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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According to extensive research we did in the summer of 1995, very few motorcyclists stay in hotels. This can partly be explained by the fact that at the places they usually go there are no hotels to stay in the first place! But it is also a question of the travelling spirit that characterises motorcyclists as a group, since they have very little in common with the tourists that go for travel packages and with the tourist industry that “processes” them massively and impersonally.

Of course, every rule has its exceptions. You will frequently see cosy little hotels with “character” in quiet out-of-the-way places, which offer a clean and hospitable environment you can enjoy. Whenever we found such a hotel we included it in the pages of this guide. There are also occasions when staying in a hotel seems to be the most convenient thing to do. Suppose that you’re visiting a large town, for instance, or that you plan to use it as your base for day trips in the area. A hotel would certainly make such trips easier, because you wouldn’t have to load and unload everything on your bike each morning. This is why on the city maps included in this guide you will also find a list of those hotels that satisfy our requirements. Hotels that are presentable, quiet and inexpensive and - most importantly - have parking facilities for your bike.

Depending on the kinds of facilities and services they offer, hotels are officially rated as Luxury, A, B, C, D, or E. Most of those we recommend in this guide are in the C category, and they will charge anywhere between six and twelve thousand drachmas for one night in a two-bed room. For larger towns we have also listed a few hotels in the A or B category in case you’ve had enough with mountains and camping and feel you need a change.
Boarding house or hotel, if you travel in the low season (April, May, September, October) you can get very significant discounts on the price of the room, sometimes even 50%. However, make sure you ask about the discount before taking the room.

Rooms to rent
Rented rooms are probably the most popular and inexpensive accommodations (besides camping of course). If you travel in Crete in the low tourist season, people of all ages, and especially old men and women, will stop you in the middle of the street or approach you at the cafeteria and ask: “Rooms?” Their first reaction if they see you’re interested is to tell you “come with me.” In this way they hope that they will get you to see how nice the room is, and then of course you’ll rent it for the price they ask, or perhaps with a slight discount. But the low season is a period of huge offer and very little demand, so you can certainly benefit from the fact and rent for a very low price. Refuse firmly to follow them unless they tell you how much they want. A good price would be 4000 drachmas for a single room, 5000 for one with two beds and 6000 for one with three.

Starting with the tourist season of 1995 every rented room must have the EOT sign somewhere where it’s easy to see (the initials stand for the Greek National Tourist Organisation. . If you don’t see the sign, it obviously means that the rooms in question do not meet the requirements set by EOT, and it might be best to avoid them, so you don’t have any unpleasant experiences.

Please note:
1. The price of the room for the high and the low tourist season as well as the exact dates marking the beginning and end of each season must be clearly written on a sign validated by EOT or the police and hanging behind the door of the room. The prices written on this sign are the highest the owner is allowed to charge and are fixed for the entire tourist season.
2. Prices are final and include all taxes and charges. If a room is rented for only one night the owner is allowed to raise the rent by 10%.
3. Each person is entitled to a bar of soap and a towel. Hot running water, heating and extra blankets must be free of charge.
4. Your room must be cleaned every day and bed sheets and towels must be changed twice a week (for rooms in the A category) or once a week (for those in the B or C category).
5. The price paid for one night entitles you to stay in the room until 12 o’ clock the following day.
Needless to say, the above rules and regulations apply only to tourist areas. If you find yourself in some quiet, out-of-the-way village, do not look for the EOT sign and for the price list behind the door. Conveniences will most likely be minimal, but so will be the price; you can expect something like 3000 to 4000 drachmas for a double room. In such a place you will be treated more as a guest than as a client, so forget about the typical side of this and enjoy what’s really essential: the family ambience, the landlords’ company, and maybe some delicious home-made food.
Camping grounds
There are approximately 15 organised camping grounds in Crete, and they are described in some detail at the chapters telling you “Where to Stay” in each area. The truth is, they are not of top-notch quality, but they certainly satisfy the basic requirements for comfort and cleanness.

Camping on your own
Officially, we have to inform you that free camping is forbidden throughout Greece. Unofficially, though, you can pitch camp anywhere you choose - or almost! Where camping is really forbidden, you will see a sign to that effect, and even then you can go ahead and ignore it if ten other campers have already done so. But if there is no sign, you should be aware of some “unwritten laws.” Discreetness is a primary principle of free camping, so avoid setting up your tent beside an organised camping ground, in crowded beaches and touristy areas, or in the middle of an archaeological site...

It will be generally quieter if the place you choose is somehow sheltered and away from indiscreet eyes. Pitch camp at the far end of a beach rather than in the middle of it, inside the woods rather than at the clearing just beside the main road, at the slope of a hill rather than at its top, between the bushes rather than in the middle of a flat field, or at some suitable spot at the end of a meadow rather than on the path used by flocks or peasants.
If the beach of your dreams is crowded but you have still set your heart on spending your holiday there, the only way to secure some peace and quiet and avoid bothering others is to set up your tent late in the evening, when the crowds are gone, and to take it down early in the morning before the invasion starts.

Needless to say, discreetness must be coupled with respect for the environment. Most people love camping on their own precisely because it allows such close contact with nature. And it is this love for nature that causes them to sleep in the middle of the woods or an empty beach, not their desire for a free stay. If the issue was indeed the money, they could probably spend less by opting for one of those travel packages that promise ten days in a hotel, full board, and plane tickets, all for 90,000 drachmas! But love for nature must also go along with respect. It will only be possible to enjoy pure, unspoiled nature, if each camper makes a point of leaving the area as clean as he found it and without a mark of human presence.

How can you do that? Just be careful with a few basic things. Collect all garbage in a plastic bag and throw it in the first trash can you will find. Also avoid wrapping wires tightly around trees or cutting off twigs, and do not throw chemical pollutants into the rivers or give your bike an oil change right in the middle of a field.
As for your bathroom needs, try to find a suitable spot away from where people walk or lie, for instance at the far end of a beach behind the bushes or where the waves break. In any case, avoid soiling the small caves found at the rocks next to the water; they are beautiful natural shelters and can protect you from the sweltering heat of noon or from a chilly summer night.
Finally, remember that the remnants of a fire also spoil the environment. Instead of lighting a fire at a different spot every time, find one that suits you well, fence it with large rocks to prevent the coal and ashes from being swept away with the wind, and make it a practice to light your fire there. More on the issue can be found on page 89.

It is a long-standing tradition of the Orthodox to put up travellers who have come to worship God. Also, monasteries are generally built in the most wonderful places, sometimes on steep mountain rocks overlooking breathtaking gorges, sometimes in beautiful woods with springs and rivers close by, and some times on empty sandy beaches. If you consider all this, you just might be tempted to retire in one yourself!

Of course, monasteries are no hotels or tourist attractions. As a rule, monks and nuns do not like the fact that most travellers today are not devout Christians but curious tourists, and do not appreciate the “see-and-photograph-everything attitude.” They expect some regard for the sanctity of the place.
Needless to say, they will not let you enter in shorts or sleeveless shirts, because they feel it is inconsistent with that sanctity. Most monasteries provide their own solution to this problem as they have a stock of wide pants and skirts for men and women who visit the monastery.

Keep in mind that people living in monasteries usually go to bed very early, because they also have an early start in the morning. Monasteries close their door after sunset, so if you arrive late it is best to leave them alone.
While most monasteries will put up mixed company in the same or separate rooms, the feasibility of this depends on the rules set by each one; in some instances nunneries may not put up men and the opposite. The room where they will put you to sleep, whether large or small, is likely to have several beds in it (as many as it can take), so you will most probably sleep with others. The beds are exactly like their own, and with their rough pillows and heavy blankets they may not quite tie in with your idea of ultimate comfort, so a sleeping bag might prove handy. As for the food, you will be invited to eat what they eat, and no special fuss will be made over you. A simple but tasty meal, usually accompanied with good wine of their own production - or some local villager’s production - is what you can typically expect. Also keep in mind that all monks and nuns are vegetarians. They usually eat casserole dishes cooked with oil, bean or chick pea soup, lentils, lots of greens - often handpicked - and pies, so if you insist on having meat you’d better open the can when you are alone in the guest room.

Besides food and sleep, monasteries also offer a wonderful opportunity to come in contact with an age-old religious tradition that goes back to the Byzantine times, and even earlier, to the first centuries after Christ. Wake up with the early morning bell, and go hear the liturgy leaving your camera behind (taking pictures in the church, especially during the liturgy, is forbidden anyway). Near the entrance of the church you will see a counter with candles. Throw a one hundred drachma coin on it and light a candle. Many monasteries have come to rely on candle money as their basic means of support, and on your part this is a symbolic gesture. Sit somewhere where you can see and hear well, and let your spirit take you far away. You may not understand a word of what you hear, but the chanting in the church, the smell of incense, the soft candlelight, the warmth exuded by the figures of the saints, every little thing that has remained unchanged for centuries of worship will take you back to the time of the first Christians. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the morning and evening service in a monastery is a unique experience and a fascinating trip in time, provided of course you open your mind and heart to it.

While monasteries can be counted on to offer travellers a shelter for the night, they are not the only places you can seek refuge when you are in need. High up on mountain tops, at the far ends of mountain paths or meadows, in peaceful places near woods and springs or in the middle of a high plateau, there are hundreds of little chapels built by local villagers in memory of loved ones or as a token of their warm faith and deep gratitude for God’s help at a difficult moment in their lives. Most of these chapels are made of stone and were built some time in the last century, but some of them are two or three or four hundred years old (or even earlier) and have wonderful samples of hagiography, fine wooden icon screens, old Bibles and priceless icons. Until about 1970 they were generally kept unlocked, but with the great spread of tourism and the first deplorable incidents of theft and vandalism the locals who kept them up put locks on their doors (or at least did so for the older chapels).
Chapels, especially those in the wilderness of the mountain, are an excellent refuge in case of need, as they generally have trees in front of their yard or a covered area in front of their door where you can lie down and sleep. If it is freezing or raining cats and dogs you could also sleep inside the chapel. Keep in mind, though, that you are in a sacred place and must do nothing that will offend the religious feelings of any locals who happen to pass by. Do not cook inside the chapel, do not move around the pews, the candelabra or the benches, do not smoke, and of course do not soil the place. It would be a good idea to wake up early in the morning, around 7:00 perhaps, so that you don’t have any unpleasant encounter with any quick-tempered local who might misinterpret your intentions. Should you happen to run into an angry fellow or the local policeman or field guard, a very convincing excuse that will take care of the matter is that your motorcycle broke down on you and you were forced to spend the night.

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

Tip of the day

Rethymnon (2). • Argyroúpoli: 27km far from Réthymno you will find Argyroúpoli, a village built on the remnants of the ancient city of Láppas. Numerous springs, the cave and the chapel bearing the same name are all well worth a visit.
 Gorges of extraordinary beauty traverse the mountains of the region: the ravine of Kourtaliótis, 3km long, ends at the famous Lagoon of Préveli; the ravine of Kotsifoú starts from the village of Kánevos and ends near the village of Sellía; the gorge of Patsós, in the Amári district; the gorge of Prassés, which ends at the village of Plataniás at the north coast east of the town of Réthymno; finally, the gorge of Arkádi and a number of smaller ones.
 The mountains of the region are exceptionally rich in caves. The most famous caves are those of Geráni, Simonélli west of the town of Réthymno, Áyios Antónios in the district of Amári, Melidóni, Moúgri Sissón and Sfendóni near the village of Zonianá.

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Address in Greece: Astrikas - Chania - Crete, 73006 Greece