few words about crete :
center of the globe, island of passion, magic and mysteries. Crossroads
of past cultures and future dreams."
" Crete is like a gorgeous woman; once you meet her, you
never forget her"
is the largest of the Greek islands, located to the southeast
of the mainland, and surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. The
southernmost island in the Mediterranean Sea has views from the
mountains which are unrivalled ~ look north to the Aegean, east
to Cyprus and south to the northern coast of Africa on a clear
day. Bathed in clear sunlight for much of the year, the climate
is one of the best in Europe. Whether high in the mountains, or
winding along the amazing variety of coastal roads, the supreme
quality of the light gives Crete a magic radiance. There is an
abundance of wildlife, plants and flowers that are unique to the
is 260 km long and 60 km at its widest point. The island is divided
into four prefectures of Chania, Rethymno, Iraklio, and Lasithi.
It is an island full of contrasts. The north coast is the main
tourist area of Crete and all big cities are located there:
Formerly the capital of the island, with a population of 70.000,
Chania has retained the Court of Appeal, Crete's highest judicial
authority and is also now the home of the new University of Crete.
This most poetic city, built on the ruins of ancient Kidonia,
has seen and survived many invaders. These civilizations have
left their signatures on building facades, castles, walls, antiquities,
monasteries and churches.
Since 1971, the capital of the island, with 200.000 citizens
and the major
archaeological museum, smart and trendy cafes and shops and
a noisy business bustle -it also offers many hidden treasures,
which are well worth a visit.
Crete's largest city and the main point of entry for tourists,
Iraklio is often dismissed as a grim necessity that must be
endured in order to get to somewhere more inviting. But scratch
beneath its traffic-ridden, helter-skelter surface and you'll
find a modern urban sophistication coupled with a lively cafe
scene, by day and night, as well as music clubs which are popular
with the local people as well as their visitors. Greek nightlife
starts late and finishes even later! But there is always a beach
nearby where you can recover the next day as you laze in the
sun and plan a delicious lunch, perhaps cooked by a new friend
you made the previous night.
With a population of 30,000 is a much smaller town. Its historic
centre round the castle Fortessa and a long sandy beach, cafes
and restaurants are popular with locals and visitors. Situated
about half-way between the cities of Chania and Heraklion, just
off the new motorway linking all the northern parts of the island,
it is also served by a ferry service to Piraeus, Athens.
It is a beautiful
town with many historic buildings from the Venetian period, and
old streets are very narrow, filled with tiny shops which are
only accessible on foot. The
harbour is justly famous for its numerous restaurants which naturally
specialise in local fish dishes as well as other traditional Cretan
fare, but there are other places to eat in the tiny winding side
streets which are well worth investigating.
Nikolaos: A much smaller town, with a population
of under 15.000 citizens, situated on the west side of the Bay
of Mirabello,and popular as a marina for visitors lucky enough
to come to Crete with their boats, the life of the town revolves
around the harbour area, with the ferry quay and linked by a man-made
channel to the Lake Voulismeni. Tradition
has it that this lake is bottomless, but modern investigations
have proved it to be a 64 metre funnel shape. Some expensive shopping
here in high quality shops to serve the yacht-owning set forms
the core of an extensive shopping centre which draws visitors
from the smaller villages nearby.
else to see in Crete:
Many travellers spend a day trekking through the stupendous 18km
(11miles) Samaria Gorge to get to Agia Roumeli on the southwest
coast. The toughest test comes at the start, with steps cut into
the stone path, it is a steep drop for the first three kilometers.
Once you are down in the Gorge, the route follows the watercourse
and therefore the Gorge is closed to tourists during the winter.
If you take your holiday early in the year, check before setting
off that you will be allowed to make the descent. The gorge is
open from 6am to 3pm. from the beginning of May to mid-October,
depending on the amount of water in the gorge. There are excursions
to the gorge from every sizeable town and resort in Crete, with
most excursion companies offering a long [from the top]or short
[walk inland from the village] trek. In either case, the only
way home is by boat.
Interior of the island:
Away from the coastal regions, the interior is a far less well-known
part of Crete. This is the mountainous area of Crete; the roads
may be really bad, the road signs are of little help and it's
hard to find an English-speaking person. Here is the place to
search for small villages without the familiar "Rent a Room"
or "Restaurant" signs. But be assured that if you have
an accident, or suddenly find you need some help, the famous Cretan
hospitality is readily available even if you have to resort to
sign-language! A smile is the same in every language.
It is the place to meet the real Cretans: a proud and friendly
people, with a great sense of humour, ready to help you in any
way they can and offer you a glass of "raki" (the locally
produced colourless spirit).
When you meet them in the road just smile and say "kalimera=good
morning", "kalispera=good evening" or "yasas=hello".
If you ask for some information and want to thank them, then "efharisto=
thank you" is the right Greek word.
Please respect the landscape, dispose of your litter carefully
[remember although a goat is said to eat everything it sees, that
this may be reflected in its milk and the delicious cheese we
and read our notes on "Driving in Crete" before you
PAN means "all" in Greek - All the best to you on your
journey through Crete,
All the best cars,
All the best routes,
All of the best memories until next time...