological site of Palaikastro, although this is not a dog-friendly activity - please leave dogs outside the site as the remains are fragile and in need of preservation. 

This site is free of charge and always open to visitors. Information boards provide basic descriptions of the various buildings that have been excavated and you can see some of the wealth of finds, including the unique gold and ivory statuette of a (presumed) worshipper, in the museum at Siteia. However, I believe that the best thing about this site is its location. It is a very romantic area, especially in the early evening when the hills behind the site turn yellow and pink. I think it is fairly easy to see why the Minoans would have chosen this place to live, with access to the sea, a nearby river, coastal plains for crops. 

The Minaon site at Palaikastro
My final hesitation with this post is due to a rumour I heard this year about planned development of this coastline. There is talk of a deluxe golf resort somewhere along the path between Hiona and Skinias. I feel a bit divided on this one. 
On the one hand, it is a long stretch of coast, and a well planned, discreetly constructed resort that brings the economic benefits of tourism to the area has to be a good thing.  
On the other hand, this stretch of coast is fantastic for its stark emptiness. It's this sense of complete isolation and being in the middle of nowhere that makes it so special. With the construction of a resort, and new roads to access a new resort, I worry that this special place would lose something.
The road beyond Hiona Beach 
As well as wandering along this coastal path, you can climb the steep but relatively easy path up to the Minoan peak sanctuary at Petsofas (to be described in a later post). From here you have truly spectacular views of the coast, almost as far as Zakros, and the fertile plains between Palaikastro village and Kastri down by the sea.

You can also follow small tracks (mostly signposted) to the small Karoumes Beach, and even further on to Kato Zakros. These paths take you winding through mountains and olive groves, and really give a sense of escape from the well-trodden tourist routes. They do require a bit of care however - carry water with you, wear suitable shoes, and time your hike to avoid excessive heat.

This area is best explored with a picnic, plenty of time, and, of course, your dog!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Dinner at Finistrini Taverna, Palaikastro... with your dog

Dinner at Finistrini Taverna with Garbi and Sage
My poor friends didn't realise I had ulterior motives when I suggested dinner at the lovely Finistrini Taverna, just off the square in the village of Palaikastro. The waiters had barely brought out the bread and cutlery when I started embarrassing them by wandering about the taverna, trying to take photos of our two dogs from different angles. Their dog, Garbi, is not so used to modelling as Sage, and kept hiding under our table, which just meant I had to take even more shots to try to get them both in the frame...
We went to Finistrini in mid September. There taverna was busy, but not so full that we couldn't find a table to sit out of the way of other customers with our dogs. Everybody was fine about the dogs being there, both staff and the other customers, and the couple next to us quite fell in love with Sage.

Finistrini serves traditional Cretan cuisine, but sets itself apart from the others through presentation. We ordered a lot of food -fava, cheese pie, aubergine with cheese and tomato, salad, grilled meat - and each came out beautifully prepared (and tasty) on long narrow, or small square dishes.

The decor is interesting too. They have used shells and netting for decoration, and managed not to look like a seaside tourist shop.

This taverna is usually a bit quieter than those on the square itself, which means it's maybe not quite so good for people watching, but is a lovely place to have a quiet meal and good conversation, with or without your dog.

Have a look here at the description on Sitia Life:
They also have a Facebook page:

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Free-camping at Tertsa Beach... with your dog

On the beach at Tertsa 
For a break from writing about the easternmost tip of Crete, I thought I'd write about this small haven on the south coast, near Ierapetra. I first visited the area of Myrtos and Tertsa five or six years ago. Since then, I've gone back almost every year. Despite basically consisting of small tavernas and mini-markets, Myrtos has stayed small, quiet and isolated, and I love the 'sleepy' village feel. There are several good places to eat and drink there, and the beach is long and sandy. There are a few small hotels and apartments to rent, but I haven't stayed here with my dog. I'll update this post if I find dog-friendly accommodation at Myrtos.

If you continue on down the unmade, but manageable road to the west of Myrtos, next to the beach, you come to Tertsa, which is even quieter and sleepier than Myrtos. We have found this to be an easy place to spend time at the beach with our 4-legged friends.

Tertsa Beach
A couple of years ago, we came here with a small group of friends, and quietly pitched tents to the east of the beach, under some tamarisk trees. I don't remember exactly what time of year it was, late summer I think. Nobody caused any problems about either the camping, or the two dogs (Mayia was camping too).
A younger looking Mayia on the beach at Tertsa (still a pup)
Sage and Mayia had been playing all evening on the beach, always returning to sit close by, before running off again to chase shadows and chew on sticks - doing their thing.

This was back in the early days of camping with Sage, and, I don't know, I suppose I was braver then. After a lovely evening star gazing and chatting with friends, we climbed into our tents, and I left Sage free to roam the beach. I can't believe I did that now.

I woke up early with the morning sun, and crawled out of my tent, to find an empty beach. No Sage. It's not a particularly long beach, but as we were camped at one end, I had a view of the whole bay... with no signs of a big, young, black dog anywhere.

I didn't want to start shouting and wake up my friends, so I began running up and down the beach, doing a kind of half whisper-half shout. I don't know how many of you readers have had the experience of losing, or temporarily not finding your dog, but it is a truly awful feeling. I don't know how many times I ran up and down the beach, before I found her, sheepishly licking her lips, in one of the small (empty) beach bars at the far end of the beach.
The rest of the day was spent sitting in the shade of the tents and the trees, swimming and playing with the dogs. We had lunch on the terrace of Lambros Taverna, which is in the centre of the village, overlooking the beach. The 'decking' area of the taverna, right above the beach, is a great place to sit and eat, while keeping your dog out of the way of other customers. They serve a good range of traditional Cretan cuisine - fava, salads, grilled meat and fish, fasolakia (green beans in a tomato sauce) etc.
Have a look at their Facebook page:

We also made a stop at Tertsa last summer, while on our way back to central Crete from the east. Driving west from Siteia along the south road takes longer than the national 'highway' in the north, but it's nice to see some different sites and change the route if you have time. A lot of the south coast in this part of Crete is a bit busy, such as the tourist resort of Makrigialos, so I would definitely recommend pushing on to Myrtos or Tertsa if you are travelling with your dog.

There are two very important Minoan sites in the area of Myrtos: one from the beach road towards Tertsa, called Myrtos Fournou Korifi, provides significant information on the early phases of the Bronze Age in Crete; the second near the entrance to the village of Myrtos, by the bridge, Myrtos Pyrgos, has yielded some exquisite finds (mostly in display in the museum at Agios Nikolaos), and provides an insight into life in a wealthy Middle-Late Minoan settlement.

Both these sites are open to the public, without tickets. As both sites are in need of site conservation and information, they can be a bit underwhelming and confusing if visited without a guide or, at least, a good informative guidebook. It goes without saying that these important sites should be treated with respect to the remaining archaeology, and that dogs should be left outside.

By the excavators:
Peter Warren: Myrtos: An Early Bronze Age Settlement in Crete. (B.S.A. Supplementary Volume 7.)  London: Thames and Hudson, 1972
Cadogan, Gerald. 1977-78. “Pyrgos, Crete, 1970-7” in Archaeological Reports ( Archaeology in Greece): 70-84. 2007

Useful on-line info about the sites:

Mayia using Sage as a pillow, on the journey home from Tertsa

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