Crete

An eco-lover’s paradise and a perfect autumnal escape

What to say about Crete? I had long heard it was a lovely spot, perfect for extended long weekends and sneaky mid-October breaks for a last gasp of sunshine at a time of year when dusk in London arrives too early.

Crete is one of the few places I have managed to visit and be hosted by locals. My ex had been invited by a Cretan friend of his to give a talk at a digital media conference being held in the capital of the island, Heraklion so we were invited to see a side of both that city and the island that we wouldn’t have seen without a local connection. The conference itself was set against a gorgeous, crumbling stone wall on the city’s ramparts and we had a barbecue on the rooftop of a seaside apartment in Agios Nikolaos.

As it was autumn, we decided to make a thing of it and take a few days beforehand to drive around the island and experience what it had to offer. And we weren’t disappointed. From isolated canyons and beaches, to tiny, tucked away villages with a string of beach front restaurants where you can dig your toes into the sand as you sip on a delicious local wine, to the wonderful eco-inspired lodges that dot the island and offer home-cooked dinners to their guests around large, communal tables in the evening. To say Crete was idyllic does not do it justice. Our favourite place was Zakros – a tiny village hidden behind a huge mountain on the sea, an unspoiled piece of heaven.

I haven’t visited any of the other Greek islands (well, only Hydra – the closest one to the Greek capital which is easily accessible by ferry from Athens) and I’d always heard that Crete was different from all the others – completely apart in culture and scenery. Whatever it was, it was excellent, and I’d return again in a jiffy. I’d simply make sure to stay longer next time as returning back to the fading light of a late-autumn afternoon made me hanker for it even more.

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