Western Crete, Time-machine trip back to April 2016

Viglia beach hotel Crete

The summer is the only decent season in Lithuania, so we don’t plan any big travels for June, July and August. This is the time when the garden grows, the sandbox and the swing can be used and friends come from abroad to stay with us. Summer is a great time, but if you have self-proclaimed yourself a travel blogger, what can you then blog about? Do I take a break? Do I blog about the sandbox? This would be too macro even for me.

I have two strategies: 1. Hop on a time machine – I’ll tell about the travels of the past, for now undocumented and almost forgotten. Before they get forgotten completely, let’s try to remember them and describe them. 2. Many small travels and discoveries are still happening – new running routes, new picnic locations, new favourite coffee places in Vilnius. Also, we are planning a couple of small road trips around Lithuania and neighbouring Latvia. It won’t be boring, and I can keep my fingers trained and the keyboard in use.

So the journey today goes back to April 2016, Crete, a little hotel by the sea in the middle of nowhere called Viglia Beach Apartments.

I found the hotel on booking.com, and then double-checked it for reviews from young Brits and Scandinavian, to make sure this is not a party-disco-drink-all-you-can destination, as many other locations in Crete. Not that it was likely to be such anyway in the middle of April, but for our first trip with our first baby we didn’t want to take second chances.

I found a car online as well. We decided to go for a slightly risky, but much cheaper option of renting a car from a local company, rather than established international one. The price difference for an automatic car was almost double for a week, and luckily we didn’t have any trouble in the end of it.The car rental company representative met us in the airport with my name on a sheet of paper and took Zsolt to get the car just outside the terminal building, while me and Mark stayed outside the airport and absorbed the sun and the sight of palm trees after all the never-ending winter we had for the past half a year.

We passed the town of Kissamos, took the road further along the coast, and after one more turn, when the landscape around us became quiet deserted, we saw our little hotel – just by the sea, on a little slope of the hill, white terrace and the owner Irini standing up to meet us and give us a hug, as if we just came home after a long trip away. And we actually felt just like that – homely.

This was my first experience, when the hotel actually looked and felt even better in real life than in booking.com photos. Every day we were greeted by a cheerful Kalimera, orange juice and strong Greek coffee, followed by a bread-based Cretan breakfast with a view to the sea. And we consulted with Irini on what is the best to see, where would be a good place to go, and then every evening she was there waiting for us and asking about our day trips.

We had no fixed plan, just some ideas about what we want to see, and we were also planning to give ourselves a chance to be lazy and stay by the pool the whole day. Staying by the pool and swimming in a rather cold even for my Baltic taste April sea we did sometimes in the morning or in the evening. And when we planned to spend a whole day being lazy, the maximum we could do was 3 hours. After that we were ready to jump in the car and go exploring again.

During this week we went to the following places: Falassarna, Balos, Elafonissi, Milia traditional village, small villages of Platanos and others on our way, some very well-hidden Aspri Limni beach and lagoon near Chrisoskalitissas Monastery, Topolia Gorge, wine + olive oil production factory for a tasting and Lake Kournas. We considered a boat to Santorini for a day trip, but decided against it for this time – there was just too much to do in Crete. I will write a more detailed post about those places in a couple of days, and for now will stick to a general impression of the trip as a whole. 

As Mark was very little, he slept quite a lot during the day in the car, and we could do the driving in his nap times. The carrier helped a lot and we ended up using it more than a stroller. And the biggest help was that Mark at that time was breastfed exclusively, so I didn’t need to bring any bottles, sterilisers and heaters on the trip. This saved the time and hassle, and I could chose some scenic places for his feeds, where I would also enjoy this time.

During this week, we actually eaten more oranges that throughout the rest of the year, as well as more bread, yogurt and olive oil. And we packed our suitcase with some 5-6 litres of the dark and heavy olive oil in very homely plastic bottles wrapped in tape for the way back as well. That lasted until winter and when we ran out of it, the store-bought didn’t taste the same.

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