Some weekends we wake up and we both have the itch to explore more of the island in “short trip” style. So, we set our sights on destinations within an 8 hour day roundtrip allowing enough time for the typical long Greek lunch. “Where should we explore today?” – the million dollar question. One Saturday in May we set off with two other friends to check out three mountain villages: Margarites, famous for its pottery, Argiroupolis, famous for its springs, and Lappa, famous for its ancient necropolis and avocado products.
First stop…Margarites. Our personal favorite shop is Keramion, owned by the potter, George Dalamvelas, whose expert touch and dedication to tradition merges to produce some of the most interesting pottery in the area. George and his family also provide visitors with demonstrations and classes in local ceramic art. Much of his art includes reproductive pieces fashioned after archeological finds dating back to the Minoan period. Everything – from the beautiful to the functional to the just plain whimsical – can be found in his neat little workshop.
Every Greek village has an interesting variety of photo ops:
After we’d purchased more than we could comfortably carry, we headed out to Argiroupolis for lunch by the water.
The area of Argiroupolis is a good example of the diversity of ecosystems in Crete. Most of the island is typical of the dry, Meditterenean terrain. But Argiroupolis is in a spectacular wooded setting where water from the hill above gushes in every direction cascading down into creeks and waterfalls. The tavernas have all incorporated the abundance of water into their landscaping and the sound is so loud that it’s sometimes hard to hear one another over lunch.
There is an abundance of vegetation including giant chestnut and plane trees as well as banana plants.
And of course, there are the fish, which you are invited to pick out for your dinner.
After an abundant lunch, we finished our day in the village of Lappa. The ancient Dorian city has been excavated to reveal a wealth of grave goods (200-300 b.c.), Roman mosaic flooring, and a 17th century Venetian church.
Interesting story…Lappa fiercely opposed the Roman invasion in 67 B.C. and was destroyed. But when it came to the aid of Roman emperor, Octavian-Augustus’ struggle against Antony for control of the Roman world, the victorious emperor rebuilt Lappa and gifted them with a water reservoir in 27 B.C. that STILL supplies the village today.
At the end of the day, we were a little fatter, a little poorer, a little tired and a lot satisfied with the rich experience of exploring internal Crete.