From the Epidavros in Peloponese, we had to reach Athens, return the car a few kilometers away from the airport to the famous Goldcar agency ( see previous article, and then take a shuttle to the terminal, all this before 7 AM in the morning. Needless to say that having forgotten to set an alarm at the right time, this trip was rock'n'roll, but we were on time to jump on the plane to Heraklion in Creta.
As for a big part of our time spent in Greece, we made the choice (and took the luxury) to rent a car in Crete especially as Thomas's dad joins us to spend 4-5 days for the second part our island stay. We take possession of the car and go to Kissamos, at the northwestern end of the island. Charming little seaside town with restaurants and bars. The beaches are not very very pretty in Kissamos but we had heard about the lagoon of Balos beach at 40 min road, people says it's the most beautiful beach in Greece. The weather on the first day isn't good, it's cloudy and very windy, so we decide to take a "day-off" and stay at the hotel as there is the pool! The next day we leave early in the morning for Balos Beach. At the end of the asphalt road a few kilometers from Kissamos, the path continues on 10km " off road track", quite feasible in a small car like a VW Up, luckily it's the car we have!
There is a toll for this off road track and it costs 1 EUR per car. At the end of the path, a parking and then you have to walk 2.5 km on a downhill to access the lagoon. This is also the most interesting part because you have a breathtaking view of the lagoon! Beautiful ! Later after the walk down while on the beach you can take a walk around the lagoon, and we discovered that there are loaves of oil all over the rocky part, no really retaining us to stay there. Also this day it was really windy, so we probably could not appreciate the place at its fair value. A bit disappointed by this place which is "the" must do of Crete.
The next day we go for a visit of the center of Chania (second city of Creta) it's one hour away from our hotel by car. The port and its Venetian lighthouse of the 17th century are nice. The center is very pleasant on foot, the market halls, shopping streets, shady squares, ...
We took the opportunity to visit the "National Museum of Greek Football" ranked well on Tripadvisor in activities to do on Chania. Free entry. In fact, it is more a personal collection of jerseys, balloons, official shoes of Greek football players but not only. We can see the jersey worn by Zidane during his headbutt in the final against Italy in 2006, the shoes of Christiano Ronaldo, jerseys of Platini, Pelé, balloons of different finals of the Euro, ... and the locally famous and original European Cup that Greece won in 2004. A good time there, with the warm welcome of the owner of the place who is none other than the president of the Greek fans.
The next day we went to another very famous beach in the western part of Crete. Elafonisso not to be confused with the island of Elafonissos in the Peloponnese that we loved! We arrived around noon because there is still 1h road to get there. Beautiful beach, but mainly privatized with sunbeds everywhere and even if we are late September, it's crowded. It's not what we expected from this place, but after an hour's drive .... We still find a creek on the left side of the bay, perfect for us to spend to rest of the afternoon.
We hit the road to Heraklion. XNUMXhXNUMX of meandering roads and incessant speed limit changes that annoyed Thomas a lot. We might receive speeding tickets from Greece in the coming years?!?
We are still on time to pick up Thomas's dad at Heraklion airport. We then continue our way together to Sisi, a small fishing port at XNUMX minutes east of Heraklion. We spend the late afternoon talking over a beer or two.
We stayed in a 5-star hotel half board (which changes much of our recent travel habits), but it's convenient because it avoids a lot of logistics, especially in the morning at breakfast. We do not necessarily intent to renew the experience because very expensive and uninteresting.
The next day, the XNUMX of us went to visit a cave very close to the hotel. A short walk before arriving at the entramce of the cave where we found a small chapel.
We visit the Vassilikis olive oil factory (the second because we visited the Governor's Mill on Corfu). Visit was in French so very easy to understand. The size of the olive oil storage tanks is very impressive, and allows the storage of XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX liters of olive oil, a lot more than the XNUMX liters produced in the factory in Corfu.
In the afternoon we visit the island of Spinalonga. Inhabited at different times by the Ottomans, the Venetians and the Greeks, it also housed persons suffering from leprosy at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today the island is uninhabited. A beautiful fortress and ruins nice to see.
The following days are more relaxing, we enjoy spending time with Thomas's dad. We spend a few hours at the beach, visit the center of Heraklion and its beautiful Venetian fort, freshly restored. We also visit the very expensive palace ruins of Knossos, interesting but nothing more, after seeing multiple archaeological sites in Athens and the Peloponnese, we were not that impressed.
This is the end of our adventure in Crete after 9 days. We drop Thomas's dad and the car at Heraklion airport and get on a ferry boat toward ...
First of all we were lucky to reach the island of Santorini because a storm threatened Cyclades Islands at that time. Named "Xenophon", it brought a lot of wind and the temperatures dropped passing abruptly from a pleasant XNUMX celcius, to XNUMX celcius, Mmm cold !!!
We arrive in the afternoon and reach our hotel in Perissa on the less touristy (and cheaper) side of Santorini Island. The bus ride reminds us a bit of Croatia, buses full, no or little indication of lines, schedules, a little chaotic!
There is a beautiful black sand beach near the hotel and we decide to go there. 1h facing the strong wind was enough for us and we get back to our room.
The next day the weather is a little better, we go hiking on the way to the ancient Thira (another archaeological site). We only walked to the little church nestled on a vertical cliff! The view is pretty nice from there!
Then we decide to go visit the "Santorini" that we saw on the internet and on pictures. We went there in Oia village and it's beautiful. The cliffs, the white houses, the churches with blue domes, it is very pretty. It is also very busy (3-4 ferries per day in September !!!), very expensive (4.5-7 EUR for a beer, ah ahah). We hiked between Fira and Oia, a must do on the island for those who like to walk, 11km that take you between the 2 biggest points of interest of the island, with the arrival in Oia at the end of the day to see the sunset. It's just wonderful.
We still have a mixed feeling when leaving the island. We saw Santorini, but there is no crush that we had in other places in Greece.
Worse than Santorini weather, temperatures fall to 20 degrees celcius, very cloudy and a lot of wind, this time the storm is called Zorbas (or the "medicane" contraction of Mediterannée and Hurricane). It brings a lot of rain, wind, thunderstorms. This makes our stay on the island of Paros not very enjoyable, but we still rented an ATV to discover the Island between 2 rain showers. We visited typical villages like Nouassa, Paryaka, and Alika. Here are some pictures, not much because we mainly stayed around the hotel, to run some errands. We were not alone as our new furry friends kept us company. They were adorable but a bit sticky!
We leave Paros Island after 3 days and reach Athens for a night of transition before flying to Singapore ...
Tops and flops
- Peloponnese: Monemvasia, Elafonissos, Naflion, Mystras, Olympia.
- Corfu for its greenery and its nice beaches!
- Greek food! just delicious! Moussaka, Stifado, Pastitsio, Stuffed Tomatoes and Eggplants, Tzatziki, Gyros, ...
- Crete and Santorini, places certainly very nice to visit, but unfortunately "rotten" by mass tourism.
- The weather in the Cyclades, we cannot do much about it but we did not expect that in Greece at the end of September!
Again savings, but we move some big expenses from "daily expenses" to "flight ticket", that last one should be rename "large transportation cost" instead of flight ticket Indeed, we have allocated XNUMX to XNUMX EUR for the large transportations, so we put the flights from Corfu to Athens, Athens to Heraklion as well as the inter-island ferry in this section (Heraklion, Santorini, Paros, Rafina). We track our daily expenses with the IOS app Expenditour and we export all this to a Google Drive file. All expenses of the type rental car, scooter, ATV, but also accommodation, restaurants, shopping, activities ... are included in this file, so it helps us tracking all expenses.
We spent 4185 EUR for 32 days in Greece for a total spent of 4352 EUR without counting the airline tickets and the ferry that cost us 513 EUR. This imputes the general budget of large transportations. 131 EUR is the average of expenses per day, and this allowed us to have fun, we have stayed in good hotels (sometimes luxurious and with sea and / or pool). We traveled by rental car for + 80% of our time in Greece, it's a real comfort on a trip to be free of moving! We spent less in the Peloponnese than in any other region. The most expensive places we visited are Santorini (Oia specifically) and Athens where a beer can cost up to 6-7 EUR in touristy area!
Here is a small list of our beer tastings in Greece:
- Mythos (of course) - The most common, we drunk it everywhere, the national beer!
- Alfa - Also very very popular one
- Ionian - Very difficult to find, we drank it only once in Corfu and it was very good
- Fix Hellas - Very common, but no pictures (ouuups a big mistake )
We also drank a lot of wine, better than in Albania, or Montenegro, however, there is still work for our Greek friends to compete with our French wines :)