Visiting Crete is a sensory adventure filled with the scents of rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, and chamomile. An island brimming with beautiful flowers and stunning landscapes, there are around 2,000 species of plants, about 10% of them endemic to Crete. The peak explosion of wildflowers is from March to and May, when wild orchids and tulips are joined by chamomile, poppies, anemones, iris, field gladiolus and much more.
Crete's natural beauty is equalled only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled some 4000 years ago. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. Evidence of this long history can be seen in Chania, where labyrinthine lanes are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses.
Gourmands also need look no further, on an island where 'locavore' is not a trend but a way of life. Rural tavernas often produce their own meat, cheese, olive oil, raki and wine, and catch their own seafood.
There is an optional extension with a day trip to the idyllic fishing hamlet of Loutro after the tour.
The tour is led by two British residents of Crete, who are also experienced tour leaders of walking and botanical tours on the island. This tour takes you across this wonderful island and looks at history, both ancient and contemporary. Explore Crete's rich botany, beautiful landscapes and delicious food and wine, and learn how all of these intertwine.
Valerie and Clive have spent their working lives in education, at all levels, with adults and children across the age range. They have lived and worked abroad and have travelled extensively. Since retiring, they have lived in Crete, building a house and garden on a wild and windy hillside.
In her capacity as the Branch Head of the Mediterranean Garden Society on Crete, Valerie organises a variety of events on the island and hosts visitors to her garden from as far afield as Australia and California. Clive, as a tour leader, has led groups of walkers on Crete, mainland Greece and other islands.
Both have joined tours run by Jon Baines Tours and enjoyed the cultural, historical and local emphasis that is at the heart of the philosophy of the company, along with the camaraderie of fellow tour members. The tour on Crete will emulate this, including the delights of Cretan cuisine.
Day 6 Chania (Sat, 22 April) Depart Chania
The cost of the tour is USD $2,016 per person sharing. (There are also options to have a room to yourself)