When I first heard that there is a village, a few kilometers outside Chania, in Crete, without electricity, something that we take for granted in our Western culture, my curiosity swelled like a balloon! A pile of questions flooded my head like how is everyday life without electric power, without a computer, without any electrical device. And if this thought is a shock for me, imagine what it will be for the next generation! Then I made a promise to myself. When I visit Crete again, I will definitely do two things. I will cross Samaria gorge and visit Milia, this eco-village without electricity, that Lonely Planet lists in the fifty best corners of the globe!
But because I’m impatient, some of my questions were answered before I go there, for example, from when there is the village and who live there. So I learned that in fact it was an abandoned village for four decades or so, when in the early 80s, James Tsourounakis talked about the dream of seeing Milia, where he had the ancestral property, to take life again! He wanted to salvage what was left of the ruins of the houses and to come closer to nature, cultivating the land, reforesting, producing organic products, next to a small farm.
In this dream found a companion in 1982, George Makrakis, a fellow villager who also had property in the village. And so their “kouzoulada” (crazyness in Cretan dialogue) went to that mountain of Crete, where Milia soon would be “flourishing”!
Having walked the road to go to the village, I found myself in front of a natural beauty with stone houses and green, a peace that seems unusual, almost strange, when we are used to suffocating rhythms and concrete image of cities. I wandered into the village-hotel with 13 rooms with the small door that reminded me of the hobbit houses. Milia comes from a fairytale, from the creative imagination of people who have experienced at first hand the benefits of nature and this feeling is pervasive everywhere there…
In Milia, people coexist harmoniously with nature and animals, especially the dozens of cats in the village. Electricity does not exist but does not seem to bother the guests. Conversely, they go there to seek this return to the roots. The lighting is done with oil lamps, while the water comes from the nearby source.
The restoration of village-hotel, which first opened in 1993 and has since operated all year round, it became a way so as not to lose the identity of the bygone image. In Milia time seems to have stopped in the charming past or in the Flintstones era, my favorite series for children. But I am not quite sure if this was the reason that made me fall in love with this village-a real time capsule, or the priceless serenity I felt there (or maybe the food I ate in the restaurant Milia, the tastiest I’ve ever had?).
In Milia’s restaurant, all are made by what has been produced from the garden and the farm of the village and cooked in the pan or the wood-fired oven, from where comes also the handmade bread. I ate chicken with potatoes and I am sure it was the yummiest in my life. Melted on the palate along with potatoes and fresh herbs and my enjoyment was orgasmic! You can also try lamb in vine, pork with orange, lamb with rosemary, patty, rooster with noodles, rabbit with cheese and mint, potatoes with chestnuts, roasted lamb… I can’t describe further more! The wine is also local, from their own production. And the most beautiful time is after dark when the only light comes from candlelit…
*To arrive to Milia you take the national road from Chania towards Kissamos (Kastelli). In the end there is a sign to Elafonissi, which you follow, passing the villages Kaloudiana, Potamida, Voulgaro, Topolia, Katsomatados. About 3 km. later you arrive at the intersection with Vlatos and Milia and 4 km. from Vlatos you will arrive in Milia. The road has some dirt road but worth the headbanging.
*Taxi from Milia to Kastelli costs around 30-35 €, to Chania about 75 €, to Paleohora and 40 € to 60 € Souda. In short, you better rent a car.
*Milia restaurant is open daily all year round from 12:00 am to 21:30 pm for guests outside the hotel. In July and August, it serves until 22.30 pm
*There is no standard menu in the restaurant, the food is depending on the raw materials available every day in the village.