I was giving a vivid description about my latest trip to the Island Spinalonga, and in return, she (a member of the resort staff with Swedish origin) told me her recent trip to Kalami, a small coastal village about 10 km´s distance from Chania town. The village was also named “The ghost town” as the residents left the town in such a hurry or panic for some reasons which still remain unclear today. It was fascinating to see what were left behind, the untidied beds in abandoned houses, unwashed plates spreading on the table, the old fashioned televisions. After going though the pictures she took during the tour, I wanted to see the place and explore the mystery myself.
I told my plan to one of the staff at the reception and asked him for a map. The “downturn” came immediately, Kalami was about five hours´drive from Makrigialos (the place we stayed) and it was only reachable by car. He must have noticed my obvious disappointment so the “upturn” wasn’t far away fortunately. Putting his glasses on, he pointed to a spot on the map and told me that a village with similar charm was just 900 meters away from the resort and it should be as good as the Kalami trip which I wasn´t able to take (it turned out to be a bit longer than 900 meters)
There wasn’t much time left, I took the trip the day before our departure. It was boiling hot in the midday with temperature approaching 40 degrees (or higher). Walking alone the road in the sun with my face and body covered with thick sun lotion, I was full of excitement. I turned left from the main road and followed a path which led me to the woods consisted mainly of old olive trees and scrubby bushes. The place was named “The White River” as it used to be a river here, but the river dried out completely, not a drop of water was left. Walking almost 10-15 minutes in the woods, a village with ancient charm appeared. It was so well-hidden that I doubt people would find it without following those occasional signs.
How can I describe it for you? It was very quiet, no one could be seen. I walked slowly trying not to break the tranquility and silence. The architecture and natural surroundings brought me back to time. The small houses were made of heavy stones and solid wood. They weren’t painted or decorated in any way but kept the natural style. Walking upwards, there was a reception area built in one of the cottages.
The woman behind the desk told me, with her British accent (I was quite surprised) and a friendly smile, that the place was called “The White River Cottages”and was actually a rental property. It contained 13 cottages of different size which were all rented to German tourists at the moment. The rental period for these small houses was normally from April to October. I was encouraged warmly to walk around and take a closer look. I took the encouragement seriously and examined the buildings with close scrutiny, hoping to discover some hidden secrets or amazing details.
Every small house has its own terrace surrounded by huge bushes which I suppose is necessary because of the heat. A dining area with a table, wooden chairs and stone benches is placed in the shaded terrace. It creates a very cosy and homely atmosphere.
There´s a meeting area in the centre of the village. Loads of books on the shelves are available for the guests who prefer a good read in peace and quiet.
The mobile phone is working fiercely to catch the beautiful scenes. I´m pouring with sweat but the heart is full of gratitude. I almost missed it. This lovely place.
At the end of the trip, I saw a father with his two little girls walking down the stairs, the girls were talking to each other in a low soft voice. I followed their steps, it was a swimming pool hiding behind the bushes.
I had a short talk with the woman at the reception after the adventure. They´ve actually got a homepage for the village. Despite the rough outlook and vernacular architecture, the cottages offer all the modern comforts of home (with a nostalgic touch surely). The pictures on their website are stunning and of a much better quality than mine. Have a look at it and you´ll be impressed. As they put it, “discover the authenticity of the White River Cottages, where the architecture and natural surroundings will sure enhance you.”
(I saw this “flowery” building on my way back to the resort, just have to share it, beautiful!)
This post is about my last trip in Crete before we returned home but it’s not my last post about Crete. There’s many good memories that I want to share with you. Just need some time to sort out the thoughts and pictures.