Before I present you with some ideas for your one week in Crete, let me first explain the title of this story. On our first day in Viglia we asked our hostess Irini about different places to go. The two I wanted to see for sure were Balos and Elafonisi. Irini said that although Balos is actually very close to the hotel itself, the road there is not too good – it is unpaved, so the driving will be quite slow. After hearing this, we decided to leave Balos for later, when we have gotten used to local driving realities.
“And what about Elafonisi?” – I asked Irini.
“Oh, it’s a good road, asphalt” – she replied.
And so we decided to go to Elafonisi on our first day in Crete. Now, please keep in mind that my driving license was only half a year old during that time. I bravely started driving, got green the face after reaching the first mountain, then almost fainted when some goats jumped out on the road, and at last got out of the car sweaty and trembling after some 30 minutes (which felt like 30 hours to me) and let Zsolt drive the rest of the way. Since then “good road, asphalt” is a saying in our family, describing the road, which is really far from being easy.
So, enough of the introductions. Let’s see where we actually went.
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Falassarna is a beach on the Western side of Crete, and is famous for “amazing sunsets”. It was also a short drive from us, so we went there on the evening of our arrival to be amazed by the sunset. It was nice, but we were not amazed.
In fact it was there we realised that Lithuanian sea coast actually does have pretty good sunset. It doesn’t excel in many things, like sea temperature, water transparency, aquatic life or others. But it does have great sunsets: Lithuania is facing directly West and is placed high up North enough to have nice slow sun-setting speed, which allow you enough time to sit in the cozy dunes, open a bottle of wine and actually finish it with a serving of smoked fish.
Here we had in fact have just enough time to jump out of the car, unbuckle Mark from his seat, appreciate the view, realise that the batteries of both our phones are dead and no pictures of this historical moment will be taken. And that was it. Good we didn’t bring our fish dinner with us.
And in that sense Elafonisi is perfect in April. It is very shallow, so the sea gets very warm and you can swim and enjoy the sandy beach. And it is not overcrowded, as it gets later in the season.
Elafonisi is actually a tiny (1.5 km2) island in the southwestern corner of Crete, but is very close to the mainland – so close that you can actually walk to this island through the shallow water. And after you get there, you can enjoy the views of the blue sea and pink-ish sand. Yes, beautiful, yes, absolutely worth going there on this good road asphalt.
The idea was to mix the sea views with mountain views and Crete is good for that.
Aspri Limni Beach and Lagoon
Balos and Gramvousa
It is a bay and two islands nearby, which was used by pirates in the older days. It is now recognised as one of the main sights on Crete due to the beauty of the bay and especially blue water.
We wanted more flexibility, so we took the car. The distance from our hotel was about 20 km, and our speed also was around 20 km/h for the whole duration of this drive. And after arriving there we were met by local goats. First it was funny. Then they wanted to climb in the car and steal our oranges. Stealing food is never funny.
Milia Traditional Village
Our original plan was actually to stay in Milia for the whole week, as it seemed perfectly within our concept: eating traditional Cretan food and watching beautiful Cretan landscapes. However, although within the concept, it was far out of our budget. But we did want to visit it.
The road went up and up the mountain and then – when we thought we already are on the top – up again. I was happy that Zsolt did all the driving and didn’t even offer my help for this ride. And the view was really worth it: you feel on top of the world.
It was there we found out that the actual famous traditional Cretan diet is not what we have imagined. The base for it is not feta cheese, fresh fish or grilled goat meat. It is climbing up and down the mountains picking herbs and beans from your almost vertical garden. And yes, a lot of bread and olive oil. And if you are lucky, some yogurt and fish – once in a blue moon. Locals, please correct me if I’m wrong.
This was our last day trip in this visit, so I remember it now with a little hint of sadness, even though the lake is definitely worth visiting. It is one of the very few lakes on Crete.
It has emerald water colour and two highlights:
– Goat dishes, which you can taste in small open restaurants on the shore of the lake
– Lake turtles. For this you have to rent a little pedal boat and go around the lake.
Would you like a guide book for your trip? Here are some I would recommend:
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