31 May 2014

Summary of Crete

After spending more than seven months and 5000 km driving in Crete from October 2013 until May 2014 “the list” of positive sides must be obviously longer than the negative sides. For me this was my 10th visit to Greece and second time with a camper, but first visit with camper in Crete and I think now that it was a very good choice to drive in this beautiful island.

For weather vise Crete is better than Spain or Portugal, or I was just lucky this year. Few bigger stormy days, some rainy days, but often the rain came during the night, so I could keep dry feet and the doggy dry fur. Maybe the wind is keeping the rainy clouds often away, but sometimes the wind was really disturbing and you could just wish that the wind gives you a break next day...

Surprisingly March was better than April in weather vise and I so enjoyed some good hikings in March. Crete is a wonderful place for those who like trekking! Already just so many gorges to walk, plenty of them left for me to explore next time!

The Greek hospitality was to see in Crete so many times. Numerous times people were giving oranges, lemons, tomatoes, other vegetables, raki, honey…Greek people are easy to talk with and they often like to know what do you think about their country – A Greek is very proud to be a Greek! Older generation could often speak German as as an only foreign language, but mostly you survive with English everywhere. Unfortunately I got too lazy to learn more Greek words.

One of the gifts :)
The basic human honesty is still alive in Crete, you don’t need to have all the time a fear after your wallet or that you will get a break in to your camper. There is normal respect left for other ones property. Sure tourist places are putting tourist prices on their products or tavernas can add additional euros in your bill at the end of the dinner. But that is their little “game”…

I have a pot where I collect coins in my van and I wanted to change it in paper money. I had counted the sum before which was around hundred euros. One local food shop said that they are lacking coins so I dropped my coins in a box there and they told me to pick it up later after they have calculated them. Some hours later I returned and got exactly same amount back as I left. Not in every place I would have left my coins just like that..

As I rarely use campings I find that free camping was easy in Crete. Maybe some of the places would be impossible to stay in June, July and August. Campsites fees are over prized if you look what they can offer to you. One person with one camper +/- 15 e a night with electricity – in Portugal you can do it about half of the price. I prefer southern Crete much more than most of the northern Crete, even more in season when the tourists are arriving. In south you find big spaces with freedom around you and north this is quite a challenge (if not even impossible), especially from Chania to Heraklion. West from Kissamos and east or north from Agios Nikolaos it starts to get less busy. This is of course matter of taste! Totally avoid places like Elafonissi in south or Vai beach in north east when the season is there in case you like some freedom around you. So I do have my favorite spots by now and many times I visited same places again and the welcome by the people you learned to know  during your earlier visit was so warm! This is one of the big qualities of Greece / Crete, besides that the nature is just WOW!

Food is also more expensive than in other southern European countries, but prices in the markets are very fair, example one kilo of tomatoes would cost around 0,50 e. In tavernas you can eat with reasonable prices and I do love Greek kitchen! As I am a vegetarian, Greek kitchen has a lot to offer for me (instead of all the omelets of Portugal, yes, the only choice in Portugal was always the omelet, but I do love Portugal too, don’t get me wrong in this).

Market in Mires, every Saturday
Many people treat their pets as bad as before but then again so many times I saw people going out with their dogs. Often people were also coming to pet my dog, even she is not the cutest of the cutest little dog!

Dog was always welcome to come with in tavernas, but ask always a permit before, this shows respect. Only one place was not permitting dogs and was giving bad service in every way, which was a shame since I camped much time in this village of Matala and this tavern has a good location (very little clients though!), but the rest of the places in Matala were great! 

In one restaurant they even walked the doggy while eating and were giving the doggy all kind of goodies! So in this place I was eating many times, small things counts in off season especially.

Doggy walked wit Manolis and his brother George
 As they do poison cats and dogs still regularly all over Greece, this is one big negative side. If your pet happens to eat something from the ground that contains poison – it may cause its death. You can buy anti-poison from vets and pharmacies, handy to have if you travel with a pet! I am lucky that my dog is not really eating nothing from the ground, but still it is a worry what stays.

"anti-poison kit"
I found that the beaches in Crete were generally clean. Camping next to the beach was easy and accessible. 

Diesel prices ( Oct 2013- May 2014) were between 1.36 – 1.46 e a liter (more expensive than the continent) and LPG they supply in more than 10 places all over the island (not just north). So I never came across for a gas bottle problem. 

Traffic and roads were not really a problem, sure the roads were sometimes small and ups and downs, but I think many campers are already afraid of the idea to come to Crete just because they imagine it worse as it really is. I managed to pass all the villages I did and roads were not causing the problems, it was sometimes other cars who were parked beside the roads and blocked the road too narrow to pass. 

Then again when tourists started really to arrive again, they sometimes stuck the roads. They drive smallest of smallest rental cars, but when you cross them in a village, they may assume that you as a bigger car must back reverse instead that they have still plenty of space to go more at side. Or they stop completely driving and wait that you pass even there is not space. Then there are those tourists who drives long away very low speed and gets a traffic jam behind them, not looking at the mirror at all and suddenly they can do full breaking without any warning because they like to stop beside the road to make a photo, sometimes even in a curve where there is no vision to pass safely. 

Only reason cannot be that they never drive back home and are not used to driving. Locals gets sometimes very “hot”  in the traffic too, with the southern temper. All in all, driving in Crete is not a problem and I did not find it scary with a camper. 

Wifi you can find rather easy everywhere, I had no need to buy a separate card. 

Lidl stores are also available, I think there are 8-12 Lidl, so that you can find your medium old Gouda cheese, your pure German Pilsner  and other goodies that you are used to, of course with “Lidl´s prices”.

There is also an English food shop in Agios Nikolaos (same road as the Lidl is) which was my supplying shop for good English ales and Indian food (I just love them both!).

I heard that there is a Dutch food shop in Malia (never visited this).

Even this was like I told already my 10th visit in Greece it was first time that I experienced Greek Dance performances (and those who has followed my blog earlier have seen photos that I did have my share of the dancing too :) ). Was also first time that I have tasted Metaxa and I did learn to eat olives (!!!), just the black wrinkled ones though, but still… I do really enjoy the olive -paste made out of the black olives that you can put over your bread, yummy! 
For me good sides were also that Crete is so untouched by the campers comparing to Italy, Spain or Portugal, but then again this is matter of taste..Of course it is nice to meet other camper travellers too, but when there are too many everywhere it can cause problems.

So, It is possible that I may return to Crete again for the next season but in the meanwhile I´ll be getting more north and the continent of Greece and visit friends and family back in Finland and other countries between!


  1. Anonymous31 May, 2014

    Loistava yhteenveto matkastasi Kreikassa.Totta ,se on juuri niin kuin kirjoitit.Ihmiset todella ystävällisiä ja ruoka nam nam.Ehkä tulen sinne taas vuoden päästä itsekin vaeltamaan.

    1. Tervetuloa jos matka jatkuu takaisin Kreetalle :)

  2. Many thanks for your wonderful blog during your adventure in Grete, so many new things we could learn with you and Doggy :-)!
    SUURKIITOS ihanasta blogistasi. Oli tosi mielenkiintoista seikkailla kanssanne ympäri Kreetaa ja kuulla monia uusia asioita tästä rakkaasta maasta, vaikka kreetalaiset taitavat pitää itseään oikeastaan ihan omana maanaan!
    Mainiota kesää teille molemmille! Toivottavasti tapaamme taas joskus ainakin näin virtuaalisesti uusien reissujen parissa! Adios!

    1. Heissan Eija, terveiset Korinthin kanaalin varrelta! Kiva että viihdyit Kreetalla näin virtuaalisesti, vielä seikkailemme Kreikassa muutaman päivän, kunnes astumme laivaan kohti Italiaa, päivityksiä tulossa vielä mantereen puolelta Kreikasta. Ihanaa kesää teille!


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