Sunday, 24 September 2017

How to enjoy Crete -2 hrs by plane from Geneva- my personal diary

Personal diary and advice about travelling the fabulous Crete , this is my 5 days holiday last Easter.
I love travelling and whenever I have time I write a diary, I hope it can be useful if you plan to go there.
seaside at Plaka , one of the places I loved most in this holiday picture is copyright howtogeneva.com

DAY 1 We land in Chania on the Easter Day and we quickly get out the airport,  we only have hand luggages, more than enough for 5 days holiday, and we easily find the Europcar employee who accompanies us to take the car we hired, a small Suzuki that is very cheap and will be very practical and reliable throughout our entire trip.
Our  first stop is Chania, at Porto Veneziano Hotel , booked via Expedia for 163 euros the triple room with breakfast and parking included, the hotel is located right on the seafront near the Naval Museum,
Chania is charming and and lively , the Easter evening is crowded of locals and tourists  hanging in trendy cafes for a drink, the atmosphere is very nice with a  beautiful sunset as background.
After having tasted some white Crete wine in one of the waterfront cafes  we have dinner at the Salis Restaurant ,an elegant place very close to our hotel, we have fish dinner , it’s good but not spectacular, at least for us , however the atmosphere is trendy and I would recommend this place ,although it’s not cheap to be Greece.

DAY 2 On the Easter Monday the sky is grey and we are glad to have seen  Chania at the golden sunset light of the day before. After a good breakfast, we decide to walk on the passage leading to the lighthouse, crossing  very few tourists and some fishermen; then we want to explore the old part of town , it’s beautiful and characteristic, and we get lost  in the many narrow streets that have plants and flowers as ceilings , we enjoy the view of boutique hotels and cafes, and local craft stores among which I liked one that sells antique prints and another with crocheted dolls.
Unfortunately main attractions are closed in Chania on that day so we can’t visit any church or monument and frankly the many souvenir shops are not worth a stop, so we go back to our hotel to collect our luggage and continue to our main destination Gouves, 20km east of Heraklion , our base for the rest of the holiday
The road runs along the coast, and it takes us at least an hour to get to Rethymno where we decide to stop .The city is pretty cute with Venetian palaces and wooden balconies that we had already saw in Nafplio a few years ago, also here we slowly walk in the lively city center crossing  a crowd of tourists and of course the myriad of handicraft shops and souvenirs. We aren’t hungry so we decide to grab something in a nice local pastry shop and we continue to the fortress which unfortunately is closed, however  weather is nice and the walk is very pleasant.
The hotel where we are directed is the Amirandes part of the Greek Hotel Chain Grecotel famous for its high standard facilities, we booked it about two months before on bookgreece.com, a new travel portal that we did not know and which turned out to be great, in fact we got an unbeatable offer for this one that is  one of the most famous hotel in the whole Greece.
The hotel is in fact faboulous  it seems floating on the sea which it is surrounded in all its parts in the central structure, it is really a pleasure to enjoy the sea view sitting in  one of the sofas especially at sunset, unrivaled luxury at affordable price thanks bookgreece.com.

DAY 3 The morning of April 18, the alarm clock sounds early because we will meet our guide at  9.30 am at the entrance of Knossos , this private guided tour is not cheap but Mrs Filia Chrissou (filia.chrissou@gmail.com) is very well prepared , professional and very gentle . The guided tour is s worth the money , because Filia enabled us to fully appreciate the majesty of this immense  archaeological site, beautiful but not ideal to be visited alone and without preparation
I must say that our visit to Knossos has gone beyond our expectations, certainly thanks to our guide, but also to the clear sunny day , to the few tourists, probably the mass tourism will arrive later, and to the colors of the temples: the purple red and the black that stand in the blue of the clear sky of April
Time flies and and Mrs Filia suggests to take us to the Heraklion archaeological museum without any extra charge , this is a fabulous surprise , we discover the wonderful beauties of this truly unforgettable museum, which holds all the treasures of Minoan art and the originals of what we saw in Knossos.
We now need a break and we point to Heraklion city center , which is a five minute walk from the Museum , we have a good gyros in one of the cafes on the main square, the area is nice, lively with beautiful places , nice people, nice narrow streets, definitely a must see place.
At our return, almost at the end of a long day the Amirandes relaxes us with its sophisticated atmosphere and the dreamview , and its great dinner service, included our package, and live music.
the impressive site of Knossos, best to be seen with an expert guide. Picture is copyright howtogeneva.com 

DAY 4 On April 19, the weather forecasts are good and so our travel plan for Spinalonga and Agios Nikolaos is confirmed. We are not in a rush and we decide to drive slowly and take the ferry from  Plaka, rather than from  Elounda, this is a great choice , 'The road leading to Plaka from Neapoli is extremely scenic  and it gives us unforgettable views
Plaka is a small, picturesque village with a crystal blue water, a handwritten sign indicates free parking and the direction to get the ferry to Spinalonga, the small ticket barrack is directly on the pier, we wait for the  first boat , in 10 minutes we are on the island that was the last leper in Europe.
We get off the boat and find a bar with a wonderful sea view and the ticket office on the opposite side of the pier ,  there is not too much to see at the pier and we are here to explore Spinalonga so we pay the ticket and get inside the leper town. The walk through the fortified and pleasant town offers beautiful views of the crystal clear sea and the most beautiful gulf we have seen in this holiday.
We decide to walk all the trails, even the one that reaches the top , it’s difficult to figure out how the atmosphere was when the island was populated by lepers , now it seems a paradise but it must have been very different a long time ago…  after the walk we head to the pier to wait for the first boat to arrive at Plaka  Although Plaka is a very pretty village  definitely one of the most characteristic places we have seen throughout our holiday, we decide to leave to Agios Nikolaos because we want to visit the village and return to the hotel in time to enjoy its facilities .
Agios Nikolaos is anice little town, perhaps less beautiful than I expected, I definitely prefer Rethymno and Chania, however it’s worth a walk, we admire the lagoon inside the village, very unique and full of fishes that come to the surface as soon as you throw a crumb of bread in the water, then we have lunch and we eat the best pita of the whole holiday in a tavern called the Taverna Karnagio , full of locals and tourists there is a very nice atmosphere  may be because the weather is gorgeous and the summer is close.
On the way back to our hotel we stop at the monastery of St. George a place full of peace and serenity.
DAY 5 The next day on April 20th the weather is still OK , however the sun rays don’t have the strength of the day before and the colors are faded, the temperature is quite springy compared to the nearly summer of the day before, we give up on our plan to go to  Festo because this would mean  another full day trip on Crete curly roads and we are feeling tired so  we decide to enjoy the hotel's amenities and relaxing atmosphere.It's our last full day in this beautiful island.
Our hotel the Amirandes Grecotel - a true paradise - picture is copyright of www.howtogeneva.com

DAY 6 On Friday 21st the weather is even more uncertain and colder than the previous day, so we take it slowly and we leave at around lunch time from the Hotel , direction Chania where we will take a plane at  10 p.m. . The man at  Agios Nikolaos tourist office had suggested me  to visit Kournas Lake, which is not far from the main road , so we decide to have a stop there .The lake is smaller than I expected but definitely it’s quite unique , even if the grey sky prevents us from appreciating the blue shades and the transparency of the water  , that we saw in pictures and postcards.
To be honest , if it was summer time, I would not sacrifice a day at the sea to see this lake, but in this season I enjoy this visit very much , may be because of the pedalo (paddle boat) , the most popular  way to cruise this lake  and also because I had read that the lake is inhabited by a rare type of water turtles , so we decide to go for a turtles  photograph safari ....in Greece !
After 2 hours of paddling and exploration, we finally see a turtle and lots of giant red and white fishes, we enjoy the silence of the place, off the touristic tracks .
Our last day in Crete goes fast with a stop to eat in Chania in a place not worth remembering , and a visit to the beautiful monastery of Agia Triada, practically attached to Chania airport, the place is very impressive , it's peaceful and isolated , it's atmosphere is unreal , there is a nice museum and a shop that sells monks' products which unfortunately  we can’t buy because we can't transport liquids in our hand luggage .
Our unforgettable holiday is over now , on Monday we will be back at work , bye bye beloved Greece, we will be back soon!


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