Chania is a city that is good for the soul
My first stop. I took an overnight ferry from Piraeus to Souda and arrived at 6 am on Monday morning. There's a bus that was waiting at the port and it brings you to Chania Town, right in front of the central market. The journey took about 15 minutes. When I alighted I made a dash to Gregory's for a cup of coffee to warm myself up. Armed with caffeine in one hand and my luggage in another, I walked to my hostel.
Bus Ticket: €1.70
I stayed at Cocoon City Hostel - Very clean, has a kitchen and a big lounge area on Level 1 where you can chill and meet other travellers, extremely friendly staff / owners, €1 coffee(!!!), plus I had one of the best sleep in my life because the beds were so comfortable.The price is extremely decent too for the location - 10 minutes walk to the Central Market Place.
One bed in a 6-bedder room for 2 nights: €36
Towel Rental: €3
I rented a car to get around as I wanted more flexibility travelling around.
It might be cheaper to rent a car through your hostel. I overheard 2 German travellers' conversation with the front desk about renting a car at €20 a day.
3 days of rental (including damage excess): €75
1) Take long endless walks around Chania Old Town & the Old Venetian Harbour
This place is rich in history and colours. Take long, endless walks on the waterfront. Walk on the harbour wall to the lighthouse (the icon of the city). Wander around and get lost in the narrow alleyways of the old town. Admire the different architecture. Sit at a tavern along the waterfront and have a meal or a drink. Have some gelato. Eat a huge open-faced sandwich for €2 from Funky's. Sit on those benches along the waterfront and watch the sunset.
I walked into a family-run ceramic store (Plakatoras) in one of the alleys and had an hour-long conversation with a 25-year old potter about how he got into the trade and how his family take on different roles in the business (e.g. his sister fires up the kiln). It was intriguing to watch him shape bowls from clay with minimal effort and have a conversation with me at the same time.
Despite feeling very lethargic from all the travelling, I spent the entire afternoon at Old Town, had a lot of fun people-watching and wandering without aim. It was like a step into the past.
To go into the museums you have to pay a small fee of €2.50
2) Old Market in Chania
This market was built between 1909 and 1913 and the layout takes on a cruciform shape. Here you can find shops selling meat, vegetables, cheese, herbs and spices. There are also some cafes offering local food (must try) and some tourists shops selling souvenirs.
Market's opening hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Saturday from 8.00 until 14.00
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8.00 until 21.00
Closed on Sunday (exceptions before Easter and Christmas)
There is free parking behind the market
3. Eat at this Souvlaki shop
It's a Greek name but looks like Opaka. Gyros are standard Greek fast food, cost about € 2 (varies amongst stores) and consist of vegetables, sliced meat, tzatziki sauce and fried potatoes wrapped in pita bread. The one from Opaka was so delicious, possibly one of the best I had. It's messy food, so be seated as you devour it. I tried walking on the streets while eating one, not an easy feat.
Key in 'Thráka' on google maps. It's very near the Old Chania Market.
4) Go to Koukouvaya Cafe for stunning views over Chania and order the Chocolate Cake
A Greek friend recommended this cafe for their desserts, particularly the warm chocolate cake. It was a 20-minute uphill coastal drive from Chania Town The cafe has 2 levels, the upper is partially open-air, the lower is indoor seating. I picked a corner table on the terrace and parked myself there for almost 3 hours.
I couldn't finish the cake because it was enormous. Wished I had some help.
5) Venizelos Graves Right next to Koukouvaya Cafe and offers an amazing view of Chania. You will learn about the history of the Venizelos family and also see the statue of Spyrus Kagialedakis who made his body into a flag pole to raise the Greek flag that had been dropped by the bombshells of the ships.
6) Hike the Samaria Gorge
I didn't manage to do this 16km hike, but a friend from the hostel went and came back raving about it. It's a tough hike. A certain level of stamina is required because the terrains are rough, but difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations, so it's worth it.
Here's a writeup on Lonely Planet
Elafonisi Beach up next!
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