A day out to....
Almost every travel agent and holiday company on Crete goes to some lengths to make it possible for anyone here, wherever that may be, to see something of the Island which adds to your being here, brings extra revenue to the them but at the same time extra extra pleasure and experience to being here. And it may persuade you to come back again; and again. Here are
a few from wherever you are in North Western Crete that you should be able to book from your holiday accommodation, or if not then from a local travel agent.
Knossos - The palace of Knossos, re-discovered by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans in 1900. The palace of King Minos; home of the Minotaur. The legendary Minoan civilisation. A trip here will cost about 20 pounds Sterling per person and sometimes includes a visit to an museum in Iraklion (Heraklion).
Samaria Gorge - The hard way. 5 Hours Est. If you have never been here, are reasonably fit and like a walk, do this the hard way. Again it will set you back about 20 pounds Sterling per person but, having dragged you out of bed rather early your coach to the start of the gorge above the Omalos plateau will probably stop at a taverna en-route for
breakfast. "Do" the gorge! Have a meal or drink about 11.5km later in Agia Roumeli, the village on the Libyan sea at the end and catch a small ferry to either Hora Sfakion or Paleochora depending where your coach is collecting you from. An hour or so cruising along the south coast towards sunset, with maybe dolphins in tow, alongside or in front as the sun sinks towards the sea is
something to experience. And manna from heaven for photographers. Bring the Ralgex though, tomorrow you will ache!
Samaria Gorge - Easy Way! The wise; the experienced and those of us who simply can't or don't want to walk 11.5 km or so in blazing sunshine let your tour company coach you to Hora Sfakion, a coach ride you will remember - over the white mountains to the Libyan sea. From here you take a small ferry to Agia Roumeli - the village at the
Southern end of the gorge, and from there you can walk into the gorge itself - maybe as far as the Iron Gates, before returning to Agia Roumeli with time for a meal and or a swim in the sea, before your ferry returns you to Hora Sfakion and your coach to your original departure point. You miss a few hours marching through the rock strewn riverbed of the gorge, get to see the gorge; the villages on the sea; the food and a return boat ride instead of a
single. And no aches tomorrow! Costs about the same as the hard way.
Imbros Gorge - This gorge is becoming more popular, not just for walkers, as it is much easier than Samaria but still ends at the Libyan sea. Being only 7 Km long it is also more attractive perhaps to the less hardy among us.
Spinalonga - By boat to an old Leper Colony! And no, there are no lepers with bells and you cannot, repeat cannot, catch leprosy here. Spinalonga housed the last leper colony (opened in 1903) in Europe closing in 1957. The old Venetian fort and houses previously occupied by a Turkish population which became their homes still stand, now
empty. a walk through Spinalonga colony is an unrepeatable experience.
Gramvousa - Crete has several small island - some mere islets joined to the shore a narrow isthmus of sand (occasionally covered with shallow water) in parts so shallow that even non-swimmers can bathe in safety. some of these lie inshore, almost next to the southern shore of the Gramvousa peninsula in the far north-west of Crete. These are
quiet, relatively isolated and unspoilt bathing pools of the Gods. Turquoise blue sea, offset by bright whitish-yellow sand and Mediterranean blue skies. Serious walkers can hike it. It is much easier by boat.
Elafonisi - Another quite beautiful coastal area with an off-shore island. Elafonissi is a popular tourist area with some rudimentary beach tavernas to supply the necessities of life. The isthmus joining the island to the land is usually covered with water - only a couple of feet deep at worst and it is quite easy to paddle across.
Supervise the kids. The water around the island is quite deep enough for good swimmers to enjoy but the water is much colder than the huge shallow bay landward. A good day out and can be addictive.
Santorini Island - Cruise to the beautiful island of Santorini. Board the 4593Tonnes MTS Atlantis - which has a capacity of 1200 passengers - for the four hour cruise northwards over Homer's "wine Dark Sea." Whether you are on an arranged tour or going solo you have around 6 hours to spend on this beautiful Island - visit to Fira
town, perched on top of sheer cliffs above the sea far below.
Departure from Santorini is around 17.15 for the return trip. Dine; dance; listen to live music or just relax on deck for the 4 hour return trip to your original port of departure at around 21.15. A 15 hour trip. The cost this year (2003) is about 59Euros (£42) per person, but children travel free. I understand that 'children' means up to 14 years old but check this out before you
decide. Not exactly cheap but definitely not over expensive - good value and a super addition to your holiday on Crete.
The Cruise starts from Iraklion (Heraklion) port at 06.15am on Mondays; Wednesdays; Thursdays and Fridays; and Rethymnon Tuesdays and Saturdays. Travel Agents; Tour Reps; Fortune Maritime Travel Inc. (Tel: 2810.302.320).