Hi there, stranger,
It’s been a long time coming, this blog entry on my travels to Crete and Santorini. If you didn’t know, I spent the next to last week of my holidays in Crete soaking up what I thought would be the last rays of sunshine before autumn with my mum. Fortunately, we have been blessed with an incredible amount of sunny days these past few weeks of September and October.
But anyways, here goes my travel report. I will also include some tips and suggestions in case you ever find yourself in Crete too (which you should, obviously).
Where we stayed
We stayed in a village called Koutouloufari, which is part of an equally small, but nonetheless charming and cozy town, Chersonissos, about 20 minutes from the Heraklion airport. It took only a short walk from our hotel until we were surrounded by countless cafés, bars and restaurants. Not to mention the many cats. Crazy cat lady destination #1, I’d say. One particular place that we liked, and went back to three (!) times, was Pithari: great traditional food, huge variety, nice area, friendly staff. Another highly recommended place was the Dutch pancake café on the main square of Chersonissos: just the right place for a fika! Also, best. apple pie. ever. Better be quick though, the place was for sale.
Where we went
Fodele – not really worth it, in my humble opinion. It’s the city of the painter El Greco. Okay. Cool. But other than one statue, there wasn’t really anything to see. A couple of old ladies doing some crocheting, obviously aimed at tourist though.
Chania – gorgeous harbour town, which makes it a very popular tourist destination. This made it really crowded, but if you try to get away from all the people, which is also away from the people, more inwards, to the tiny streets and alleys, you’ll find it to be less crowded and indeed very amiable. We were only there for a good two hours, but could’ve easily spent a bit longer. Glad we got to see most of it, though.
Rethymnon – similar to Chania, but less colourful and charming. A lot of the buildings weren’t as well preserved, which might have something to do with the fact that this is a student city? Still, lots of cool graffiti, another rustic harbour environment and just simply a pleasant city to spend an afternoon strolling around in.
Knossos – probably considered to be the must-see of Crete. Very interesting to see, and also located in a beautiful mountainous environment with the typical Mediterranean trees. However, if you are not a massive architecture or history fan, you might find an afternoon there a bit too long. Personally, it’s just easier for me to relate to the myths and stories behind the ruins than the ruins themselves. But that is, of course, personal.
Heraklion – another great harbour town, which also happens to be the capital of Crete. This is the place you want to go to do your shopping. And also, another great harbour. Almost lost my hat there because of the strong sea “breeze”. Must have been karma, because earlier on I’d been making fun of a lonely, lost hat on one of the roofs of the Knossos complex. I’ve never run so fast in my life. But then again, I say that every time I run. Back to Heraklion, I digress. Heraklion, or Iraklio, has a great Museum of Archeology. After half a day at Knossos, we’d had our portion of history, so I’d suggest splitting the two up into separate days to get the most out of both.
Santorini – not a city, but a whole different island. To visit Santorini was one of our main goals of our trip to Crete. Because we didn’t want to spend a whole week on Santorini, but preferred spending some time where there was a bit more to go and sightsee, we decided on Crete, which would make visiting Santorini easy, only a 2 hour boat ride away. And so we went. And so I crossed off another one of my bucket list items. #58
And we were glad that we went! Santorini is totally different from Crete. The colourfulness and brightness of Crete was a great contrast to the white and blue and green and black (Santorini is a volcanic island) serene surroundings of this smaller island. My favourite place has to be Oia. No matter how touristy, or crowded, it still breathed a sort of calm. Because it’s impossible for cars to get there, people randomly walk past with their mules. So cliché. But I like clichés sometimes. I did in Santorini’s case anyways.
Thira was a nice place too, especially because it has the best view on the caldera, but if I had to choose, I’d choose to spend a few more hours in Oia. Sigh. It really was everything I’d hoped for.
What we wished we’d know
7 days was okay, but there were a whole heap of activities that we still could’ve done, and we had a hard time deciding. Although we made a good selection, I think, if you can spare the time and money, a longer trip to Crete would be even better. Or you can just go back, I guess.
So, where to next?
Until next time,