Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
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Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car Alpha & Omega. Greece, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes. Booking  Hotels, rentals, rent a car
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CRETE
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When to come

 



Each year Crete is visited by 2.5 million tourists. Of those, 2.4 million come in July and August. Hence, it is not hard to imagine the crush at the beach, the squeeze at the restaurants, the rush for a hotel bed. During the rest of the year, the island is practically empty, although summer lingers on long after August and begins long before June. Just think that Crete lies at a latitude of 35.007 degrees, namely a lot more south than Tunisia or Algeria, and that tropical fruits like bananas and avocados thrive here! Why, then, does everybody come in those two months? Simply because it is then most working people take their holidays. If you belong to that category, you have no choice but to rub elbows with the crowds. Things, of course, are not desperately hopeless, as you will always find quiet, out of the way corners, but you shall have to look hard. Should you have, however, the luxury of choosing your holiday month, you are in lucky bliss. What will have been inferno for others, will look paradise to you, solely because you chose to come outside the peak season.

 

JULY, AUGUST
The worst time!

* Advantages
None, unless you like crowds.

* Disadvantages
Firstly, it’s horribly hot. To survive you will certainly need a wide-brimmed hat that covers your neck too, quality sunglasses, sun lotion of high protection factor (15-20 SPF) and plenty of water. In the afternoon you should not expose yourselves to the sun and you should stay under shade, although even there the mercury may exceed 40OC. Riding a motorcycle becomes excruciating, your head simmering in the helmet and your body steaming in the leathers (the more so if they are black coloured).
Secondly, you will have trouble with accommodation. Hotels are full and so are the good rooms to let, not to mention the good spots in the camp sites. You will have to settle for rooms without view, remote hotels of lesser standards, or a small stretch of ground next to the campsite toilets.
Thirdly, you will have trouble with food. Waiters and cooks are humans too, and when they have to serve armies of hungry customers from morning to evening, it is expected that quality is sacrificed to quantity and speed.
Fourthly, prices are high. Greece is generally cheaper compared to other European Union countries, but the law of supply and demand works here as well. Indeed when demand exceeds supply, as is the case in summertime Crete, you will pay the highest prices without getting the best quality, either in food, accommodation or entertainment.
Lastly, transportation is hellish. Ports and airports are turned into a reign of chaos, where crowds of people, lack of organisation, strikes, delays and bad service will rack your nerves. On the roads, tens of thousands of hurried, incompetent or drunken car drivers and rented moped riders are a permanent menace.

 

SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER
After the tempest, the calm!

* Advantages
Firstly, the heat wave is over. Summer lingers on normally until the end of October, while the first rains will not appear before early November. The sea is not only pleasantly warm but calmer as well. The beaches that look like tins of sardines in August, now have much less people, if they are not totally deserted.
Secondly, you will enjoy a pleasant stay. Even the most centrally located hotels have vacant rooms, room owners will approach you with offers for rooms in the best quarters, campsites regain their relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.
Thirdly, you will enjoy good food. You may not find the variety of peak season, but the food will certainly be better cooked, portions will be bigger, service will be friendlier and prompter.
Fourthly, you will move with ease. Boats and planes depart on time and are not overloaded. Roads are not congested and you can enjoy the scenery as you don’t have to drive defensively. Archaeological sites and museums are not jammed and, all in all, you will not feel choked.
Lastly, everything is discounted. Hotels and rooms to let are at least 30% cheaper than the official summer rates, food is not as expensive, and even bars offer drinks at reduced prices.

* Disadvantages
Firstly, the general slackness. Many hotels, restaurants and tourist-oriented businesses close down so that their employees can rest. Many of those remaining open show the obvious signs of the invasion which occurred the previous months: battered rooms, slackening service, abandonment. The waves or the local cleaning crews have not yet removed the litter left behind by many unprincipled users of the beach.
Secondly, the first signs of inclement weather. The first days in November can also be the first days of winter. But if you are suitably prepared, not only will you be unaffected, you will enjoy it as well. You must carry rain-proof overalls, warm clothing, long gloves, lofty sleeping bags and waterproof tent.
Thirdly, days are conspicuously shorter. It gets dark early, so you must wake up very early to seize the day...

 

DECEMBER, JANUARY, FEBRUARY
Crete’s most enchanting face.

* Advantages
Firstly, you will see the Cretan’s Crete. Without its distorting touristy “make-up”, Crete is a divine place. The rains and the wind clean the atmosphere, revealing unique natural beauty and highlighting the savage charm of gorges and steep mountain faces. Wild herbs emit their fragrant essence, colours become singularly deep. A sense of adventure comes alive, one without extremes or insurmountable obstacles. Winter sunshine, not rare at all, creates scenes from a fairly tale where everything appears so beautiful, cheerful and healthy. The natives welcome you as a traveller who seeks the real Crete, and offer you unforgettable hospitality and the treasures of their hearts, their land and their tradition. During these months there are no tourists in Crete, only its true lovers.
Secondly, everything is at half price and even less. The best rooms in the best hotels are at your disposal at incredible prices! Whereas in summer you needed very much luck (and money) to stay, now you are the honoured guest and you can see all the rooms before you choose, at rates that will thrill you.
Thirdly, the whole Crete is yours! In museums and archaeological sites you will be alone with the guard, who very probably will accompany you around as a personal guide and then will invite you to his tiny booth for a glass of raki with honey and a chat! You can pitch your tent anywhere, without bothering anyone or being bothered by anyone. Beaches are totally deserted, spotless and, on the south coast, water temperature is almost bearable for a swim.

* Disadvantages
Firstly, you may hit very bad weather. When it rains in Crete it pours, and it is very dangerous and unpleasant to be outdoors. Lightning strikes, rocks fall on the roads from cliff sides, torrents dig out ruts that make dirt roads impassable. Mountain passes are covered in snow and clouds block out the view. Usually, bad weather does not last for long but you cannot make a contract with the elements. It may be raining for two weeks non-stop; exactly the two weeks you chose to come! If you plan to visit Crete this period, it is advisable to have plenty of time available, as well as plenty of warm clothes and plenty of books to keep you busy in the hours (or days) you may be confined to a room.
Secondly, the island’s tourist infrastructure is at a standstill. Most hotels, bars, car and motorcycle rentals, travel agencies, restaurants are closed. Everything designed to accommodate and transport tourists simply does not function. Of course, this is not a drawback for you, given that one of the reasons you are travelling this part of the year in Crete, is precisely to avoid the artificial face of the island. However, reaching a village and finding no place to eat or buy provisions, not a single inhabitant to ask for directions, no telephone and no service station for tens of kilometres, may cause you problems. Winter wandering may be much more exciting than summer tourism, but it is always an adventure more or less.

MARCH, APRIL, MAY, JUNE
Welcome to Paradise!

* Advantages
Firstly, the weather is fine. The last of winter weather is over by the first days of March and then a glorious sun illuminates and warms the mountain slopes, the beaches, the hamlets and the cities. Temperatures are high enough for you to drive without shivering, and yet low enough for you to stay dry under the leather overall. From late April on you can swim comfortably in an invigoratingly cool sea, and sunbathe without being scorched (but always use the proper sunscreens). The atmosphere is incredibly clear and the view from mountain tops and mountain routes is unlimited.
Secondly, everything is in bloom. Plateaux are turned into multi-coloured lakes of wild flowers. Gardens, road hedges, rock cracks are flooded with yellow daisies, scarlet poppies, white lilies and more than 300 other species of wild flowers, some of which are indigenous. The sea teams with life. Endless schools of fish frolic among the rocks and the eelgrass. Nature is a festival of colours and flavours.
Thirdly, all is ready to welcome you. Preparations for the new tourist season have been completed by mid April. Houses are freshly white-washed, rooms are painstakingly cleaned, shops have stocked their shelves anew, restaurants have put tables out in the sun. Early in April, the graders of each prefecture level the dirt roads that suffered in winter, and repair crews patch up the tarmac of the provincial and national road network.
Fourthly, everything is cheaper than in summer. Just like after the peak season, business is slow these months and prices are accordingly low. The natives’ mood nevertheless is high and so is their pleasure to serve the first customers of the season. So, they will treat you with the best rooms, hefty portions of food, special prices and a smile.

* Disadvantages
None!

Source of the information on this page : “Unexplored Crete”, Road Editions. For more guidebooks and maps of Greece, click here.

 

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