Crete is in fact a world within the other world which are the Greek islands, and it onlye took us one day before we had any doubt that we made the best possible choice. As we have used in the title, it is the true Mediterranean pearl, where everything is conjugated and perfectly aligned, creating a unique environment and that makes us truly feel the soul of Mediterranean cultures.
On the last full day we had on Crete, we wanted to explore the area around Chania (Χανιά) and that often is not mentioned by visitors in Crete. We then proceeded towards the area surrounding Chania airport and as we leave the densely populated areas of the city, the landscape begins to appear typically Mediterranean, with extensive olive groves, interspersed with dry hay and small villages centered on their own pace. As we continue to go towards the sea the landscape becomes more and more desertic, but we are well accompanied, by the famous wild goats of the island that are appearing almost all the way. Finally, after a path of extremely sharp curves and counter-curves, we arrived at what is possibly one of the most peculiar beaches we have seen in our life, with a mixture of wild and paradisiacal landscape. We speak of the beach of Seitan Limania (Σεϊτάν Λιμάνια).
During the afternoon, we headed towards Rhetymno (Ρέθυμνο), the third largest city on the island, practically half way between Chania and Heraklion. The route is essentially made by the national route 9, which is the last section of the European route 75, which runs from Finland to the island of Crete. For approximately 2 hours, we pass from semi-desert to a dense forest of tall pines that reminds us of central europe.
The town of Rhetymno is really fantastic, highlighting the old Venetian harbor (As in Chania), the old town, full of small streets that hide shops of traditional products and small restaurants and, of course, the famous fort, which imposes on the whole city and from which you can see a view of the coastline for several kilometers. We still wanted to go to the beach before returning to Chania, and the difficult thing was just to choose! As soon as we leave Rhetymno, the beaches follow each other but we picked the beach of Leppai, This beach is not focused on tourists, being mostly frequented by Greeks, but we spent a great bit here and the sea, besides being calm was very warm, as usual on the beaches of this island.
We then returned to Chania to better explore the old city, and we were delighted with everything we saw. The labyrinthine streets, which are very similar to the typical Lisbon neighborhoods, are an authentic adventure and it is guaranteed that one always discovers that special corner, that patio or small square, where we can contemplate all the beauty of the city, with a typical Venetian architecture, that arround here becomes unique and full of life and traditions.
We did not want to end up without referring to the Greek cats, which really make up part of the lives of all the cities we visited, often being cherished by locals and tourists as they roll around on the floors of shops, restaurants and taverns.
We loved Crete and the farewell was really painful as we were sure that we want to return to explore the much we missed visiting on the island. We advise Crete to all those who want a complete experience on a Greek island and who do not want just a tourist-oriented place!