|Posted by Alexandra S on January 31, 2018 at 6:20 PM|
Crete is one of Greece's top destinations, no doubt! With an incredible flow of international tourists reaching the island annually, it was high time I visited the island a second time myself and explored it my way. I ventured off solo, but I was lucky to have some amazing friends who made my stay even more memorable and for whom I am forever thankful. So here's how it all went down:
Spontaneity is what defines me for the most part, and that is also what defines much of my holiday ventures half the time. There is of course the basic planning involved, like buying the actual ticket to the destination as well as booking some overnight stays. Additionally, I always download the bus/boat schedules to have handy and certain details of places I know I will want to visit, no matter what. After that, it's all about the moment and the mood.
"May I have a one-way ticket to Chania, please?" was the sentence that started an amazing one-week journey on the beautiful island of Crete, from west to east.
The general idea was to arrive in Chania, spend a couple of days there exploring that region and then move towards Heraklio and the eastern part of Crete.
A few days after I had bought he ticket, I was on a ship leaving the port of Pireas at around 21.00 and was due to arrive the next moring at 06.00 at the port of Souda, just outside Chania.
As much as I love flying, being at sea is a feeling that can not be compared... for me at least. Regardless of how long the journey is, if you have good company and a place to rest, the summer holiday automatically takes on a different vibe. By good company, I meant Victoria Hislop's amazing book "The Island" that was actually based on Crete, and specifically, Spinalonga (www.victoriahislop.com).
I barely slept, as the excitement would hardly let me. However, I woke up around 04.30 and made my way to the ship's cafeteria for a coffee which I took with me out on the deck at the rear end of the ship.
There is honestly something magical about dawn. The same salty air that waved the greek flag above me, was the same sea breeze that brushed upon my face and awoke me softly... the same sea breeze I had grown up to adore.
As we pulled into the port of Souda, backpack in hand, I got off the boat and made my way to the local bus that would drive us into town. I checked into my hotel and then set off to explore Chania. (For the record, I have to say I was so impressed by Crete's regional bus networks! A network I was going to be using throughout the week: Always on time, professional, service-minded staff and excellent drivers. The buses were all well-maintained AND some even had free wi-fi on board, oh yes! (www.e-ktel.com)
(About Chania: Text from www.incrediblecrete.gr)
The old town is located on and around the hill of Kasteli and was built over the ruins of the Minoan city Kydonia. It is surrounded by the Byzantine walls, the Venetian walls and the sea. The town of Chania, the first capital of Crete, kept its historical centuries-old heritage almost unaffected. Its flair has attracted scientists, philosophers, poets and artists from different countries and it has become a cultural centre.
The Minoan civilization left behind grand tombs and interesting pottery objects. During the Venetian and the Ottoman rule, people of different nationalities and religions co-existed. Christians (Catholic and Orthodox), Jews and Muslims, have left discernible traces and produced particularly interesting creations.
Here's a taste of Chania through my camera lens and also an introduction to the history and culture of Chania
The Great Arsenal, which is used today as a convention and exhibition centre is eye-capturing. Along the harbour, small cafes and restaurants create an inviting atmosphere. On the hill of Kasteli there are still parts of the old Rector’s palace and its court. The excavation site of ancient Kydonia and the ruins of the church of St. Maria of Mirakoli (1615) are located near there.
In the area of Halepa is the palace of Prince George, the house of Eleftherios Venizelos, the French School (1860), the church of St. Magdalene (1903) and the church of Evangelismos. Other places are of interest from later years: “Villa Koundourou”, the Workshop of Fine Arts and the Youth Centre, the Municipal Park (1870) with its clock, the Market (built in 1913, a cross-shaped building with hundreds of small shops), the Park of Peoples’s Peace and Friendship, the Court House, the Prefecture, the “Venizelion” School of Music, the Historic Archives Museum, the War Museum and the Museum of Chemistry.
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The first day at Chania ended with an amazing dinner with three amazing friends and colleagues. Manoli F, Dimos P and Manolis V, Thank you for making the first day at Chania such a wonderful one.
After having explored the the southern side of Chania's region over the next couple of days - visiting the Beaches at Paleochora and a day trekking the Samaria Gorge - the final night before I took off for Heraklio, left me with the most beautiful taste. As I was wandering around town and had a bite to eat, I caught a few musical notes in the air and decided to follow the sound. That sound lead me to the waterfront where there was a dance performance with varous dance schools. One particular moment stayed with me... Crete's future generation; so full of energy, joy and music!
The story continues on the next article with a lifetime experience trekking in the Gorge of Samaria.