Before venturing out from silver skied Manchester and to my next holiday destination, my preconceptions of Greece had only been anything which the Hollywood films portray – the crisp whitewashed walls with blue shutters painted upon tiny, stone houses on a cliffside.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Santorini aesthetic is something which I would adore to one day explore, but little did I know that the rest of Greece holds so much more character than initially expected…
Here is an overview of my break in Greece, and any tips for those who are thinking of visiting.
GETTING THERE –
The first thing to note is that I didn’t visit mainland Greece, I went to Crete which is the largest of all the Greek islands, flying into Heraklion Airport. The flight cost around the region of £170 return without any addition baggage/reserved seating costs, and this was booked 6 months prior to flying. Upon arrival, I got that glorious wave of evening heat when stepping off the plane. You always know you’re going to enjoy the time spent there when that feeling hits.
I stayed in a boutique hotel called Casa Bianca in a quaint, traditional town approximately 20 minutes’ drive away from Heraklion airport, called Koutouloufari. For anyone thinking of visiting, a cab from A to B costs 35 euros per way.
The hotel was run by a small collective of people who see each other as family. When I turned up, the manager welcomed me with open arms and told me “This is now your home for the next 7 days.” I initially saw this as somewhat cliché, yet when you realise that these people put their absolute soul into what they do, you realise the care and passion for hospitality is genuine.
The photo below is the glorious view from my room’s balcony.
When visiting Greece, there was one thing which I anticipated doing the most- trying all the food. In Koutouloufari, there was an array of various authentic Greek restaurants, all promoting a collection of Greek classics. The Gyros is scattered across all menu’s: a pork based dish which comes with pita and tzatziki, with sometimes the addition of a side salad. It doesn’t sound like much nor the most exciting, but it’s something I’m already craving now that I’m back at home after a mere 2 weeks. I don’t even know how I went through the entire holiday without taking a photo of Gyros at some point… I quite literally had it every second day! However, here are some photos of other food I tried during my visit.
It’s common to get a little something sweet at the end of meals in a lot of Greek restaurants, as well as a shot of Raki – a digestive shot which in my opinion, tastes like a combination of washing up liquid with a hint of tequila!!
Something to note: the beaches near Koutouloufari aren’t like others around Crete. I’ve seen some photos of those who have ventured out to different parts of the island to be greeted with light beige sands and crystal waters, yet near Koutouloufari the locals suggest you travel out rather than go to the nearby coastlines. But this isn’t to say that the sea nearby isn’t something worth visiting. In Hersonissos, a larger town towards the sea is home to bars, cafes and restaurants who have set up shop on the coasts’ rocks.
FOR THOSE THINKING OF GOING…
– I’d recommend anyone to hire a car as the public transport was lacking slightly. I didn’t get this opportunity but next time I visit I’ll be sure to be with someone who can drive.
– Like a lot of restaurants across Europe, there are workers beside the restaurant door trying to entice you to come in. I got a bit sick of this as I’d just like to gander at menus without being pestered too much.
– When going out to do different activities, booking them for earlier in the day suited me best. The intensity of the sun at peak times caught my skin like nowhere else I’ve travelled too!
– Heraklion Airport can be difficult at times. I didn’t experience what others had as I had an evening flight on a Tuesday. However, Trip Advisor comments told me that sometimes there are queues outside of the airport as there is such little space at the check-in desks. So, take a packed lunch and water! My parents went a few years ago and had to queue outside for half an hour before even getting into the queue to check in their bags.
I would absolutely go back to Crete. For sure! Yet I spent such little time there without much opportunity to explore different parts of the island which I would’ve adored too.