The eastern Lassithi prefecture in Crete is a porthole into life in old Crete and its robust geography. Aspros Potamos, left, is an enclave of 300-year-old cottages once used by olive farmers and goatherds.
Peaceful and primitive, with stone floors and oil lamps for light, cottages in Aspros Potamos are now open to tourists as a rustic retreat.
Palaikastro is a village of 800 on the eastern end of Crete. Nearby is a Minoan-era settlement that may have been as large as Knossos.
Near the ancient town of Itanos is one of the more popular beaches in the area: Vai beach.
Land slated for resort development near Palaikastro. Residents fear that the resorts will guzzle the island's increasingly scarce water resources.
Pefki is a mountain village where visitors can hear traditional music, eat snails fried in olive oil and rosemary and drink raki, a potent Cretan spirit made from grape must.
A Pefki local prepares food for her chickens.
A night view of tavernas in the port of Makriyialos.
A spiraling, slightly treacherous dirt road leads to Aspros Potamos, an enclave of 300-year-old cottages in eastern Crete once used by olive farmers and goatherds. Peaceful and primitive, with stone floors, oil lamps for light and a starry night sky, the cottages, now a rustic retreat for tourists, offer visitors a glimpse into the life of old Crete, without the boutique airbrushing.
It’s not the usual vision of Greece’s largest island, but for many, it’s far more rewarding than the seaside nightclubs, umbrella-pinned beaches and Riviera-lite resorts that attract many people. The eastern Lassithi prefecture, which stretches from a lush plateau of farms to dry crags overlooking transcendentally blue bays, offers plenty of portholes into a disappearing Crete and its robust geography.