Cretan Journeys: A Venetian Escape
History and nature combine to create deep magic, when two of Crete’s most ecologically committed hosts offer a unique experience for the traveler like MIKE SWEET who searches for more than ordinary fare.
It’s a short drive from Chania into the natural beauty of the Armenoi district, and a relief to be away from the kitsch of Chania’s old town, which at this time of year attracts the first streams of this year’s tourist swarms to western Crete.
They mill through the alleyways, past the shops selling ‘Miss Kitty’ towels and the other globalised tat that blights this and other popular tourist destinations.
They search for something picturesque, ancient, serene. Perhaps some feel they have found it here, but discerning travelers will find far more rewarding experiences to be had close by.
Thirty minutes away, turning south off the national road to Rethymo at Megala Chorafia, you are thankfully, in another world.
The road to the village of Maheri weaves through groves of avocados, oranges and olives, as it rises into the foothills of the majestic White Mountains in the distance.
A hairpin bend in at the end of small valley leads up to Maheri, and on the one road upon which the village sits, Roula Kastrinaki, creator of Kamares is outside to greet new arrivals.
Kastrinaki, originally from Chania, began work on Kamares 20 years ago with Costas Papadomanolisakis whose family has lived in Maheri for generations.
The simple terracotta stone houses comprise five apartments and three villas overlooking the serenely peaceful plain of Apokorona.
In the distance the Ottoman castle of Koules looks out towards Souda Bay.
Swallows glide and swoop, darting into a nest in the Kamares kitchen. Below in the Kamares gardens, organic fruits and vegetables of every kind provide the ingredients for most of the meals prepared.
Last year Kastrinaki was persuaded to run as the Green party candidate in the local elections.
Though New Democracy won, many electors warmed to her message.
Roula however points out that she has no major ambitions to be a politician, preferring the role of citizen campaigner for change.
In November, Kastrinaki will be involved in a new environmental project aimed at protecting the unique marine eco-system that exists between the islands of Gavdos and Gavdopoula, south of Crete.
A kindred spirit, Manolis Kindelis owns and manages a farm 3kms south west of Chania that his grandfather bought in the 1900s.
Built more than 350 years ago, Metohi Kindelis is today a working organic fruit farm of 3.5 hectares.
Kindelis remembers visiting the farm as a child when it produced mandarins and olives.
Today the organic orchards grow strawberries, nectarines, apricots, pomegranates, oranges, and grapes, mostly for the Crete market.
The large stone Venetian farmhouse, with an inner pebbled courtyard and dwellings (where farm workers and their families once lived), has been converted into simple but superb accommodation.
Look out of the tall windows of the Kynthia guestroom to the courtyard below and it’s Tuscany that you see.
Inside, high ceilings, period furniture, a fridge stacked with organic delicacies, and hidden in an antique Chinese armoire, a CD player with Manolis’ eclectic mix of jazz, classical and new age titles.
This is no formulaic five star experience. Here imagination and sensitivity ensure that the farmhouse remains true to its origins, while just the right creature comforts are on hand.
Perhaps the real magic of these special life-enriching places is that a kind of alchemy has taken place.
The history of the simple village of Maheri, its traditions, its lore of the land, and its relationship to nature has been re-cast.
No less so, at the Kindelis family’s ancient farm. Manolis Kindelis and Roula Kastrinaki share an understanding of life and nature. It’s a vision as rich and healthy as the elixir-like olive oil made at Kamares, and the succulent fruit of Metohi Kindelis.
Kamares Houses, Metohi Kindelis and other special places are represented on Crete by Diktynna Travel, Chania. Contact Maria Mylonaki at firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings and further information.
Europrent Car Hire offers some of the best deals in Chania for car hire. Contact Europrent at: email@example.com
- Register Now
- Fans make the Wanderers a good investment
- Do it like the Greeks says German consul
- Turkey condemns NSW's genocide recognition
- Tailor made coffee
- Mykonos: Something to 'Crowe' about
- Sisterly love to the end
- Greek shipowners choose Chinese shipyards
- Greek community pays tribute to Hazel Hawke
- Fitch upgrades Greece's credit rating
- Recognising genocide
- 8 May 2013 | 13 Votes
- 3 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 15 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 13 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 8 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 24 Apr 2013 | 6 Votes
More from this Section
Greek Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) found that 25.6 percent of businesses and individuals whose books were checked for tax infringements were found to be in violation
Local and international artists that express Greek themes and ideas through their art will be showcased at the Colours of Greece on Parade, held by Festival Hellenika.
In Mykonos with her family, Kim Kardashian has slammed claims she was unhappy during her holiday in Greece
An anti-racism bill aimed at reining in the ultra-right Golden Dawn party by imposing tougher penalties on the incitement of racist violence has caused a major rift
AEK Athens said it was preparing to declare bankruptcy and seek relegation to the third division
In this week's column, Mark Bouris discusses how women's retirement plans are derailed when they get divorced
Immigration Minister says negotiations continue for the long-awaited Working Holiday Visa
A dancer for more than 15 years, 20-year-old Natalie Marinopoulos will shine in the world's first amateur production of the famous musical, The Phantom Of The Opera
16 metres higher than Nonda Katsalidis' Australia 108 building, reported plans for 555 Collins Street are raising eyebrows
Telling stories through a lens has become a life's work for artist Ellenor Argyropoulos, and has placed her in the finals of Tourism Australia's best job
Miron Bleiberg steps in as interim coach, following the departure of the 'club boy' Bill Theodoropoulos
The ratings agency believes the country has stabilised and moved its rating up to B-
A Greek Australian part of the trucking company at the centre of the alleged fraud, Viking Group, was involved in the 'severe bashing'.
NSW government donated of $29,450 to the Greek Orthodox Parish and Community of the Holy Apostles
University Entrance Exams begin today after Greek teachers call off strike
The new law overturns what had been a guarantee of a job for life for workers in Greece's notoriously bloated civil service.
The plight of migrants in the fields of Greece
The Australian Embassy in Athens marked Anzac Day by laying wreaths at the Australian Memorial Moudros Harbour