Eastern Crete (see map
Built on the Gulf of Mirabello
(named by the Venetians for "nice view"),
this picturesque city has been discovered by film directors
and the international jet set in the ‘60’s.
It's principal and more obvious attraction is a supposed
bottomless lake, surrounded by restaurants and cafes
proudly advertising their "lake view". Invaded
by group tourism some years ago "Ag Nik" hasn't
been left spoilt, now that these hordes have moved towards
Hersonissos and Malia.
There is no much to do during the day than to sit on
a cafe terrace and enjoy the lake view (oh yes!). CHEZ
GEORGES is our favorite, don’t forget to sign
it’s guest book. CAFE DU LAC is the place to meet
locals. PLAZA has probably the best lake view, while
MYTHOS is a new proposition by a young architect. ALEXANDROS
ROOF GARDEN offers a nice view on the city and live
music from the ‘60’s. TO VASANO is a traditional
Greek "kafeneion" at the center and the bakery
of LAMBROS is just opposite, you can combine a "glykys
vrastos" coffee with a "kaltsouni" or
"xerotigano" pastry. At ELOUDA cafe KRITI
is also on the traditional side, ask for "soumada",
a sweet almond drink.
Lake view is considered a must for restaurants too,
however we will insist more on other points, like quality
and service. The choice for what is called "international
cuisine" is wide. Generally establishments who
describe themselves on these terms tend to be on the
expensive side, but there are exceptions of course.
Try for instance DU LAC (that’s "lake "
in French!), LIMNI (you guessed it, "lake"
in Greek!). LACASA, VERONA, IL CAPRICCIO, CASANOVA,
LA STRADA, REDDRAGON are ethnic - oriented (Italian
or Chinese, that is!). A beautiful garden and a finely
restored neoclassical building (villa Koundouros) characterize
the -on the upper side- MEDITERANNEO. Traditional Cretan
food at TAVERNA AUOAS, ITANOS, LOUKAKIS, IKAROS and
OFOU TO LO (pronounce it as a whole "ofoutolo").
PELAGOS is a stylish fish tavern. If you master the
concept of "mezedes" (little side-dishes that
sum up to a more than complete dinner, accompanied by
lot’s of wine or raki) you will definitely explore
AVLI, ELLINIKON (a kafeneion than proposes different
mezedes every day). Outside Aghios Nikolaos, for the
independent traveler, MANOLIS, PEFKO, NIKOS and DRIROS,
all around Elounda are fair choices and some of them
offer views to …Spinalonga, the island of the
leprous (once upon a time, relax). The gastronomical
capital of the region is to be found though at Neapolis,
on the way to Malia. Try meze places PERIX and REGOULA
and the restaurant KIPOS and order what locals prefer.
Once upon a time a Mecca of European nightlife, Aghios
Nikolaos is somewhat a calmer place nowadays. That doesn’t
mean that the choice of bars and clubs is limited of
course! The 25 Martiou str is called by local youths
"Soho", the association is obvious! CAPTAIN
SKY, SCORPIOS, TOUNEL, SIXTIES, SORRENTO, SANTA MARIA,
BOLERO, PIER, GIANNI’S BAR are tourist - oriented,
while ROXY and ROYALE propose a Greek-only repertoire.
RULE is the current hot spot , a club with some interesting
guest dj's sometimes.. At PORTO you’ll be observing
ferry-boats coming at dawn, if you stay up that late.
- GETTING AROUND
Some committee of the European Union has recently awarded
28 blue flags, a special distinction for clean beaches,
but you don’t need any committee to see the obvious,
there are tiny but very photogenic spots everywhere
(though the best are "reserved" to residents
of the luxury hotels) and the water is crystal clear.
You’ll have to take a ride though, not a bad idea
to rent a bike to reach ALMYROS beach or AMMUDARA and
HAVANIA, on the way to KALO HORIO. Going opposite you
will pass the sunken city of OLOUS, towards ELOUDA,
PLAKA and the Venetian fortress rock on the islet of
SPINALONGA, used as the last leper colony of Europe
(till 1950). You can go there by boat, an excursion
not to be missed!
Stigmes, Crete's magasine