On the far northwest coast of Crete, less than an hours drive from Chania, in a landscape sculpted by mountains and gorges, coloured with wild flowers and olive trees, the twin peninsulas of Gramvousa and Rodopou embrace the placid Bay of Kastelli and the village of Drapanias.
Recent attempts by officialdom and various tourist organizations to coax, push, bribe, drag, induce or otherwise force this part of the world into the 21st century have been fairly successfully resisted by the locals. One is infinitely more likely to come across a flock of woolly goats being guided by a tipsy shepherd into an empty field, than to run into a crowd of tipsy tourists being shepherded by their guide into another bar. In fact there are no bars in Drapanias, just a few traditional cafes, a couple of tavernas and more olive trees than you could shake a stick of charcoal at.
At the heart of the village is a church dedicated to Saint Nicolas, a short genuflect away from “The House of Kerash Bey”, our home base for ‘PAINTCRETE’. A fifteen-minute stroll through olive fields separates us from the beach where some tutorials and meals will take place.
Being a Greek village, Drapanias has barking dogs and crowing roosters, yokels on tractors and granddads on donkeys. It’s got grannies who will sit you down and give you raki and cake while lamenting about their latest knee operation, or boasting proudly about their grandchild studying in England or ‘Ameriki’. But mostly you’ll be left alone to wander around the village, over the ruins, through the olive groves or along the beach to enjoy yourselves and your painting.
A quick look at a map of Crete will confirm that Drapanias is less than an hour’s drive from the beauty spots of Elafonissi, Fallasarna and the ancient ruins of Polyrhinnia and a mere thirty minutes from the hustle and bustle of the busy Venetian port of Chania. There are many more points of interest in the area, including a variety of unspoilt Venetian, Greco-Roman and Minoan ruins, some of which we will explore while painting.