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!

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