~ Our two hot days on Crete in 2004, continued from preceding page:
Part of the view from our balcony at the Candia Maris Resort & Spa in the Amoudara area west of Heraklion
We flew from Rhodes to Heraklion on a Saturday and arrived at our hotel — the all-inclusive Candia Maris Resort & Spa in Amoudara — in the evening, after sunset. By the time we got checked in and dropped our bags in our room it was nearly 11 p.m., and we almost missed dinner. The dining room staff were starting to close up when we got to the restaurant, but they kindly left a few hot items on the buffet so we could have a fast bite to eat before they finished cleaning up for the night.
After breakfast on Sunday, we spent an hour on the resort’s sandy beach. We couldn’t handle staying on the beach any longer since the sun was too hot and blindingly bright. Swimming wasn’t an option because the sea was simply too cold — I tried to wade in the shallow water, but my feet instantly turned white and went numb. There was absolutely no way I was going to get the rest of my body wet!
After lunch we took local buses to the Palace of Knossos, where we spent a couple of hours. Once again we found the sun and heat unbearably intense, and we spent much of the time dashing into the precious few places that offered shade so we could try to cool off. We then returned to Heraklion to explore the city and its waterfront before heading back to our hotel for dinner. (We had hoped to visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which had been highly recommended, but it was closed for renovations).
On Monday we rented a car so we could visit the historic seaside city of Chania, about a 2-hour drive to the northwest. It was another hot sunny day, and the heat quickly dampened our enthusiasm for sightseeing. After several hours exploring the town, we felt drained and decided to drive back to Heraklion sooner than expected. We got back to Amoudara in time for dinner, then spent part of our evening checking out the cafés, stores and souvenir shops along Andreas Papandreou Street, the tourist strip leading past our hotel (every second business was either a jewellery store or car rental agency!). Tuesday morning we had time only to eat breakfast before catching a ferry to Santorini.
Looking back, it seems like we saw Crete in a blur — and I suppose we probably did, given all the moving around we did with our limited time.
Below are a few of the photos I was able to recover from my damaged camera disk. You can see larger versions of all of them, plus dozens more pics, in my Crete collection on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.
Partial sea view from our balcony, looking across the Candia Maris grounds
The beach at the Candia Maris, looking east in the direction of Heraklion. It was a scorching hot day, but few people went into the water because the sea was surprisingly cold.
An umbrella casts its shadow on the beach near the Candia Maris
Part of the re-built ruins at the Palace of Knossos
Ancient stonework next to a “restored” section of the Minoan-era palace
View from a tree-shaded area along one side of the palace site. We retreated to this spot a few times to get out of the searing sun.
Part of the interior of a palace throne room
This pretty peacock sat on a fence, watching as tourists wandered around the palace grounds
Another view of the palace from the tree-shaded area.
An artist sketches near a colourful rebuilt section of the palace
Olive trees on a hill behind the Palace of Knossos
Apartment buildings in Heraklion. It’s the fourth-largest city in Greece, and has a population of around 150,000.
After boiling in the sun at Knossos, we found it a treat to walk the city streets of Heraklion, where buildings and trees offered plenty of shade.
A fishing boat moored in the harbour near the Koules fortress
More fishing boats near the Koules fortress. The Venetian-era structure is situated on the western pier of the Heraklion harbour.
The enormous stone walls of the fortress dwarf a tourist walking toward us. Click here to read a Heraklion website entry that briefly describes the Koules fortress and its history.
A marble relief of a winged lion. It is one of several lions sculpted onto three of the fortress walls
Unlike us, other tourists didn’t mind the heat, like this woman who stood near the Koules fortress for more than 10 minutes, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine beaming down on her face
The vaulted roof of the Transanades, the former Venetian shipyards on the Heraklion harbourfront. At left is the Megaron Luxury Hotel.
A street in the commercial center of Heraklion. Note the Olympic rings on the light installation above the road. We were in Greece just three months before the 2004 Summer Games opened in Athens.
Wrought iron railings on the balcony of an elegant Heraklion building
Tall arched windows on a rustic old building in Heraklion
Pigeons gather beneath a palm tree next to a church in Heraklion
Pink azaleas in bloom along the highway from Heraklion to Chania. With mile after mile of flowering plants on both sides of the road, the route was one of the prettiest drives we have experienced in Greece.
The colourful buildings of the Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort on the hill behind Fodele beach (below). We didn’t realize this was a hotel when we shot the photo — we thought it was a new residential development.
We lingered on a hill next to Fodele beach for awhile to enjoy the brisk, invigorating breeze blowing in from the sea, and to listen to the roar of the waves crashing ashore
Part of the scenic coastline we got to see during our drive to Chania
The sea was a gorgeous turquoise along most of the rocky coastline
The impressive and elegant Chania Cathedral, which is dedicated to Panagia Trimartyri (the Virgin of the Three Martyrs)
A street in Chania
Café terraces in Chania
Souvenir and other shops along a lane in Chania
Another shopping street in Chania. We found it unbearably hot walking along these lanes, even when we were able to stand on the shaded side.
Tourists climb steps in a lane in Chania
Restaurants and shops on another charming lane in Chania
Part of the scenic Chania harbourfront
The Amphora Hotel and cafés at the Chania harbourside
The big dome of the Turkish mosque Yiali Tzami stands out from other buildings along Chania’s Venetian-era waterfront
The mosque has a distinctive main dome supported by arches, as well as several smaller domes. The mosque once had a minaret, but the structure was demolished more than 100 years ago.
The Venetian lighthouse is one of the most recognized landmarks in Chania
A tour boat in the harbour near the O Kavouras Taverna. We stopped at Kavouras to have a cold drink and cool off in the shade after walking around Chania in the hot sunshine for several hours.
Another tour boat near our table at Kavouras Taverna. I have a very fond memory of our visit to the taverna because it’s where I enjoyed one of the best baklava desserts I have ever tasted.
Back at the Candia Maris. Even though the hallways to the rooms opened to an atrium filled with tropical plants, the hotel had an overall dreary and depressing look and feel. We kept joking that we were staying in the prison depicted in the American television series Oz.
Inside our second-floor room at the Candia Maris. The resort was billed as a 5-star property in our tour brochure, but with its tired rooms and facilities, and poor customer service, we felt it was 2-star quality at best. Click here to read the review I posted on TripAdvisor. I’ve heard the resort has been extensively renovated in the 10 years since our visit.
Another view of the interior of our room at the Candia Maris
Night view of the Candia Maris swimming pool