Despite the fact that the corona virus has already ruined many of our travel plans this year, we still remained optimistic and it was totally worth it! At the last minute we bought a plane tickets and flew to a country we have not been before ☺️ Greece or, to be more precise, to the largest Greek island → Crete.
Due to the uncertain situation, we decided to spend only a week on Crete, which is too little for many (maybe they are even right), but we still saw a lot, and we still had some time for a real summer vacation.
From home we arranged a car rental and started the tour of the largest Greek island in Agia Pelagia, just a good half hour drive from the airport and the capital Heraklion. It is a small resort town with a few hotels and a beach, where many smaller restaurants offer a variety of Greek delicacies, and after each meal (according to our experiences) you get a traditional spirit, called raki or ouzo, and also some fruit or even a dessert. The beach itself is known for its calm, but above all crystal clear sea, which we can certainly confirm.
On the way from Agia Pelagia to the seaside town of Rethymno, we stopped at the monastery of Arkadi, which is famous for its very long and varied history. Special architecture, nicely landscaped gardens inside the walls and interesting story attract quite a few tourists a day, and they charge € 3 per person for the entrance fee.
From the interior of the island, we went back to the seaside, to the aforesaid Rethymno. The city is a real paradise for tourists. In addition to nearly 15 kilometers long sandy beach (where you can definitely find your place under the scorching sun), there are many restaurants, souvenir and clothing shops, and also some sights to visit, while strolling along the main seaside promenade.
If you are a fan of views (like us), then a visit to the beach of the bay of Balos, must definitely appear on your wish list! But… you usually have to make an effort for the view and here is no different at all. Get ready for approx. 10 kilometers long adrenaline ride on a slightly winding and rather poorly maintained macadam road. Yes, our ass was definitely very well shaken here 😃 .. after the mentioned ride and about 10 minutes of walking, you get to, in our opinion, the most beautiful view on the whole island! If the view tempts you and you would like to refresh yourself in the sea at the foot of the hill, you will have at least another half an hour of walking down the hill in the scorching sun. It is difficult to say what the beach itself is like up close, as we preferred to go to the traditional Greek gyros in Chania, the »capital« in the east of the island. However, from a far, the beach looked pretty crumpled 😀
Chania, Xania, Hania… a whole bunch of names point to the diversity of the city in which many civilisations have left their mark throughout the history. So, we found a mosque, a synagogue and a church in the old part of town. Most tourists are attracted by the former Venetian Harbour – a picturesque promenade at the sea with many restaurants and bars. Those in the hunt for souvenirs and traditional Greek products should also visit the Agora, the main covered market.
From the east we went to the far west of the island, to Agios Nikolaos, a small but very picturesque town, known mainly for the lake that merges with the sea. There are many urban legends circulating about the lake – from the fact that the goddess Athena bathed in it, to the fact that the lake is connected to the volcano on Santorini by an underground tunnel …would you believe it? After a glass, two or three, maybe yes 😃
Of course, Crete is known to everyone – well, at least to those who were at least a little interested in history in primary and high school – for Minotaur, a creature with a human body and a bull’s head. The Minotaur was enclosed in a huge labyrinth near the Knossos Palace, the palace is still the main attraction on the island today. There is not much left of it – only a few walls, frescoes and pillars, between which you walk along a well-kept circular path. To enter, it is necessary to deduct € 15 per person, whether it is too much or too little, judge for yourself.
For the end, we are left with only the capital of Crete, Heraklion. Despite being the largest city on the island, all the main attractions are located in the very center of the old town, in the vicinity of Lion’s Square or Elefttherios Venizelos square. We walked to Loggia, the old town hall, the church of the Agios Markos and the Morosini fountain, and finally satisfied our hunger in one of the many restaurants nearby. Yeah, the gyros was on the menu once again! Otherwise, all possible Greek specialties and other dishes are available here – even pizzas 😋
Given that we were more or less limited to Greece by choosing a destination due to the overall situation with the corona virus, we are now of the opinion that our decision was the right one. Crete has many attractions, magnificent views, beautiful beaches and good food. We had a great time! It was much better than we expected.
S & B
P.S.: In Crete we stayed at two locations, if anyone is interested, there is a connection to both accommodations – Agia Pelagia (highly recommended) and Rethymno.