Crete: Almyrida, Chania and Samaria Gorge

Last summer I went on holiday with my family (mum, dad and younger brother) to Crete! I had never been in Greece before, but my parents have many times and even honeymooned on one of the Greek islands. We went right after my final year university exams as I nervously awaited my results, and we stayed in a town called Almyrida. We had a villa with its very own pool.

The villa garden.

The villa garden.

The pool.

Almyrida.

Almyrida.

We all really wanted (and needed) quite a lazy holiday, and we spent a lot of time around the pool reading, or down on the beach and eating ice creams and greek salads (it’s all in the balance!). We took a couple of adventures to explore small towns nearby, and visited Chania, the second largest city in Crete. This is a city full of history and charm, but also very modernised in places and I even spotted a Starbucks. The waterfront is particularly beautiful, with cafes lining the promenade. There is also a large hill in the middle of the old town you can climb up to, which gives stunning views over the old rooftops.

Chania.

Chania.

Views over Chania.

Views over Chania.

Orthodox church in Chania.

Orthodox church in Chania.

On a couple of occasions we took a taxi to different towns just along the coast from Chania for lunch and a wander. Once we spotted a small church and popped inside for a peek. Baring in mind this was a very small church, in a village in Crete I wasn’t expecting anything special so we were completely taken aback when we opened the doors to a traditional Greek orthodox church full of shining, glittering gold – from floor to ceiling.

Greek Orthodox church in Crete.

Greek Orthodox church in Crete.

My brother and I took an excursion one day out to the Samaria Gorge. A minibus took us and other tourists to Samaria where we hiked 16km, in up to 40 degree heat, through the gorge – it was stunning and varied and I was wearing Converse. My feet hurt. A lot. It took three hours or so to talk through the park and just when you think you’ve reached the end, there’s a little bit more to walk – down dirt roads, past farms of goats, before you reach Agia Roumeli, the town at the end of the gorge and are rewarded with glorious views of the Mediterranean.

Samaria Gorge.

Samaria Gorge.

Passing through narrow walkways in the gorge.

Passing through narrow walkways in the gorge.

The sand on the beach of the town is absolutely the hottest thing I have ever stepped on. My brother and I ended up buying drinks all afternoon from a very expensive beach side hotel bar just so we could use their sunbeds on the beach and not have to step on the sand! But we definitely felt we deserved putting our feet up after the 16km hike. Let me recommend that you do not attempt it in Converse…Taking a dip in the shimmering blue sea afterwards was wonderful though!

I really enjoyed Crete and there really is something for everyone on the small island – the old towns and cities for those looking for a little history and culture, the stunning beaches and blue seas for the sun-worshippers and the varied landscapes and hiking opportunities for those wanting a little adventure!

Crete.

Crete – the view from our balcony.

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