Taken on Crete - To the Beach!!! (as if we needed direction!)
Crete, Greece: Series Part 4 of 4
After an a short stay on Santorini, we boarded another Fast Cat to take our final trip to the island of Crete. After getting into port, we were able to walk to our hotel, which was Hotel Lato - an upscale boutique hotel that had a wonderful restaurant on the roof and buffet breakfast in the morning. It was definitely one of the more comfortable places we stayed if only for one night. www.lato.gr After getting up early to have breakfast and check out, we took a cab out to Hertz where we picked up our rental car for the 7 days on Crete. On our drive, we stopped at the Palace of Knossos to explore. The Palace was first excavated in 1878 by Minos Kalokerinos of Herakleion and was followed more excavations later in the 1900s. The recreated frescoes were large and very interesting to see. I'd advise to get there early as it gets very crowded with tour buses. After we left we drove to the museum that had the actual artifacts from the Palace; 6 euro was the entry fee and well worth it. Included lots of pottery, statues, jewelry and the original frescoes that were recreated at the Palace site. www.ancient-greece.org/archaeology/knossos.html
We were off to Agia Marina on Crete, which was almost 3 hours from Herakleion. Once we arrived at our hotel Minerva Dore, a cool dip in the Olympic size pool and a cold Mythos was a must! www.holiday.gr/member.php. The town of Agia Marina had everything within walking distance. My husband and I walked to the Kri-Kri restaurant on the beach for dinner. Kri-Kri is greek for goat. One tradition after meals (except breakfast) is a shot of either Ouzo or Raki with fresh fruit or candy. www.travel-to-crete.com/ After waking up the following day, the four of us had delicious lamb burgers at the Minerva Bar, took a nap and got ready to drive to Chania, the Venetian town that looks a lot like the Italian Riviera. Chania is gorgeous! Make sure to watch the sunset. We stumbled upon Kardaggios, which is close to the lighthouse and off the main riviera. Amazing Moussaka!
Chania has a lot of fantastic shopping, tavernas, and even a Starbucks for those who need their caffeine fix. We split up to venture and shop. I picked up some gyro spices, olive soap, jewelry and Ouzo shot glasses. There's a lot to choose from and all the shop owners I spoke with are wonderfully cordial. After the drive back, my husband and I were craving pizza - there was a wonderful Italian restaurant called Italiana that we found for pizza and salad. Perfect.
Samaria Gorge: About 2 hours from Chania/Agia Marina, and 12 euros for a round trip boat ride, take your camera, plenty of water, wear good hiking shoes, bring food and sunscreen; this is quite the sight to see AND hike! I would recommend starting out early and the actual hike itself is about 12 miles. www.west-crete.com/samaria-gorge.htm
Elafonisi Beach is one of Conde Nast's Top Ten Beached of the World. I can see why - its BEAUTIFUL!!! A really fun 1.5 hour drive up there, which includes lots of windy, non guard railed roads and herds of goats to watch for, but its all worth it once you arrive. Its a huge beach with crystal clear water and beautiful soft sand. www.greeka.com/crete/chania/chania-beaches/chania-elafonisi.htm
Sadly, our fabulous trip had to come to a close - and we had to go home. My husband and I flew from Crete back to Athens and crashed at the wonderfully plush Sofitel at the airport, as we had a very early flight to Paris to connect to the USA. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken and can't wait to go back to explore the other islands! Yassas!