Gavalohori (or Gavalochori)
The Villa Mia is located on the outskirts of Gavalohori - an ancient and attractive Cretan village just a few minutes drive inland from the coast and only 25 km east of Venetian Chania and its airport. The attractive harbour town of Rethymnon, with its characteristic Turkish minarets, quiet cool backstreets and leather markets, is 25 km along the coast in the other direction.
Gavalohori stands at the end of a beautiful green and wooded valley leading the 3.5 km to the sea at Almyrida. The village is renowned locally for the work of its women's cooperative. These local ladies wish to keep ancient Cretan traditions alive, including the manufacture of hand made lace, silk, pottery and honey. In keeping with the local folk traditions there is a small folk museum in the centre of the village which is well worth a visit.
There are at least 3 places to eat within walking distance of the villa (including more than one with free wi-fi). At the bottom of the lane from the villa the renowned Gavalianos Kafenes taverna (known locally as "Monica's") offers local specialities and Cretan hospitality to locals and visitors alike, serving delicious Cretan food in a delightful setting at very reasonable prices. Just across the road is the ethnic Elpidas cafenion where the locals drink but which is run by Georgios who has worked in America and can serve you a drink or some excellent grilled food. Down a back lane near the village museum the tiny taverna Arismari serves mouthwatering Cretan specialities underneath a huge plane tree to the sound of gentle jazz music. All are highly recommended and very atmospheric.
There are two small supermarkets in the village, both easily walkable from the villa, and both stocking a good range of fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables, bottled, canned and frozen goods to stock the villa freezer.
They also sell home brewed raki (the local spirit of choice), village wine (in unlabelled water bottles) and locally pressed olive oil. The village also has an excellent bakery, open all hours and offering a wide range of breads, hand-raised cheese and apple pies, the delicious aroma of which snakes its way up the hillside to greet you as you walk down of a morning for warm bread for breakfast!
Just a short stroll up the lane from Villa Mia is an ancient stone arched bridge in a cool tree-shaded corner surrounded by ancient, Venetian (or maybe much older?), wells, which were the main source of water for the village until relatively recently. Behind the wells, up the wooded limestone gorge, there is a spectacular walk in the shaded pine forest where all you can hear is birdsong.
Also in the village are numerous Venetian buildings in various stages of photogenic decay, including an old olive oil factory which is free to walk around.
There are 14 Greek Orthodox churches in and around the village, from tiny to grand structures and each has a wonderful location. In all, the village is well worth more than a quick visit and the many side streets are full of history, as well as friendly locals.