NEWSLETTER THE GREEK ISLANDS - NIEUWSBRIEF DE GRIEKSE EILANDEN
Crete in October.
Hello lovers of the Greek islands, here is the update of my website The Greek Islands. If you have received this newsletter by mistake or if you want to unsubscribe please reply to this email and write "unsubscribe" in the subjectmatter.
Here is the story of our (unfortunately) last visit this year to Greece. The newsletter is a bit longer than usual......
On the first of October we left for the island of Crete where we have stayed for two weeks and took a look at many new places.
In the meanwhile I am already at home for more than three weeks, the page of Crete
has got a different look and about 50 new pages have been added. In the leftside menu there are now also little icons that tell you
if the page contains pictures of a beach, a church/monastery/frescoos, a windmill or escavations.
By the way, for the next newsletter I will ask the hotels on my website if they want to make a special offer for only my website.
We started our journey very early and had to go to the airport in the night. The Dutch traincompany had the train leave from another platform
than the one that was on the written schedules, but nothing was announced. By accident I had asked at the entrance what platform we should head for.
On the platform itself the sign was empty, meaning no train? and it had a 15 minutes delay, so we were getting worried and thought that maybe we should have waited at the other platform.
So okay, it came in too late, but at least it came. As the train was riding out of the station we saw masses of people with suitcases and backpacks running up the stairs, but
for them it was too late. As usual the Dutch monopoly traincompany had done an excellent job, and these people had to wait for another hour to see the next
train or they had to try and get a taxi to the airport.
But anyways....the rest of the journey went smoothly because we only had to catch one train and the rest was by plane. We flew with Transavia to Heraklion Crete
in about 3 hours and 30 minutes and the weather was fine, so we had a great view of for instance the Alps and the islands of Croatia and Greece.
Because we never have a lot of luggage (only handluggage - I had 3,9 kilo my travel companion had 4,8) we were the first ones outside the airport building.
At the exit the guy from Just Rent a Car where I had reserved a car, was waiting for me with a sign with my name on it. I had asked for the cheapest model, but I was upgraded
to a larger car: a Toyota Corola 1.6, or so I was told. I don't know much about cars, but it was great for me with my long legs :). All I usually do is read the map and I let my friend do the driving
(I don't even have a drivers license, ahaha). The car was great and it took all the steep hills and mountains without any problems.
After we told the lady from the travel agency that we were not coming with her to Malia (where we had booked something because it was cheaper than a flight only)
and that we also had no intention to stay even one day at our accommodation there, we pushed the pedal and drove to our first destination, our beloved Agia Pelagia.
The first three days we had booked at Zorbas Studios, but unfortunately we were in the back of the building, so no seaview, which we had hoped for.
We decided to just make the best of it. The supermarket is right across the street so the first thing we did was go there for our groceries, things for the bathroom,
water, snacks, luxury cookies for me, ouzo and metaxa (yes, we like a little drink from time to time). We did notice that groceries in the supermarkets on Crete are much more expensive
than at home in the Netherlands. The bill was 90 euro and when we were outside again I realized I had forgotten the most important, the coffee.
The rest of the day we spent on the beach of Agia Pelagia. It was a bit chilly because there were some clouds here and there and so we kept our t-shirts on.
From the boulevard we saw a friend of ours waving to us. It was Stella from the Mouragio Restaurant, and so we joined her for a cup of cofee, and later in te evening we went to
her restaurant to have dinner. At that time it was no longer cold so we didn't need a coat anymore. The reception was warm and the food was delicious as usual. After dinner we
had an ouzo on the balcony and than fell into a deep sleep.
After we woke up we first made a strong cup of Dutch coffe and after that we bought some bread across the street so we could have a cozy breakfast outside and enjoy the fact that we didn't
have to go to work. After that it was one, two, three to the car. It appeared to be a good day to lose our way and direction. We wanted to either go to
our secret beach near Tholos in the northeast, or head south. When we had decided that it was going to be south we missed a turn
and after that we drove in and out of the labyrinth named Ano Vianos several times without finding the road that we wanted to take. In the end
we ended up on one of our favorite villages, Tsoutsouros, where we had a bite to eat in our restaurant there (Mouratis Taverna - they also rent out very nice apartments).
This day it was rather windy and so we decided not to lay on the beach. We ended up behind a small wall at Dermatos Beach, so we were out of the wind.
After a ride along a beautiful stretch of coastline (for instance Kastri Beach with all its rocks in the sea) we drove back home. Lucky for us that we didn't lose our way again.
The next day there was less wind and after a delicious breakfast at our neighbour, the restaurant Irini, we left for the Akrotiri peninsula (next to Chania),
a part of Crete that we never properly had a look at. The first stop was the town of Souda, which is more or less the harbour of Chania, because here all the ferries depart.
It was a rather sad and unimpressive town with lots of concrete and an enormous breadfactory right in front of the harbour. The clouds came back which didn't help Souda to make
an impression on us. On top of that our car also got a flat tire as we drove out of town. Fortunately my travelfriend is car-crazy so he knows how to change a tire,
but first I had to buy a pair of scissors because he had to cut some plastic cord that was keeping the metal wheel capsule to the tire. It took a while but after about half
an hour to 45 minutes we could go on to take a look at the rest of the peninsula. What caught my attention was that there were so many newly build houses for sale in this area.
There were a couple of nice sandbeaches, like for instance Stavros and Kalathas, two beaches with a river running over it, but all beaches were with umbrellas and sunbeds and
that is not really our style. There's nothing wrong with those kind of beaches, but we prefer the unspoilt beaches without all the facilities. Anyways, we learned a bit and we've seen the
Akrotiri peninsula and it is not for us: too many houses and too busy. The Agia Triada monastery on the peninsula was a pretty place though.
After spending three days in Agia Pelagia we left for our next destination, Cretasun Apartments in Makrigialos, in the southeast of Crete. On the way we made a couple of stops to look at several things,
to pick up a new tire in Anissaras - which was free by the way, and to get some sun we spread out our pareo at the beach of Mavros Kolimbos, just outside Makrigialos. After that we had to find our apartment, because we didn't exactly know where it was. It was set on a hill that overlooked the beach
and we had to climb some stairs to get there (you could also get there by car - it was next to the excavation of the Roman villa).
There was nothing wrong with it! Our apartment was really very big, with a large living/bedroom with a kitchen, a seperate bedroom with a balcony, a large bathroom, and a great veranda where you could sit outside and look at the
blue sea. If you have a nice place to stay during your holiday that makes it a lot more fun.
I jumped into the bathtub and after that we had a glass of wine outside before we went out for a nice dinner downstairs in the village.
After a nightcap on the veranda it was already time to go to bed. We are always very boring on our holidays so we go to sleep early. It was good to have my own bedroom, a feeling of luxury.
After a good nights sleep we had some breakfast with our Dutch coffee and fresh bread and when that was finished we were off to have a better look at the southeast coast. It's really spendid and very quiet. As a matter of fact I think that the nicest beaches of the island are to be found here,
and also for naturists like us it's a small paradise, quiet and with a beautiful landscape. At Kalo Nero there is a large naturist beach, but there are more small bays where you can dip into the water without your clothes. Besides the beaches we also
saw a monastery, the Moni Kapsa monastery, which is next to a gorge and it looks like it is glued to the mountain. A bit further on is the beach of Asprolithos. We drove on to the southeast point and then took the road upwards to the north, because we wanted to have a better look at Xerokampos. The road was winding through the mountains, but they were
new and good. At the village of Ziros we found the crossroads where you could choose what destination you wanted to be heading for. Xerokampos was love at first sight. From a far distance you could see it lay down in the bay with a couple of small islands in front of it. The beaches were great and you could choose, because it consists of a row of
beaches, and some parts of the larger beaches were naturists territory. We found ourselves a small beach only for us, one in a row of many more. It was beautiful and we enjoyed it so much. xerokampos has been put on the list of places we absolutely want to return to.
We ended our visit to the southeast with a meal in our beloved Kato Zakros, a village which is closeby. After that it was quickly off to home, because we wanted to get there before it turned dark.
The next day we already had to leave Makrigialos, because we had another reservation for two days in a hotel in Analipsi in the north of Crete. On the way to that village we made a stop in Ferma, a village not far away from Makrigialos, because the Tania Apartments are situated there. It is a complex that is run by two people from Holland, Peter and Loes, and a couple of people had emailed me that they liked this place very much.
I had emailed up and down with Peter and he showed us around at the complex. It looked really cozy and were it not that I had already made reservations elsewhere I would have liked to stay there a couple of days myself. Maybe it is a good plan for the next time. We did take the time to relax for an hour or two at the beautiful large beach in front of Tania Apartments, which was as good as empty. We were laying on one side of the beach and at the opposite side there were two other people.
The part of the beach where we were laying was the naturist part of the beach, at the other end there is a small taverna with some umbrellas and sunbeds. It's a great place and very tranquile. I could perfectly understand that there are people that return here every holiday.
After a lunch in the nice village of Mirtos and a few other stops we ended at our apartment in Analipsi at the end of the afternoon.
It turned out we were the only guests, so it was really quiet ;). The bad news about Analipsi is that they are currently building a new hotel right at the beach, with 1000 beds, so I think that this was probably the last peaceful year. I don't think that we will be returning.
From Analipsi we visited some mountain villages around Neapoli and Elounda, like the charming village of Vrahassi and Nikithianos with its windmills, and after a lovely lunch in Elounda we explored the northern coastline in that area.
This piece of Crete is remarkebly quiet, especially when you realise it is not far away from villages like Sisi, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. The landscape is very attractive, but there are no really good sandbeaches. That probably explains the solitude.
After a good look around we drove home and ended at the beach of Analipsi.
The day after that we set off for the Apokoronas, to the village of Kefalas, where we had booked something very beautiful. The Apokoronas is an area just east of Chania, and it is very green, and actually it is also reasonably quiet. We had lunch in Georgioupoli and than took the right turn to our new home.
Kefalas turned out to be one of the prettiest mountain villages we had ever seen, with lots of old churches, and also our new place was even prettier than we had expected. It was a villa with 4 bedrooms and with a private swimming pool. On this spot we had a reservation for three days and actually we didn't want to leave anymore, but just stay at home.
We decided to fill up the trunk of our car at the supermarket, cook ourselves and don't move anymore.The next days we spend mainly at the pool, or in Kefalas village, and we did a little swimming, a little reading, and we made a short trip in the area of about two hours.
We also made a visit to George, who I know from the internet, and who rents out apartments in a spectacular villa (Villa Filitsa - a renovated house with parts from the Venetian and the Turkish period - amazing!).
Two out of three evenings we have spend at home and one evening we had dinner in a crazy restaurant that was situated all alone at the end of a road. It is called Ombros Gialos and it is defenitely worth a visit.
Did I already mention how boring we are :)?? After Kefalas and te Apokoronas we had Epanochori on the schedule. Epanochori is a small mountain village in the soutwest of Crete, and here I had booked an apartment where I thought it would be absolutely silent....and it was, but we love those kind of places. The apartment was very tasteful and
we felt right at home. Our veranda was super and the views were astonishing. In the distance you could see a few pieces of sea through the mountains, and there were great sunsets and starlit skies. The surroundings were green and packed with Byzantine churches (open), so lots of candles were lit and lots of fresco's were admired.
We also visited two places in the area that we already knew, the beaches of Sougia (that suddenly had umbrellas) and Paleochora, that actually was much nicer than we remembered. Just outside Paleochora we took in a bit of sun on a (partially) naturist beach - it is called Gialiskari Beach, but it is more like a whole row of pebble beaches.
Unfortunately the end of the holiday was getting near and for the final two days we headed back to Agia Pelagia. I took a look at an apartment at the hotel Renia when I was there in the beginning of the holiday and he said he would keep that same apartment for us so we could have it those last two days. But when we arrived he had rented out the apartment that he had shown us before and he wanted to dump us in some ugly room. After my protest we could have a two-room apartment, but it didn't have the view, unless you
like grass with garbage on it and a parking lot. It made a sad impression, like: we just throw in some matresses and we don't do anything about it anymore for the next 30 years. The door had a crack that made it drafty and the whole place just didn't have a soul. As a matter of fact we both didn't like it at all. We also found out that there were no towels, so my friend went downstairs to the reception to get some, and when he was gone I realized that there were also no bedsheets.
So I also went to the reception and an ugly conversation followed. I ended up going back to my room angry, and I packed my things and left. We the went to Irini, a little bit further down the road towards the beach. We often have something to eat there and we had stayed there before. He rents out a couple of apartments that are okay, large and with seperate bedrooms, a couch, chairs and
I think we should have booked there in the first place. He is much cheaper as well. Lucky for us he had something free and when we were sitting on our balcony with a cup of coffee life was good again.
The day before the last day we drove around and took a look at the ancient village of Aptera and the castle of Izzedine. We ate at Irini restaurant downstairs, because the cook is a small miracle and the food always tastes great. The final day we spent at the beach of Palaiokastro, a short distance from Agia Pelagia, and for us also know as "the Beach of Tears" because we usually spend our last day here.
In the afternoon it became cloudy and in the evening it started raining cats and dogs, and the street turned into a river. We were forced to have dinner at Irini Restaurant again...which is not a punnishment. The journey back went smoothly except for the fact that there was a line of a couple of 100 of meters to get through passport control. The plane left with a delay but it arrived on time.
The whole trip we had clear skies so we had nice views from the plane, until we arrived at the border of Holland and the clear skies changed into heavily clouded skies.
Back on the ground everything was as usual: the Dutch traincompany had all sorts of problems and it was "get what you can get". After 45 minutes I could finally squeeze myself into an heavily packed train.
And now unfortunately we have to wait for next year May before we can go to Greece again:(. I wish everybody all the best and thanks for the attention.
GKind regards, Hans