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Observatories that I have visited (or almost):
A visit to Crete, island of Greece
In September, 2018 we visited Crete, island of Greece. When doing investigating about observatories at Crete we found the Skinaka observatory. Great, that could be a part of our adventures at Crete we thought.
On our sixth day at Crete we rent a Jeep to get us to two archaeological excavations, when that done we planned to visit the Skinaka observatory on the way home. But on that day we got bad weather and we had to interrupt our travel up to the mountain top and the observatory. Still I can show some photos of the exiting road up the mountain. Maybe could be useful if you plan to visit this observatory in the future.
The road from Moirai to the Skinaka observatory, Crete:
The Google map over our route. We had to interrupt about half ways, signed "Unnamed Road" in the map:
Fasten the seat belt, here we go!
We haven't get up very high in the mountains before we see massive clouds.
The white buildings you see in front of us is the village Gregeri.
This is not a road for fast driving, more like 50 km/h and much slower sometimes.
Crete is a green island, compare to other island we have visited.
This view have following us the whole day, a mountain covered by clouds. That's where we are going now, to the observatory.
We came to a valley before next mountain.
These clouds, we have a feeling that they will cause us problems.
Now we had passed the village Gergeri, altitude of 488 meters.
We are almost alone on the road here, but here is another car parked, maybe they are looking at the views.
We come closer and closer to the clouds, we hopped that they should disappeared before we arrive to the observatory.
Another valley to pass through.
Is it olive trees we see along the road ?
We are close to the Rouvas forest, described as a beautiful place.
At even higher altitude the trees dissappear.
You don't want to come to close to the edge of the road, very steep outside.
Gunilla is driving the Jeep safely upwards the mountain. I hold the camera up through the sunroof and take as many photos as I can.
Oh ... this does not look good!
Turn around point:
Now we only see about 20 meters in front of us. It does not feel safe to drive all the way to Skinaka observatory anymore, more then 20 kilometers left. There's no meaning to drive further with these clouds because you will not see anything of the observatories.
The distance from Moirai up to here is about 22 km. I guess the altitude is about 700 meters and the observatory at 1750 meters.
Here you can read about what we are missing, links to read more about the Skinaka observatory:
Among others they have a 1.3 meter Ritchey-Chretien telescope.
Google map's bird eye view of the Skinaka:
Nothing more to do than turn around the car and drive all the way back.
Google map shows the road up to Skinaka:
We came from South, but it has been possible to take the roads from North also. At lest what we could read.
Ok, let us go downwards, we will not take the same road down more than the first part. We now heading for Heraklion and then home to the hotel. As you maybe already know, when driving a car down a step road for long time you can't only use the brakes, let the engine brake for you with a low gear, you use the same gear as you do when driving upwards, second gear maybe. If you only use the brakes they will overheat and a dangerous situation will occur.
From here down to Agia Varvara and road 97 about 13 km, look at the Google map below:
The clouds get lower now, we felt happy about that we decided to interrupt the tour to the Skinaka observatory.
At a lower level and the trees come back.
Just above the village Gergeri and the water reservoir.
What are a football field doing up here at this altitude?
The village Gergeri which we have to pass through.
Even if we never get a look at the observatory we had beautiful views up here.
We come closer to a village now.
Very sharp turns, and we never know if there is car coming around the corner.
Next challenge, to pass through a village, the streets are very narrow and a lot of cars parked along it.
Lot of narrow passages but no meeting cars yet.
We don't see many people up here, maybe working inside.
One more sharp turn and a house block the view.
Safely passed that turn.
Now they have parked the cars on wrong side of the street !
Will we never get out of the village ?
At a distances we see a truck blocking the street.
Will there be space to pass through ?
Last turn before we have passed through the village.
At last, still we have to drive very slow because of the limited view over the road.
Panasos, another small village to pass through.
Now the altitude can't be very high, maybe 700 meters, lot more vegitation.
Back to the olive trees.
We can now not be very far away from Heraklion, the roads are small, but we like to drive on these roads.
A new highway with a bridge and a tunnel is under construction.
They looks to build a tunnel below the village.
At some place they had to built these concrete walls to protect from falling rocks.
It's a massive building project and will not for sure be finished this year.
Down at the valley and road 97. Was it worth the time to go to the mountain as long we came, we already know before that we maybe couldn't go all the way. Definitely, it was very exiting to drive along those small roads with the fantastic views we got.
You have the full Crete travel report here: