In summer I fly a lot to many Greek islands, but even though I have been doing this for almost 4 years already, I never got off the plane and discovered these wonderful islands. I did visit Greece with my family when I was younger, but there are still so many islands to discover! So this year I told myself I would go and finally explore some islands. To be honest, I have only done Crete so far, so I think I’ll have to postpone this adventurous plan to 2019. But, Crete was a BIG success and I am happy to tell you all about it!
We took a direct Volotea flight to Heraklion (HER/LGIR) and booked an AirBnb. We had done only some research before and decided to just find out which route to take and which places to see whilst we were there. I really enjoy the casual holidays, where we can do what we want and make our plans on the go.
We met up with my friend Laura who was doing a solo backpacking trip through the Balkan and she took a flight from Athens to arrive around the same time we did. The first thing we did was eating a Greek Souvlaki and decided our plans for the day after. We had some issues finding the AirBnb that we booked and realised that we barely knew any Greek words to ask for directions. Diego knew that Please was Para kalo and I knew how to say good evening (Kalispera) so basically we just randomly said to strangers: Kalispera, Para kalo … (and then tried to pronounce the street name of the place we were looking for). It was funny as everybody was very helpful even if they did not speak any English. With handsigns and a few words we managed to get the right directions and found the B&B.
The next morning we woke up and drove to our first stop: Rethymno. A fishermen’s town that was very touristic, but was very cute and picturesque. After a quick lunch we took the car again and drove to Balos Beach. It was not far in distance, but Google Maps was telling us it would take us 2 hours to get there. We thought it would take less than that, but man we were wrong (and Google was right.. as usual). The last 8 kilometers of the road to Balos Beach was off-road and took us about half an hour. The views on the way were really beautiful, but I was happy I was not driving myself. Diego was brave enough to do it, but I’d say it requires quite an experienced driver! When we arrived to the parking, we had another 2 km to do by foot, accompanied by the cutest little goats (that really wanted to get some food). It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, mountains around and no cars at all. Going down the mountain we saw the most beautiful beach we could imagine! Clear blue waters and SO worth the energy to get there! We spent the afternoon at the beach and before sunset we walked back up, quite a tough climb, but good as a workout!
We continued our trip to the south to arrive in the evening to Kefali, a town with probably barely 100 inhabitants and REALLY in the middle of nowhere, which made it very peaceful and silent. Waking up there, in the middle of the mountains, made me feel so free! Even though the B&B was in the middle of nowhere, it was quite close to the place we wanted to visit the next morning: Elafonissi beach. About 20 minutes of driving downhill, we arrived there and again we were surprised about the colour of the water and also the colour of the beach. The beach is colored pink due to broken pieces of coral that arrive to the beach from the water. A few hours later, after some proper sunbathing and enjoying the clear water, we got into the car again to go to our next adventure.
We had read about various Gorges, like canyons in the south of Crete, but found out that the main one (Samaria Gorge) would take a whole day: an organised tour by bus from one of the main cities to the starting point of the hike, followed by a 6 hour hike down the mountain towards the sea, to arrive in a little village at the seaside that was only connected by boats. A ferry would pick us up and bring us to the place where the tour started in one of the main cities. As much as we wanted to do that, we realised that we did not have enough time as we were going to leave the day after. We did really want to visit some nature and waterfalls and decided to use our friend Google! We then found a smaller canyon, the Kourtaliotiko Gorge (try to pronounce that, it took me a while!). It was quite easily accessible by car and also the road towards the place was truly amazing. We parked the car and took the stairs down to the most beautiful waterfalls (40m) and some pure nature. There was barely anyone else and really enjoyed the nature around us!
We drove from the Kourtaliotiko Gorge back to Rethymno in about 30 minutes to spend our last night there. We ordered some gyros, but found out that we really needed to specify pita gyros if we wanted to eat what we had in mind!
The day after, we walked through Rethymno for some shopping and then drove back to Heraklion and took the flight back to Italy!
Basically we spent two full days in Crete and actually the island was too big to see all in just two days, but I do think we have visited the best places. If I get to visit Crete again, I will try to do the Samaria hike and I will try to get to a hidden beach called Stefanou Beach! But so far: a great weekend getaway!
Find my VLOG about Crete below!