Crete, Greece

We left our apartment in Austin at 3pm on Thursday. 5:20pm flight to London on Norwegian Airlines. Landed at Gatwick at 8:45am. 7 hour layover in London with airport change to London Luton. 3:05pm flight to Athens on Wizz Airlines, landing at 9:25pm. 10:45 flight to Chania, Crete on Olympic Airlines, which was delayed. Landed in Chania at 11:30pm. 30 minute taxi to Chania. After check in we got to our room at 2am. Door to door the trip took 27 hours.Chania
The old town is pedestrian-only so our cab driver was only able to take us to one of the entrance points (25 euro from the airport.) While we waited for a hotel escort our driver snagged us some roasted chestnuts from a bar nearby. We stayed at Elia Palatino, a boutique hotel right next to the harbor (382 euro for 4 nights including breakfast.)Saturday we walked around the old town. We went to the Maritime museum, and then along the stone jetty where we saw great views of the harbor and mountainous island. We continued into town and grabbed a snack at Plaka, a colorful hippie cafe. We are the most incredible fresh plate of warm tomatoes, olives, feta and hearth bread drenched in olive oil. It was the best food we ate in Chania and hands down one of the most amazing dishes we’ve ever had.The Old Chania Market was a tourist trap but a great place to buy gifts. The market is a mix of food (seafood, olives, cheeses, honey) local products (handmade kitchen supplies from olive tree wood, leather bags, sponge and olive oil soaps,) and knick knacks.We watched sunset from a restaurant at the harbor where we snacked on tzatziki and mussels, had drinks at rooftop restaurant in town that had live greek music, and had a terrible dinner at a Godfather themed restaurant back on the harbor.Sunday we took a jeep excursion with Geogioupolis Safari tours (69 euro per person.) The owner Stelious was our driver and entertainer. We met Stelious and four other tourists (an Aussie and his wife who live in Guangzhou and an older Kiwi couple) next to the Old Market. We climbed into the jeep (taking turns throughout the day being in the back on the sideways seats) and off we went for an 8.5 hour tour.The tour: we visited archeological sites/graves and had coffee under a 2,000-year-old tree, went to a Byzantine church and samples local raki, honey and olive oil from a shop (purchased a small bottle of oil for our hotel,) drove off-road for ~2 hours through the White Mountains, saw vultures, walked on a black sand beach, ate at a tavern, and visited an olive oil mill where we saw the 2,000 year old olive tree- the second oldest in the world. The tour was not exactly as described- we were promised a hike which never took place, and unfortunately it was too cold to swim, but it was nice to see the island terrain.How to test for good olive oil:
1. Make sure the oil is a dark green
2. Shake the bottle and flip upside down. If the bubbles are small and moving slowly to the top it is good. If the bubbles and big ans fast moving it is bad. Small bubbles means it was cold-pressed.Immediately after being dropped off back in Chania we picked-up a fresh pomegranite juice (3.80 euro) then sat at Epea Pteroeyta for a beer. This is the cafe where our driver snagged us chestnuts the first night, which we had spent 2 days searching for since. Turns out the owner of the cafe only randomly brings out the chestnuts late evenings.We had a fantastic seafood dinner at Glossitses on the harbor. The restaurant was decently priced (11 euro for a main dish) and less touristy than the restaurants located in the middle of the harbor. We ordered the taramousalata (white roe,) avocado salad, mussels in white wine and grilled cuttlefish.We would definitely go back here.I paid for our hotel for 4 nights. The plan had been to take a day trip to Heraklion on Monday, then head back Tuesday morning for our ferry to Santorini. Unfortunately it turned out the bus from Chania to Heraklion was 3 hours each direction- Google maps says it’s only an hour drive. The thought of spending 6 hours on a bus for a day trip, and/or waking up at 4am to take a morning bus to our ferry was unthinkable so we made a quick decision to change up our schedule. I booked an Airbnb for Monday night in Heraklion and our fourth night stay in Chania became a wash.Rethymno
Monday morning we had room service in our hotel then walked to the public bus station on Kidonais street. A ticket from Chania to Rethymno cost 7 euro, and it’s a 1.5 hour bus ride. We took the 10:30am bus.Rethynmo turns out to be a very quaint town, far less touristic than Chania. We immediately regretted not spending at least one night here. After disembarking from the bus we walked to the Fortezze Castle (4 euro entry each.) The castle sits on the waterfront at the west end of town and has incredible views of the city, water and landscape around.We walked along the waterfront and stopped at Cool Cafe for a fresh papaya and mango juice, then continued into the narrow alleyways filled with shops.We ate lunch at Sto Karfi Kai Sto Petalo where we were taken care of by the sweetest matronly owner. We ordered the 7 Greek Traditional dishes with 1/2 bottle wine for 18.90 euro. The dishes included moussaka, pork stew, cretan salad, tatzatziki, favas beans, stewed vegetables, and meatballs. It was a great sample of local cuisine.We walked back to the bus station in the rain and took the 3:45pm bus to Heraklion (9 euro each.)HerkalionWe stayed at Stella’s Airbnb near the Old Town and the water. We only had a few hours in town so we walked around the square, shopped at a stocked olive wood store, ate our fist Greece Gyros at Politia, and got gelato from Davinci.The next morning we walked to the ferry port and took Minoan Lines to Santorini (70 euro per ticket.)

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