ABOUT CRETE

 
A few words about crete :
"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"
Crete 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 island.

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Crete 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:
Chania: 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.

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Iraklion: 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.

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Rethymno: 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 its
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.

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Agios 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.

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What else to see in Crete:

Samaria Gorge 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.

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The 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 all enjoy]
and read our notes on "Driving in Crete" before you set off.

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...

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PANCAR Car Rentals

Agia Marina, Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Plakias
CRETE - HELLAS
TEL. :+30 28210 68124, 38024
FAX :+30 28210 68134
e-mail:
info@pancar.gr

MHTE: 1042 Ε 0081 00407 00