Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Crete - The 4 x 4 Safari

Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure

'Travel broadens the mind' is one of my favourite quotes and it never fails to amaze me at how true it is. Reading about a destination will never be as magical and eye opening as actually being there in person to see, smell and touch the different environment and culture.

In 2016 me and my husband ventured over to the lovely Greek island of Crete for 2 weeks as a pre family holiday. We were out there in May as the temperature is warm enough to lounge by the pool, but not hot enough to spend all day hiding from the sun. If like me, you enjoy having something to do as well as naff all on some days of your holiday, Crete will certainly tick some of your boxes.

I have a couple of excursions I can talk you through if you're heading off to Crete, which I'll write up separately otherwise you'll be reading solidly for AGES! So today I've got snaps and inside knowledge of the 4 x 4 adventure through the Cretan mountains. 

Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure

The Safari Club in Crete offers a variety of different routes of 4 x4 safaris, depending on where you are staying on the island. The route I can show you is the Minoan Route.
Before setting off on your adventure let me put your mind at ease ... firstly the 4 x 4s have a roof so don't worry if like me you end up going on your trip on a very British day. Also the safari tours are done in such a way that when you book your place you will be put in a group who speak the same language as you.
Setting off in a small group of up to 8 tourists, the first port of call on the Minoan Route is the Potamies Reservoir. Also known as the site for the forgotten, or sunken, village this reservoir was built to defend a church and the village of Sfendile was left to perish. Not quite as Pompeii sounding as you might think. The people were evacuated from the village which is still seen today, but partially submerged.
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 AdventureBlooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure

If you love goats you are in for a huge treat! Travelling up through the Cretan mountains you will see hardly anyone around except for some birds of prey and goats climbing trees. Yes, you read that correctly. Goats, in trees.
Some of the tracks can get a little tight round the sides, but don't worry, the drivers are very experienced on these routes and you are in good hands. Something perhaps a little disconcerting but worth knowing as part of the Cretan culture .. along the roads you may sometimes see a small shrine at the which looks like a church. Normally fitted with a photograph, a sentimental object and an image of a named saint, these shrines actually depict where someone has died. Quite sad, but a nice momento to see as you go on your journey.
On a lighter note, as you travel through the mountains you do get a bathroom break! In Crete you may find that any kind of 'break' will resort in the consumption of some raki. What's raki? It's an alcoholic spirit which is made of the remnants of grapes after they have been used to produce wine. This stuff can be hairy and the idea is to sip it and not down it. Really good to aid your digestive system, raki can be flavoured or plain and the locals hand it out at pretty much any occasion.
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure

As a major highlight of the 4 x4 safari, the one payable fee on the trip is entrance into Zeus' Cave. This historical site is unfortunately at the top of quite a climb. There are two routes up there, one being quite slanted and moderately okay ... the other being staggered, rocky and utterly exhausting. Guess which route we picked?
On arrival at the historical site, perhaps a little out of breath, the entrance fee is 6 Euros and you get even more exercise by going down then back up a series of around 200 steps. However, the view inside is completely worth it. In case you're wondering ... the photograph taken inside the cave has no filter. It is actually green.
For anyone interested in mythology, this would be a fab side trip on the safari, as legend has it that Zeus was actually born here. In addition to the obvious historical importance to the Greek people, the cave also features an impressive arrangement of stalagmites and stalactites.    
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure

Enjoying a well earned rest from the comfort of the 4 x 4, your driver takes you around the Lassithi Plateau, which looks like the rolling British countryside .. but flat. Just in the distance in the latter photo, you can just see the various fields. The trek through here feels unchartered but it's incredibly interesting as your guide talks you through various plants etc. including some familiar herbs. 
However, the sun arrived hooray! And what a time for it to appear. There are some staggering views of the island throughout the journey but the photo above has to be my favourite. The small winding roads are made suddenly worthwhile just to see something like that.
Also on route, an interesting fact from the second world war. Is that the monuments in the photograph were actually mistaken for defences and then evidently bombed heavily. But any ideas what they actually are? Windmills. Well .. they were. Once.
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure
Blooming Fiction, lifestyle blog, The Crete Experience - The 4 x 4 Adventure


The last stop on the Minoan Route is a pretty village called Krassi. This village is particularly known for homing quite possibly Europe's oldest tree. At around 2,000 years old, the plane tree is absolutely ginormous. Any photograph will not do it justice.

While in the village you can also see some ancient washing facilities which were implanted by the Venetians. Made of stone, these blocks will certainly have taken longer to do your laundry than your washing machine today.

And that's it!

The 4 x 4 safari adventure is well worth doing if you like exploring different countries and it doesn't cost the Earth either. It's more than likely that you can book this tour via your hotel, but for more info and booking opportunities you can hop through the link below.

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If you need help packing your hand luggage, read my post telling you everything you need to know from locks to weight restrictions.

 

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