Two kids in bathing suits clutch beach gear as they walk between two walls of snow: This photograph by Alexandros Roniotis, founder of the website cretanbeaches.com, was widely shared this week, succinctly capturing the often surprising contrasts found on Crete in a single image.
Locals often say that you can start your day skiing on the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and then go for a swim at any of the numerous beaches that fringe Greece’s largest island.
And while Roniotis got his kids to pose with their beach equipment for the particular photo, it does reflect the reality of their lives: On the day it was taken, the young family had hit the remaining snow with their boards; on the days before and after they went to the beach where they swam in summertime temperatures.
“We’d had our fill of the sea and went to the snow for a change; the kids loved it. Don’t imagine that it was cold because of the snow. It was midday and very warm. So, I had the idea of taking this picture to show some of Crete’s contrasts,” the photographer told us by phone.
The spot depicted in the photograph is Skinakas on Psiloreitis, Crete’s highest mountain, which stretches across the border between the regions of Rethymno and Irakleio and is roughly 40km from the sea. The road between the villages of Gergeri and Anogeia gets a lot of snow during the winter. Those high banks of snow are formed on either side by the snowplow and often don’t melt away entirely until June.
Likewise, there are parts of the Lefka Ori where the snow never melts away entirely. And even as Greece’s braces for a heat wave this weekend, some of these parts still have enough snow to allow skiing.