Okay, not a fever. But sick nonetheless.
We wanted to experience a Greek Island on our trip but were hesitant to head to the popular islands of Santorini or Mykonos. Preferring something a little less busy perhaps. Crete came up, mostly because of the Airbnb options. We rented a small house with a pool on the north coast just above the town of Rethymno (we were luckily there about a week before the forest fires happened).
We were grateful for this stop for few reasons… the first is we had a special guest joining us. Auntie A was flying in from Toronto to stay with us for a few days before she met up with family on another Greek Isle. The second is after weeks in hotels we were happy for a kitchen, a washer/ dryer and quite surprisingly we were very happy for some privacy. And the third reason we were grateful only materialized after we arrived; both Monsieur and I got sick. Luckily NOT Covid, but we both needed antibiotics and were glad to be some place quiet and not away from other people to recover.
Crete is beautiful, but its very different from Italy. This part of Crete felt a lot like Mexico to us. Piles of beach resorts and lots of tourists soaking up the sun. The main street was one beach shack after another with the odd Greek restaurant mixed in for good measure. Luckily there was a great walk-in clinic and a big pharmacy close by.
We did manage to squeak in a little bit of sightseeing. We took the ride up the narrow mountain roads to the Arkadi Monastery. An interesting stop up on the hillside that was a focal point of the Cretan restistance to Ottoman rule in the late 1800s. Still an active Monastery, its a beautiful site with its Orthodox church at the centre.
Rethymno has a charming old town with more beach and souvenir shops. Many selling wooden penises of every size as keychains and bottle openers. I still do not even understand the significance. They were almost as plentiful as the Evil Eye paraphernalia. We did manage to have a great lunch on a side street at La Rentza Taberna and indulged in some of the best dolmades ever. It was fascinating to see the many layers of rule that built the island of Crete; Turkish, Venetian etc including the historic Venetian Harbour.
Chania was another stop during our stay. Also boasting a Venetian harbour with a gorgeous lighthouse, Chania old town was even more vast than Rethymno, with EVEN more wooden penis stores. But it also had some unique boutiques with local designs. We decided that if we returned to Crete, Chania would be home base.
Crete wasn’t what we expected for a Greek Island. If you come here you won’t see the white washed buildings and windmills that you see in pictures of Mykonos or Santorini. Nor will you find the charm of the fictional Mamma Mia island. Its a cost-effective beach holiday destination for a lot of Europe and that’s what the emphasis is on here. Its a great big island with lots to see, plenty of history (Knossos Palace – the ancient centre of Minoan civilization or the Cave of Zeus – one of the proposed birthplaces of Zeus), hiking and beaches to explore. For us, it was a great place to take a little break from all the busy traveling we’ve been doing so far.