Stylos & Samonas
There is undoubtedly something special about this village and its locals, living simply off the land high above the bustling coast that re-balances the spirit and may be the most valuable souvenir you’ll return with when you re-join the faster paced world.
Samonas is a place almost forgotten by time, where the villagers still tend their own vegetable patches, olive grove or vineyards and keep their own herd of goats. They still find the time to continue in ‘the old ways’, making their own bread, soft mizithra cheese and Glyka tou koutalou – fruit preserved in thick syrup eaten with a dollop of home-made yogurt in the afternoon from a small plate with a tiny long handled spoon, washed down by a small glass of fiery local raki. (The equivalent in Crete of a ‘Cream tea’ perhaps?)
Just a couple of kilometers inland, and the reason for most tourists visiting the village (apart from the Taverna), the Byzantine Church of Agios Nikolaos sits in a beautiful location at the bottom of a deep wooded valley. Inside are precious frescoes dating back to the 13th Century. You need to collect the key from Roussa or Kosta who live in Samonas and happen to be the parents of the owners of Villa Vigla. You won’t need to go far to find either one of them; the village is only small, so it’s just a matter of asking anyone you see and they’ll whistle or call out for them, everyone will understand what you want.
Locking doors isn’t normally considered necessary round these parts, unless your house, like the church, contains quantities of precious frescoes and gold. Just below the taverna is the local school, abandoned in 1976 and whose door has remained unlocked ever since. To this day the chairs still stand neatly behind the desks, the chalk sits by the blackboard (no graffiti), the register is still on the desk, undefiled, a graphic illustration of the enviable lifestyle of the villagers.
There is just one taverna in the village, run by Katina with the occasional help of her sons. After she has welcomed you, seen you settled at your table with a jug of chilled spring water and a basket of her home-made bread she’ll tell you what she has available and what she has baked fresh (besides her bread). Then just sit back and enjoy the spectacular views of the White Mountains all the way down to the sea and understand why it’s called ‘The Eagles Nest’
Just below Samonas and down the winding hillside 5 kms, Stylos village is where the famous Samaria brand water is bottled from nearby springs. Take your own bottles and you can fill them up at the spring too. There are a few more cafeneon/tavernas in the village and a couple of minimarkets where you’ll be shopping with the locals all exchanging the latest gossip. To the west of Stylos is the start of the Diktynna Gorge. Just 10 mins drive further, Kalives has a lovely sandy beach, seeming almost cosmopolitan in contrast, with lots more tavernas and shops. And here on the coastline, it’s all a little busier…. and it’s back to reality.