A Travellerspoint blog

Monemvasia

A very large rock

sunny 28 °C

One of the world's great fortresses

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2014-06-11 13.24.42

2014-06-11 13.24.42

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Posted by kforge 07:32 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Chania to Monemvasia in the Peloponnese

Via Kissamos, Kythira and Neapoli

sunny 27 °C

Sunday we were back at the local beach for a bit of relaxation before the travels later in the day

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We had pre-booked seats on the 4:30pm bus from Chania to the far western port of Kissamos-Kastelli (6.20 euros) as we had been told by the bus terminal staff that this was the one that went right to the port and took just under an hour, giving us plenty of time to board the 6pm once-a-week ferry to the island of Kythira. Well it did go right to the port but also stopped for every resort tourist who even looked at the bus, and, as we discovered, just about that whole coast west of Chania is covered in resorts. The bus was full at one stage but it arrived at the port with only Jeni and I on board and a full 10 minutes to spare. The ferry was inexplicably full of people going to or returning to Kythira, maybe some of the 60,000 who emmigrated to Australia and now spend time in both countries. The ferry stopped for a few minutes at god-foresaken Antikythira after a couple of hours and then continued on for another 2 1/2 hours to the new port of Diakofti on Kythira, arriving at 10:30pm.

Chania to Kythira ferry

Chania to Kythira ferry

The Kythira Beach Studios had arranged for the taxi we had requested - just as well, as the 10-minute walk they indicated on their web-site, would have taken at least half an hour. The studio was basic and for 35 euros per night that was fine but we weren't even offered a tea or coffee, had to virtually beg for some drinking water and then discovered we didn't even have a kettle in our kitchen. The charms of Diakofti became quickly apparent in the morning - there were none! But amazingly there were a few tourists obviously spending a few days there enjoying the rubbish-strewn, rocky beach and the few half-open cafes.

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Unfortunately, the ferry across to Neapoli in the Peloponnese didn't leave until 4pm, so we had the whole day at lovely Diakofti. The ferry trip was only 75 minutes but as we'd missed the last bus to Monemvasia, we checked into the seafront Hotel Aivali for what turned out to be a very pleasant stay in this non-tourist town

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2014-06-10 08.45.36

And so, finally, at 1:45pm on Tuesday, we were able to start the last leg of our journey to Monemvasia. Would it be worth it? Yes, of course, and especially when we can spend time in bus-stations in the middle of industrial estates

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Posted by kforge 01:18 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Chania

Or Hania or Xania

sunny 27 °C

Another beautiful bus-ride along the coast road from Rethymnon to Chania (6.20 euros for 90 minutes). Our usual "room-finding" didn't start so well this time - we knew the dates of public holidays but didn't know this weekend was a special holiday for government workers. The first 7 places we tried were fully booked! And then we came across the Hotel Contessa, full of charm but a little run-down which is why I suppose they had rooms available. And what huge rooms, and after we told her we weren't German or French but Australian, she closed the door of the room she was about to show us and opened next door, a really large room with views to the harbour only 50 metres away - only 50 euros per night

Chania - Hotel Contessa

Chania - Hotel Contessa

Chania - view from room 2 at Hotel Contessa

Chania - view from room 2 at Hotel Contessa

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Saturday was beach day. The Nea Chora beach area is only a 15-minute walk from the Old Harbour but unfortunately a lot of it is through wasteland though there were a couple of fine old mansions in the same area

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2014-06-07 10.22.35

We took up residence at a set of loungers and umbrellas, paid our 5 euros (for the day) and in return got a large jug of iced water. I did have a swim but the water was still surprisingly cold. We spent several hours there and even had lunch under our umbrella - zucchini fritters and tsatziki

In the evenng, we popped into the bus-station just to confirm the bus tomorrow that would take us to the once-a-week ferry. After several discussions, it was agreed that the 4:30pm bus would take us all the way from Chania to Kissamos Port for our 6pm ferry - we bought the bus tickets for 6.20 euros each

From there we walked through the Splanzia which was supposed to be a interesting area but apart from a few old houses and a church doubling as a mosque, it was much like the rest of Chania

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Posted by kforge 22:29 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Rethymnon

sunny 28 °C

A beautiful 2-hour mountainous, bus-ride (7.60 euros) brought us to Rethymnon. The bus-terminal is right next to the ocean and just 15 minutes away along the ocean-walk is the Venetian Fort. You can get into the Old Town that way (the long way but the simplest way) or walk for a while before heading off into the warren of lanes on your right. We don't usually book accommodation, we just jot down a couple of places that look good and seem to have rooms and head there straight away on arrival. We found Pepi Studios easily and what a find it was - a huge studio in a courtyard garden with a plunge-pool and all for 58 euros per night

The Venetian Fortezza was started in 1573 and it covers a huge area. There are several interesting buildings still standing including a beautiful mosque which was started after1646 when the city fell to the Turks. Well worth the 5 euros entrance fee

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Also worth seeng is the 17thC Venetian Rimondi Fountain (almost impossible to find) and the nearby 16thC Loggia

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Posted by kforge 06:27 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Heraklion, Crete

or Heraklio or Iraklio

overcast 26 °C

The Lato Hotel was very good but also expensive - we'd got the last room in the area last night but today we thought we'd try our original selection, the Marin Dream Hotel (crap name, good hotel), and yes they had a room and they were only 50 metres from the Lato

But before we could move, our first item of business today was to confirm that the once-a-week ferry was running from Kissamos in western Crete to Kythira Island just off the Pelopennese on Sunday. The booking agent said no at first but after a bit of prompting from me, had another look and surprised herself by finding it - we booked it (17 euros for a 4-hour trip). The plan is to stay the night on Kythira (we don't get in until 10pm) and catch the local ferry to Neapoli the following day, and then get a bus to Monemvasia - what could possibly go wrong?

That done, we strolled up 25th of August Street (renamed following a tragic event in 1898 when a Muslim mob slaughtered many Christians including 17 British soldiers and the British Consul) to the 1588 Venetian Bembo Fountain which is in the garden of a lovely Ottoman-style cafe. After a quick Caffe Fredo, it was back to the hotels to make the switch

On the Heraklion City tourist map, there iis a lovely-looking walk along or beside the old Venetian walls through parkland. We decided to start at the Venetian Fort Koules (closed for renovation) and then walked along the ever-decaying waterfront for 2 kms to meet up with end/start of the walk. There were absolutely no signs pointing to the walk and when we did eventually find a way up onto the "wall", we were presented with a wasteland with an unkempt track, disappearng into the distance though a decidedly dodgy area of the city. I can't say I've been impressed by Greek Tourism anywhere we've visited - it seems that tourism is just a way of trying pay off the European Central Bank and stuff the tourist. So we said stuff Heraklon (a very ugly place anyway), bought bus tickets for Rethymnon for the next day and returned to our hotel and had a pleasant meal in their restaurant overlooking the harbour and fort

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Posted by kforge 04:41 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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