|Irakleio, the road to the Limani/Koules|
Going back to Crete, 5 years after Peter and I met and over 3 years after my last visit, was pretty emotional/awesome/overwhelming. As I walked around the streets of Irakleio with my sister, memories would come flooding back- of the corner of Liontaria Square where we'd meet up to run as just friends, of the roma kids who I eventually sort of kind of befriended, of the anarchist's bar down the street from my old apartment, and the Goody's (basically Greek McDonald's) where I'd get club sandwiches when I was home sick.
Our favorite restaurant was Lychnostatis. It felt like eating at your Yiayia's kitchen- everything was cozy and old, from the crummy wicker chairs to the old fireplace that caught fire once while we were sharing raki there with some of the other Physics students (true story.) We'd get lost in the little winding city streets, or on mountain roads looking for the best meat in the villages nestled up against Psiloritis with my cousin. We hopped on KTEL buses from one end of Crete to the other, seeking out the best beaches, the most beautiful cities.
It's so weird thinking back on those times now. I was a puny 21 year old with nothing but a lit degree and a handful of Greek phrases to my name. I miss it- the experiences, the foods, the feeling that there was so much yet to do and see- but now, 4 years on, I know our lives will never be quite like that again. I'm so grateful we began this chapter of our lives- marriage- right where it all started in the first place ;).
Favorite spots in Irakleio (no particular order, sorry:)
Lychnostatis- great food. enough said.
Vrakas Ouzeri and seafood restaurant: so actually, Peter and I are in debate on this one, as I love this place (they used to make a honey-grilled octopus that was kick ass, but don't anymore- boo!) but Peter is partial to Ligo Krasi, Ligo Thalassa. Hippocampos is where Peter used to take his parents- go try all three and decide for yourselves!
Peskesi- a new favorite- everything, including the salads, meats and cheeses, are amazing! Very nice open air ambiance too (though that's not hard to find in Cretan restaurants.)
Erganos- great authentic Cretan meals. Just outside the walls of the city
Outside of Heraklion: Tou Pavlou and To Rodi, both in Rogdia, have amazing food and equally lovely views. Worth renting a car to get to.
The wall around the city is great for strolling, exploring, and getting a nice view of the mountains. In the spring after the rains all you can see is beautiful white and purple daisies- it's just lovely.
Knossos Palace- an archaeological site well worth visiting in spite of being unintentionally damaged by a well-meaning English guy (whoops) - get a tour guide
The Koules- every seaside town on Crete has a Fortezza and old limani, or port from Venetian times or older. Heraklion's is not super big or exciting, but one of our favorite things to do used to be to run together to the end and back. Many Cretans will go for a "volta" (stroll) along the walls. The giant archways you can see nearby were where the ancient ships were once built :)
Churches- Agios Minas has a miraculous history from World War II, when a bomb was dropped on it but did not detonate. Agios Titos is a repurposed mosque from Ottoman times with stunning architecture.
Beaches- so many to choose from! Near to Irakleio the beaches are kind of...icky. a short bus ride or car ride out of the city will bring you to Agia Pelagia, Paliokastro (I used to climb here,) and Kokkini Hani.
Kazantzakis Museum- I never actually went here, but history and literature nerds will love this place. I'm kicking myself right now for not checking it out, all these years later (whoops...)
Getting around: Heraklion has two KTEL bus stations. Coach-sized buses can take you over the whole island; the farthest trip, to Chania, is 3 hours. Prices are somewhere under 10 euros, but I did have a student pass and this was a long time ago, so don't quote me! Basically you can easily get to most major places on Crete without a car if you don't fancy driving on the winding roads. That being said, many of the roads on Crete have been re-done since my last trist with them- they're a lot safer, and a car will afford you access to even more hidden corners of the island. Of note, my now-husband cycled everywhere on Crete, but personally I think he is a crazy-pants and would not have felt safe doing this myself :)
|Chania, the Limani|
|Liontaria fountain- basically at the center of Iraklieo|
|The rocks down by the sea were a favorite climbing spot when I lived here|
|like a terrible blogger, we basically ate all the things without taking *one* photo! for shame. To be fair, it was our first meal in Greece and we were kind of excited.|