When trying to choose places to visit in Greece, everybody gave me their top suggestions which always included Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Ios. But no-one ever mentioned Crete.
So I did more research on the trip and decided to give Crete a go based on many factors, like it boasting the warmest weather of all the Greek islands, 2 airports, large ferry connections, and a great variation of accommodation types.
I found a large and affordable villa in a tiny village named Plaka on the eastern side of Crete. We flew from Athens at an ungodly hour and arrived at the main airport, Heraklion. Our driver was so charming and chatted to Marlee and I as we made the 1 hour trek past beachside villages and finally descended around the bend towards Elounda. Elounda is the most gorgeous little town set right on the harbour. We weaved around the narrow streets, past the tourist buses and headed 5kms north to our destination, Plaka.
This little town is home to around 400 permanent residents although this number swells during the summer. A bakery, a coffee shop, a mini market and a few family run tavernas keep the locals happy but if you are looking for more than this, Elounda or Agios Nikolaos may be more suitable.
Our villa was perched on a hill in town, overlooking the bay and nearby island of Spinalonga, previously a leper colony.
We had 3 bedrooms, a cosy living / kitchen area and a huge deck overlooking the private pool and terrace. The bedrooms were quite basic but the kitchen was well stocked and pool was huge which is all that mattered. We arrived during a heatwave and as the sun set around 9pm, it was still a balmy 41’c.
Every morning the sun rose up from the ocean, sending pink, yellow and orange light our way and we woke early as it was impossible to sleep in with the heat too. We lived in our swimsuits, reapplying sunscreen and oil all day. Our hair was salty, towels and swimsuits drying in every corner of the house, pool floats in the pool, blowing in the wind until the next day of water play.
In true Greek fashion our trusty rental car, an old VW Golf, had been absolutely thrashed by previous tourists but it was such a joy to drive around the town.
We spent 14 glorious days and nights in Plaka, every day better than the last. I celebrated my 33rd Birthday in paradise, a day that James wants to recount himself here.
Plaka will always remain special in my heart. I felt at ease here. The days were slow. The nights were warm and relaxed. The family were all so happy here, falling into bed exhausted with sun kissed skin and bellies full of the most amazing, tasty treats.
I vow to return to this gorgeous part of the world. The locals would come up and enquire about the children and where we were travelling from. They were the friendliest, most welcoming people we encountered on the trip, on par with the gorgeous Italians we met.
More to come on Plaka, I could write about it for days.