Blog,  Europe,  Greece,  Travel

Picturesque Crete

Istanbul was amazing and we would gladly have stayed there longer, but after years in Asia we still didn’t have winter clothes, and winter was starting to knock on the windows. So we decided to look for a slightly warmer place and it happened that we found ridiculously cheap tickets to Crete. Probably because it was off-season, but we didn’t mind. We are not ordinary tourists after all. We landed at the airport in Chania. It’s quite a small airport and since we arrived off the tourist season, it was almost abandoned. Check-in went exceptionally quickly. Upon leaving, we were found by a car rental employee. Of course, we rented a car. We quickly figured out that without a car we wouldn’t see much on this beautiful, mountainous island.

During our trip to Crete, we decided to rent an apartment through Airbnb in the picturesque village of Plaka, located near Chania. Plaka is a small, quiet village that has preserved its traditional Greek character. White houses, stone streets, friendly inhabitants, and incredible views of the sea – all of this makes Plaka an ideal place for a relaxing holiday stay. It’s a decision we’ve never regretted. Plaka turned out to be the perfect base for exploring the area.

Chania, on the other hand, the second-largest city in Crete, is a real gem that offers endless discovery opportunities. The city is located on the northern coast of the island and is known for its beautiful old town and picturesque port. The narrow, cobbled streets of the old town are full of colorful buildings, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants that are bustling with life from morning to late at night. Many of them are housed in old Venetian houses, which give the place a unique character and remind of the rich history of this place.

One of the main points of interest in Chania is the Venetian port. The bay, where yachts and fishing boats are moored, is surrounded by a promenade where you can have lunch overlooking the sea. The promenade is also home to numerous bars and restaurants offering delicious Greek dishes and local wines. Nearby is also the old sea lighthouse, one of the city’s most recognizable attractions, offering breathtaking views of the sea.

Near Chania, the majestic White Mountains stretch out, which are home to numerous gorges, including the famous Samaria Gorge. This longest gorge in Europe is a real challenge for active holiday lovers, but it rewards with amazing views and wild, undisturbed nature. A journey through the gorge is an unforgettable adventure that gives the opportunity to see endemic species of Crete’s flora and fauna.

For those who want to explore the area, we recommend a trip to one of the nearby monasteries, such as the Agia Triada Monastery. This impressive 17th-century monastery is still active and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. It is worth coming here to admire the architecture, feel the atmosphere of the place, and taste local products such as wine and olive oil.

Finally, you can’t miss the wonderful beaches of Crete. Although most of them are more distant from Chania, it is worth taking the time to visit at least one of them. Elafonisi Beach, with its pink sand and blue waters, is one of the most beautiful places on the island. It is known for its beautiful views and crystal clear water, which encourages swimming and relaxation. Whether you’re a sun lover or prefer to spend time actively, you’ll definitely find something for you here.

Chania and the surrounding area is a place that combines the charm of ancient cities, natural beauty, and cultural richness. It’s the perfect place for a holiday that will stay in your memory for a long time.

Cretan cuisine is appreciated worldwide for its healthy and tasty cuisine. It consists mainly of fresh, local products that are available on the island, such as olives, vegetables, herbs, fish, and seafood.

One of the most recognizable dishes that you should try while staying in Crete is moussaka. It’s a roast made of eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce, which is baked to a golden color. Moussaka is the basis of Cretan cuisine and is served in almost every tavern on the island.

Another popular dish is dakos, a kind of salad consisting of dry bread, tomatoes, feta, and olive oil. Dakos is often served as an appetizer or light lunch, and its fresh and tasty taste perfectly matches the hot, sunny climate of Crete.

Kalitsounia are traditional Cretan dumplings filled with cheese and herbs. They are usually served as a dessert, though they can also be eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Kalitsounia are small and delicate, but full of flavor, thanks to the rich filling of cheese and herbs.

In Crete, many local wines and spirits are also produced. Many restaurants offer local wines that go perfectly with Cretan dishes. Raki, a strong spirit made from grape residues after vinification, is also very popular in Crete. It is often served after meals as a digestive. Cretan cuisine is not only tasty dishes but also a healthy lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet, which includes Cretan cuisine, is known for its health benefits, such as improving heart health and longevity. No matter what you choose from the Cretan menu, you can be sure it will be fresh, tasty, and healthy.

Although many restaurants are closed out of the tourist season, almost every village has a cafe where you can have a strong Greek coffee and taste local desserts. There is usually also at least one tavern open for local people, so tasting the local cuisine was not as difficult as we feared.

One of the most charming aspects of Crete are its inhabitants. Cretans are extremely hospitable and cordial. Their natural kindness and smile on their faces make every tourist feel at home here. Whether you’re in a tavern, shop, or just walking by on the street, you can always count on a hearty “Yassas” (hello) and a wide smile.

Another characteristic element of the Cretan landscape are sheep, which can often be found on the roads. These independent animals are an important element of the local economy and can often be seen moving around the island in herds. The sight of sheep crossing the road is quite common and always adds charm to travel around this picturesque island.

We liked Crete so much for many reasons, that we decided to stay here for a longer time and for the first time in a long time we went to a real estate agency and started looking for our future apartment for the next year!

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