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Peter Lilja – Crete, Greece

May 25th, 2009 Posted in Southern Europe, Uncategorized

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Hi again, here comes my first blog from my trip to Crete!

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea at 8336 km². It was the centre of the Minoan civilization (ca. 2600–1400 BC), actually the oldest Greek civilization.
The island is extremely mountainous with a high mountain range crossing from east to west, formed by three different groups of mountains - The Lefka Ori (White mountains), and the Idi range (Psiloritis), and the Dikti mountains, Kedros and Thripti.
These mountains gifted Crete with fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi, Omalos and Nidha, and I find a lot of plants in these areas.
At springtime, Crete is a heaven for botanist interested people and also birdwatchers, photographers etc.

The weather was sunny with a blue clear sky when I arrived to the airport in Chania, western Crete.
I called Julia Jones because she knows a lot about the flower situation on the Island. She has a website, www.flowersofcrete.info, and is a great guide when you want to find flowers in Crete.
I drove on the national road to the eastern part of the island. Julia lives in Elounda and recommended me to stay in the small mountain village of Kritsa. This is is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages in Crete built amphitheatrically on a rock hill, named Kastellos.

In the morning Julia and her friend Rosemary, who is a botanist from the UK, picked me up and we drove to the plateau of Katharo. We found a lot of different flowers and Rosemary was very helpful holding my reflectors and diffusers.
A lot of Tulips (Tulipa saxatilis), orchids and a meadow with white Greek chamomile flowers and red crown anemones, really photogenic.

I took a close-up picture of a Goat´s Beard flower and small red mites was running around the flower as red spots.
The evening and night in Kritsa was very noisy because people were celebrating Easter and their tradition is to throw dynamites from the rocks with a lot of heavy explosions.

The next day we continued our search for flowers and found a lot of them. In the evening I continued my trip alone and drove further to the east, and when I passed Pachia Ammos there was a really nice evening light so I rigged my camera on the beach and took some pictures on the church and some pink flowers.
These are called Hotentot Figs and has been planted on the island, it’s native to South Africa and competes with Crete’s natural vegetation, unfortunately.

The next day I went further east and ended up in Vai which is a popular place with a lot of Palm trees on the beach. The eastern part is really dry and not so green as the western part of the island. I went back and had a nice sunset over the coastline near Mirsini. The road between Pachia Ammos and Sitia has a really nice scenery and is one of the most beautiful areas on the island.

I stayed at Mochlos and watched their Easter celebration in the evening. There was a big fire on the beach and a lot of firecrackers and other fireworks.
Up again in the morning crawling around in a meadow when the light was nice, and then I started to drive towards the central parts of Crete. I had a break near Heraklion in a small village called Archanes, close to Knossos which I heard had some orchids and other flowers on the slopes. After some searching I found some flowers and captured some of them with my camera. By the way, the first Greek word that I learnt was ‘Kalimera’. At first I thought everybody was saying ‘camera’ in the morning but after a while I understood that it was Kalimera (good morning) :-)

My expectations were really high when I drove to Spili, quite close to Rethymnon. I had some tip-offs that the hills near Spili had a lot to offer in different flowers and orchids.
There will be more about that in my next blog from Crete, so I will be back blogging again soon…

Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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  1. 8 Responses to “Peter Lilja – Crete, Greece”

  2. By Staffan Widstrand on May 26, 2009

    Wonderful stuff, Peter! You found one of the original tulips! From which all the tulips in our gardens and greenhouses come!


  3. By Julia Jones on May 26, 2009

    Hi Peter, Great photos, as expected. We really enjoyed showing you some of the wonderfully rich flora here in Crete and hope to see you again in early Spring, when there are more orchids than you can imagine.

  4. By Jude on May 26, 2009

    Peter, Such beautiful photos of where I live. I, also, am a friend of Julia’s.
    If you visit my blog you may have to go back a couple of posts to see my attempts of capturing the flora of this wonderful island. I look forward to hearing that you are visiting again soon.

  5. By Niklas och Gabriella Stenlund on May 26, 2009

    Hej Peter!
    Fantastiska bilder. Ser fram emot när du under våren kommer att dokumentera vår fantastiska egendom Myckle 2:44. Man vet aldrig vilken oväntad bild som kan bli en dundersucce :)
    // Gabriella och Niklas

  6. By Eva on May 27, 2009

    Roligt att se lite bilder från Kreta som har mer än sol och bad att erbjuda. Fantastiska blombilder!


  7. By Dionysus on Aug 2, 2010

    Excellent article Peter and great ‘photos. Crete has so much to offer I’ll look forward to your next posts!

  8. By elio de stefani on Aug 10, 2010

    immagini eccellenti!!
    molto la foto dei papaveri!!

  9. By Maria on Oct 29, 2010

    It makes me really proud to see such a nice article about my hometown!

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