Sunday, February 5, 2017

Searching for Shepherds in the Snow

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!

An opening at the top of the dome acts as a skylight, air duct and chimney. These conical structures are, indeed, quite impressive in their innovation. All that talk about cheese production, though, was making us hungry.


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.

Thanks so much for visiting!
Wishing you a lovely week,


  1. Oh my goodness. . .this just gave me a pang of homesickness! Lovely post, Poppy! xxx J.

  2. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

  3. I enjoyed this virtual adventure so much Poppy! All of it so interesting, the glorious snow-covered peaks, the windy drive there, the shepherd's huts, and the cozy little restaurant at its peak with such a sublime menu, oh the picture of that salad makes me hungry for lunch too! How lovely that they keep the roads open even in the winter. A very special getaway and adventure for sure, so happy I was able to share in the view with you today :) Have a blessed Sunday my friend :)

  4. I've never seen anything like this before! The scenic drive took my breath away and I was so intrigued by the shepherd's huts. Thank you so much for bringing us along, Poppy!

    Jane x

  5. I love the excursion you made, those scenic views are just so beautiful Poppy!Thank you for sharing such an inspirational trip. I love the details you just posted as if I am with you in this trip! Have a great week ahead!


  6. What a beautiful area, and I am sure the food is delicious in that taverna with the mural of eagles and mountains.

  7. Thanks for taking us along Poppy. What a beautiful area. Those snow mountains are gorgeous.
    So much history and fun.

  8. My goodness, Poppy, you are making me want to visit Crete RIGHT NOW. It's so grey and chilly here, and I love the colour in the Cretan landscape. The shepherd's hut is a fascinating place. I hope you enjoyed your trip up to the Eagle Restaurant.

  9. I've been there Poppy twice while I stayed at Heraklion some years ago. But these photos are so gorgeous!!! I felt the cold air on my cheeks... Have a wonderful week :)

  10. Poppy lots of snow there. I am so happy to see that you are jumping in with your visits to the nearby areas and getting a taste of the homegrown fare. I too miss the greek cuisine when I am away. The taste is like no where else. Poppy I have the same tablecloth as the taverna!

  11. Hello, what a lovely place to visit. The view is beautiful, The restaurant looks lovely too. Beautiful scenes and photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  12. The tavern looks so uniquely authentic Poppy, definitely a place that can be savored as much for the decor as the food!

    The simplicity of the shepherds hut is wonderfully efficient. I bet they're a LOT sturdier than anything being built today!


  13. How beautiful and what a lovely way to spend a day. The lunch looks very yummy too. Thanks for sharing something I'll never get to see in person. You are always so sweet! Hugs, Diane

  14. The trip up the mountain followed by lunch at the tavern sounds wonderful, would you recommend this as something we should do when we visit Crete in May?
    Happy MM

    1. Hi Maggie,

      Both the scenic drive up to Anogeia and the village itself are definitely worth your time. Although most Cretans visit the area in the winter for the snow, the village is home to two of Crete's most famous folk singers, Nikos Xilouris and Psaratonis. The former passed away in 1980. Anogeia is also known to have been the headquarters of the Resistance in Crete during the second world war.

      The entire area is captivating for its natural beauty, the Psiloritis Mountains, geological gems, wildlife and history. So, yes, I would recommend it as a half-day excursion.

      Thanks for visiting!

  15. Poppy, What a lovely adventure. I enjoy seeing Greece from your eyes. You take us places we wouldn't ordinarily visit. Thank you! Happy Monday!

  16. I have to tell you first that your blog header is exquisite, as iconic for your region, I would imagine, as the paintings of the tall cypress trees are for Tuscany.

    Is there any better combination of landscape than sun ON snowy mountains? To breathe that cold clear mountain air but also feel the warmth of the Cretan sun on your shoulders must be glorious! And I would have been glad to reach that tavern and get out of the car, not just for that salad that makes me want to try to duplicate it but also where my stomach would come down out of my throat after that airplane like ride. Did you leave fingernail indentations in the seats, Poppy?

    And you know that after I had given my order to the waitress that I would have been over at that wall dresser examining all that pretty crockery and wishing I could buy a stack of those white plates.

    It would have been another day showing the range of variety in your countryside, mountains to that glorious sea, it's all there, isn't it? Enjoy every day, Poppy dear! Love you!

  17. Lovely images! That salad looks delicious! Happy Mosaic Monday!

  18. Hey Poppy- that was a lovely trip you took us on! The countryside is beautiful. The salad looks delicious!

  19. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon and the reward after the long and winding drive looks delicious!

  20. Oh what glorious splendor! The landscape is absolutely breathtaking...everything about it. And that beautiful salad looks AMAZING! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us!

  21. Oh that made me hungry too!That salad looks amazing!I still have in my mouth the taste of the raki and olives at a cafenio in Anogia so many years ago! And the snow on Psiloritis looks so white!AriadnefromGreece!

  22. Gorgeous photos, Poppy! The snow on the mountains almost looks fake as it is so smooth. What a lovely drive and then a nice cozy spot to have a meal. Thanks so taking us along! I hope you are having a great week. Hugs, Pam

  23. I had no idea that Crete even had snow - so beautiful!
    The restaurant and its food look inviting - I know you had a wonderful time.
    Mary -

  24. Gorgeous photos, Poppy. I was amazed at all the snow, we don't get any around here. It is almost spring here already, blue skies and the wild flowers blooming.

  25. I enjoyed this post, the pictures are gorgeous and you gave me inspiration for a salad to eat next week!

  26. Great travelogue - the mountains really do look like they have a powdered-sugar icing on them. But the pictures of the Taverna are the most appealing to me in the way they evoke a cozy hospitality.

  27. A beautiful drive! The restaurant is so charming!


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate hearing from all of you! Have a great day!