Last Christmas we were dog-sitting for a friend of mine. Sage and Mayia happen to be best friends, and we needed a place to stay, so this arrangement suited us all. After eating and drinking too much for several days, we decided we all needed a good long walk up a mountain. We went to Stroumboulas Mountain, near Tylissos, a short drive west from Heraklion.
We drove around to the village of Marathos, and found a dirt road leading to a closed taverna, where we left the car. Then we followed a clear track between a couple of fields of olive trees, at the base of the mountain. The path leading up was fairly visible, even from below, although I don't think it was marked.
|Taking a rest in a small man made enclosure with both dogs|
Needless to say, the girls loved it. Mayia was off the second we hit the mountain slopes, and we'd see glimpses of the white of her tail way up ahead of us, or small ears popping up to check we were still in range.
|Mayia during the hike|
Sage was particularly interested in whatever the goats had left behind. Mayia was just enjoying exploring.
The views from the top are really special. From one side you can see Heraklion, the sea, fields of olive trees. From all other directions you see mountains, stretching off into the distance. As it was winter there was snow on some of the higher peaks - this usually lasts until sometime in May.
We passed a couple of hikers on our way back down, but for the 2 or so hours it took us to climb up, to explore and enjoy the views, we didn't see another person. We had the whole panorama to ourselves. It is really a beautiful place.
|Views from near the top of Stroumboulas|
Sage was exhausted once we reached the top, Mayia seemed fine and didn't stop moving around the whole time we were up there. I think this is a perfect walk for a sunny day in winter. During the summer months, this is probably better attempted in the morning or evening, as there was no shade on the way up or at the top. As this is not an organised route, don't expect to find water sources or bins.
On the way home, we stopped at the nearest taverna - "Doxa". This was on the road just out of Marathos heading for Heraklion, by the Doxa cave. Here the food was good, and we were seriously hungry after the hike. We ordered pork chops, lamb ribs, plus chips and salad and a beer, and this all came to around 25E, which isn't bad. On the downside, we had to sit outside with the two dogs as inside was full of families and day-trippers. It was freezing outside, and I got the feeling the guy serving us would have preferred to stay inside. Another group turned up with a dog and had to leave as they didn't feel like eating outside in the cold mountain wind. So probably not the best spot in the area for dining with dogs.
|The girls when we got home from our hike up Stroumboulas|
Some friends of mine also climbed Stroumboulas, but from the other side. If you follow the old road towards Rethymnon from Heraklion, pass the Voulismeno Aloni (a crater with diameter of 100m), after about 1km there is an unmarked dirt road off to the left, leading up to the peak.
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