|The Tavern 'Aetos' (Eagle), with its beautiful wall mural and traditional Cretan decor|
Every New Year's Day, we always drive up to the village of Anogeia, to see the snow and enjoy a traditional Cretan meal. Anogeia, (Greek: Ανώγεια, 'high ground'), at an altitude of 738 metres or 2,421 ft,
|The Psiloritis Mountains, Rethymno, Crete|
sits at the base of the highest mountains on Crete, namely, Psiloritis (Greek: Ψηλορείτης, 'high mountain'), which measure 2,456 metres or 8,057 feet above sea level. Covered in a smooth blanket of snowy white, they are a stunning sight in contrast with the shades of the rugged green and brown landscape below.
|The Psiloritis Massif, a reservoir supplying several springs and ponds|
We couldn't wait to get there, not for the snow, for we had had our fill of that in Canada, but for the scenic drive, which actually feels more like an airplane ride. Travelling through this rough terrain, a myriad of spectacular caves, deep gorges, small plateaus, oak and pine forests exist in and around tiny villages that are characteristically built on cliffs. The area is home to rare birds of prey, such as bearded vultures, common vultures, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks.
|Psiloritis' highest peaks boast snow until late June|
With every twist and turn in the road, the ground became
whiter and whiter, and then, as we reached a plateau,
we caught sight of a mitato, (Greek: Μιτάτο, 'shelter or 'lodging') or shepherd's hut. These unique dwellings are constructed solely from local limestone, in this case, the earthy shades of olive green, slate grey, and honey brown stone indigenous to the Psiloriti Mountain region.
|Entryway of a mitato or shepherd's hut|
Providing shepherds with protection against the elements, mitata also serve as corrals when tending to the sheep. They also function as mini cheese making factories, complete with copper cauldrons, clay pots, wooden utensils, table and chairs, stone beds and stools made out of old tree roots!
It was, after all, time for lunch!
|An eagle's stern expression covers the menu of the tavern that bears its name|
A few minutes later we arrived at the popular Taverna Aetos, our go-to haunt in the village of Anogeia. Decorated in a rustic, mountain style, old farming tools, Cretan crockery, vintage furniture and clothing furnish the large restaurant's space, bestowing extra traditional charm to its patrons.
Fresh, Cretan greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, lentils, pomegranate seeds and goat cheese are tossed
together in an olive oil/honey, balsamic dressing to create the tavern's trademark salad.
Specializing in traditional, Cretan cuisine, the tavern's tasty dishes and breathtaking views of the Psiloritis Mountains were the perfect ending to our adventure in search of snow.
Wishing you a lovely week,