Our Greek Villa Villa Kalithea
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Sightseeing trip in the mountains south of Chania in north-west Crete

During our Greek Villa Holiday in Crete in October 2006, we decided to have a sightseeing day out around the Therisso Gorge in the mountains just south of Chania. The scenery turned out to be fantastic and we had a lovely surprise when we visited the church at Meskla - a small village between Therisso and Fournes.

The scenic route we took (Mournies to Therisso to Meskla to Fournes to Episkopi):

We travelled from our villa along the "main road" towards Chania and turned off near Mournies along the scenic route through the mountains to Therisso. We were immediately struck by the green countryside, characterised by an abundance of Chestnut trees (a change from the more typical Olive trees) and meandering riverbeds. These were surprisingly dry considering the heavy rains that occurred the week before, although it was easy to see the 'high water marks' and debris that is clearly swept down when the water flows down from the mountains. There were many lovely paths that, had we had more time, we would have loved to walk.

The road from Mournies to Therisso One of the many paths for walking on the road to Therisso
The road from Mournies to Therisso One of the many paths for walking on the road to Therisso

Therisso Gorge:

The drive through the gorge was fantastic - the road is relatively narrow, with the river flowing right beside - sometimes on the right and then flowing under the road and appearing again on the left, with vertical cliffs rising up in many places with fascinating often multi-coloured brown and orange strata. Goats were often to be seen in the usual 'impossible' places!

The Therisso Gorge
The Therisso Gorge

As we wound our way towards Therisso, we came across a large flock of sheep on the road. While we drove gingerly forward, we were surprised to see coming up fast behind us a 'road train' taking holiday-makers on the way to Therisso - this soon had the sheep parting down the middle and making a narrow path for us to 'overtake' them.

Sheep on the Therisso Road Therisso and the 'road_trains from Platanias
A large flock of sheep on the Therisso Road Therisso and the 'road trains' from Platanias

Therisso:

Therisso is the hometown of the mother of Eleftherios Venizelos who became leader of the Liberal Party in Crete, took a prominent role in 1896 in the Cretan rising against Turkish rule and in 1905 became the island's first independent prime minister. There is a memorial to him in the village square near the church. Across from the church is a massive Platan (Plane) tree - must have been there for years to get a trunk this size! (We're told that the area of Platanias derives its name from this tree species). There is also a small war museum on the road up to the village although this was closed when we visited.

Eleftherios Venizelos memorial Giant Platan tree at Therisso
Eleftherios Venizelos memorial Giant Platan (Plane) tree at Therisso

Therisso to Meskla:

The road from Therisso to Meskla provides oustanding views across the mountains and valleys of this beautiful part of Crete. We stopped by the side of the road near a vineyard for a picnic and watched Cretan buzzards circling for food.

The mountains and valleys near Meskla
The mountains and valleys near Meskla

At Meskla itself, we stopped to look in the church and spoke to Vengalis (or should we call him Michael Angelo ?) who was painting the interior. He has been painting for 7 years (with two years to go before he's finished!!) - and what beautiful paintings he has created. Our photos scarcely do them justice, but perhaps this one provides a hint of his craftsmanship and may encourage you to visit to see for yourself:

Inside the church at Meskla
Inside the church at Meskla

On the way back, we decided to give the ford across the river a miss - although two local lads in a 4 x 4 made it through while we looked on expecting them to get stuck at any time! Still, it looked very pretty - reminding us in fact of parts of England. We decided instead to take the 'high road' further back in the village to Fournes and Episkopi where we stopped for a delicious glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. We then headed back to the villa, to be treated to yet another lovely sunset after a really enjoyable scenic day trip in this lovely green and mountainous part of Crete.

The ford across the river at Meskla Sunset at Villa Kalithea
The ford across the river at Meskla Sunset back at Villa Kalithea later that evening





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