“The truth is that the Cretans are the Scots of Greece; they have lived through countless crises to emerge always just as truly themselves – indomitable friends or deadly enemies” Lawrence Durrell writes in The Greek Islands. Alexandra Fiada in the Xenophobe’s Guide to the Greeks points out that ‘[t]he Greeks come second only to the Japanese as far as cleanliness is concerned. Home scrubbing is a point of honour.” What a mixture… You feel exactly that while being in Crete; everything is perfectly in order yet so chaotic: it’s sunny, yet so windy, it’s modern, yet so old fashioned, and the list goes on. But still, my trip to Crete was amazing. Below you’ll find my 5 best of Crete.
Paradise beach. One of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to. It has a shallow sea shore (safe for children) and a deep part, too. The colours are spectacular, from light blue lagoon to turquoise green and deep dark blue. It has a flat, sandy beach with pink sand. You can easily spend hours in the sea, relaxing and admiring its pure beauty.
Charming town. The old Venetian harbour is beautiful; you can walk amongst colourful houses surrounded by the sea and the old port which is several kilometres long. I enjoyed wondering the small streets, visiting museums and churches, having a few stops for coffee and a sweet or savoury Cretan delicacy. Even though it was low season, the town was quite crowded, particularly in the cafes and restaurants. The supervised parking experience was quite interesting; they took our keys and re-parked our car in our absence, then delivered it to the exit when we were back. Scary, but convenient!
Seaside camping with private access to the beach. Sounds amazing? Yes, it truly was. The campsite is not far away from Paleochora and is situated just on the beach. It is a relatively small site, clean with plenty of shady pitches. The internet connection is excellent. Be aware that the mountainous wind can be quite strong at night, so fasten your tent well. It’s amazing to be able to see the sun rise or set, or go for a jog or swim whenever you fancy!
The taste, the colour, the price! Yes, food in Crete is delicious: olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh bread, olive oil, honey, oranges, oregano… do we actually need anything more? It’s a feast in its pure form; it’s simple, tasty and pleasant. You can buy kilogrammes of tomatoes and create the most scrumptious stew. It’s best to find a local fruit & veg shop or a side-road stall and buy fresh, ready-to-eat food; I would avoid bigger shops or hyper-markets. If eating in a restaurant or café it’s good to choose one that many Cretans eat in (for better prices and food) and if you hesitate, the waiter will quickly give you some recommendations. Then when you nod, he’ll take it as a ‘yes’ and disappear to bring the most delicious meal!
Have you ever met a Greek who wasn’t nice to you? I haven’t. Cretans are the same; they’re kind, smiling, positive people who enjoy life to the full. They may drive a bit too fast at times and serve you a Cretan salad with a fag in their mouth… But still, I love them and love their hedonistic approach to life, it’s refreshing.
Have you been to Crete? What was your experience? Please share in the comments below.
Written by Kinga Macalla