The Crete Experience is a holiday we will all remember and an Island we all fell in love with.
Our first port of call to stay in was called Uncle Georges. This was a very nice smaller hotel run by a local Cretian family and extremely affordable and comfortable with your own private bar by the pool selling an array of beverages and a restaurant at the front of the hotel serving an extremely good range of food both traditional and English/Italian and Cretian. The hotel is situated along the high street which in turn has a good range of bars and lovely restaurants located very close to the hotel. There is also a very large car park opposite the hotel for your hire car.
After your evening meal, a stroll along the high street to window shop or pick up a few trinkets and tourist items is a must, whilst further down the street there is a leisure complex which holds a cinema and bowling alley as well as ice cream parlours and places for the family to take their children. The local supermarket is available to collect tickets for the local City Bus Tour and is one of the more affordable ways of getting around the local area – we did this on one of our more rainy days and this allowed us to get our bearings and seek out some of the main tourist attractions, one being the Minoan Ruins in Knossos ( see below for further information). We also tried the ‘Noddy Train’ which is a little four to six seater carriage land train, run by a local family, which takes an hour tour around the back streets of the old town including a trip up the hills to be confronted by fields and roads full of goats and the local fishing port – small but pretty, where you can watch the local fishermen making their nets for their next catch. An interesting sight were the gas work plant stations all painted in different colours of the rainbow! Quite an unusual sight!
At the back of the hotel you can find the beach front, which out of season might be fairly quiet but in main season holds beach parties and different sections of the beach are ‘dedicated’ to the hotels that it is adjacent to. There are some stunning views out to sea from this area and the Cretian flowers are both beautiful and fragrant.
Villa Askifou – Kares
On our fourth morning we set off in our minibus to our villa in the mountains. The journey itself was long along the coast road but with some truly stunning scenery we would not have missed it for anything! Some wonderful spots to stop and take photos . One of our pit stops was a little road side farm/bistro off the beaten track that offered us fresh orange juice ( make sure you try these whilst in Crete!) and probably the most amazing view of the coast we have ever seen! The little old lady, her hands blackened with baking, handed the girls in our party some flowers as they left – nice little touch! Once onto the right path to Kares the one thing we noticed was the change in weather -due to it being way up in the mountains we were literally in the clouds and beware there are two Kares, so don’t end up in the wrong one ( which we unfortunately did!) After frantic telephone calls the owner of the Villa Askyfou met us on a dirt track to guide us up the mountain to our villa – probably the most trecherous ride we would ever take in a minibus! The Villa Askyfou is a beautiful fully restored building lovingly decorated in wood with three floors, ensuite bathrooms and both a stand alone bath and a spa bath. There is a rooftop infinity pool with a BBQ area – views across the mountains and fields full of goats and sheep meant that all day and all night the soft jingle jangle of goat bells was our background music! The villa is decked out with family photos and is an ideal setting for a group to stay and relax in pure serenity – but when it rains – boy does it rain! Due to this fact I would highly recommend going to this villa during the months of July and August as this will give you the best weather , our visit in September was just a tad wet! If you like cats you will be happy at the Villa Askyfou as the owner has a cat ( with no name) that sleeps on your bed, snuggles up to you on the sofa and comes in each morning for breakfast!
Sfaki is situated by the sea not far from the villa on the south coast and this is where we enjoyed a nice cold beer, cake and an ice cream and perfect place to chill out and watch the world go by and the fishing in the small bay area. We also took the opportunity to buy some of the village home made Wine and Raki as well as homemade honey and enjoyed a social evening back at the villa playing cards, reading books and playing our music to the early hours of the morning. With no neighbours to disturb this is an ideal villa to party ! (just be careful with the Raki its lethal and a very acquired taste).
One of the very busy seaside resorts in the north of the island is Hersonissos. Very much a tourist area, it is both very busy and full of hotels and tourist attractions such as buggy hire, day trip bookings and clubs, bars and restaurants. This is a great venue for the party animal, with a lively nightlife. We would highly recommend staying at the Silva Beach Hotel which was very easy to find as it was just off the main highway which goes direct from one end of the Island to the other.
This hotel is very well situated with two very big clean swimming pools, numerous restaurants and bars and immaculate accommodation. The layout is stunning and the gardens around the hotel are just divine. The great choice of bars and restaurants very close by and plenty of shops is a must if you wish to get some designer clothing to take back home with you! (There were plenty of MK bags for the lady in your life!)
THE Historic Island of Spinalonga is reached by boat and there are many organised boat trips to choose from and all at reasonable prices. Spinalonga was an old leper colony which is now visited daily by hundreds of tourists. The Island of Spinalonga featured in the novel by Victoria Hislop called The Island (funnily enough!)
Taken by coach to the boat, the journey across was beautiful on the calm waters and after paying a small entrance fee to the island you are taken on a tour of the main area – following which you are allowed 30 minutes to go off on your own to investigate – it is really easy to walk completely around the island in that time and take some truly amazing photographs. Once back on the boat after the Island we were taken to a very secluded little bay out in the calm waters ,where we were treated to a lovely BBQ and drinks all included in the price of the ticket. We had a swim and stayed at the bay for approximately two hours to relax. Once back on the boat the journey continued to the port of AG Nikolaos where we were lucky enough to see one of the cruise liners docked and to have a quick walk around the town which was full to the brim with tourist shops and local craft. As well as perhaps one or two bars for a nice cold beer just by the harbour.!
Palm Beach Club
Very popular bar within the resort of Hersonissos. This is only a short walk from The Silva Beach along the beach front and during the day is the perfect place to chill out by the pool listening to music, by day it turns into a party club to attract young and beautiful people to swim and drink cocktails whilst swimming to the latest club classics by the DJ on site. Open to the general public this is one I could highly recommend.