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Hania

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To visit the Crete picture gallery 2001 - click HERE

To visit the Crete picture gallery 2007 - click HERE

To visit the Crete picture gallery 2008 - click HERE

We visited Crete in June 2001 and stayed in Almirida, a small village with just a handful of tavernas. The tavernas all served good food, our particular favourites being the Erotikritos and Thalassa. At first sight the 2 small supermarkets don’t seem to be adequate enough. However, as is the case with most Greek supermarkets, they always seem to have what you want. There are also a couple of bars that stay open late into the night. The beach is excellent and is gently shelving. Although to be honest I prefer to enter the water as quickly as possible i.e. one step, two steps and in !! Of course it is ideal for families with young children.

We were surprised that such a relatively unspoilt place could be so near the airport – about 30-45 minutes transfer. There was some building work in progress but hopefully it won’t be enough to spoilAlmirida - Click to enlarge its village character. Occasionally it can get a little windy in the afternoons but not unpleasantly so. This obviously answers the question – ‘Why is there a wind surfing school located on the beach’? We stayed in studios situated on the cliffs to the east of the village. Be warned, it is a steep walk up !!

However, the view of the sun setting over Souda bay more than made up for any pain incurred in getting there. Overall Almirida is an excellent place to stay if you are looking for somewhere quiet and relaxing.

Kalives to the west had more of a small town feel. There is a very nice walk between Almirida and Kalives, which takes you off the main road. On the way there are a couple of good beaches – usually empty.

Our only trip into Hania was spoilt by getting a parking ticket – at the time 20,000 drachma !! My advice, Hania - Click to enlargetherefore, is don’t park on the harbour. The town is a splendid place to visit if only to stroll around the harbour and take in the sights. It helps if you are hungry as you stroll around the harbour edge as you are likely to be invited into a taverna or bar about every 10 metres.

One of the prettiest roads that we travelled on was from Garipas, on the outskirts of Hania, to Theriso. The road follows a riverbed through a gorge and if you persevere past Theriso you can reach Meskla and then return to Hania via the main road. Equally dramatic is the road from Vrysses that takes you down to Hora Sfakion. This is where you will find the Imbros gorge, which although a shorter walk than tackling the Samaria gorge, is nonetheless, still a spectacular sight.

The drive to the top of the Samaria Gorge is spectacular. Samaria Gorge - Click to enlargeThe Omalos Plateau, on route is very dramatic. Although we knew it was there it still came as a surprise after travelling up for so long. Later in the holiday we walked some of the Gorge the ‘lazy’ way. I should point out that ‘lazy’ is the way the tour operators describe the trip – ‘Samaria – the lazy way’. A bit misleading to say the least. The organised trip involved a coach to Sfakion and then the ferry to Ag Roumeli. Needless to say by now we were walking in the mid-day sun and also against the flow of people who were nearing the end of the walk down from the top. We walked up to just beyond the Iron Gates. I must say that if we ever went back that we would definitely do the full walk. Inevitably somewhere as spectacular as the Samaria Gorge will attract lots of visitors so it can get very busy.

Crete is a big island and it was really only possible to explore just a few places in the west of the island. We did, however, manage a trip to Knossos. This was quite a long day out but worth it. Obviously Knossos gets very busy. So come prepared - plenty of water and equal measures of patience. There is quite a bit of queuing to do as you are guided from one sight to the next. This of course is a pastime that the British are very good at.

Cretans are very friendly. Once in the mountains we were stopped looking at the map when ‘red Toyota pick-up man’ pulled over and suggested a beach to visit. He kindly offered to show us the way. At great speed he shot off with us in hot pursuit. We discovered a few interesting short cuts before arriving back at the main road where we bid him farewell.Knossos - Click to enlarge Another time, we were innocently wandering around a mountain village when a man from the local kafenion beckoned us over. He insisted that we joined him in a glass of raki. On leaving I repaid his generosity with cigarettes. I do hope he was not offended.

Crete offers the visitor many contrasts and there is literally something to suit all tastes.

To view the travelogue of the 2007 trip - click HERE

To view the travelogue of the 2008 trip - click HERE

To visit the Crete picture gallery 2001 - click HERE

To visit the Crete picture gallery 2007 - click HERE

To visit the Crete picture gallery 2008 - click HERE

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