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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