"Plakias & the southeast" Plakias by ghislain69
Plakias Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 16 photos
Each area of Crete has its own special charm and character but in our opinion the South West coast has some of the most dramatic and haunting history and scenery. Approaching the south from Rethimnon the gentle fertile hillsides make way to an altogether more rugged terrain. Passing through the short but stunning Kourtalioti gorge, you emerge to an amazing vista of mountain, sea and coastal plain. Here most visitors head down to the established little coastal resort of Plakias, with its beaches, tavernas and shops. Just above Plakias is the village of Myrthios, where the locals still outnumber the tourists and its friendly tavernas and perfect panoramas make it an ideal place to stay.
Westwards from here the serpentine road skirts the coast, each bend seeming to reveal an even better view, and passes through villages where shepherds mind their sheep and goats between visits to the coffee shop and black clad women gossip on doorsteps. From Rothakino, one of the prettiest villages, a track leads down, past a small house where fresh cheeses are usually drying on the roof, to a large beach with a few scattered tavernas. What is now a delightful lunch stop was where a British submarine once crept in to smuggle away General Kreipe who was dramatically kidnapped by the partisans during the German occupation.
Continuing further along the coast the road dips toward Frangokastello where, in addition to splendid beaches backed by impressive sand dunes, the shell of a medieval castle, built to deter raiding pirates, stand squarely on the shoreline. Legend has it that on the 17th of May each year the 'drossilites', ghosts of massacred nineteenth century warriors emerge from the castle and disappear into the sea. Still further along the coast, past the foot of the scenic Imbros Gorge, is Hora Sfakion, famous for the fiercest fighters in all of Crete, where mustachioed locals still proudly wear their traditional black shirts and high leather boots. Today Hora Sfakion springs to life in the late afternoon as the ferry-boats arrive returning weary walkers from their trek down the Samaria Gorge to their waiting coaches.
Venturing eastwards from Myrthios is no less rewarding for the explorer. A short drive brings you to Moni Preveli, still a working monastery, perched evocatively above the coastline and made famous as a refuge for stranded allied soldiers during the Second World War. Below this where the ravine meets the sea is another hidden sandy beach.
The road then turns inland for a while and emerges back at the coast at Agia Galini a laid-back fishing port and small resort and more good beaches. Further west along the fertile Messara plain is the important Minoan Palace of Phaestos and the ancient site of Gortys, both a must for those with even a passing interest in archaeology. After this it's not far to the beach at Matala, famous for its caves colonised by international hippies in the 1960s. An inland diversion through the timeless villages of the idyllic Amari valley is equally rewarding and makes a wonderful contrast for the return journey.
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