Holidays 2013

Economic crisis

In autumn 2009 the economic crisis in Greece began. When I booked my Crete holiday in spring 2010, the travel agency clerk explained to me that she was literally running into her travel agency. The customers who had booked holidays in Greece for the current year changed their destination to Turkey or other southern destinations. At the time, however, nothing stopped me from booking 2 weeks in Crete anyway. I do not regret it.

Then as now, Crete is hospitable and its inhabitants are amiable and courteous - just like always. As a tourist, you don't notice a crisis.

It is different if you take a look behind the scenes by addressing the business people about their economic situation.

Everyone fights for survival! It hits the individual from 2 sides: higher taxes and a lack of income. I don't want to speculate about the (new/higher/additional) tax burden or reduction in public funds, but why are the revenues declining?

All Inclusive (AI)

If you ask the business owners about the reason for the lack of income, the term "all inclusive" comes up first. In contrast to the earlier years, when only the exclusive guesthouses offered AI, today almost every hotel binds its guests to its house through this type of catering. The guests eat all their meals in the hotel, the restaurants remain empty.

The next thing to complain about is that tourists' wallets aren't as loose as they were a few years ago. Many just look at the goods without even buying, and those who do spend something are modest with little things or cheap offers.

The third reason for the drop in sales is actually the decline in tourist numbers. Just a few years ago, you needed a lot of time if you wanted to stroll through Réthymnon's old town in the evening hours, as the streets were overflowing with tourists (and locals) looking at the displays in the shop windows, shopping or eating and drinking. Today it has become very quiet between the old houses and in the shops, tavernas and restaurants. The people are missing.

What will be tomorrow?

None of the merchants make a secret of the fact that they have to fear for their livelihood, and they openly say so: "Sorry, we don't know if we'll survive."

At first it is really not easy to reconcile this bitterness and the cry for help it contains with the lightness and joie de vivre offered by the Cretans. The next few years will show whether we can continue to enjoy the excellent Greek cuisine in our regular restaurants and buy our souvenirs in our favorite shops.


From our point of view you have to Elafonísi do not necessarily visit. The description "It's easy to go into raptures on Crete's 'South Sea beach': Lagoon atmosphere between the branched coast and the picturesque offshore island, light-blue pools of water, soft, white, sometimes reddish shimmering sandy beach, magnificent dunes, shady juniper trees..." (Source: Crete, by Eberhard Fohrer, from Michael Müller Verlag, 18th edition) we think is a bit exaggerated.

The beach is located in the south-west of the island and can be reached in a good 2.5 hours by car from Platanés. Elafonísi is now a tourist attraction, and you will find the right amount of people there. It is true that the journey is the goal, and the journey to get there is quite attractive, but if you have one or even several buses in front of you on the many switchbacks in the mountains, the whole thing becomes a game of patience. Then there are the tourists who go on a sightseeing tour in their air-conditioned small rental cars and block the streets.

Buses are actually on the road in large numbers, mainly to unload families with small children there. If you want to avoid them, you should set off early enough.

The beach is definitely suitable for small children, as the flat beach landscape offers mostly ankle-deep, warm and very clear water. So if you feel like sharing the beach and the flat shore zone with hundreds of other tourists, you are in good hands here.


Argiroúpolis, a small village in the mountains about an hour's drive from Platanés is certainly not a tourist draw, but the little shop in the archway next to the central platia is definitely worth a visit. Here you get "NATURAL PRODUCTS FROM ORGANIC AVOCADO OIL". A wide range of creams, soaps, body milk and other care products are offered, all of which are made from avocados. Just try it. Oh yes, and take enough money with you, cosmetics also have their price here.

Once you're here, drive a short distance back towards Réthymno and then turn left towards the waterfalls Lappa. Don't miss it.

Old Chapel

An old chapel on our way to Margarítes.


The small pottery village in the mountains, approx visited several times. On the one hand, we always buy hand-signed clay souvenirs (ashtrays, cups, ...) in the same shop (here we are sure that we are not buying any imported goods), both for our own use and for friends who stayed at home. On the other hand, there is a small taverna whose owner we know very well and which simply invites you to stay longer. Having a drink under the shady trees, a bite to eat and exchanging a few words with the landlord will make your stay pleasant and entertaining.


In the morning at 7:45 a.m. we started from Réthymnon. After a good 3 hours we reached the postcard island and then started our way home at 5:30 p.m. The remaining time on the island will not be forgotten. The pictures speak for themselves.


In the morning at 7:45 a.m. we started from Réthymno. A good three hours by catamaran lay ahead of us.

Arrive at Athinios port.

At the entrance to the caldera of Santorini, one could already see the white houses of the small towns built on the hills from afar. We ran into Athinios and left the ferry there.

Bus ride to Oia.

Like the other felt 10,000 tourists, we were packed into a bus and the first to go Oia. Since I took the pictures from the bus, some of the corresponding reflections can be seen.


I don't think you have to tell much here, the pictures from Oia speak for themselves.


Fira may not be quite as attractive as Oia from my point of view, but the postcard mood is here too quite present.

Entrance to the Samariá Gorge

It was only enough to get to the entrance of the gorge, after all we were on vacation.

Samariá is (allegedly) Europe's longest gorge and offers a strenuous march against the clock in almost vertical rock faces over a length of 16 km and a difference in altitude of 1200 meters, to the last ship in Ágia Roumeli at the end of the hike on the Libyan Sea to reach. This description is enough to drive the jeep, have a drink in a nice taverna at the entrance of the gorge, and then get back on the jeep for the return trip.

Kourtaliotiko Gorge

Also this gorge we did not enter it, although with a length of approx. 2 km it is significantly shorter than the Samariá Gorge.

But even if you don't hike through them, you can still enjoy them. On the way from Réthymnon to Spíli, at some point you turn right towards Plakiás. On this road you drive directly past the Kourtalíotis Gorge. A thoroughly impressive experience, which I at least roughly tried to capture in pictures.

Venetian-style bridge

We came to this bridge on our drive to the beach of Préveli. If you believe the history books, Crete was under Venetian rule from 1204 to 1669 (http://www However, there is an inscription on the bridge stating that it was not built until the mid-19th century.

Whether Venetian or not, this place is definitely worth seeing. The bridge spans the Megalopótamos (which also flows through the Kourtalíotis Gorge and finally flows into the Mediterranean Sea at Préveli Beach), which has a lot of water here even in midsummer.

Beach of Préveli

Once you have reached the top of the climb from Ammoúdi, you have a wonderful view over the beach of Préveli. The felt 1000 steps downhill are not that bad at 32 °C in the shade.

As mentioned above, this is where the Megalopótamos flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Here you can swim in both salt and fresh water.

By the way, if you don't want to put up with the exertion of the approx. 30-minute ascent and descent, you can take a boat here from Plakiás or Agía Galíni.


The largest mountain village of Crete is about 800 m above sea level in the Ida mountains. The place itself isn't very fancy, but its history is.

During the Second World War, all male residents were shot here on the orders of the German Wehrmacht and the village was razed to the ground. The reason for this can be read on a plaque in the village square:

"Because the town of Anógia is a center of English espionage activities in Crete, because the inhabitants of Anógia carried out the act of sabotage at Damastá (an act of sabotage was carried out there during the Second World War to prevent German forces from attacking Anógia), because the partisans of various Resistance groups find shelter and shelter in Anógia, and since the kidnappers of General Kreipe made their way through Anógia, using Anógia as a base for the shipment, we order the site to be razed to the ground and any male resident of Anógia to be executed within the village or within a radius of up to one kilometer."

You can find more about this in the history books or on the Internet (e.g. here).

To get straight to the point: the many widows in the village who today (sometimes a bit pushy) try to earn their money by selling the crochet work they have made themselves have absolutely no grudges against Germans. The reasons for this can also be found in the history books.

If you want to shop here, make sure that you really get the homemade goods (for the right money) and not products "Made in Taiwan".

Chóra Sfakíon

One of our favorite starting points. Once again, not because of the actual goal, but because of the way to get there. After a little refreshment high above the Ímbros Gorge, it goes down many serpentines to the south coast. Whenever you think you're almost there, the next curve appears in front of you.


It is easy to go from Chóra Sfakíon along the south coast via Frangokástello Plakiás to drive.

Plakiás used to be the insider tip on the south coast. From our point of view it is admittedly a nice place to finish your book. So if you are looking for peace and relaxation, you will definitely find it here, as well as in Chóra Sfakíon.

Ágios Nikólaos

Ágios Nikólaos is one of the tourist centers on Crete, a good 1.5 hours drive east of Platanés. A nice place with many 5-star hotels that you should visit. The entire city center seems to consist of narrow one-way streets through which endless columns of cars and motorbikes struggle.

The dark green inland lake in the middle of the city, which is directly connected to the port, is really beautiful. A large part of (tourist) life takes place here.

If you want to visit Ágios Nikólaos, you should not arrive too late, because parking spaces are really scarce here. Every smallest gap is offered (subject to a fee, of course). If necessary, you simply give your car key to the parking attendant so that he has the opportunity to maneuver the cars in order to release pent-up vehicles again.

Taverna Fantástico

The insider tip for people who want to experience a romantic evening in quiet seclusion. The sunset in the “Fantástico” remains unforgettable.

The "Fantástico" is located high above Platanés and offers a fantastic view over the north coast of Crete. Since the taverna is very hidden and there are no directions and hardly any signs, you will find few tourists there and from about 9 p.m. only a few locals. The "Fantástico" is mentioned in one or the other travel guide, but the directions are easy to venture. From our point of view very pleasant, from the point of view of the operator Michalis Anomerianakis and his family, of course, rather unhappy. Buses don't get lost here either, as they probably can't cope with the 20 percent incline (with the jeep sometimes in first gear!) on the very narrow road. So for many, the "Fantástico" remains a real insider tip.


If you take the fastest route from Platanés to the "Fantástico", you will come through the small historic town of Maroulás .