caminada

the stone house on the hill

Hello! Bonjour! Καλημέρα!

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Caminada, is the Greek word for chimney.

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It is the nickname
for the last bit of a small mountain above the village Anydroi,
in the South side of Chania area, near Palaiochora, in Crete.

*

It is the last home
on the top of that small mountain,
among two gorges
and facing
the sea.

Diomataris’ Tavern

Hello everyone!

I would like to make some important introductions! This is Diomataris, our best man, a pure son of Crete and one of the most original people I know.

A father of three children, he used to work for years in the municipality of Chania. Two years ago, he decided that this was very restricting for him. He had grown up on the mountains of Southern Crete, he knew the land and felt he was a part of it. He was trapped in a city’s life and conventions. He felt blocked by the rhythm that his life had and more stressed every day (sounds familiar? :)) .

So he decided to go back to his village, Rodovani. A wonderful spot, in between Palaiochora and Sougia, on the top of a mountain, overlooking a wonderful gorge, with a breathtaking view, unspoiled by tourism. He got a small place and started cooking small stuff that he would find around his small restaurant. He baked his own bread, made his own honey, had his vegetables and eggs, knew his butcher veeery well (Manousos is the butcher, another huge story of his own), gathered his own snails at 4 o’clock on the few rainy summer nights and had a full house almost every day. Who would say no to the best cooked meal made with the most preciously gathered material? Who would say no to this cliff-hanging view?

This year he moved to an even better spot in the middle of the village. A fantastic place he almost made again from scratch and almost alone. His menu includes only traditional plates, really home-made. Pork with feta cheese, Tsigariasto (you find this only in Crete), small black eyed peas, fresh hand cut french fries, pies and of course traditionally made bread and raki and many, many others.

If you find yourselves in this part of Crete don’t miss it. It is not in a guide yet, but it is one of the very few, most valuable secrets still remaining unrevealed in this blessed place. It is called the Tavern of Diomataris (Η ταβέρνα του Διοματάρη) and this is its facebook page. Also the tavern has a phone, +30 28230 051043. If you arrive in the summer you don’t need to call. He is there from 10 in the morning till late at night. If you arrive in the winter and in the beginning of the week, just double check first. In any case don’t miss it!! Apart from the food that is better really than what you would find in a five star restaurant, Diomataris himself is an experience you cannot afford to miss…

Enjoy!!!

Last summer

CRETE-77Last summer was beautiful. It was our first summer at Caminada, we spent one month using bedsheets for doors and windows, we worked for 5-9 hours per day (sometimes even longer), but it was unforgettable. We learned a lot about each other, shared a lot with new friends and spent a lot of time with old ones. One of them, the amazingly talented Geoffroy Tassenoy, took these great pictures of this post. We will be always grateful.

As spring is very present here in Athens, I am thinking that this first summer was one I’ ll never forget. Having said that, I am more than ever eager to meet the surprises of the one approaching. And what better soundtrack than Henry Mancini and his Theme from a summer place. 

See you soon!!

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Anidri Beach

I am in Athens currently and guess what? IT IS SNOWING.

So what better idea could one have than writing about the sea… :)

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Here it goes:

Anidri beach can be easily reached from Caminada. You can reach it by car or on foot. If you take the car you just take the road back to Paleochora (I recently found this site for Paleochora by the way) and turn to the left in a fork kind of turn right before you reach the  big straight part of the road with the camping on your right and the sea on your left. [Of course this part of the sea (opposite the camping) is the same coast as the Anidri beach, but it has bigger pebbles and it is not really comfortable.]

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The other way to reach it is far more interesting and definitely something to try while you are in the area. If you are at the center of the village Anidri, at the Tavern “The School” or “To Sholio” in Greek (you can find more about it here), and you take the path that goes through the village and which starts right on the right side of the tavern, you will very soon find the signs that take you to the beach. The great surprise is that the way is through the Anidri gorge. A really wonderful gorge, a bit technical but not a lot, that takes you through a 45′ walk directly in the middle of the beach.

The beach that lays on the end of that walk, is separated in two main parts. Gialiskari and Anidri Beach. It is of course the same beach just separated by a small, natural cape.

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Another treat in this beach is that it has two small cantines with soft drinks, alcohol, ice creams and something small to eat. If you are looking at the sea the cantine that is on the left of the cape is the a bit loud one and “covers” the sandy part of the beach. On the other side of the cape, the other cantine is far more close to my taste, you hardly notice it is there, it is close enough to walk there when you are thirsty but far enough so you don’t feel its presence at all when you are laying under the very few umbrellas. (The umbrellas cost 5 euros each by the way – but you don’t have to use them.)

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Finally my favorite thing is that especially on the right side of the cape, even in the middle of July, you will be alone or almost alone if you go after 4 in the afternoon. And you can watch the sun set above the port of Paleochora.

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The School – A restaurant to remember

This is a very important post for us.

Not only because we will talk to you about one of the best restaurants in Crete – no exaggeration really – but also because this restaurant is the primary reason why we ended up buying a house in the South of Crete.

So, this is where we arrived, when we arrived at Anydri village, SE of Paleochora, one and a half hour of driving South of Chania. It is the center of the village, some 70 meters after you pass the sign “Anydri” (Άνυδροι), and on the main road. (See related post here.)

It is the old school of the village, that was built in the 1930’s. Long after that, and while the area was one of the hot spots for hippies, in the 70’s and the 80’s, it remained deserted, rusty and destroyed. Till one day in 1996, one of the very students of the old school, Christos Vardoulakis, decided to do something with it. He and his wife, Simone, rebuilt the place more or less with their own hands. It is a big square old building, with the old windows repainted red, and a fantastic interior with loads of old objects from the everyday life of the village, ages ago.

The dreamy part of it though hides in the back yard, where all the tables are during the summer months. A huge, ancient olive tree – branches of which you can see in the picture – gives shadow on a yard with more or less 30 tables. The view of the yard is breathtaking. It looks over the gorge of Anydri – or one of them more likely – and the Libyan Sea.

The menu is a fusion of local, traditional dishes with a kind of small european twist and it has a big variety of dishes for vegetarians. As I know Christos really well, I can tell you that the ingredients of the food they are making in this place is something you cannot buy in most million-dollar-first-class restaurants around the world. The tomatoes come from his land, the beans too, the meat comes from local animals, fed on the hills, the salt comes from the sea, and the olive oil is just something else…

For two starters and two main dishes, and raki and fruit, you will pay around 30 euro. And it will be a meal to remember. Have in mind that if you go in the middle of August, you will have to queue. This place is a highlight in the area and people travel a lot just to experience its food.

Small Tip: Try going for lunch. During the day, a bunch of women from the village, are inside the kitchen and are preparing the food for the evening. It is a bliss to have a small something to eat, under the shadow, listening to the girls inside twitting with a soft music in the background. Also if you are the active type, go for a swim to Anydri beach, walk the Anydri gorge up (it starts on the back of the beach and ends exactly at the restaurant!), and arrive at the back yard of The School for a cold beer and some salad. You will oh, so thank me for it!! :)

Christos and Simone are just lovely. They carry the essence of Greek hospitality, they care and it shows. Everything at their place is done with “meraki”. “Meraki” is one of these Greek words almost impossible to explain. It is essentially the talent and tendency to put love and extra care in every little detail of everything you do, deeply rooted in the philosophy that happiness hides in literally everything.

Take care! :)

*The above picture is from Anydri beach.

Crete and a bit of live history

One of the things I love in Crete, is the diverse and always changing setting and that you always have the feeling that it is a place that carries its history in a way, till today, in a very vivid manner.

*For the beginning of our adventure in Crete, check out here*

It is very rare to find a place in the coast of Crete that does not have its roots in ancient times. And it is very often that you can see the breathtaking remains of these times lying around in the beautiful beaches. Of course detaching anything from its environment is both illegal and harmful for the place itself, but if you approach this adventure in a respectful way, it will surely reward you.

With a simple mask and a snorkel, nothing too fancy, you can come close to what our ancestors made use of daily, 3000 years ago.

Many ancient cities, from the Minoan times, have not been excavated at all, and although they probably don’t have hidden treasures, they can become part of a breathtaking sightseeing and for a touch of a history class a bit more lively than books. This part of pot for example was on the pebbles in a beach called Krios near Paleochora. Many people I guess leave the place with “small souvenirs”, still to us it felt more logical to leave it there, where it seems to belong. :)

This was the area around Ancient Vienna, on the East of Palaiochora. In many parts of what used to be Ancient Vienna, you can see big marble pillars next to the sea shore. It is simply life changing and shocking that you are lying next to 3000 year old ruins.

That’s another reason why Crete is definitely worth a long visit.

(by the way check out these cool maps I found on the web)

     

Hope you enjoy it!!

See ya!!

Before and After

I have been meaning for a long time to write a post about the way Caminada has changed since we first bought it. I was not very decisive whether this should be a post about the works as a whole, the decorative choices or whether I should write about every room in particular. While these lines are being written, I am still not sure what would be the best way to give you guys an idea. What I became most certain about though, is that I should share it now. Mostly since I realized that when we first visited Caminada, it was a year and a half ago. It took us more than 9 months to return to it, so that we would be sure to buy it. And when we did decide on that it took us about two more months to finalize and sign the papers.

So just about a few days ago, we realized that the work that has been done in this house has not lasted more than 4 months. And we just started feeling really proud… :)

Recently we went to Caminada for a week. It was wonderful really, as it was fantastic weather – not too hot, but still great for a swim. The area was more calm now, birds have returned, sheep are strolling everywhere with their newborns and tons of bunnies are running on the hills.

But enough for that. I’ ll give you a more detailed report on our decorative plans and works, still an overall “before and after” post is I think always charming.

So here we go…

First of all, this is what the outside space of Caminada started to look, as soon as we arrived in June, to start the works. Image

… and I can tell you, this is what we looked at every day for a month at least. Good news is it was worth it, but in a strange way it was also fun. :)

While Nikos and Dimitris were making the stone floors everywhere, we had the idea of transforming that stone corner wall into a pergola for night card games and a shadowy and windproof place to read a book during the day.Image

So, we researched a bit, and found out that there is a guy, 200 klm away from Caminada, towards Rethimnon, who is the only registered – and therefore legal – seller of pine wood in the area. This is the kind of wood utility poles are made of and they are very resistent to fungus and parasites (it is more or less this family of trees, not exactly the same but close, as every area has its own kind.)

The seller was very close to a giant :) but a kind one thankfully, he brought us the wood himself as we didn’t have a truck and next day Benoit and my dad started working on it.

Oh, yeah… I should maybe explain that we hired people only for whatever we could not do ourselves. Many friends and both our families helped a lot, and we didn’t risk doing the floors or electricity ourselves for example, but we did most of the work really with love and a lot, A LOT of help from our loved ones. I did most of the planning and decoration – don’t kid yourselves, I did MORE than that :) – and I went all the way to do mood – boards for the rooms. I will put them in a future post, promise.

Anyway, this is what the pergola looks now. (The cushions are the result of a lot of searching in flea markets for old fabrics and a lot of work from my aunt, Sylvia.)

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Next comes the interior downstairs. A little less conversation and a little more action, so here you go. Living room and Kitchen, ground floor, before and after.

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Upstairs now, in the two basic rooms. We call them the pink one and purple one. Well, let me put it lightly: They were super charming but you could feel the zillions of hours of work that they were crying for. As already said before, I will fill you in with the details of every corner in the future.

So. Pink room. Before.Image

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And after:Image

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and the purple room, before:

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and after:

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Finally – for today at least- this is my dad, fixing the metal pergola on the terrace downstairs (yep… my dad is that kind of guy, I know, I know… :))

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And this is what part of that pergola looks now. Well the view is somehow attracting more interest I guess…

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Mind you that it now looks like a small, quiet jungle. I ‘ll make sure to post some new pictures of it.

Last but not least, some of our few neighbors, pay a visit regularly. They don’t talk much but they are very charming.

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Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to comment and give new ideas on how to improve stuff. It will always be a work in progress, as we consider it a very alive part of our lives.

So, seriously, what do you think? :)

See ya!!!

How to find the house of your dreams in Crete : Part I

    

Caminada, is located on the hill above the village of Anydroi. Anydroi is 5 klm NE of the cape of Palaiochora, 70 klm (more or less South of Chania).

Caminada is a project that we actually started more than one year ago. We were on a 20-day road trip on Crete, and after a series of short stays in many beautiful spots on the island (Crete can brag for having plenty of those), we ended up to the village of Anydroi (the short, funny story about how we ended up there will soon follow). We had planned that the last 4 days of our vacation would be spent in one place, so that we could relax and enjoy the sun and the sea (I found very useful this site for the sea of Anydroi by the way).

We were not at all looking for a house at the time but just out of curiosity, the very last day of our stay, we asked the kind couple that were renting us their small apartment, how much the land costs in that area. Their answer was basically an enthusiastic 2 min drive on what you can definitely call a bad road, and a deserted house, hidden under piles of rubbish and dead plants. But it was a charming place nonetheless. On the top of a hill, in between two gorges, with a beautiful breeze and birds twitting, with goats and sheep strolling free, squeezed into big, old olive trees, with a view to the sea and only one neighbor. The owner was an old guy, who married a second time a few years ago, and since his wife had a house in the middle of Greece, he followed her there.

The price  at the time was kind of out of our budget and when we first got in contact with the owner we understood that titles of ownership was something really exotic in this part of the world. So a year and not less than 40 different papers later (this is another interesting story that will follow in a later post), we were able to say that Caminada was ours.     

There are a lot more that we want to share with you about what has become the house of our dreams, short and longer stories, but all in good time :)

    

For the time being, check out a few pictures from what a few corners of the house look now and please leave us a comment and follow if you would like to know more about it !

Greetings from Brussels!!

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