This was my fifth visit to the island of Crete, yet I feel that no matter how many times I travel to Crete, I always discover something new and I invariably enjoy the hospitality of the Cretans who will win your heart from the moment you set foot on the island. It's really hard to resist the magic spell of Greece's largest island.
Crete is also the second largest island in the eastern Mediterranean, after Cyprus, covering an area of 8,336 square km. It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from The Libyan Sea. Crete is divided in 4 prefectures (departments): Iraklion, Chania, Rethymno and Lassithi. It's also the most populous island in Greece with a population of more than 600,000. The beauties of this island which looks more like a small country are uncountable! Crete is blessed with a wide range of landscapes and breathtaking scenery: gorges, lakes, rivers, dense forests, mountains and a coastline of more than 1,400 square km. In addition to its natural beauties, Crete is the the cradle of the Minoan civilization. The ancient ruins of Knossos near Iraklion are definitely worth a visit.
Alkis and I have already been to the eastern coast, in Iraklion, Hersonisos and Elounda - Ayios Nicolaos, so this time we decided to travel to Chania on the western coast.
DAY 1 - July 9, 2012
I spent most of the day packing, checking my list and making sure I wouldn't forget this time important items, such as sunblock and suncream (I hardly ever tan, I just burn or turn lobster pink!), all my 7 bikinis, hats , T-shirts and sundresses, shoes for every occasion, handbags to match them, an evening outfit and, of course, T-shirts, shorts and pants for Alkis. Believe it or not, Alkis went to work from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, then he came home, changed in no time and by 1:30 pm we were ready to take a taxi to Larnaca International Airport - a 5-minute drive from home. We had time to shop cosmetics for me and cigars for Alkis, have a coffee and a snack before boarding Cyprus Airways at 3:00 pm.
On the plane, I was nervous, as always, and I think I was the only one to give my undivided attention to the safety instructions on the video even though I know them by heart. But it's good to have a reminder on every flight you take. Most people were chatting or reading newspapers not paying attention to the safety instructions or to the flying attendant showing the emergency exits! How can they do that when everyone knows that most air crashes occur either before landing or take-off? I squeezed Alkis's hand and, as a result, he dropped his newspaper. He smiled at me, kissed my hand and said: "I suggest you sit back and enjoy our flight to Iraklion." I did my best after having double checked that my seat was in upright position and my seatbelt was tightly fastened. Fortunately, I could also check the wings of the plane. They were slightly bent as they should be before take-off. I was sweating all over when the Airbus 310 started speeding up on the runway. I closed my eyes, squeezed Alkis's hand again, and prayed. Five minutes later, Alkis sweetly asked me if I could let go of his hand so that he could read his newspaper...comfortably! "No, not before the plane is up...in the air", I said. He assured me that the plane had been "up in the air" for 10 minutes already! Then I sat back and enjoyed my flight. I even ate a bit of the ham and cheese sandwich and drank some coffee. 75 minutes later, Cyprus Airways safely landed at Nikos Kazantzakis Airport, Iraklion, Crete!
By 5:30 pm we had got our luggage, went outside and looked for the man who would hold a signpost saying "Mr Maros". The taxi driver was nowhere to be seen! We waited for a while, then Alkis called the taxi service. They apologised saying that they had got the wrong arrival time. 20 minutes later, the taxi we had booked arrived and drove us to Kolympari - Chania, 175 km from Iraklion - the capital city of Crete. At about 8:00 pm we checked in at one of Crete's greatest 5***** hotels - Avra Imperial Resort and Spa at Kolympari - located 25 km from Chania, the second largest city of Crete.
Anna, the PR Officer, 8 months pregnant, elegantly dressed in black and white, showed us to 1 of 2 Avra Imperial Suites. Alkis said the suite including the private outdoor swimming pool was larger than our flat in Larnaca! We had a quick shower, got changed and tasted our first dinner at Vasilico Restaurant. We loved the food, then had an after-dinner drink at 10:00 pm and at 2:00 am , before going to sleep, we had a great night swim in our private swimming pool.