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Route:Heraklion - Hersonissos - Chania - Rethymno - Agios Nikolaos.

Automobile:Renault Clio.


Travel map:

   Two vacation weeks have flown by. And while everyday work has not erased the holiday tan, it's time to share your impressions.
  In general, everything turned out somehow crumpled this year. We always prepare for holidays very thoroughly, but for various reasons, grandiose plans for a trip to exotic Madeira did not come true, even a simple decision to spend a week in “communism” (All inclusive) in Turkey could not be implemented (global terrorism is already to blame here). solution literally within a few hours As a result of intensive negotiations with the travel agency, we got an unexpected, but somewhat monotonous combination: a week, or rather 8 days, in Crete and then another 5 days in Bulgaria in Golden Sands.
  Here we will talk about the Cretan week.
  So, for four people we got two flight + hotel packages, including a charter flight, airport-hotel transfer in both directions, half board in a double room at a 4 * Grand Hotel Holiday Resort .
  This time we had an extended crew. Another couple joined us.
We have already traveled several times in this composition, so we were only happy
their participation in the next holiday event. They received the same package but at the 5* Creta Maris hotel.

  A charter flight on a still old BOING-757 on the Tel Aviv - Heraklion route performed by the Israeli company ISRAAIR took just over an hour.

  Now about hotels. Both are located in the area of Hersonissos - this night capital of Crete.
  Creta Maris is one of the most popular and promoted hotels, there is a lot of information about it on the Internet, including a detailed description, photos, as well as numerous reviews.
  The Grand Hotel Holiday Resort is a lesser known hotel. We found only a rather brief description about it, and even then it was not entirely accurate, and there were practically no reviews.
But this hotel deserves a more detailed description, and not only because it was we who marked it with our attention.
But here, as it turned out, there are many inaccuracies.
  For example, it says that "the hotel is located in the resort of Hersonissos, 2.5 km from the center", but in fact it is located outside the city, and 2.5 km, or maybe all 5 km, only to the city limits.
  Probably, it is the remoteness of the hotel from the city plus the weak infrastructure of the immediate surroundings that reduces its popularity. Yes, and the remoteness of the sea beach (300-350 m across the road) can also be attributed to shortcomings, but this is where the shortcomings end, everything else is at the highest level and fully corresponds to the declared 4 *.

  The hotel is relatively new (2001), built in the "modern" style, located on a mountain slope, as if on several levels. The territory is very clean, well-groomed.

   On the lower level, adjacent to the highway, there is the main building with Reception, main restaurant, conference room. In front of the main building there is a square and a spacious parking lot.
  On each of the subsequent levels (four in total, each has its own name) there are swimming pools with sea water, around which there are residential cottages, united in two - three-story blocks. Each room has a separate entrance, terrace or balcony. Almost all rooms face the sea and a beautiful seascape opens from the balcony.
  The rooms are spacious (about 25 sq.m.), air-conditioned, the bathroom is also spacious, the plumbing is new, everything is very clean, numerous towels are cleaned and changed every day, bed linen is changed every three days.

  We got two adjoining rooms on the second level called Relaxing Pool. As it turned out, each level has its own purpose or orientation.
For example, on the first level - Main Swimming Pool - all daytime entertainment and animation activities are held, on the third - Children Pool - everything is for children. We have the same peace and quiet, it suits us very much. On our level, there is an amphitheater, where every evening, by the forces of a multilingual animation team (Germans, Italians, French, Greeks, Romanians), performances were held at a decent professional level. For example, we were shown the musical Cat's, fragments from other popular musicals, incl. Chicago.

  About food. We had half board, ie. two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) in the main buffet restaurant, the set of dishes is quite wide, but somewhat monotonous, everything is fresh and tasty at home. What was a little annoying was the drinks at dinner for a small but additional fee. restaurant, the hotel has several bars, where we also checked in, sipping an exotic cocktail, some a glass of good Metaxa cognac.

  The sports infrastructure is quite developed, but, again, for an additional fee. For example, an hour of tennis costs 18 Euro for two, including the rental of the court, rackets and balls. We considered it an expensive pleasure and limited ourselves to billiards (2 Euro for a game for two) and, of course, table tennis (for free!). We even won a small international (!!!) tournament. Considering our almost professional training in this sport, it was not difficult. Pasha and I played for the audience and gave an enchanting finale, where luck smiled at one of us. But how beautifully everything was organized! Especially rewarding in the amphitheater! We received 1st and 2nd degree diplomas signed by the entire animation team.
  In addition to entertainment in our hotel, we went to Creta Maris several times, where we spent almost the whole day. Indeed, a very high hotel, but somewhat noisy and hectic, the Grand Hotel seemed more comfortable to us.

   Now about the most interesting entertainment - trips around the island.
  Despite the crumpled preparation for the trip, we were well aware of the interesting places on the island. Naturally, we could not cover everything, and we did not try to do it. Many had to be sacrificed, for example, they refused a sea trip to the island of Santorini, from a trip to the Samaria Gorge, they did not even visit Knossos and the cave of Zeus. Nevertheless, we visited the three pearl cities of the island: Chania and Rethimnon in the west and Agios Nikolaos in the east, and also managed to go to the south coast.

  We rented two cars to travel around the island. Usually we order cars in advance, but here, firstly, we didn’t need a car for the whole week, and secondly, it was recommended to us. We used the services of a travel agent who met us at Heraklion airport. Everything turned out very well. The day before, we contacted him by phone, agreed on all the conditions, and the next day in the morning, exactly at the appointed time, both cars were waiting for us in the parking lot near the main building of the hotel. We received two cars: Renault Clio and Tojota Yaris. Having quickly settled all the formalities with the representatives of the company, who brought the cars, we set off on our first trip around the island.
  Our path lay along the north coast to the west, towards Chania.

  A few words about the roads of Crete. Despite the difficult landscape, the road network is quite developed. The only high-speed road stretches along the northern coast, where all the main cities are concentrated. There are several new sections in the area of Heraklion and Rethymnon, representing a modern multi-lane highway close to the European level. Most of the roads are single lane in both directions. Many sections with a mountain profile, sharp turns in abundance. Here I had to admit that we chose the cars that were not quite suitable: 1200 cubes is not enough for such roads. Of the features of driving a car on the island, they paid attention to how local drivers use the side of the road. The fact is that they use it as an additional lane, but not for overtaking, but rather to give way. At first it was very unusual, they didn’t even understand what was happening, then they got used to it.

  So Chania is a city of jasmine and a Venetian beauty. Indeed, a colorful town. But, having read guidebooks and stories of tourists, we expected something more impressive. Maybe the long road (after all, 170 km) and wandering around the city in search of a convenient parking tired us a little, and therefore this certainly pretty town did not make the expected impression on us. We seem to have seen all the main attractions: the cruciform covered Agora market, the temple of St. Nicholas, the Kuchuk-hasan mosque, the maritime museum, the Firkas fortress, but perhaps the only place that we remember and will be associated in our memory with Chania, it is a round Venetian port. Beautiful place!

 We walked here for a long time. We also had special expectations for the port: there are fish restaurants and many coffee houses. Following the advice gleaned from the stories of tourists found on the vast expanses of the Internet, we went to the eastern side of the port, behind the Venetian shipyards. And here already in the first or second restaurant, as they say, they came off on the fish menu. The main number of the program was a fish mix, including up to a dozen different kinds of fish and seafood. The dish is designed for two, but it was so huge that we could hardly manage it with the six of us.
  But there was an unexpected bummer with hot chocolate. We have chosen one cozy coffee shop, have already settled down and ordered, suddenly the embarrassed waitress announces that ... the chocolate is over. We don’t know if it was a joke or if it really happens, but we left Chania with a feeling of dissatisfaction, and besides, we again wandered in search of a way out of the city.

  On the way back, to freshen up, we stopped at the beach in the town of Kalives, but the sea was stormy and we didn’t get much pleasure again. We continued on without stopping.

  The next day, for a change, we drove east towards Agios Nikolaos.
The road is closer and easier. On the way we saw the remains of windmills, which were once a symbol of this area. Having reached Agios Nikolaos, we decided not to enter the city yet, but turned north along the coast towards the town of Elounda. In guidebooks, this town is compared with the French St. Tropez. A few years ago we were on the Cote d'Azur, incl. visited Saint Tropez. Indeed, Elounda is somewhat reminiscent of his famous brother. The same cozy streets, the same bay with luxury yachts laid up. Around high-class hotels and many villas, their appearance testifying to the level of well-being of the owners.
From Elounda we were going to take a boat to the island of Spinalonga and take a walk there. But even today it was not given to carry out our plans: the sea again stormed and the boats did not go. Therefore, we limited ourselves to sunbathing and swimming on the municipal beach. We paid a nominal fee and comfortably settled down almost by the water. The beach is located, as it were, in a bay in a very picturesque place: directly opposite the hilly slopes of the island of Spinalonga, on the right is a marina with yachts, on the left is a low mountain range, on which petals of windmill propellers are visible. It was not hot, a refreshing breeze was blowing, and we enjoyed spending a couple of hours here.

  After the beach we returned to Agios Nikolaos. We quickly found a convenient parking lot for cars right on the embankment not far from the center and slowly went to wander around the city in the direction of Lake Vulizmeni. A very pretty town is located on the slopes of a mountain bowl around a round lake connected by a narrow channel to the sea. There are many restaurants and cafes on the shore of the lake. It was not without difficulty that we chose one of the restaurants that seemed to us the most suitable and cozy. Especially delicious and appetizing was the bread that was baked right in front of our eyes.

   The third and last trip turned out to be the most successful and interesting. We finally managed to carry out everything that we had planned for that day. We moved west again. Having quickly slipped through Heraklion, after a few kilometers we left the expressway and headed for Fodele. This village is the birthplace of the famous painter El Greco. Having examined the central square with the bust of El Greco and his house-museum, we returned to the main road and continued our way towards Rethymnon.
Having reached it, we repeated yesterday's maneuver: we did not go to the city (we will have time on the way back), but turned south towards Spili. After driving about 30 km along a mountainous, but not very difficult road, in the Koxare area we again turned south, because. the main road went east.
  After a few kilometers we entered a mountain gorge with the complex name Kourtaliotiko Canyon. Moreover, you suddenly find yourself in a gorge: a turn and ... the road is sandwiched between rocks. Seeing a platform in the middle of the gorge, we stopped to capture this beauty. Someone opened the car door and… it was nearly blown off: a draft of terrible force was blowing in the gorge. In order to shoot with a video camera or take pictures, you had to stand upright, otherwise you risk being knocked down. The gorge is small, probably less than a kilometer, but the harsh beauty is amazing!

   We moved further towards the coast. We stopped at one of the intersections. We had to decide where to go next. Here it was possible to leave the car and move to the coast on foot along the river, in the upper reaches of which we were, but then we do not get to the monastery of Preveli. Therefore, we decided to move further by car to the monastery, and go to the coast by another road.
  On the way to the monastery, we stopped near an interesting monument: next to a small stele there are figures of a monk, moreover, with a rifle, and a paratrooper with full gear, judging by the uniform, English. Something is written on the stele in Greek and English, from which we understood that we are talking about the liberation of Crete from the German fascists during the Second World War.
  And here is the monastery. Having parked the car in a spacious parking lot, we approached its edge, facing the sea. From here there was a splendid panoramic view of the sea and the surrounding area.
  A guy in civilian clothes was sitting at the entrance to the territory of the monastery. He sold entrance tickets and gave women skirts of various sizes and colors. Here a surprise awaited us: having heard our Russian speech, the guy said that we could pass for free. In addition, the outfits of our women do not contradict their strict standards. So we ended up on the territory of this male monastery. The area is very beautiful and well maintained. The monastery is located on the top of the mountain and faces the sea. There are many observation platforms on the territory, which offer a picturesque view of the sea and the surrounding area. You can take pictures of the views, but the monks are strictly prohibited.
  When one of us tried to do this, the monk at whom the lens was pointed made it clear with a quite eloquent gesture that this should not be done. We visited a small museum, where various attributes of clothing and jewelry are exhibited.
  Leaving the territory of the monastery, we returned a little and saw the road, as it seemed to us, leading to the sea. We began to descend, but it turned out that the road ends with a parking lot, and you have to walk to the sea. There is nothing to do, we park the car and try to go down to the sea, I really want to see the famous sandy Preveli beach with a river flowing into the sea. But here an unpleasant surprise awaits us: not only is the descent rather steep, meandering like a serpentine, but the rocky path itself is not designed for elegant, but far from sporty, shoes of our women. But we still got to the observation deck. And for a long time they could not take their eyes off the beauty they saw. I involuntarily thought that it was in these places that Bounty commercials were filmed. Below, a fantastic panorama of the gorge opened, along the bottom of which a calm river flowed through a palm grove. The gorge widened to the sea, forming a sandy beach, and the river made a turn and flowed into the sea. Then we saw this place on postcards, but the angle is different, from the sea.    Having taken plenty of camera and photos, we returned to the parking lot and moved back.

Rethymnon was waiting for us.

  Rethymno seemed to us the most comfortable of the Cretan cities, at least of those that we saw. Its Venetian nooks and crannies are not an open-air museum, but part of the city's everyday life. After wandering through the streets and enjoying some special, but very pleasant atmosphere of the city, we went to the Venetian port. Shops and taverns are tightly pressed against each other here. And their tables are close to the sea, so to get through, you have to go to the very windows of taverns, where very live octopuses wave their tentacles on ropes and fish tails flap, and persistent polyglot waiters find out from tourists how hungry they are. It was not difficult for one of these mustachioed uncles to persuade us to sit down at the table, especially after he showed our women huge king prawns. The process of cooking shrimp and other dishes was carried out right in front of our eyes, so it was not only tasty, but also informative. It was on such a delicious note that our last trip around the island ended.

    Having returned from the trip, we parked the cars near the hotel and left the keys at the reception. In such a simple way, the cars were returned.
The last days were spent in hotels in the already familiar entertainment.

  On the day of the return flight, which was 5 am, we were even fed the usual hearty breakfast and taken by bus to the airport.

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