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Archive for the ‘Agios Nikolaus’ Category

My holiday ended on Wednesday. I was at the airport by 11 o’clock, in the air before 2 o’clock, and getting through UK Border and baggage reclaim between 4:30 and 5pm UK time. I got my car back at 5 o’clock and after successfully negotiating the M25, M40, A43 and the M1, I reached home shortly before 9pm – can’t complain about that. Then there began the post holiday round of unpacking, washing & ironing, of course.

So what did I think of the holiday? After all, this was my fourth visit to Crete in successive years – am I all ‘Crete-d out’? Well, there were times when I was beginning to think so. However, my overall conclusion is that I enjoyed it and I had a good time.

I came to like Heraklion a lot. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was surprised that the town didn’t make more of its port; well, I think I’ve got over that feeling. What I came to realise is that Heraklion isn’t primarily a tourist town, or a resort – it’s the capital of Crete and most of the restaurants and bars are catering primarily for a Greek population. In fact, given that it’s a good-sized city it’s an urban, educated and professional population at that. The number of tourists in Heraklion itself is quite small, I think, and is dwarfed by the local population. Once I’d realised this, I came to enjoy it. Most of the people I was seeing were therefore local people getting on with their lives.

In contrast, Agios Nikolaos was completely touristy. That was probably the most unsatisfying day of the holiday – I got hot and tired and didn’t really discover anything new. And I found the restaurant I visited for lunch less welcoming than the non-tourist restaurants in Heraklion. Little things – in Heraklion, no sooner had you taken your seat in a restaurant or bar but a glass of water would be placed in front of you, together with a small bowl of nibbles, all free of charge, whereas at the restaurant at Ag Nik I had to ask for water, and when it came it was in a bottle that I had to pay for.

Chania, too, shared some of the touristy aspects. The harbour front is undeniably beautiful and I always enjoy walking along it, but it’s also the case that the greeters at the restaurants are undeniably pushy, and again you can get charged for things that you’ve come to take for granted in other places. (Of course, I do recognise that you also get that amazing view.) I enjoyed visiting some lest touristy places, so here’s an honourable mention of the Galileo Cafe, which is on the harbour front, and the Melodica bar on Sifaka, away from the harbour altogether. And I enjoyed really exploring parts of Chania that I’d not been to in previous years – the Splantzia area, for example.

So overall it was a good holiday. But next year I don’t think I will be returning. There will hopefully be other family events happening, on dates that aren’t yet known, so I won’t be making any plans for the late spring or summer.

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View of the inner harbour, or lake, Agios Nikolaus

Agios Nikolaus (or ‘Ag Nik’) is a smaller resort 40 miles or so east of Heraklion. I’d read about it, and the guidebook suggested that it was perhaps one of the prettiest harbours in Crete. So I decided to take a look, and took a ride on the KTEL bus. The journey took about 90 minutes, and the bus was pretty full both ways.

I’d seen some pictures of Agios Nikolaus and it did indeed look attractive. One thing I hadn’t understood was that the waterfront area (which consists of an outer and inner harbour, a marina, and a couple of public beaches) is surrounded by steep hills. The only way from the bus station would be over one of these hills, and indeed moving around the town seemed to involve hills quite frequently. In the Cretan sunshine this wasn’t the best news, and somewhat dampened my ¬†enthusiasm for the place.

The harbour is indeed very attractive, and is of course surrounded by restaurants and bars. I had a meal here, and for the first time on this holiday I had to order water with a meal – I’d got used to having a bottle of chilled tap water magically appearing. Certainly a glass-full… but not in this place, so I had to order a bottle of mineral water.

Having eaten I explored. I was trying to not have to climb the hills too often, so I walked up a street called Sfakianaki which apparently led to a beach on the actual coast. Even this had a bit of a hill, but soon enough I was looking at the beach. Then I followed a path to the right which would take me along the coast to the marina. Well, it did, and the stretch of coast path was attractive, but the marina was a disappointment. It’s just a series of yacht mooring stations; there’s no activity around them at all. I did enjoy one area, and that was what looked like a boat repair yard, or at least an area where boats that needed repairing had been beached. One boat in particular took my eye – wooden-built and in traditional style. I was able to walk around it (not on board) and take some pictures.

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