Two hot days on Crete

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 ~ Our two hot days on Crete in 2004, continued from preceding page:

Candia Maris resort Crete

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.

  Candia Maris resort

Partial sea view from our balcony, looking across the Candia Maris grounds

 Candia Maris beachfront

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.

 Candia Maris resort beach

An umbrella casts its shadow on the beach near the Candia Maris

 

Palace of Knossos

Part of the re-built ruins at the Palace of Knossos

 

Palace of Knossos

Ancient stonework next to a “restored” section of the Minoan-era palace

 

Palace of Knossos

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.

 

Palace of Knossos

Part of the interior of a palace throne room

 

peacock at Knossos

This pretty peacock sat on a fence, watching as tourists wandered around the palace grounds

 

Palace of Knossos

Another view of the palace from the tree-shaded area.

 

Palace of Knossos

An artist sketches near a colourful rebuilt section of the palace

 

Palace of Knossos 

Olive trees on a hill behind the Palace of Knossos

 

Heraklion Crete

Apartment buildings in Heraklion. It’s the fourth-largest city in Greece, and has a population of around 150,000.

 

Heraklion Crete

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.

 

Koules fortress Heraklion

A fishing boat moored in the harbour near the Koules fortress

 

Koules fortress

More fishing boats near the Koules fortress. The Venetian-era structure is situated on the western pier of the Heraklion harbour.

 

Koules fortress

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.

 

Koules fortress Heraklion

A marble relief of a winged lion. It is one of several lions sculpted onto three of the fortress walls

 

Koules Fortress

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

 

Heraklion harbourfront

The vaulted roof of the Transanades, the former Venetian shipyards on the Heraklion harbourfront. At left is the Megaron Luxury Hotel.

 

a street in Heraklion

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.

 

balconies in Heraklion

Wrought iron railings on the balcony of an elegant Heraklion building

 

a building in Heraklion

Tall arched windows on a rustic old building in Heraklion

 

palm tree in Heraklion

Pigeons gather beneath a palm tree next to a church in Heraklion

 

highway on Crete

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.

 

Fodele Beach & Water Park Holiday Resort

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.

 

Fodele beach 

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

 

northern coastline of Crete

Part of the scenic coastline we got to see during our drive to Chania

 

Crete coastline

The sea was a gorgeous turquoise along most of the rocky coastline

 

a church in Chania

The impressive and elegant  Chania Cathedral, which is dedicated to Panagia Trimartyri (the Virgin of the Three Martyrs)

 

a street in Chania

A street in Chania

 

cafes in Chania

Café terraces in Chania

 

a shop lined lane in Chania

Souvenir and other shops along a lane in Chania

 

a shopping area 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.

 

a lane in Chania

Tourists climb steps in a lane in Chania

 

a lane in Chania

Restaurants and shops on another charming lane in Chania

 

Chania harbourfront

Part of the scenic Chania harbourfront

 

Amphora Hotel Chania

The Amphora Hotel and cafés at the Chania harbourside

 

Chania harbourfront

The big dome of the Turkish mosque Yiali Tzami stands out from other buildings along Chania’s Venetian-era waterfront

 

Turkish mosque Yiali Tzami

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.

 

Venetian lighthouse

The Venetian lighthouse is one of the most recognized landmarks in Chania

 

O Kavouras taverna

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. 

 

O Kavouras taverna

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.

 

Candia Maris resort

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.

 

Candia Maris hotel room

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.

 

Candia Maris

Another view of the interior of our room at the Candia Maris

 

Candia Maris swimming pool

Night view of the Candia Maris swimming pool

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3 Comments

  1. Donny, I didn’t realize you had this blog. It’s fun to read. This one about Crete reminds me of our very first trip to Greece, in the 80’s. Our first island was Crete. We still laugh about so many things from that trip. Like the ferry ride. A large group of backpacking teenagers were having a great time on the boat while we were waiting to leave Pireas. It was obviously there first island hopping adventure also. As soon as we left the large walls of the harbour they all started throwing up over the side of the boat. Quite a scene.
    We mainly used the bus system to travel around Crete. That was a real experience, travelling on those dangerous roads through some pretty mountainous terrain. At one point the bus broke down blocking the road; men got off the bus and out of cars behind us and started pushing. At one town we asked what time the bus left for our destination and the answer was “5 minutes after it gets here”.
    And I loved the experience of finding a room everywhere we went. Most of the rooms we lucked into were very nice tourist rooms, but I remember one where an older greek woman who couldn’t speak English led us to a tiny room that was just like the ones you see in the narrow streets where people seem to live and sleep in one room. Very authentic. She had a place a couple of doors away. I probably wouldn’t stay in a place like that today but it was fun back then.
    Also, the food choices were very different back then. There was no such thing as French fries even. I can still remember our excitement when we found a place that sold barbeque chickens cooked on a spit. To this day it’s still one of my favourite things to eat in Greece.
    One of the places we visited was a town called Matala. It had a quiet little beach with caves in the mountains that surrounded it. Sadly we didn’t even recognize it when we visited a few years later. It was in this town that I was looking at bathing suits to buy when a young boy of about eleven who was working there came up to me and shook his head and led me by the arm to a rack of suits in a much larger size. Haha. And this was also the first place we drank retsina (or what we like to call anti-freeze).
    Those were the good old days. But I must confess, as much as I love a secluded Greek beach, it is kind of nice to have those beach beds nowadays.

    • admin

      March 5, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      Great stories about Crete in the 80s, Cathy! I really wish I had travelled to Greece back in the 80s or 90s — I’ve heard so many interesting and fun stories from people describing what it was like to visit in the days of the drachma and before commercialism and luxury tourism changed the look and feel of many of the islands.

  2. There’s so much to see on Crete that no matter how much time you spend there, it doesn’t feel like enough. Chania and the surrounding area alone is enough for two days! The sun is so intense on Crete that it’s easy to understand why resting in the afternoon is such a big part of life on the island.

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