We have already spent nearly a month here in Crete. At this time of year we travel with not too much advanced planning. Our first six days were booked before we arrived as Terry was travelling with us but since he left we have taken it just one day at a time, making plans according to weather conditions and road conditions. It’s a great way to travel and we get much better deals than booking in advance. I always try and book directly with the hotel if I can for the best deal as they then have no commission to pay to a booking site.
We love it here: the spectacular scenery, the Venetian harbours, the ancient sites, the smell of the air, the olive groves, the wildflowers, the humming bees, the white capped mountains, the birds. This is a very natural country and it feels healthy.
The people are absolutely wonderful, some of the friendliest people I have ever met. They all want you to love their island and when you show appreciation they are even more friendly and happy. The food in restaurants is delicious and portions are huge and affordable, one main and one appetizer is all we need for the two of us. Restaurants gift you raki after the meal and often a simple dessert too. Apartment and hotel owners often do the same, leaving treats for us and helping us find nice places to go, and sometimes hugs and kisses when we leave.
Before arriving here I had not heard about the major storms with record breaking rainfall that have hit the island this winter. The impact is everywhere in Western Crete: huge landslides, small landslides on major roads and minor roads, road closures, rock falls, bridges taken out. Some of these twisty roads would be quite nerve wracking without this additional issue as the roads are often narrow with sheer drops and sheep and goats wandering around.
Cretan driving is “different” but once you understand it you have to drive somewhat like them. Alain says it’s no worse than Montreal but I’m not convinced. Mopeds and motorbikes race around everywhere with the drivers rarely wearing helmets. They pass on the left and the right in traffic and you have to be incredibly vigilant when changing lanes. As on our last trip to Greece every road is treated as a three lane highway. You drive halfway on the shoulder and the center of the road is a passing zone. It works quite well most of the time but some idiots will of course pass on bends and hills, constant attention is required. Every time Alain mentions Montreal driving to one of the locals we hear about their brother, cousin or uncle who has a restaurant in Montreal.
The not so good… everyone smokes everywhere, in restaurants and on the street. There has been an official ban since 2010 but it’s not even slightly enforced. The second thing that drives me crazy is that people toss garbage everywhere, after Portugal which was so clean I find it really disturbing. We have picked up garbage almost every day since we arrived, even in seemingly remote areas. Often if I forget my bag I will find an empty bag caught up in a spiny bush that I then disentangle and fill with garbage. I try to stick to one bag a day as otherwise all I see is the trash instead of the beautiful flowers and scenery.
Enough for this post with my overall impression of Crete. I’ll do some separate posts with some of the places we have visited.