As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to get a cheapo trip to Chania in Crete and ended up paying more for it in London because of the crazy trans-city travel I had to do to catch my second flight.
I was quite sleep deprived when I first stumbled through Chania’s Old Town. It was 7am on a Sunday and a few people were still awake from the night before, sipping coffees. Two girls took off their tops and jumped into the harbour to join the fish in the clear water. Dogs politely begged for scraps outside the old, empty mosque where a man sat on a bench eating a sandwich. Restaurant staff started setting up for a new day. Pigeons, some with feathered feet, jumped around our legs like the little waves brushing up against the harbour walls.
Luckily we had the most hospitable hostess who let us check-in at our central accommodation before 9am to settle-in and drop off our stuff! After a little walk around the Venetian Harbor at sunrise, we went straight to sleep for a couple of hours before doing some more exploring.
What to Eat & See
By lunchtime, we were pretty much starving and found a little restaurant where we ate our hearts out. We stuffed our faces with bureki, moussaka and Greek salad. If you don’t know what I’m on about here’s a mini crash course on a few Greek food words:
Boureki: A savoury phyllo pastry tart topped with sesame seeds, filled with courgette, cheese such as feta, potatoes, and herbs
Moussaka: A hearty bake with lamb, aubergine and tomato, topped with white sauce and sometimes cheese
Rakı: A clear anise-flavoured alcoholic drink that’s often enjoyed after dinners with fruit or dessert
Mezé: Similar to Spanish tapas, a mezze platter is a bunch of small savoury dishes to mix and enjoy
Filled with calorific energy, we strolled the streets of this beautiful little city. The boutiques and shops are really tempting. At night they are brightly lit and filled with the ebb and flow of different nationalities shopping for gorgeous clothing, pottery, local trinkets and handmade jewellery.
If you need to cool down from the heat at midday, stop over at a few of the air-conditioned shops to hunt for small souvenirs and gifts or treat yourself to an Italian gelato. I tried the panacotta and tiramisu flavours and they were definitely everything I had hoped for.
Tired out from the heat and a lack of sleep, I had another nap! By the time I woke up, it felt like I’d already been in Chania for three good days. The sun was setting outside and the port area was throbbing with tourists and locals. There was a boat floating up and down the river, undulating with the sounds of live music. Buskers performed in front of hats and maitre’d’s offered the best dishes.
We eventually settled at a restaurant called 4 Seasons. With a good view of the harbour, we shared a massive mezze platter. It came with dips, bread, chips, salad, meatballs, boureki and moussaka. The local favourite beer here is Alpha. For dessert we shared a massive slice of walnut cake. It so sweet that I almost couldn’t finish it.
After asking for the bill, the waiter brought out a little bottle of raki and a little fruit plate with watermelon, melon and grapes! We were a little surprised at this but the next night we also got treated to a dessert and raki after dinner so I guess it’s just the usual hospitality.
Take Yourself on a Walking Tour
If you’d like to explore the town on foot yourself, I recommend walking to the Nea Hora Harbour just outside of town for a beautiful sunset dinner. If you prefer to stay closer to the Venitian Harbour, walk around to the Egyptian lighthouse.
Another great spot to eat is a the popular Tamam. The restaurant is very well-known and it is so well-loved that it’s advisable to book a table. The food served is made with ingredients from the area and offers delicious Turkish dishes. We tried a pork starter, goat stew main (with potatoes). It was definitely one of the best stews I’ve ever eaten. The house wine was delicious as well. I wished I had more room in my belly for dessert, but they brought us one anyway (it was a giant piece of carrot halva) – that’s Greek hospitality for you.
The market is one spot that I would have loved to explore, but didn’t. I only found out about it on our last day in Chania (and at that time it was closed).
In the next blog post, I’ll share a special little beach spot with you – just about in walking distance from Chania’s Old Town.