Archive for June, 2008

Day 9: Day Trip to Xania, Crete

OK, I am FINALLY continuing writing about the last few days of the Greek trip…

Wednesday May 21, 2008

Today we had our breakfast buffet (with the many German tourists) at the charming Arolithos hotel. It was a simple buffet, but good enough to start our day.

Arolithos Village - our hotel

Today was reserved for taking a day trip to Xania, a Venetian harbor town about 85 miles away. We dared to try the Crete bus system to get there. We took the bus from our hotel to Iraklion without much of a problem. The bus was about 30 minutes behind schedule, though, so we weren’t sure if it was ever going to show up. But it did, and when we got to Iraklion we went in to the main bus station and bought 3 tickets to Xania. After a painless transfer to another bus station, we were finally on our 2.5 hour ride along the coast of Crete.

bus ride to Xania

The ride was scenic and peaceful (so peaceful that some of us fell asleep,) and it was a great way to cover a lot of Crete in the little time we had there. Along the highway there were wildflowers everywhere – so beautiful!

The bus station in Xania was not located in the charming Venetian village part of the town, but in a little sketchier looking area. At the bus station, the ladies room toilets were just holes in the floor, so we had to pass that up, quickly grab a map, and head toward the harbor.

Thankfully the harbor was as quaint and charming as I had seen in pictures.

horse-drawn carriage

Xania Harbor

the harbor

Xania lighthouse

pretty pottery

curly bottles

After walking all around the harbor, we were getting hungry for lunch, and a nice man from a restaurant came out to us and sold us on the sea bass special. Mom thought it was the best meal in all of Greece thus far.

mom and dad at lunch

After a long lunch, we took a few more pics and then decided to head back to the bus station. As soon as we got to the station, I saw a bus with “Iraklion” flashing on the screen in the front, so we quickly jumped on it. About 20 to 30 minutes into the ride, a girl came around to take everyone’s tickets, and that’s when we were informed that we were on the WRONG bus! (Uh oh!) Apparently there are different bus companies, even though they looked the same to me. The girl told us that the RIGHT bus was RIGHT behind us, so they would drop us off at the next bus stop (on the highway in the middle of who knows where) and then from there we could flag down the RIGHT bus to pick us up and continue on our way to Iraklion.

waiting for the bus

It was a gruelling 25 minute wait for our bus, and when it pulled over for us, I was so happy! I was even happier when the bus driver looked at our tickets and didn’t tell us it was the wrong bus!

When we got back to Iraklion, we found a rare honest cabby who only charged us 15 euros for the same ride that we took the night before (which cost us 25 euros!)…he even tried to refuse the tip, but finally took it after mom insisted! When we got to our hotel, we could hear lots of music and cheering in the courtyard area – it was Cretan dinner night! It was already after 9pm, but Dad and I were up for checking it out, while Mom turned in for the night.

Arolithos Cretan dinner

We weren’t very hungry, but the menu was fixed, so we had a four course meal while watching traditional Cretan dances and listening to live Cretan music – a fun Cretan ending to our Cretan day!


Day 8: Til Next Time, Santorini…Crete, Here We Come!

Tuesday May 20, 2008

Today Dad and I went for our morning walk again, but this time decided to take the stairs all the way down to the Bay of Armeni (these were the same stairs that the donkeys were walking up right next to Skala Restaurant yesterday).

dad going down the stairs to the dock

When we got to the bottom of the stairs we saw a man with a donkey and we realized that they were the Santorini consolidated services team! The poor donkey had to carry about six big bags of trash on his back up the stairs. Here’s a pic of Dad with the donkey before the guy put all the bags of trash on him.

dad and the donkey

After taking a few pictures, we decided to head back up the stairs. It was a long way to the top.

dad at the dock

We stopped to take pictures and catch our breath – our only goal was to beat the donkey up the stairs.

dad climbing up the stairs - happy to take a breather for this pic

Even though we were pretty tired when we got up to the top of the stairs, I insisted that we go to my favorite spot in Santorini – it was our last day here, and who knows when I’ll be back… I’m sure everyone’s sick of seeing my pics by now (which probably all look the same to you), but it’s my blog and I’ll post what I want to!

my favorite view of santorini
(So long, Santorini, sniff, sniff…)

so santorini

There were a couple other tourists at the best spot in Santorini, and they were kind enough to offer to take our picture in front of the domes.

me and dad at my favorite spot in santorini

After finally having my fill of the domes, we walked back to the cave house, stopping at the bakery (the one we went to the first day) and got another mushroom pie and a sundried tomato-feta-olive pie as well. I also gave in and got a strawberry gelato cone, which wasn’t the healthiest thing before breakfast, but I figured I deserved it after the long stair workout.

We got back to the house, had breakfast, packed up, checked out, and said goodbye to Santorini and our temporary dog, Rex. Did I mention that we were so sad to be leaving Santorini?

our dog rex

We were taking a ferry to Crete in the late afternoon. So we went to Athinios (the port) to wait for our ferry. We sat at one of the many cafes and just ordered drinks until our ferry finally showed up.

mom and dad waiting for the ferry to crete

Here we are on the ferry!

tired us on the ferry

It was a smooth ride, and I think we all fell asleep pretty quickly. We got into Heraklion Port (Crete) in the evening, after sunset but before dark. We were immediately spotted by a rip-off taxi driver who quickly took our bags and put them in the trunk, and then refused to use the meter once we were in the car. He charged us 25 euros for a ride that should have been 15 euros. It was annoying but a realistic introduction to the taxi drivers of Crete. (We miss Santorini already.)

Our hotel grounds in Crete are cute and charming – a (replica of a) Cretan village…our room isn’t as cute and charming as the outside village, but it will do for two nights. At least the restaurant here is the best deal we’ve seen so far! We got a huge salad, moussaka (mom), grilled chicken filet with potatoes (dad), and stuffed vegetables (me) all for 25 euros!

We just went back to our room and fell asleep right after our late dinner. Tomorrow we’re going on a day trip to Xania!