Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trip to Moni Toplou-Vai

Hersonissos is an ideal starting point for those wishing to take a day trip. Many of the island's most beautiful destinations are less than three hours away by car. A drive east along Crete's northern coast will take you to Vai, the only palm tree forest in Europe.
The forest consists of over 5,000 date palms.

Outside of the village of Kavousi is the church of Agioi Pantes. Across the street is a nice cafe to stop at and take pictures- it overlooks Mochlos village and the small island of Psira.

This is the island of Psira. The island in uninhabited now, but was a major harbor during the Minoan era. To visit the island, you can take a boat tour from the city of Agios Nikolaos.

The Monastery Toplou, which owns Vai forest, is worth a visit if you have the time. Inside the monastery is a museum in which you can see paintings dating as far back as the 15th century, copper etchings, historical documents, and war relics. The cost to enter is 3 euro (in 2009).

At the fork in the road leading to Vai forest and beach, there is a fruit stand where farmer Nikos, a retired naval captain, sells bananas, figs, and various other fruit. If you get lost and need directions, he's the man to go to- he is fluent in at least five different languages!

Vai forest and beach are protected areas. Vai beach is very clean and the water is crystal clear. There is a nice little cafe on the beach where you can eat, or get carry-out to eat on the beach. There are also a few shops and smaller food stands in the surrounding parking area. Parking is reasonably priced (2 euro per car in 2009; van parking is a little bit more expensive).

In addition to Vai beach, there are many more little sandy coves in the area. Some are accessible by car, and others only by foot.

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