Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bali, Crete

View from a balcony, Bali harbour
Sunday 14 April: One of my reasons for coming to Crete was to walk the Samaria Gorge but, due to the risk of avalanche, it's closed until May. Also, the weekly ferry to Santorini has been cancelled and wet windy weather are forecast. So, I decide to stay in the little north coast fishing village of Bali where the Hotel Sofia is offering an incredibly good value half-board deal (€17 a night). This is less than I usually pay for just an evening meal. The room has a huge balcony, breakfast and a three-course hot buffet dinner are served in a nearby restaurant. I soon discover that the other guests are paying considerably more than I am. There are worse places in the world to wait for a ferry. 
Two photos of Bali.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Rethymnon's Venetian fortress
Thursday 11 April: Returning from Sougia I overnight in the Irene Hotel in Chania before continuing to Rethymnon the next day where I'm the first and only guest in the Olymmpia Hotel. I have a comfortable studio with balcony overlooking their newly filled pool (€20). Rethymnon is a resort town with a beach strip, old quarter and large Venetian fortress perched on a rocky headland. It also has a shopping centre where I buy a pair of good quality running shoes, light yet tough, ideal. 
Slideshow of Rethymnon.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Coastpath to Sougia

The craggy 'E4' path to Sougia
Sunday 7 April: The European 'E4' route coastpath west from Palaecoro starts along a well-trodden track but gradually, as it begins to rain, it narrows and becomes steeper and more rugged. It seems that inclines of sharp rocks and loose rubble pass for a footpaths in Crete. Broken ankle terrain! Soon my cheap trainers, that were fine when I started, begin to fall apart so, when I arrive in the old abandoned village of Lissos, I take shelter in a deserted house until the rain stops.
The scenery is good and Spring flowers are in bloom but when I eventually reach the little village of Sougia my shoes are split down the sides and both soles are hanging off. I'll have to curtail my walking plans and bus it back to a northcoast town, I need footware.
Slideshow of the Coastpath to Sougia.

Monday, 6 May 2013


Thursday 4 April: From Chania I take the morning bus to the sleepy southwest coast resort of Palaechora. It has a bit of a dead end feel about it with twin beaches each side of a rocky headland. There are no ongoing roads but there is a ferry during the season and a coastal footpath, that suits me just fine. The local rock is a pebbly conglomerate set in coarse matrix so the going is likely to be to be rough
Saturday 6: Hiring a mountain bike I cycle west along a made-up gravel farm track. I want to get to the little sandy island of Elafonissi that you can paddle out to at low tide. It's about 15 miles away but it's tough hilly going over the goat-grazed cliffs and I stop short, just close enough to take a photo, knackered.
Slideshow of Palaechoro.

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Chania's charming Venetian harbour
Monday 5 April: I have a small en-suite studio with a tiny balcony and sea views in 'Room 47' in Chania old town perched above the little port's Venetian harbour. It's a charming place with narrow pedestrian backstreets, a lighthouse at the end of the harbour wall and colourful tavernas lining the quayside. My restaurant of choice is Tamam Taverna, back from the waterfront, where a small complimentary flask of raki unexpectedly appears at the end of your meal.
A pretty place to spend a few days.
Slideshow of Chania.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Crete: Heraklion

Knossos, rebuilt in the early 1900s
Thursday 28 March: The capital and main port of Crete, Heraklion has a Venetian fort and harbour with a two-kilometre long breakwater pointing into the sea like a massive crooked finger. It's a fair walk to it's end but with great views back towards the snow-topped mountains beyond the city.
Friday 29: Today I'm taking a stroll around the old city walls but, apart from the cathedral, the views across the modern city aren't the best.
Sunday 31: Every visitor to Heraklion heads out to Knossos Palace and I am no exception. Capital of ancient Crete and fabled home of the half-man, half-bull creature, the Minotaur, who feasted on youths and maidens. Mostly bull I think. Discovered in 1900 by British archaeologist Arthur Evens, he subsequently rebuilt it using reinforced concrete adored with reproduction frescoes. After Egypt it's a little disappointing.
Friday 19 April: Back in Heraklion I visit the Archaeological Museum to see the original Minoan artifacts and frescoes, and also play spot the difference.
Slideshow of Heraklion.