October 17, 2014

Our Honeymoon: Days 8-10, Crete

We left Santorini at about 5pm on a ferry to Crete. The ferry took about 3 hours and put us into Heraklion around 8:30pm.

We had heard that there wasn't much to do in Heraklion and that it was 'just a city' so we only booked one night there.

As soon as we got off the ferry, I knew that Heraklion was wildly different from both Athens and Santorini. We were staying about a 20 minute walk from the port and the walk was just so refreshing. Despite it being mostly up hill and us lugging our suit cases up those hills, I instantly knew I loved Crete. The streets were quiet and peaceful, there were tons of families out and about, and it just felt so much more relaxed than either Athens or Santorini did.

Our hotel was gorgeous, and immediately upon checking in, we regretted the fact that we only had two nights in Crete.

(We actually thought we had three nights and realized in Santorini that we miscalculated everything by a day. Oops!)

We were starving when we got in so we went to an adorable little pizza place across the street from the hotel and ordered a bottle of wine and a pizza complete with yummy Greek toppings. As sad as it is to say, it was the best meal I'd had in Greece. Post-pizza, we took a walk and stumbled on Georgiadis Park, which, despite being really late at night, was very well-lit and packed with young couples and students walking around, reading books, and just hanging out. I loved it!

The next morning, we got up and started our day with the most unbelievable breakfast spread I have ever seen in a hotel. Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, cheese, freshly-baked bread, and delicious desserts like halva and baklava.

After breakfast, we made our way out and about to explore the city.

The harbor
The Pilot and I immediately fell in love with Heraklion. As compared with Santorini, this was much more our speed. It was very cultural, and we absolutely loved walking around the city. The harbor area was a little bit touristy, which is to be expected, but other than that, it was a city where everyone was just going about their days.

More shots on the harbor
Once we left the harbor, we made our way back through the market, which was starting to wake up and become a lot more active.

TL: The bust of Nikos Kazantzakis, BL: The Morosini Fountaion, whose center statue of Poseidon was destroyed during the Turkish occupation
I took that picture of Nikos Kazantzakis because, not only is there a bust of him in the center of the city, but the airport is also named after him. He was a writer (famous for Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ). I just love that a city honors their authors in this way. It's such a testament to what they value as a culture.

After exploring Heraklion, it was time to head back to our hotel and grab our bags to catch the bus to Rethymno,  the next stop on our trip. The bus ride was beautiful and took about 90 minutes.

Once we got to Rethymno, we walked took an exceptionally long roundabout way to get to our hotel, which we were so excited about. It was a mansion built in the 15th century!

Our hotel.
We checked into our hotel and the woman at the front desk greeted us in the most traditional way possible...with shots of raki! Raki is what's left over from the grape during the wine-making process...and is basically pure alcohol. The shots definitely had a bite to them but we enjoyed them nonetheless. 

Once we checked into our room, we headed out to go explore the Old Town.

Exploring the Old Town. The fountain (BL) still functions and was built in the 15th century.
Rethymno was gorgeous and so full of history. We LOVED it. Aside from a handful of German tourists,  it was definitely not a tourist destination! We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then just walked through the town. The streets were so quaint and filled with historic Venetian history that it almost felt like we were back in time.

As we were walking through the Old Town, we passed a fish spa. We had seen tons of these in Santorini and we're intrigued by then but never took the plunge (no pun intended). When we saw that the prices were better in Rethymno, we made our way in. 

It was so weird! You dive your feet into a bucket of (toothless) fish and let them go to town on your feet, eating away at the dead skin.  I was giggling uncontrollably the entire time, but you know what? It actually felt good! I had some blisters on my feet from running and dancing at the wedding and after my 10 minutes was up, they were mostly gone. It was amazing, but also super weird.

Guys, I think I found the cure for runners' feet!

Post-fish spa, we made our way to the fortress, which overlooks the entire city.

It was insanely hot that day so by the time we were done at the fortress,  we decided to make our way back to the hotel to cool off by the pool.

That night, at the recommendation of the hotel, we went to dinner at a place called Pigadi, which was built into the yard of a 16th century stable. (Are you noticing a pattern here?)

Here, finally, was the unbelievable Greek food I had been waiting for. The food was incredible...and the wine, even better.

We spent a few hours at that restaurant...and were served shots of raki with our bill. Then, we decided to have a night out on the town. We went to a bar for some more wine...and were again, served shots of raki with our bill...and that's how the night went. We had so much fun.

<3 Honeymooners
The next morning, slightly worse for the wear, we decided to head to the beach. It was almost 100 degrees but the water was gorgeous. We spent a few hours in the water before heading off for lunch and a day spent walking around the Old Town. 

That night, we again, went to another phenomenal restaurant, where The Pilot ordered some kind of phyllo dough stuffed with chicken and spinach that looked so good, this vegetarian had to try it...and would probably revert to eating meat if I could eat that every day for the rest of my life. I had a truffle oil risotto which was equally as good.

We were really sad that it was our last day in Greece, especially since we loved Crete so much. One of the things we desperately wanted to do was hike the Samaria Gorge, but it would've taken us close to three hours just to get there. We went to bed that night with solemn swears to return to Crete, and spend much more time there.

The next morning, we left Rethymno around 9 to make our way back to Heraklion for our flight back to Paris.

When we told people we were going to Crete, we were met mostly with surprise. It's definitely more of an off-the-beaten-path destination and I have no idea why. We fell in love with the island, the people, the history, the food...everything.  Rethymno is so well preserved, and really pays homage to its Ventian roots, which I loved. It was such a refreshing change of pace from Santorini...and much easier to get to from mainland Europe, so we will definitely be back. I'd love to explore Western Crete, and just more of the island in general!

The Details
In Heraklion, we stayed at the Galaxy Heraklion Hotel for $123 USD per night (amazing breakfast included). I couldn't recommend this place enough.
The bus from Heraklion to Rethymno cost about 8 euros each.
In Rethymno we stayed at the Palazzo Vecchio for 120 euros per night, which I would also recommend.
The fish spa in Rethymno cost 8 euros per person.
Crete was much cheaper than both Athens and Santorini, which was awesome!


  1. Crete is the go to place in Greece for Germans, everybody I know who went to Greece went to Crete :) so glad you had a wonderful time

  2. I have always wanted to visit Greece! Your pics are incredible - what a perfect honeymoon spot!

  3. Crete looks amazing! I could NOT do that fish thing. Yikes!

  4. Ok, I'm convinced. Get me to Crete!!! After all the traveling you've done, I trust your judgement whole heartedly! Also, I don't think I would ever be able to get one of those fish spa things....freaky!! Glad it felt nice :)


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