I planned for a birthday getaway to Croatia- Adriatic Sea, instead the wind took me to the Mediterranean Sea. The Sun, Sea and Sands awaits, Yes this is a great relaxing holiday! Crete is famous to holidaymakers for its beautiful beaches. As per usual me, I love to explore. Crete is full of ancient history with the invasion of Arabs, Ottomans, Byzantines, Romans, and Venetian. Sure offers arrays of culture, traditions and customs. As evidence of the old civilisation through it’s splendid architectures, awaiting to be explored by my wandering feet.
This holiday was booked last minute and opted to go for all inclusive package. The plane landed at Heraklion Airport about 9pm. After 15 minutes, we gone passed through customs and out at the airport while waiting for the coach to take us to the hotel. I was surprised after 30 minutes journey, the driver was calling out for the hotel. The hotel was literally in the city center, right at the shopping district of Hersonissos. After checked in at the Dimitrion Hotel, I was ready for some greek food! Wandered through the main road and found The White Lion Restaurant, not a typical greek name but they served traditional greek food. The food was fresh and tastily good! Not to mention the cocktails, Mythos beer and a free Raki shots, hmmm I’m loving the greek hospitality. So far, first night is really good, its only 1am but I call it a night.
The Great Island greeted me with it’s warm beaming sun, its a promising lovely day. It’s a good time to go for a wander around. The hotel is only a 5 minutes walk away to the beach. An easy walk to take a dip or laze around, read a book, or even better for a cocktail with a seaview. There are lots of restaurants along the coastline. Serving seafoods and traditional greek cuisine, ranging from budget, affordable to something expensive. Which ever your budget, they do serve sumptuous meal to indulge your appetite . As I scanned the place while I strolled slowly. I noticed a remarkable lighthouse towards the western part of the beach. I headed towards it and there’s a little harbour and few private Yatch and boats for tourist. I soon spoted a small blue and white building . So I decided to go and visit, I then found out a typical greek orthodox chapel tucked away up in a hill. A quiet place with a great view of the city. Decided to wait for the sunset and it was beautiful spot, theres something romantic about this place.
The following day, I have decided to walk towards the eastern part of Hersonissos. Following the coastal trail, it was a wonderful day for a stroll. I discovered more restaurants on a high end, more all-inclusive hotels and great bar to relax and unwind. With a glass of cocktail and ice cream to cool down with 28 degrees heat, its not a common combo but it was great at that time! I was heading back to my hotel and decided to take the main road. I discovered a rows of traditional tavernas. Good timing for dinner. I browsed around with the different menus. I was mesmerised by the Tarantela Taverna, it is run by Nikos Family. The typical blue and white paint motif everywhere, it was homely decorated. It was only 8 o’clock but the place was almost full. I soon found myself sat by one of the empty table. Scanning through the menu, my eyes was caught by mix seafood platter, I wasn’t disappointed with my choice. My order came on a big platter, it can easily shared for two but im a bit greedy with my seafood. I happily tucked into it and bit by bit I finished the whole platter. While enjoying my meal, there were performer dancing into a greek music. We then found out they have Greek Night on that particular time. It was a bonus and it was great watching this traditional Cretan dance. We even had a chance to participate and dance around together with other dinners. Even witnessed plate smashing! I only seen it on films before. Not just one or two plates, its was loads of plates being smashed. It was a fun night and great experience ended with free raki shots and free bottle of wine- Wow I really love the greek hospitality for the second time around!
On the following evening, I ventured my way to visit a traditional Cretan Village. I waved a taxi and we drove towards the Old Hersonissos village. It’s located on the base of Harakas Hill. After 10 minutes drive, the taxi dropped me off by the main square which was sorrournded by tavernas. I decided to walk around the village, following the tiny cobbled alleyways leading to more smaller streets. It was a lovely stroll untill I ended up again towards the main square. By that time I was ready for dinner. As per usual me, I love seafood so I decided to go to Harakas Taverna. I ordered mixed seafood, it goes well with Rosé and finished with homemade icecream. And more free raki shots with free slice of a coconut cake. In addition to friendly staff and chatty Tony the restaurant owner, I had a lovely sumptuous evening meal, and again the Greek hospitality hasn’t disappoint me.
On the next day, I decided to go on a roadtrip to Knossos. With a trusty Sat Nav I found my way to one of the famous archeological site in Crete. There’s a separate blog for my adventure in Knossos Palace
After a quick visit to the palace, drove towards Gortys another archaeological site. Driving passed Agia Varvára area, it was lunch time. In search of a typical taverna I found this very small place it has four tables. Next to my table there’s these two old guy chatting in Greek, tucking away with some olives, bread and local produce red wine. I would say its the most traditional greek taverna I have ever set foot. The owner spoke little English, I requested what ever food he can serve. Food came with big bowl of salad ( cucumber, slices of feta cheese and olives) and chicken. A very simple meal but the authentic experience is incredible. Talking about unbeaten path, I’m on the right spot.
After lunch I continued to drive towards Gortys (Górtyna) southern part of Crete. It was the capital of the Roman Era during 67 BC. Driving passed some hills and acres of olive groves there lies a remains of the 6th century Basilica of Agios Titos. It is where you can also find the Law of Code, a stone tablet with script setting rules on criminal justice, property, inheritance and marriage rights dating back around 500BC. There’s this small Roman Odeion next to it, an impressive amphitheater made of bricks. It was a lovely roadtrip looking for archaeological sites.
A lovely birthday week spent in Crete. I surely come back again, not just for the Raki shots but for magnificent Greek hospitality. Have you been to Crete? Comment below with your wonderful holiday in Crete, I would love to hear.