I ran around Australia and New Zealand from February through April 2018 like a chicken with its head cut off. You know the drill: first-time visitor, must see everything (yes I promise to write about the tours), must try all exotic foods and wines. And when I got back to the USA, I ran around for 16 more days with birthdays, mom-daughter weekend, Mother’s Day, etc.
I knew all of this ahead of time so I purposely chose Crete, Greece to chill out.
Back in 2007, I spent 20 days in the Greek Islands; 4 of those days were in Crete and I loved it. I stayed in Heraklion-the island’s major city, visited Knossos Palace-the seat of Ancient Minoan Civilization and Spinalonga Island-the last Leper Colony just to name a couple of outstanding sites that I toured but the rest of the island was a mystery to me.
Crete is Greece’s largest and most populated island well known for its historical sites and the archeological museum. Nonetheless, it’s also known for its beaches.
So I booked a timeshare for May 16-30! Leoniki Residences in the Platanes area of Rethymno town, part of the Grand Leoniki Grecotel properties by Diamond Resorts International. Rethymno is halfway between both Heraklion and Chania airports so you are spoiled for choice.
When all other sites had the flight for $1,000 or more, I found a great one-way deal on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) for $541 from Dulles (IAD) to Athens through justfly.com via Kayak. Note: I credited my SAS flown miles (2,701) to my United MileagePlus frequent flyer account. In addition, I get 1,623 Ultimate Rewards points for using my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.
Later I purchased a roundtrip ticket between Athens and Heraklion on Aegean Airlines for $137; the miles flown credited to my new Aegean Miles+Bonus frequent flyer account and I get 411 Ultimate Rewards points for using my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.
My initial plan was to sit by the pool or walk the five minutes to the beach each day and I did just that… for 3 days.
Yes, the resort pools were lovely but not really relaxing and the surf was rather rough on the Rethymno beaches besides that I was bored to tears! So I booked some tours.
While perusing through the tour literature I was surprised to learn that Crete is a mountainous island and is also well-known for its gorges, charming towns and remote islands. Such a conundrum!
Usually when you book tours through hotels they get a commission but the costs were the same as I found on the street. And the costs were unbelievably low! Note: other than food and wine, Greece at this time is extremely affordable. So I booked 4 tours via Klados Travel.
- Preveli Palm Beach = 15€ (+ 10€ optional for buffet plus beach chair )
- Elafonisi Beach = 20€ (+ 3€ optional for beach chair)
- Chania City = 13€
- Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay = 8€ + 28€ paid on the bus to the guide for the ferry ride
As you can see, Crete is one big beautiful island and I was truly delighted with some incredible beaches and quaint little Chania. Others might complain, but the tours had just the right amount of time for me to actually relax and enjoy them without becoming bored.
Follow me on Instagram or Twitter as @DaniLew_1 to see where I end up next…