Days 18 – 21: Greece [Crete; Chania & Heraklion]

Day 18 – Sunday 8th July

It was a day of farewells today at the airport as Jenny, Aidan, Annie and I all said goodbye to Nick, who is heading back to London. It was also time to say goodbye to Turkey and hello to Greece.

From Istanbul it was a pretty quick flight, with one stopover in Athens we then boarded again to head to the island of Crete. According to the Lonely Planet, Crete is distinguished as home of Europe’s earliest civilization, the Minoan. The island is the centre of a maritime trading empire from around 2000 BC that produced artworks unsurpassed by the rest of the ancient world.

We landed in Heraklion and had to catch a cab from the airport to the bus station. From there we caught a bus that took about an hour to get to Chania, the ‘Spiritual Capital of Crete’. It was pretty good timing as we got to watch the sun setting over the water along our bus journey.

From the bus station we got some local help, after the lady at the information booth was very uninformed and after asking if she knew where our hotel is all she replied with was a very blunt ‘no’! Very helpful. Luckily, there was a kind old gentleman that spoke English and apparently had nothing better to do so he walked us there. Hotel Idramon is about a 10 minute walk from the bus station and situated along one of the main drags  that lead straight down to the water, and the town square.

Atop the hotel roof

Our host, Nicholas, was happy to go above and beyond to make sure we were all happy. He told us we were always welcome to sit up on his rooftop and chill out, or if we wanted to go somewhere he would organize it all, and he even had organised with a few local restaurants to have discounted meals for guests of his hotel. We were pretty happy to enjoy a meal down by the water and just people watch for the evening.

View of the sunset over Chania from our hotel

Downtown Chania

Day 19 – Monday 9th July

Crete is one of the few Greek islands that can most likely support itself without tourists, however tourists flock there constantly, and stay out until the wee hours of the morning. Some areas of the island are overdeveloped, though there are some unspoiled coastal areas. Chania, where we are staying, is the most attractive part of the island, we are told. The beaches are just a short bus ride from the centre of town, where we are staying. Only 15 minutes away by bus we went to a section of the beach called ‘Costa Costa’, one of the most “happening” parts of the beach, according to Nicholas.

Costa Costa

Basically, the main road is scattered with hotels that back out on to the water and the each own a section of the beach. So Costa Costa is the name of the hotel, and also that section of the beach. Overlooking the water we sat undercover on a verandah, with a DJ that cranked out the usual house tunes, with a waitress serving us drinks, it was quite a relaxing afternoon. The sand is covered with toned up and tanned Europeans. The hotels also provideded deck chairs and umbrellas that cost around 5euro to hire two chairs and shade.

By the time the sun sets most of the guests have left the beach to go home and have a siesta for a few hours before hitting the clubs later on, much later on.

Chania Nightlife
The bars situated in Chania are all pretty much along the same street, with staff members out front trying to get you in. It’s easy to take advantage of this as they all offer a free “welcome shot”, so after you’ve been welcomed, just move on to the next bar.

Day 20 – Tuesday 10th July

Hungover as hell, and probably still a little bit pissed, today we had organised a driver (thanks to our helpful host Nicholas) to take us to a beach, just outside of town. I think it was Falassarna Beach.

It took about 30 minutes to get there and is a whole lot less touristy than the beach we visited in town yesterday. It was quite relaxing, and the perfect spot to nurse ourselves back to 100%. It was about 10 euro’s each to hire our personal driver and he was happy to sit around and wait all day until we were ready before heading back in to town.

Click here for a list of other beaches in Chania.

Day 21 – Wednesday 11th July

Today we left Chania and came back to Heraklion for another night before leaving Crete. After dropping our bags at Hotel Lena, about a 7 minute walk from the bus station, we caught a taxi* to the better of the two water parks in Crete, ‘Water City’.

Awesome view over Water City

The four of us spent the whole day there, going on every ride at least three times. Entry to Water City was 25euro and although it was school holidays, it wasn’t overly packed so the queues moved pretty quick, too. Nice way to spend the day!

*Note: When catching cabs in Greece, be sure to ask them “how much?” beforehand, and don’t pay more than what they quote you. Seems to be a pretty widely accepted rule throughout Europe as they don’t really seem to use meters too often.