So, my big Greek island trip came to a finish and I have been back now for more than a week. I must admit it is hard to get back to reality after this heavenly decors and mythic places, you feel like THIS is the travelling, and there was the real world. Though, after a while you realize that you left the Minotaurs, ancient kings and philosopher's behind, and it's time to get back to 'normal' life, university, work and rainy Belgium.
The only thing that is left, is reminiscing about those wonderful times, and of course writing it all down. To keep the exquisit memories, but also to share with other people like you, and show you what wonderful places there are on earth and more than worthy of your visit.
Small church near to Seitan Limania
So, the first place where I landed was Crete, the biggest of the Greek islands, and like a whole country on itself. Actually, all Greek islands are kind of secluded from the mainland, and have almost no influence of the protests in Athens for example. Of course, also here it is crisis, also here people are unhappy with the way their country is led, but you won't have any problem because of that.
Crete is so big, that you can't even generalize things for the whole island, so I am just going to tell you about the small part that we visited this time. It is one of the most beautiful parts of Crete, in the province of Chania, and it combines paradise beaches with a historic city.
Sunrise in Chania Old Port
Chania was the official capital until 1971, when Heraklion 'robbed' that role, but is still the cultural capital. In its history, the island knew lots of cultures passing by, from Arabs, through Venetians and finally becoming a part of Greece.The old city has an old Venetian port, and a lighthouse, and is a very nice place to wander around and get lost in the small streets of it. The port is also filled with all kinds of fish and Greek restaurants, so you will surely not starve here, though I suggest you walk just a little bit into town to go for dinner at the traditional restaurant Semiramis. It is known not only for its delicious traditional Greek food, but also for the picturesque terrace, live Greek music and the wonderful atmosphere. The fish grill is one of the best plates, since everything is being fished the same day, directly on your plate :)
Seitan Limania - Stefanou Beach
Another nice village to stay is Stavros. Actually, it is so small that you will not find anything here but a few hotels, but its advantage is that it is very close to a well kept secret place hiding a paradise beach. This place has the name Seitan Limani (Seitan Port) or Stefanou Beach, is hard to find unless you know where to search, and is not easily to reach since you have to go down a rocky path. BUT... Once you're there, you litterally forget EVERYTHING. It is so beautiful, it is like a real paradise. A small, turquoise bay, with the high rocks on one side and a bay formed by rocks in the water to protect you from all sides, this must have been a perfect pirate hiding place or a smugglers camp. Just watch the pictures and judge yourself...
If you are going to Crete and you want to know where to find it, send me a message or an email, and I will give you a perfect description how to get there, and a Google Map tag. Just to keep the secret paradise a little bit secret you know... :)
The road to Seitan Limania beach
As you can see, the road is very rocky and steep (though I must admit it looks worse op picture than in real life) , so you better put on some solid sportshoes for the descent, rather than going on flipflops. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to get down or up the hill, but as you might imagine after seeying the pictures, it is more than worth it!
Water fun on the beach of Seitan Limania
Seitan Limania - a hidden treasure in Crete
Near to this paradise beach, I encountered something that kept me awake that night . Actually, I witnessed a dog that was totally abandoned, blind, without food or water or a shelter from the sun. He was chained, and afraid, and it really touched my heart in some way. I could not be like maybe some other tourists that accidentally took the wrong way, saw this monstrous setting, and then went on to the beach. That night - as I already mentioned - I couldn't close an eye, and I even dreamed about how I was saving the dog. So, to save you the crazy details, that shivering, dirty, scared to death dog ended up in OUR rental car :) With a miracle, I found an organization that was taking care of these animals, got him to a vet, and even took him to the beach meanwhile waiting for the people to pick him up! You cannot imagine what an experience that was for a dog that has been chained all his life, and doesn't even know what it means to walk more than 3 meter, jump, hear the waves... and even meeting a female dog! I can't describe how good I felt when I saw this poor creature wiggling his tail, like he was feeling there was a new life lurking ahead of him...
So, please, if you witness an animal in trouble, if it either has an owner or it's a stray dog, try to call the animal welfare organization so that the animal can be helped.
Now, if you are also interested in the cultural side of Crete, you have no choice but to visit the Knossos. As you might know, Knossos was an old palace near Heraklion (before Heraklion even existed). It dates from the Ancient Greek times, and it used to be the home of King Minos, who was keeping the half-man half-bull Minotaurus in his cellar, to scare off some people, and was feeding everybody who he didn't like to this creature. Those of you who remember a bit of the Greek mythology surely will remember this one!
Knossos i very easy accessible by city bus, which you can find at the bus station. Tickets cost about 3 Euro return, and the travelling time is 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the traffic and season.
The entrance costs 6 Euro and 5 Euro for students.
Knossos is special in an apart way. You don't see a lot left of the palace, but the things you see, the columns and paintings, are so different than what you will see in other ancient monuments, so colourful and joyful, that it gives you the feeling of being on another continent. It also has breathtaking landscapes from all sides, since it is built on a hill, and there is this special atmosphere hanging around, that you can't describe precisely, but makes you feel like travelling to those times when this palace was filled with men in white toga's and it was the heart of a whole civilization.