Crete, Spring 2023

Nothing is ever simple with our family. In order to save a buck (or a few hundred) we flew out of Frankfurt (a 5 hour drive) Europes biggest airport (if you don’t count the UK and let’s face it, they don’t count ever here any more) to catch a plane to Crete. We left straight after school and made it without having to stop the car and admonish the children and without Dave and I having a meltdown. Times are a-changing.

It was a relatively easy flight, 3 hours ( a breeze after the Australia trek earlier this year). Arriving late into Heraklion, Dave drove us (with a minor detour, there’s no street signs in Crete) to our Airbnb.

We stayed just south of Agios Nikolaos, a picturesque town situated on the eastern side of the island. The town has a small, charming harbour with colourful boats and plenty of restaurants serving fresh seafood. We stayed in a lovely airbnb with a beautiful view of the sea and the mountains.

The weather was perfect for us, with warm sunny days (but not quite warm enough for this Antipodean) and cool evenings, and the sea was crystal clear.

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting Spinalonga, a small island off the coast of Crete that was used as a leper colony in the early 20th century. We took a boat from the a small village called Plaka. The island reminded me of the Quarantine Station on North Head. My father spent 6 weeks there when he moved to Australia and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend 6 weeks. This was the same with Spinalonga, if you’re going to be banished to a leper colony, this is the one I would choose. The views from the island were stunning, with turquoise waters and a rugged coastline.

Another must-see attraction on the island is the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. The museum has a fantastic collection of Minoan artefacts, including pottery, jewellery and frescoes. We went after lunch (and a few wines and beers) so now the Clarks hold the world record for the fastest visit ever!

Of course, it’s not a holiday for us, unless we get to laze on one of the island’s beautiful beaches. Our favourite was Voulisma beach, a long stretch of golden sand with clear, calm waters. We spent hours swimming, sunbathing and reading.

The food on the island was sensational! We ate plenty of Greek salads, grilled meats and fresh seafood. The local wines and beers were also delicious. Every meal began with Halloumi, calamari and dolmades. We enjoyed trying different restaurants and cafes in each town we visited, and we were never disappointed.

On the windy day, we punished the children by taking them on a hike through Richtis Gorge. The drive was fantastic, amazing views and interesting landscape, the children just complained about how long it took. Luckily our kids are very good hikers. We pushed through the initial protests and enjoyed our 3 hour hike through (and back) the Richtis Gorge. At times it was quite hairy with steep declines and rocky terrains, but it seems we have birthed mountain goats and all three kids confidently hopped from rock to rock.

During our downtime, we played card games by the pool and spent quality family time together (and apart). The kids loved the pool, and we enjoyed lounging by the water and reading books.

The trip home from Frankfurt was hard work. The German autobahn at 2am is a dark and scary place. Dave was, of course, amazing and I just spent every minute panicking and checking that he hadn’t fallen asleep at the wheel. When we hit the Dutch border it was my turn to take over. Well, let’s not do that again. There was no safe exit or place to pull over for almost 2 hours. Needless to say, it wasn’t a super relaxing atmosphere in the car that night. But we made it home. It’s been a week and we are almost up to date with the laundry.


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