So, I’m back from my holiday. To be honest, I can’t tell you whether that is a good thing or not. Whilst I appreciate that holidays can’t last forever, I really wish that wasn’t true. Time has a funny way of passing during a holiday. The days go by slowly and I always find myself being lulled into a deceptive state of relaxation in which I am oblivious to time itself; the only structure coming from the big old light in the sky. And yet, I woke up on my penultimate day and came to the unexpected realisation that the serenity had an expiration date.
I always find it difficult to summarise a holiday: when asked “how was it?” my response can never seem to do the experience justice. So, instead of hopelessly trying to form a better answer, I’ve put together a mini bucket list of things to do in Crete- a sort of review, if you like, of all the things I did and the places I saw that stuck in my mind. I have to warn you, it’s not a quick read…
- Kanali restaurant: There really could be no better way to kickstart this list, because nothing else quite manages to capture Crete so neatly in it’s essence. Little more than a small shack perched on the edge of a rather isolated bay off the coast of Elounda, Kanali incorporates good food (fish is their speciality), beautiful views (nowhere else that I’ve visited have I seen such a clear, almost glass-like sea) and the classic Greek hospitality.
- Taverna Giorgos-Giovanni: Situated in the small village of Plaka, this Taverna has been visited by the likes of Lady Gaga and Rio Ferdinand and lives up to it’s local reputation for a great atmosphere and even greater food. Beware though, it’s always rammed full of people, so book ahead. The owner’s brother also has a restaurant in Elounda (Megaro) , which is equally as delicious and not as busy.
- Spinalonga: From a distance, this small island may go unnoticed, but the story behind it’s relevance to Crete is hard to ignore. Once Greece’s main leper colony, the Venetian fortress is now visited by boatloads of tourists everyday. If you’re planning a visit, give ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop a whirl first; the book tells the story of the island in a heart-warming way and is based on the true tales of those who lived there.
- The Green Shop: Just one of many unique shops in Plaka, every item is green, blue of turquoise (or one of the multiple shades in between). They sell beautiful pottery (handmade in Crete) nestled between scarves and jewellery.
- Jeep Safari Crete: Providing inside knowledge on the Cretan landscape during a tour which led us from tree-climbing goats (yes, really) to and eco-village selling Pythagoras cups (it took me a while to figure them out), the drivers are good-humoured and insightful, which made for a great day out. There were plenty of stops for freshly squeezed orange juice along the way, even one at the birthplace of Zeus. A fun fact from our driver, Andreas: the best honey is made with thyme.
- Porto Elounda Golf Resort: There are plenty of hotels to choose from on Crete, but this is the one we chose. The rooms were spacious, the staff were friendly and the beach was but a buggy ride away. For me, what set it apart was the multitude of restaurants, from the sea-surrounded Koh to Odysseus tavern, all serving wonderful food. Not only that, but the resort is home to the Six Senses Spa, voted one of the best in the world. As I’m sure is true of most beaches on Crete, the sand was soft and white, the sea warm and clear and there wasn’t a pebble in sight.