Crete in March
Updated: May 8, 2022
It has been a dream to go to a Greek Island for many years - although I had imagined it would be along the lines of Santorini or Mykonos in the summertime. Instead, we were extremely fortunate to secure a three-week house and pet sit on Crete - in the springtime.
The house was located in the middle of an olive grove with stunning views of the snow covered White Mountains where we looked after Petra a rescued Greek hunting dog and two cats (Ginge and Socks). Crete seemed a little more rustic than I had imagined the Greek Islands to be - but it still turned on the stunning colours and fabulous flavours of Greece. (As well as a little snow and some stormy black skies)
One of the first things we realised about Crete is that the island is really big and so given that alot of our time was spent with the pets and the house we decided to focus on exploring the part of the island that was reasonably close to us.
Starting on a very cold weekend with two of the main towns on Crete - Chania and Rethymno
We loved walking in the old town of Chania, much of which is developed around its harbour, which was built by the Venetians during the 14th century. The harbour is mostly enclosed with a 21- metre tall lighthouse on one side of its entrance. The lighthouse was built by the Venetians in the 14th century. The land side of the harbour is a semi-circle that is lined with cafés, restaurants and touristy-type shops.
One visually dominant building in the semi-circle is a mosque that was built by the Ottoman Turks after they invaded Chania in 1645. It stopped functioning as a mosque in 1923, and since then the building has been used as a café, a restaurant, and a tourist office and it is currently an art gallery.
We also enjoyed exploring the fabulous maze of pedestrian-only streets that were located behind the harbour. These streets had beautiful little hotels, boutique shops and lovely little cafés offering streetside dining. Although, given how cold it was (6 degrees celcius) when we were there in March, we opted to have lunch inside a harbourside restaurant next to a heater.
On our second afternoon on Crete, the temperatures were still very chilly and so we wrapped up and went off to explore the historic old centre of Rethymno. As we strolled through the town we saw some wonderfully rustic old doors (as you will have no doubt noticed I have a bit of a thing for old doors and windows!), cobbled alleyways lined with cafés, shops selling local crafts and restaurants dishing up delicious Cretan food.
Like Chania, Rethymno also has a Venetian harbour lined with fish restaurants, waterside tavernas and cafés. The harbour is situated between the old town and the new town. The new town that has a vast sandy beach that is lined with hotels and restaurants. In March these were all boarded up against the rough winter weather.
And the location and views from our house-sit - Olive trees everywhere and sheep and goats...
Many of the sheep and goats had bells tied around their neck and so if we couldn’t see them we could hear them!
Finally, the weather started to improve which meant stunning blue sky, amazing clouds and warmth!
Just a few minutes drive down the road were the beaches and towns of Kalyves, Almyrida and our favourite Omprogialos.
Our closest larger town was Vamos - lots of lovely walks around here and good coffee and food.
Vamos is a lively traditional Cretan Village. We spent a bit of time there – exploring the narrow streets, and just sitting in one of the local cafés in the square people watching – locals, expats and tourists.
It was in Vamos that we had our first Greek salad – absolutely delicious! Embarrassingly, our Greek was limited to hello and thank you – and Cheers! but with lots of smiling, pointing and a few laughs we managed to communicate what we wanted to the lovely old man that was our waiter. Our table on that day was on the ‘terrace’ of the café that was virtually in the road and the salad was accompanied by a glass of the coldest beer we have ever had!
We Loved all the little chapels everywhere
The food was amazing - so fresh and colourful and you got complimentary starters, dessert and Raki! - Favourites were the delicious greek salad and grilled squid. The raki was pretty good too and the wine was very affordable - we got used to ordering it by the litre. The tabernas were pretty cool and the service was friendly and fabulous!
On our last day we went across to the South coast and stopped in the town of Hora Sfakion -
a small fishing village with a charming vibe, and a beautiful mix of whitewashed buildings and sea-coloured painted doors and window frames that I absolutely loved.