A Pedacito of Crete, Greece
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
Locals filled the cobblestone streets of old Chania, busy selling goods, playing music, and relaxing on a hot Saturday afternoon. The smell of food filled the air while exploring the ruins of the Old Venetian Harbour. Looking back at the city line, the Lefka Ori, or the White Mountains, sat nestled behind Chania’s stone buildings. Welcome to Crete.
I stayed in Stalos, a small coastal town 15 minutes west of the city Chania, during my stay on Crete. It was a great location with easy access to other parts of the coast using the public bus system, which is extremely affordable. Or, you can visit other parts of the island from Chania’s main bus station. Stalos, like other coastal villages along the main road, is full of resorts, hotels, restaurants, and stores with direct access to the beach. This makes it a great place for a relaxing trip.
Stalos is lively at night, especially on weekends. Just a short walk down the street, you can easily find bars and clubs. But be wary: the party typically doesn’t start till later in the evening. Outside of lively bars, stray cats and dogs are also very active in the evenings. I must have heard the same catfight happen every night like clockwork for the whole week.
A quick tip! Be careful when traveling throughout Greece as it’s very common to come across stray cats and dogs. While some communities collectively care for these animals and they can be friendly, not all animals may be safe for you to interact with.
Just a short walk from the hotel, you can easily find food at any time of the day – and it might even find you first! It’s not uncommon for Greek restaurant owners to stand at the entrance to their businesses and call out to passersby. Our favorite restaurant to eat at during our stay was Taverna Kimatogi. It was located right across from our hotel with seating overlooking the beach and the island Agioi Theodori.
We ate a variety of classic Greek cuisine including Moussaka, Kleftiko, Souvlaki, and more. We also indulged in desserts such as ice cream and traditional Baklava. It’s very common for restaurants to offer complimentary desserts and shots of raki, Crete’s unique liquor made from grapes, at the end of the meal.
Crete is a large island divided into four regions. I stayed in the region Chania whose main city shares the same name. Chania Town can be divided into two parts: the newer, more commercialized, and the older district originally constructed in the 14th century. While we spent time in the modern half of the city shopping at popular European stores, we favored the cobblestone streets and stone buildings of Chania Town’s historic heart.
The Old Venetian Harbour is a lively port rich with historic landmarks located at the northernmost points of the city along the water. It can be broken into four parts: the Kountourioti, Tombazi, and Enoseos coasts, and the Breakwater. The Breakwater acts as a wall between the port and the Mediterranean, which protects the harbor from waves created by north winds. Walking all the way to the end, you’ll be met by the Lighthouse of Chania as well as a beautiful view of the city line and part of the Lefka Ori mountain range.
A quick tip! Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes when exploring the Breakwater. The path is rocky and, at times, narrow.
Other historic landmarks you can visit include the Isodion Church, Sabbionara Rampart, or Old Chania Market.
Take a trip outside the city and visit Elafonisi, a popular beach and island known for its pink sand!
Manousaki’s Winery is located about 20 minutes inland from Stalos and has a beautiful story and history. We visited the grounds for lunch and a tour, complete with stops around the vineyard and wine cellar. For a flat, per person rate, entry included the tour, a light lunch, and wine tasting.
Ted Manousaki, the heart of Manousaki’s winery, was a proud Greek man who followed the same path many before he did. In 1943, he left his village and journeyed to America where he attended university and became a successful businessman. Later in life, he decided to return home and give back to the island he loved by starting a winery. Successful winemakers told him it was impossible to grow grapes on the land he bought. But against all odds, he built his family and community a successful winery and lasting legacy.
Greece is full of other beautiful landscapes and ancient cities, like Thera on Santorini. Read Storyteller Alex's article to learn more!
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