5 Jun 2013

Crete Greece

I'm so bad. I'm still yet to finish reviewing all the things Ian and I did during our European holiday. I recently got asked about what to do and where to stay in Italy and Greece and oddly enough these are the two countries I haven't finished (or started) reviewing.

I recently posted a review of our accommodation in Crete Greece on Trip Advisor so I figured I'd elaborate on what I wrote.

Firstly, when we started planning our Europeian holiday we knew we would go to Santorini. It was the one place that was on my bucket list and if life had taken a different turn of events would have wanted to spend my 30th birthday there. I didn't spend my 30th birthday at Santorini but I did see the place within my 30th year, something I didn't think would happen so that's pretty amazing and totally blessed to have had the experience. 

There are so many islands in Greece but you only ever hear of Mykonos and Santorini. I recently heard of Crete after watching a very funny movie called The Inbetweeners. The movie is I guess a follow up from the sitcom also called the In Betweeners and if you get British humour you'd probably find it very amusing too. 

The island is a lot bigger than Mykonos and Santorini and offers visitors an array of activities not just the beach. On our Crete itinerary some of the things I wanted to check out included The Samaria Gorge National Park, a 16km treck through mountains and gorges ending at a beach. Balos Lagoon, a massive beautiful lagoon you can swim and snorkel at. Check out some ancient ruins at Knossos and get lost or people watch around the pretty town of Ayios Nikolasos.

Crete is one of those places you need a car to get around. There are public buses which is cheap however don't offer services across the whole island and run infrequently. Crete is one of those cities that tends to start the day late say 10am and stay open until very late. As one local suggested to us, to head out into town around 9pm as that is when most places are starting to pick up. There are so many restaurants, bars and clubs in the main tourist areas and so many hotels and resorts to choose from as well.  

Deciding where to stay was really difficult as the activities we wanted to do in Crete was spread out throughout the island. Also getting from one side of the island to the other can take up to 3 hours even though the island is only 150km in length. There's actually 3 airports available at Crete across various parts of the island. Unless you're planning to stay here for a long period of time its hard to try and squeeze everything you want to see and do on the island. 

We eventually decided on staying at a resort called Candia Maris Resort & SpaWhen I booked directly with the resort we were quoted the all inclusive rates. This meant all meals, drinks, activities were included with our rate. This is actually the norm in most resorts in Europe (and I've heard in South America) and it's a much more enjoyable holiday experience in my opinion. We never once took out our wallets while at the resort as there was no more additional charges. 

Other positives of the resort include:
• Room was spacious with lots of space to move around. There was an arm chair and desk area and the balcony was very generous too.
• Rooms contained modern fixtures and had air conditioning. 
• The stocked bar fridge which was included with all in exclusive package and would be replenished when items were consumed. 

• There is a spa on site which isn't included in the inclusive package but strongly recommend getting a massage and using the spa. 

• Lots of options at the buffet however by the third day you do notice menu is on rotation especially breakfast and lunch meals. At dinner ever night there is a theme/cuisine however there is usually only one section of the buffet that has food from that country/cuisine. There is also snacks, morning and afternoon tea served between meals and a mid night snack service every night.
• If buffet is not your thing they do have 2 a la carte restaurants on site, an Italian and a Greek restaurant. However you have to book 24 hours (or more) prior to reserve a seat as they get booked out very quickly. 
• Pool bar provided canap├ęs certain times in the day and again all included.

• Resort ran daily activities throughout the day and night such as a beach party once a week and a nightly disco! disco! for fist pumping. 
• Local staff were very friendly, spoke English and loved to have a conversation about the island and provide their recommendations on things to see and do. 
• Bar was open 24 hours a day.
• Rooms serviced everyday and free bottles of water left in the room daily which was nice since it was very warm most of the day.
• There is a gym on site and is used by locals so guest can only use gym between 9am-5pm everyday as gym gets busy with the members using it after 5pm. 
• The resort is right by the beach and there are free beach chairs, table and umbrella for guests to use.

• As mentioned there is a spa on site which is different to spa experience I’ve had back home or elsewhere. We did get a regular massage, used the hot and wet sauna but we also used the main spa pool. This pool has 12 different spots/stations, which you move around to slowly. Each spot disperses water onto you in different forms which massages different part of your body. It’s a wonderful experience we enjoyed it.
• Resort only 10 minutes by public bus and bus stops right in front of the resort.

Some of my cons are:
 The free wifi included with price only worked really well around the lobby area so lots of guests would hang around this area to be able to use the wifi.  
• The resort (the island as a whole) is mostly visited by other European tourist so resort hires activity coordinators and tour guides who speak these languages so they can communicate with guests in their native language. For example when we inquired about tours at the resort we were advised it would be in German so of course we didn't book any.  
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