Archive for the ‘Paleochora’ Category


Beach from Castello’s snack bar

After Thursday’s heroics (!) I decided that a quiet restful day was called for on Friday. I spent some time wandering around the village, and had a cappuccino at what has become a favourite snack bar, Castellos, which overlooks the sandy beach. While I was doing this I noticed that the sea, which had been so rough on Wednesday, was completely calm – there was no wind. Obviously some time on the beach was called-for, and I got down there by just after 11 o’clock. Given that I’m not normally a beach person you’ll be surprised that I didn’t leave it until about 3:30, and had a couple of dips in the sea as well. Both the time on the beach and in the sea were much better and enjoyable experiences than had been the case on Wednesday.

After going back to the hotel I finally had that long-awaited beer. Then after cleaning myself up, doing the ‘Walking the Samaria Gorge’ post and having a frankly unsatisfying meal, I hit Paleochora’s best wine bar. Probably Paleochora’s only wine bar, but I had several glasses of very enjoyable Greek red wine at very reasonable prices, so I went back to the hotel happy and rested.

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Well, I’ve spent a day in Paleochora and I’m beginning to feel that I’ve exhausted its possibilities. But never mind.

I had a leisurely start to the morning – up at 8:30 or so, breakfast a bit after 9, did some blogging, and at about 11 o’clock ventured out to take some more pictures and explore a bit more. You can see some of the pictures at the top of this post. The exploration didn’t take long – I was having a cappuccino just before noon (according to Italian practice, cappuccino must always be drunk in the morning, never afterwards). Then, to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I explored all over again, but failed to find anything new.

I did find the bus station, however. Obviously this was where the bus stopped when I arrived, but at that time I was more concerned with recovering all of my luggage and then finding the hotel. Finding the bus station is important for when I escape leave on Saturday morning.

I then decided to go and sit on a beach, and perhaps even have a swim. This involved going back to the hotel and changing into my swimming costume, and also involved buying a towel – the hotel aren’t happy at the idea of their towels being taken to the beach. So that all took up some time, and what with a late-ish lunch I was heading to the beach at about 2 o’clock. The temperature in the town – actually, I’ll start calling it a village – was hot, a bit over 30º, but there was a stiff wind coming off the sea and straight onto the sandy beach. This actually made it feel pretty cold, especially sitting under a sun shade. The idea of sitting out in the sun was appealing but would have been silly, I think – even though it didn’t feel hot the sun was still shining fiercely, and there are limits to the effectiveness of the factor 30 sun cream I’m using. I did however get into the water; my first swim in the Med for a few years. It was fun at first making my way through the waves breaking onto the rising beach, but the bottom seemed to be of variable depth and I realised that I seemed to be being drawn further and further out. So I scrambled back towards the beach which actually took a bit more effort than I had expected, and made my way back to the lounger I’d bagged, feeling (if truth be told) a little relieved to be on dry land again. Treacherous stuff, the sea.

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Sometimes I forget just how cheap things can be in Greece. Last night I wanted a simple dinner and found a taverna just a few minutes from the hotel that looked like it could deliver this. One of the reasons I chose it was that there seemed to be several Greek groups and family parties in the taverna; indeed, they outnumbered the foreign visitors.

I had some bread and olive oil as a starter, then a pasta dish – penne pasta with chicken bits and mushrooms, all in a creamy sauce. With this I had a 250 ml glass of local wine, followed by a coffee. They also gave me a free mini-dessert and a shot of Raki. Cost? €10.50

A short while later I was in a bar in the centre of the village where I could have spent more than that on a small measure of single malt scotch. Readers, I didn’t.

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Paleochora is on the south coast of Crete, near the western end. It sits on a headland sticking out into the Libyan Sea.  There are two beaches. One, on the western side, is sandy and has some infrastructure – beach loungers, sun shades, etc, although it appears to be pretty minimal. The other beach, on the eastern side is rocky/pebbly and at first sight appears to be even more basic. The town itself occupies the central part of the headland, between the beaches, although the town’s centre of gravity is biased towards the eastern side of town – there are quite a few tavernas along the sea on that side whereas there are fewer on the western side. There’s also a main drag in the centre of town, with about perhaps a couple of dozen bars/restaurants/tavernas along it. At night – well, last night certainly – that street was closed to traffic, there are seats laid out along the road, and even TV screens set up. (Mostly tuned to German channels, it seems.)

It’s actually pretty small – I walked all round the headland (there’s an old harbour complex right at the southern tip) and that didn’t take long. Cutting across the headland – going direct from beach to beach, through the town – means that almost everywhere is within five minutes’ walk of anywhere else.

I gather that Paleochora was regarded as very remote until quite recently. It was always occupied by Cretans, of course, but road links with the rest of Crete were minimal and boats were the best way of getting in and out. Allegedly it was the hippies who ‘discovered’ it, in the early 70s. Since then the roads have been improved to the point where there are 3 buses to/from Chania every day, and some links along the coast as well. That said, there are still one or two towns/villages that don’t have road connections at all – Agia Roumelli, at the foot of the Samaria Gorge walk, is one such. In response to this the originally casual boat network had been improved and there’s now an official car/passenger service running along this end of the south coast. Paleochora is the western end of this service with a ferry leaving at around 7:30 and heading eastwards to Sougia, Agia Roumelli, and points further east.

So it’s small and not especially busy. Part of me is wondering if I would have done better to have one night fewer here, and an extra night in Chania. But never mind – I’m here now, and I shall enjoy it. I just need to remember how to relax. And sun bathe.

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