Category: Top Crete posts (page 1 of 3)

In the works: ‘Street views’ of Crete’s trekking trails

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This 16-minute videoclip shows several popular hiking routes on Crete being photographed for Google Trekker — a version of the popular Street View feature on Google Maps

 

Crete on foot: Hiking enthusiasts may soon see what Crete’s trekking paths look like without having to take a single step on any of the trails.

The Region of Crete and Google are participating in a project to photograph some of Crete’s major hiking routes for Google Trekker, a version of the company’s popular Street View app that lets people take virtual tours of places from their computers and mobile devices. The Trekker program has an ambitious goal of mapping the world — including out-of-the-way and hard-to-reach places where camera-equipped vehicles can’t travel. Footpaths are filmed by hikers who walk the routes wearing a backpack equipped with Google Trekker photography equipment.

The video above was published on the Region of Crete YouTube page in January, and shows a hiker mapping trails in several areas across the island, including Agia Roumeli, Psiloritis, the Asterousia Mountains, the Lassithi Plateau, and Agios Nikolaos.

 

There were no notes accompanying the video to indicate when the various trails will be available for viewing on Google Maps, but the 16-minute film will be interesting to hikers planning trips to Crete since it shows what the terrain and scenery are like on some of the routes, and gives a good impression of the degree of difficulty on the different trails.

Sifnos, another Greek island that’s popular for trekkers and walkers, already has four of its scenic hiking routes available for viewing on Google Maps, as I reported in my recent post Sifnos: A Walker’s Paradise.

If you’d like to take a virtual trek along some of the Sifnos paths to see what the experience is like, and get an idea of what the Crete Trekker views will be like when they’re available,  click here

Escape to Crete’s exotic Balos beaches and lagoons

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Balos Crete photo 01 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

 Balos Crete photo 02 by Antoine Nikolopoulos

Cape Tigani and the Balos beaches and lagoons in northwest Crete are seen from two different perspectives in beautiful photos shot in early October 2015 by Antoine Nikolopoulos of Odyssey Art Photography

 

Longing for lagoons: I’ve had an insatiable craving for Vitamin Sea and sunshine recently … symptoms, no doubt, of a severe case of midwinter blues. Deep-freeze temperatures here in Toronto most of last week, followed by two days of snowfalls this week, have only made my condition worse. So I’ve been looking at photos and videos of Balos, what I consider to be one of the most sensational beaches in Greece, to take my mind off the cold and snow.

It’s a self-prescribed treatment I call the “Balos boost.” Even though I haven’t yet been to what is widely regarded as the most iconic and most photographed beach on Crete, it always lifts my spirits to see images of this exotic-looking seaside area.  

 

Balos Crete photo from Flickr photostream of Caroline Martinez

It’s dreamy scenes like this, photographed by Flickr member Caroline Martinez, that make me yearn for an escape to Balos.

 

Balos Crete photo by Giannis Fountoulakis

Here’s another image that instantly makes me daydream about going to Balos. This scene, photographed by Giannis Fountoulakis, is just one of two dozen impressive images, all captured by Giannis, that appear in a Balos photo gallery on the website for the Elizabeth Estate Agency in Crete.

 

Why Balos?

Because it has everything I imagine in the Fantasy Island beach of my dreams: alluring shallow lagoons shimmering with more than a dozen different hues of tempting turquoise water; curving ribbons of white sand (pinkish from crushed seashells in some places); visually-striking natural landscapes with steep rust-coloured hills and cliffs, and rugged rocky seashores; marvellous scenery in every direction; and mesmerizing sunset views. All in a rather out-of-the-way location that can be an adventure to reach. 

It’s my personal notion of a Greek island paradise, a place that has “special,” “incomparable” and “wow” written all over it. From what I’ve seen and read, that’s the general impression Balos has made on many people who have been there and seen it with their own eyes. In fact, Balos was ranked as the #3 beach in Greece, and the #11 beach in Europe, in the recently-announced TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for 2016.

 

“A single glance is enough for someone to understand that this is not just a beach but one of nature’s finest masterpieces.” — Elizabeth Estate Agency

 

Balos photo from the Crete island, Greece Facebook page

According to a post about Balos in the Bulgarian-language travel blog My Trips in Pictures, visitors can observe 12 to 17 different shades of turquoise in the Balos lagoons and surrounding sea. A few of the fascinating hues are seen in this photo from the Crete island, Greece Facebook page.

 

Balos photo from Crete island, Greece Facebook page

This photo from the Crete island, Greece Facebook page shows people enjoying the shallow waters of the Balos lagoons with nearby Gramvousa island as an impressive scenic backdrop

 

 

Coming up on the next page, as well as in Part 2 of this post, you’ll see some of my favourite Balos videoclips and photographs — just a sample of the thousands of Balos images that have taken my mind off cold and snow dozens of times so far this winter. I’m sharing them here in case you could use a little Balos boost yourself, wherever you might be.  

I also have gathered links to online travel sites and blog posts that provide even more pictures plus detailed information about the beach, including directions on how to get there, in case you’d like to pay Balos a personal visit this summer or sometime in the future. Consider it a mini guide to Balos, if you will. The only information I don’t include is for hotels, studios or rental villas — you’ll have to research that yourself, but you’ll find links to accommodation resources on most of the websites I mention, as well as in source credits appearing under many of the photographs in my post.

To start off my “escape to Balos” feature, here is a video to help those of you who aren’t already familiar with Balos to get acquainted with its matchless location and sublime setting.

I love watching this film by Žiga Zupančič because it instantly makes me feel like I’m at Balos, basking in the sun, appreciating the grandeur of the landscapes and scenery, and chilling out to the laid-back beach vibe. 

 

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Escape to Balos (Part 2)

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Most of this video by Carlos Torres was filmed on the beaches and in the lagoons, so it gives you a very good impression of what it’s like to be at Balos. The video also includes views from the drive on the dirt road, as well as from the footpath to the beach. 

 

More of Balos — in photos

 

Part 1 of my Balos “escape” post provided information on ways to get to the beach, and described what you’ll find there. Here, in Part 2, I share some of my favourite pictures and videos of the beaches, lagoons and surrounding coast. Many are from Crete-based travel websites, while others have appeared in blogs and on social media sites like Facebook. 

I have included credit lines to indicate where I obtained each photo. However, since so many images are shared without proper attribution on social media nowadays, it’s possible that some photos may not be correctly credited to the proper photographer or copyright holder. If one of your images appears here with incorrect attribution, please let me know and I will be happy to either amend the credit line or remove the image from this post at your request.

Balos photo by Kolory Krety

Photo shared on Facebook by Kolory Krety

 

Please click on the link below to view several videos and over three dozen more beautiful Balos photos on page 2 of this post.

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Views of Vai and Preveli, Crete’s amazing palm grove beaches

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Palmtree forest of Vai beach, by Emmanouil Papadopoulos, will show you what it’s like to gaze out to sea from the shade of a palm tree on the sand 

 

Palm tree paradise: In a recurring daydream, I’m laying on a golden sand beach, looking at a tempting turquoise sea, while the gently swaying fronds of a palm tree shade me from the blazing sun. It’s something I have done on Hawaii and in the Caribbean, but in this particular fantasy I’m on a Greek island vacation.

It’s a dream that could come true for me on Crete, where Vai beach boasts the largest natural palm tree forest in Europe — over 250,000 square meters of Cretan date palms.

Vai is situated near the northeastern tip of Crete, a 30-minute, 24-km drive from the town of Sitia, which I wrote about in my December 23 post, Sitia casts its spell. Once a haven for hippies in the 1970s, Vai is now one of the most popular tourist beaches in eastern Crete.  

 

 

 

It’s not the only scenic beach with a palm tree grove on Crete.  There is a unique palm-tree-lined river lagoon behind Preveli beach on the island’s south-central coast near Plakias (about 43 km south of Rethymno). 

You can find photos and detailed information about Vai beach, including driving directions, on the Explore Crete website.

Photos and helpful information about Preveli beach can be found on the We Love Crete website.

Below are several videos that have led me to picture myself relaxing on a palm tree beach. The first two show Vai, while most of the bottom video shows the Preveli beach area, followed by some views of Vai.

 

Το Βαϊ από ψηλά – Vai palm grove on high is a 6.5-minute aerial video shot by Heraklion-based filmmaker Nikos Sarantos. If features impressive views of the palm forest, as well as the beach, bay, and surrounding coast.

 

The Miracle of Vai is an artistic time-lapse film showing the palm forest and beach from breathtaking day and night perspectives. Shot by Manos Efchetzis, it was compiled from “more than 6,000 images of night and day long exposure photography, taken over a month of photo shooting and edits.”

 

Lake Preveli & Vai, by YouTube contributor milero1000, shows scenes primarily from Preveli lake and beach in southern Crete, but also includes views of Vai during the final minute of the clip

Sitia casts its spell

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Sitia: Discover the authentic Crete is a film released this past summer as part of a promotional campaign for the Municipality of Sitia. It highlights some of the spectacular scenery, charming villages, attractions and activities available in the Sitia region … 

 

while this humorous follow-up video,  Sitia: So hard to say goodbye!, suggests visitors will love Sitia so much, they won’t want to leave.

 

Summer dreams: It’s just two days until Christmas and only the beginning of winter, but this week I have been preoccupied thinking about summer and our next trip to Greece.  We haven’t decided on any destinations yet, but I’ve been scouring websites and watching videos to get inspiration and ideas.

Today’s Internet surfing steered me to websites and videos about Sitia, a fairly modern town in the Lasithi area of eastern Crete.  I’ve heard of it but until today knew next to nothing about it.

My curiosity in the town and its surrounding area was piqued when I learned, on visitsitia.gr, that “Sitia’s hot and dry climate, with 300 days of sunshine annually, mild winters, cool summers and an average temperature of 20,76 C, is the ideal year-round vacation destination.” 

I grew more interested when I read, on the Sitia page from cretetravel.com, that the town is “one of the least ‘touristy’ parts of Crete,” while the Sitia region in general is “uncrowded” and “ideal for exploration.”

And the photos and travel information summaries on the Sitia page of the We Love Crete website made the place look and sound even more appealing, particularly with comments that the town is charming and spotless, has “a wonderful feel,” and offers “lots to see.”

Then I found three videos that really captured my attention and interest.

The two I posted above are promotional films for Sitia, with superb video showing some of the area’s beautiful natural scenery and attractions, as well as vacation activities visitors can enjoy –from shopping and dining to water sports, cycling and rock climbing, to nightlife and more.

The third, which I’ve posted below, is a nearly 9-minute-long film published last month by tripment.net, a travel blog based on short documentaries from destinations around the world. Entitled Ταξίδι στη Σητεία – Κρήτη (Travel to Sitia – Crete), the video shows scores of places visited on a road trip to Sitia and places within short driving distance. The narration accompanying the video is entirely in Greek, but even if you don’t understand a thing the narrator is saying (which was the case for me), you’ll still enjoy the beautiful sights and scenery.

 

Take a short roadtrip to Sitia and it surrounding area in Ταξίδι στη Σητεία – Κρήτη (Travel to Sitia – Crete)

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