We recently got back from what will go down in history as one of the best holidays of my life. No, the best holiday of my life (to date). Granted, I have a whole lifetime of holidays still to come, but this one was truly special and for so many different reasons.
At the beginning of October, Ben and I went for our first proper sunshine holiday together. We’d already been away for birthday trips earlier in the year (Edinburgh and Rome) but this was going to be our first proper holiday in the sunshine for more than a long weekend. I was very excited.
We got an early flight, taking off at around 7.30am with EasyJet – it wasn’t a bad flight at all and for the first time ever I actually managed to fall asleep whilst in the air! As someone terrified of flying that was a pretty big thing as I never normally relax enough!
We were staying at The Olive Grove Apartments in Elounda, somewhere Ben has stayed before and I can honestly say I couldn’t fault it at all. The accommodation was spacious and spotless, and the owners and staff there were all so lovely – it’s a family run place so it’s quite relaxed and you’re made to feel completely at home.
With their own pool for guests to use plus a little bar and decked area where you can eat, they really have everything you could need and we spent a good few happy hours lazing in the sunshine.
And, let’s be honest, any hotel with a resident dog has to be a winner, right?
This was the mountain view from my bed – utter perfection. Laying here on our second day I had one of those grounding moments you experience from time to time where you suddenly become hyper aware of your existence. Genuine awe at the planet and a happiness that I’m here to experience these things.
Unlike some holidays I’ve been on, I didn’t eat as much as usual – we pretty much stuck to having 2 or 3 meals each day and there wasn’t a lot of snacking and treats. I’m not sure why, I guess we were just so busy we didn’t have the opportunity! But, we experienced some incredible meals in some stunning locations.
This was a tiny little restaurant called The Hope. You have to make a booking if you want to eat there as it’s incredibly popular, but the location is beautiful and the food was unbelievable – there was so much of it we both left their in physical pain as we’d over-stuffed ourselves! It was also the cheapest place we ate the entire week, we couldn’t believe just how little it cost!
Seated at this waterside table in Elounda, I had an amazing Mountain Goat Curry. It literally fell apart as I put my fork into it, and as I looked around at the turquoise sea and the boat bobbing in front of us, I really felt like pinching myself to check it was real!
We ate at this restaurant twice – on our first night and our last. With the tables located on a floating jetty, you were surrounded by water and the mountain background with the boats dotted about the water really added together to create something special.
On one of the days we visited the island of Spina Longa, a rocky piece of land to which suffers of Leprosy were sent in the early 20th century.
I’m scared of water so was anxious about heading over there anyway, but even moreso when I saw the little boat that we would be getting on. I honestly felt like crying! However, once we reached the island all thoughts of fear were gone as I took in what I was seeing.
With their own little houses, a church and hospital, the people of Spina Longa had their very own little world running just a short distance from the mainland. Completely abandoned now, these buildings lie empty other than to provide a museum for visitors to learn more about the island and those who lived and worked on it.
As we stood there, looking out from the island across the clear turquoise waters back towards the mainland, I couldn’t help but think how hard it must have been for those people, separated from the ones they loved and sent to – as they believed – live out their final days on the island. It must have been awful.
On another of the days we went on a mountain safari, a 6-hour trip around the mountains of Crete where you visit little mountain villages, eat local food, drink local wine and Raki, learn about the landscape and the history, and see goats in trees!
I definitely recommend going on one of these tours, they’re well constructed, fun and informative. Our guide, Simon, was really funny and kept us laughing for the entire time we were with him!
I love this photo Ben took. We were at the highest point looking down at the plateau below, plus we had some mountain goats having a sneaky peek what we were up to!
As well as the scary heights and loose-edged mountain roads, we had a few little excursions including the cave that legend tells us Zeus was born in, and a visit to Zeus’ tree which is said to have fertility enhancing powers. Needless to say I stayed well away from it!
All in all, it was the perfect holiday. Lots of sight-seeing, sunshine, good food and drink, and spending a whole week experiencing all these things with my best friend.
If you’re looking to visit Crete, I recommend staying at the Olive Grove Apartments and booking yourself in for a mountain tour too. Tickets for Spina Longa can be bought when you get to the boarding point for the boat.
I’ve put together a video of our holiday which is available on my YouTube channel – it’s a lengthy one so you might want to make a cuppa before you press play! View it by clicking here or on the picture below.
We’ll definitely be heading back some time in the future, it’s an incredible place. Thanks for having us Crete, we love you!