Trip to Koutouloufari, Crete.
Jim and I enjoyed our holiday in Crete. The wee hill village we stayed in, Koutouloufari, was lovely and the hotel, Creta Blu, was really gorgeous. Georgios Roussaki, the young manager and his family, are dedicated to making sure their guests have a great time and they are most attentive. The rooms are pleasant, the hotel and grounds are pristine, the pool is very inviting and the food, prepared my Georgios mother Elleni, is delicious.
I especially enjoyed sitting on our balcony, with the scent of jasmine all around, looking out over the pool and beyond to the Mediterranean. It was also lovely to eat breakfast al fresco and, in particular, sample the delightful local yoghurt, fruit and honey.
Koutouloufari has some great restaurants and there photo opportunities round every corner. We had a long hike to the next two villages, Piskopiano, with its beautiful church, and Old Hersonissos, where we sat for ages in the village square drinking coffee and eating baklava. From the hotel we could also walk down a very steep hill to Hersonissos town – it’s busy and some may consider it a bit tacky but it is lively with plenty of shops and restaurants, a wee harbour and on the outskirts there are some pleasant beaches.
We had a couple of lazy days under the beach umbrellas reading our books then in the evening we would linger over dinner. Some of the restaurants in Koutouloufari are really good. Particularly popular is The Alchemist, run by two very friendly brothers, who serve up wonderful home cooking. We also liked Oniro’s, where the waiter was kind enough to suggest that we take home what we couldn’t eat – the portions are huge and all sorts of complimentary dishes appear on the table, both before and after the meal. They really push the boat out at Galini’s, with the waitresses in Grecian dress and a lot of ceremony involved in the service – good food but not so much fun or as relaxed as some of the other restaurants.
Our favourite cafe was Rahati – they have great cakes and coffee and it’s a super place to sit and watch the world of Koutouloufari go by.
Some days we took advantage of the great local bus service. and ventured further afield: we caught the luxury coach to the capital, Heraklion, where we enjoyed the Saturday bustle on 25 August Street, the vibrant street life around the market, stumbling upon ancient ruins and exploring the wonderful St Minas Cathedral. Another day we went to Agia Nikilaus, which is in a fabulous location on the Gulf of Mirabella. We enjoyed sitting by the lake and found our way to the most beautiful wee beach – right in the centre of town. We also visited Rethymnon – the old town is a great place to wander – lots of fascinating wee lanes, lovely cafes and shops and interesting buildings reminiscent of Venetian days.
The journey from Heraklion to Rethymnon is very enjoyable with the coach cutting through the mountains and emerging to spectacular views over the Mediterranean. Then, of course, there was the sunshine and the friendly, generous people.
There is lots to see in Crete and we were there at a great time of year when the flowers were in full bloom and the temperature in the low twenties (perfect for us Northerners). It is a very large island and had we been there for more than a week we would have visited Chania and Elounda, the South Coast and taken a trip by boat to Santorini . . .
Pat Byrne, May, 2014
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