Crete 2014

Our flight with easyjet was on time and having booked a taxi, we arrived at a sensible time. Straightaway we dumped our bags and returned to the Hiona. They all remembered us from last year. Were we that memorable?

In a small place like Elounda you would think you would run out of places to go and things to do but in fact there are many ways to explore pastures new. There are many lovely country walks around the bay where the clear blue sea sparkles into the sun and you can venture up into the hills, where sheep and goats graze and butterflies flutter.

Pat and John suggested the happy train which is run by an Englishman called Ziggy. We went through Plaka and up into the hills where there is an absolutely stunning vista of Spinalonga and Elounda below. Our next stop was at a now disused olive oil factory and then into a small village bar. It was a really enjoyable few hours

Anna wanted to visit Knossos. Doing this independently is fiddly as it involves at least two buses so I decided it would be easier to book the excursion. Interestingly this is considerably cheaper in the UK. We did many hotel pick ups starting with us and then working our way through Elounda, Ag Nik, Malia, Stalis, Hersonissis and finally Kokkini Hani before getting to Knossos which is just outside The capital, Heraklion.

Our guide Melina was excellent and certainly worth paying for. We wouldn’t have had the same experience walking round on our own. It was nice to have the background explained to us properly which gives a much better understanding.

Afterwards, we had a couple of hours in Heraklion. There main shopping area consists of familiar names like Zara and M&S. There is quite a good market area which was much more appealing and cheaper than Elounda so we bought a few knick knacks. We stopped for a cold beer and some street food down a little alleyway frequented by locals.

Our last stop was a Minoan show which lasted about half an hour or so before our journey home. It was a long day but definitely well worth the money.

Before leaving the UK we had also booked a trip to a Santorini. Our pick up was at Samaria bar in Elounda. We still don’t know where this bar is having been given two different locations and there isn’t a bar at either location so we hedged our bets and stood roughly in the middle of the two thinking that it wouldn’t be too difficult to spot a coach at 6 am. Despite a raging storm through the night, the catamaran crossing was very smooth and took roughly three hours.

Santorini is a stunning island, full of picture postcard views. Much of it sits on top of volcanoes and slopes down the edges. Picture postcard views are in abundance round the island but particularly in Oia which is everybody’s idea of Santorini, the white houses and churches, with blue roofs and gates. Unfortunately there are now far too many tourists, literally thousands arriving daily by cruise ship and day trips from Crete and Mykonos. There are lovely little artisan shops down narrow cobbled alleyways . From Oia we took a short coach ride to Thira, walking the last mile along the picturesque sea road. Thira is much busier with many lively tourist bars and tacky t shirt shops and a decent market but as it is bigger, it thins the tourists better so it didn’t feel as claustrophobic.

We got back to Elounda very, very late. It is a long day. I am glad I have seen Santorini but I’m not convinced I would like to stay there.

On Tuesday we said goodbye to our friends from Newcastle and our new friends from Cardiff and on Wednesday it was our turn, but we stayed on a few more days in Hersonissos. Hersonissos is a lot hillier and much busier than Elounda. We enjoyed a restful break though and lots of swimming.

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