Crete Food (Road) Trip

Are you ready to hear about my most recent foodie adventure? If you follow me on Snapchat or watch my insta stories (@thefoodlife_gla) then you are probably already bored of it all. I do apologise but I felt like I couldn’t not share all of the amazing sights and food I experienced.

A few weeks ago my friend and I, who is also a teacher and therefore benefits from these great long summer holidays, booked some cheap fights to Chania Airport on the island of Crete. We booked a rental car and then began planning a rough route around the island. We knew very little but decided we would book some accommodation and then go with the flow. It really was an incredible trip.

We landed late Wednesday evening, picked up our little Citroen C1 (How did I forgot how little power this tiny car had?) and settled into our first hotel for the night. After a 4 hour flight with Ryanair all we wanted to do was eat filling food, have a glass of wine and head to bed. It was as if the receptions staff at Areti Suites knew exactly what we wanted. We paid for our room and the staff at reception offered us menus for pizza and pasta. We dropped our bags in our room and headed back down to sit at a table outside whilst the man at reception kindly offered to order our food from the a local take-away. The hospitality we received here set the bar high for the rest of our trip. They kindly offered us their home made wine and raki – the Greek after dinner shot.

Day 1:

We woke up and headed down for breakfast at Areti Suites around 10:00am. We refuelled with croissants and coffee before we set out onto the road. Our goal of the day was to eventually reach our Hostel in Heraklion (capital of Crete). We stopped in Souda Bay, Georgiopoli beach and then the smaller city of Rethymno. We parked up and began wandering the streets of the Old Town. At this point we were not sure exactly what kind of food was going to be on offer but we were not disappointed.

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View of pool area from our balcony at Areti Suites
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Souda
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Georgioupoli beach

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First experience of Greek food so far… TO PIGADI
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Vegetables in tomato sauce with Kataifi patry & feta (left) AND Greek salad (right)
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Tucking in.
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Complimentary dessert & Raki – I WISH I knew what this cake was called.
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Wandering the streets of Rethymno old town.

After lunch we jumped back in the car and continued our journey along highway 90 which runs along the North Coast of Crete. We arrived at our hostel in the city of Heraklion for the next two nights at around 6:00pm. After a quick change we headed out for some food. We found the centre of Heraklion very  busy. We explored Heraklion mostly in the evenings. We probably missed a lot of stuff but didn’t enjoy this part of the trip as much as other parts.

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Wandering around Heraklion in the evening after dinner

Day 2:

Our hostel was very cheap so that about sums up what I have to say about it. Spending little for these two nights meant we could splash out a bit later on during our trip. We were on the road by 10:00am heading for Spinalonga near Elounda. This excursion was added to our itinerary last minute as a colleague from work had suggested it when she realised I was in Crete (the power of social media). I am so glad she recommended it as this was probably one of my favourite trips.

As usual, we stopped off here and there along the way to take beautiful pictures and soak up our surroundings. We arrived at Plaka, towards the east of Crete, by 1:00pm. We bought our tickets (8 euros each) for the boat across to Spinalonga and were exploring the island by 2:00pm. It was so interesting and as a result I have decided to read “The Island” by Victoria Hislop as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

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The smaller island you can see here is Spinalonga

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View of Spinalonga from the boat

 

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Tickets onto the island were 8 euros and this bottle of sparkling water was 3 euros. 3 euros for even sparkling water was extortionate compared to prices elsewhere on the island.
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Looking back to the mainland

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Once we were back on the mainland our next mission was to find lunch. A restaurant with a view was one of our criteria as the views of Spinalonga were so beautiful from the mainland. Good food was also quite high on our list of criteria so we relied on tripadvisor for this and stumbled across Thalassa Restaurant.

After an extremely filling but also delicious lunch, where we discovered a salad even better than the standard ‘greek’ salad, we continued driving south for a while. Passing beautiful little villages and port towns.

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That night after arriving back in Heraklion and freshening up we wandered back into the city centre. Still feeling satisfied from our lunch we find choosing where to eat quite difficult. Gyros was on my list of things to try because you know, you can’t go to a Greek island and not have it…right? We found a fast food style gyros place called Izmir Kebap and ordered up. I felt a little bad for Emma at this point because she is vegetarian but there were a few options on the menu for her. I really wanted the chicken souvlaki but the waiter insisted that I have the Pork. It was a good recommendation.

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Day 3:

Up bright and early (for us) we checked out of Creta Hostel and travelled South on highway 97 to the Ancient City of Phaistos. We drove through towns which were not as picturesque and had a more industrial feel. However the landscape in which they were located was stunning. We arrived at our destination at 12:00 ready to take in some more beautiful scenery. Again, there was lots of information about the site and it’s history.

After taking plenty of pictures and cooling down in the shade with a fanta lemon and beautiful views we drove back up North to our next accommodation. After forcing our little Citreon C1 up what felt like a mountain we arrived. It was breathtaking. Idyllic. Looking down you could see for miles. After a few uncomfortable nights in a hostel and a lot of exploring we decided to chill and relax for the next 18 hours. The owners of Villa Daskalogianni also ran a little Taverna next door so we were quite happy to stay put.

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The views from this ancient city were stunning

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Taking in those views

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The path to our Saturday night villa
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We were not ready for what was behind this door

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This bed was luxury after 2 nights in a hostel.

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Day 4:

We spent the morning relaxing and went for breakfast as late as possible. The Villa was very traditional in style yet so clean and flawless. It was the perfect place to just relax. Just before midday the owner, Aphroditi, showed us the way to a really old monastery. We wandered and yet again took in many wonderful sights. It was such a peaceful place.

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Breakfast provided by our hosts
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Entrance to the monastery

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Meet our companion who saw us safely round the island

Then we were on the road again. Possibly one of our longest drives. From South of Heraklion to the West coast of Crete – Phalasarna – where our next apartment was waiting for us. We were welcomed at Kavoussi Resort at around 5:30pm after stopping in Platanias for a lunch consisting of chicken souvlaki, grilled halloumi and more greek salad.

We checked in. Popped suitable beach wear on and headed down the hill to Falassarna Beach. Kiki, our host, had told us we had plenty of time for a swim before sunset. We had our first swim of our trip and then relaxed on sun loungers until it was time to watch the sunset. Also our first of the trip. So far on our trip we had been on the wrong side of mountains or buildings to get a good view of the sunset. After sunset we quickly freshened up and tried to find somewhere to eat within walking distance of our apartment.

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Iced coffee to get me through the long drive
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An incredible lunch in Platanias
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Greeted with fresh flowers on the bed

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Chilling between our first swim and first sunset

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Day 5:

It was time to head to Elafonisi beach. This was one trip I had been particularly looking forward to. I could not wait to see the pink sand and clear water for myself. We could not have picked a windier day to visit. It took an hour to get there from Phalassarna simply because of the high and windy mountain roads along the west coast. We noticed on the drive that it was quite a windy day and had read that it was better to visit when it wasn’t so windy but time was not on our side. Despite the wind it was still beautiful. Another highlight of the trip (the foodie that I am) was eating a ‘Cheese pie’ in my bikini on the beach. Classy.

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Views from the road to Elafonisi beach

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I just want to dive right into this picture

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Pastry in a bikini? You only live once.
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Just look at those colours and tell me  you don’t want to visit.

One advantage (I’m trying to be optimistic) of the wind was the free exfoliation treatment it provided. After showering that night a new layer of skin had been revealed and our skin was super soft. We made it back in time to be able to watch the sunset over dinner. We found another taverna (Sto Plai) within walking distance of our apartment and I enjoyed some delicious burgers stuffed with cheese that had been recommended.

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Day 6:

The day we ate too much. We woke up, checked out and headed East again towards Chania. It was my day to drive and how I did not crash the car on this occasion I will never know. As we drove, trying to find suitable parking within walking distance of Chania Old Town, we ended up driving through the old town itself. I would not advise even the most experienced drivers to do this. On a road that would be considered one lane in the U.K. there was suddenly 3 lanes of traffic with bikes shuffling their way between. People were stopping. Reversing. Kudos to everyone around me who kept their cool and made it out without a even a scratch. I also must praise myself for doing the same. Eventually we found a quiet street to park on.

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View of the end of the Harbour wall
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A beautiful picturesque harbour

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We walked so far on this day. From where we parked, along the coast to the old venetian harbour, around the harbour, along the harbour wall. We made it half way along the harbour wall when we decided we needed to eat. Wandering back the way we came we stumbled across Amphora. We ordered our favourite salad which included walnuts and figs with a honey dressing, grilled halloumi, tzaziki and stuffed tomatoes and peppers. Maybe it was the rice stuffed inside the peppers. Perhaps our bodies were just telling us they had had enough of us stuffing our faces. This was the meal that defeated us.

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We waddled back to the car, stopping at a fish spa as our poor feet were giving up on us, and took by the pool at our new accommodation, Frida Apartments.

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Day 7: 

We decided to make good use of the pool and sun loungers before check out at midday. It was our seventh and final day. Our last chance to up our tanning game. Not quite sure it worked though to be honest. I was on my sun lounger by 9:00am and enjoyed a blissful 2 hours of sunbathing. We showered, packed our backs for the final time and set out on our final adventure. We explored a small village known as the Red Village.

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We headed back towards Chania one last time in search for food. The meal the day before really did defeat us so we settled for a Greek pizza, Greek salad and one last cheese saganaki. I realised I had still not had any ice-cream so after lunch we went on the hunt for ice-cream and then took in the sea view one last time.

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That about sums up the trip. I feel like this has actually been quite a long post. I have tried include links to the accommodation and places to eat incase you want to check them out.

I hope you have enjoyed reading all about my road trip around Crete but most of all I hope it has inspired you to do something similar! Life is too short to sit around and wait for things to happen. This trip reminded me that I need to get out there and make things happen.

Thanks for reading,

K x

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