Five lovely nights exploring western Crete.
I was so thankful to have the last week of our Greek journey with my fourteen year old daughter. She had just completed middle school and we really needed some one-on-one time to reconnect and relax. Crete was the perfect place to do this!
We spent our first night in Heraklion, the largest city on Crete. Our hotel was nice (Kastro Hotel) and we had a delicious and very late dinner in the main pedestrian area. People were out having a great time even after 11pm when we finished dinner. Now that I am back in the US, this is truly what I miss the most about Europe. I love how every town has pedestrianized areas that the people actually use! You see folks of all ages out enjoying their city. It really is special.
On our first morning, we walked a very long distance to rent our little Kia Picante. Thank goodness it was a small car. I was relieved to still remember how to drive a stick!
Our first stop was the ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos. This place is seriously old. The first inhabitants were there around 7,000 BC. I cannot even comprehend 7,000 BC! The first palace was built around 2,000 BC. Some people call this palace Europe's first city. The excavations are still happening and while some of the recreations have been a little controversial, we were still awed by the age of this place. I also had to promise DD#1 that this was our last ancient site of the trip!
We drove on to the pleasant port city of Rethymon where we shopped in another pedestrian-only area and had a delicious lunch. The tuna salad was particularly yummy. Why don't I make this at home? I am inspired to add several Greek dishes to my cooking repertoire.
We drove on to our final destination, Chania. This would be our home base for the next four nights. We were very happy with our spacious room at Casa Veneta. It was just inside the old walled town and a great spot for exploring. I even successfully found parking! We were immediately charmed by the narrow lanes and adorable streets.
Funny sign in our hotel bathroom.
We bought a few groceries and had to snap a picture of this vast section in the freezer department. All flaky pastries. Yum!
I gave the teenager some chill out time while I found the best place in Chania for a beer. If you like good beer, great jazz music, and cats, go to Rudi's Bierhouse. I had a local beer with Cascade hops. Wow! I went here twice during our stay and met this nicest people, including Rudi.
Mostly, I was just happy to have a nice dinner with this girl.
Falassarna and Elafonisi Beaches
Today was all about seeing some of western Crete. The driving was relatively easy and extremely scenic. Falassarna Beach was our first stop. The waves were pretty intense and a lot of fun! We both were taken out by a few waves. It was a good workout!
We stopped in a small mountain village for a traditional lunch. It was great and so affordable.
The last stop was a long curvy drive to the famous and popular Elafonisi Beach. This is the pink sand beach in all of Crete's brochures. After the wave excitement at Falassarna, this one was quite tame. The water was still and so blue. It was almost difficult to find a section that was above our waists. It was hot and we knew we had a long drive back so we didn't stay for very long.
The drive was tiring so once we made it back to Chania, we parked the car, did some shopping, and had another yummy dinner. Here are a few more scenes around Chania. I especially like how the Greek man is feeding the neighborhood pets.
Like everyday, we started with a yummy breakfast. Yogurt, cappuccino, and some flaky pie goodness.
DD#1 convinced me to check out the waterpark on the outskirts of Chania. I had hoped to see some other beaches and sites but she was convincing. It turned out that she was on to something. We had a great time zipping down some mighty fast slides. I went on every single one of them!
We googled a tasty taverna for lunch. It was a family run place with very friendly people. I absolutely loved my dakos lunch - Greek bruschetta. Anya had a gyros plate.
We returned the Picante car and took the bus back to Chania for a repeat of more shopping and wandering. DD#1 scored some cute back to school clothes that no one is going have back in Oregon! I considered buying this cat along with the jewelry.
We had an easy pizza dinner while walking around the old town.
Last day in Chania
On our last day, we booked a three hour tour on a glass bottomed boat that included snorkeling! We really enjoyed Nick's boat tour and his hospitality. DD#1 had not snorkeled before and she did a great job. We also toured around a protected island known for its wild goats, caves, and decaying fortress. The boat ride was rough and several passengers were turning green. Luckily, we didn't get seasick.
The highlight was holding an octopus!
We finished our time in Chania with even more shopping. We bought our final souvenirs and I found a great reversible skirt. We had a last dinner along the city's Nea Chora beach. I know I will return to Crete someday.
Back in Athens
We took a very short flight back to Athens. The short 30-40 minute flight made me realize just how long the ferries were! We used the subway to get into the main part of Athens where we checked into Hotel Attalos. The best part of the hotel was the rooftop with its view of the Acropolis. Wow! We had a snack both in the afternoon and after our dinner. The only disturbing thing were these manikins on the street selling Athenian-style dresses. Creepy!
After our short sleep, we got back on the metro, hopped on a giant airplane bound for Istanbul, boarded another giant plane to San Francisco, and finally took the last short leg to our hometown. It is always wonderful to be home after a long journey. Still, I couldn't help but visit the public library the very next day to start planning Europe 2020. Let the adventure continue!