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Topics - ukplakias

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Holiday Companies / travel agent
« on: August 08, 2005, 01:43:48 PM »
Well it's not often we recommend a company but Pat Wright from Travel Counsellors has been arranging most of our holidays for a few years now and it's been great!

So here's a shameless plug:

Pat Wright
01279 465256

PlakChat / maps of plakias
« on: August 06, 2005, 06:51:10 PM »
Sorry, only 1 of the maps I mentioned in my last post uploaded - here's the other (the 1 from Monza Travel).

Where to go / Plakias June 2005
« on: August 06, 2005, 06:34:44 PM »
Samaria gorge

We walked the longest gorge in Europe! It starts on a plateau at c1250m then descends c1km in 1.5km via steps of loose stones – hazardous! (How a woman with a baby on her back walked up this bit I’ll never know!).

It was relatively quiet (not peak season yet), had some excellent gnarled trees (kind of Grimms' fairy tale/Lord Of The Rings like), impressive screes (and plenty of signs warning of falling rocks – but they missed us!), funky lizards, a spooky abandoned village, lots of flowers and a small stream to wade through.

Nearly 15km later is Sideroportes (“Iron Gates”) where the walls ascend to c700m and the gap between them shrinks to c3m – an amazing sight. By this time we had suffered blisters, ligament damage (it’s handy having a nurse with you at times like this!) and were running out of water, but we made it the last few km to the beach for a well-deserved swim.

Kourtaliotiko gorge

Having walked down a gorge, we decided to be a bit unconventional by swimming up a gorge!

We put ourselves in the hands of Dive2Gether, a diving school from Plakias. They drove us to the top of the gorge then we walked down what was a real goat path (i.e. very steep and almost unmarked) to the stream. There we stripped off, donned wetsuits (the water was freezing!) and proceeded to wade upstream past steep mossy walls, a vulture nest and wild herbs (including cannabis?).

As the water deepened, we left the weaker swimmers behind with a member of the crew, put snorkels on and swam upstream. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds though – as we approached the top, the current increased and water fell from the springs down the walls into our snorkels.

We made it to the end and were rewarded by a pummelling waterfall shower, the sight of big eels and a wonderful upward view that few tourists see.


Yes, we were forced into a few bars while we were there, too! (OK, we went voluntarily!).

Met some colourful characters from a wide variety of nations – Greek, Czech, German, Dutch, English. The Finikas nightclub/disco wasn’t open and no-one could tell us whether it would be.

Meltemi opened late in the evening and was free to enter and drinks were reasonably priced. It has reasonable sound and light systems and the music was predominantly trance and Greek dance/traditional.

The majority of the people were Greek, probably because it wasn’t the height of the season yet and fortunately there were few signs of antisocial behaviour often associated with resort clubs.


Phaestos was memorable because it was the quieter, unspoilt major Minoan archaeological site. Although it was difficult to visualize what the site would look like in 3D (only a few partial upright remains remained) it was amazing to think that this island was the birthplace of the first great European civilisation in 3000BC, with its advanced technology, commerce and political organisation.

An English-speaking guide is essential and it was really useful to have one who could answer all our questions.

Also interesting was the disc found here which contains hieroglyphics still undeciphered…and the discovery of similar ones in Peru and Russia linking back to Crete could mean that the cradle of global civilisation might turn out to be on this island, not in the Middle East!

Other highlights

The ambient sound of crickets, watching the locals celebrate the birthday of John The Baptist, climbing a rock face to the Roman tombs/hippy caves at Matala, romantic evening walks by the sea, seeing the Milky Way again, the freedom of nude sunbathing, the good quality local house wines at tavernas, very cheap cigarettes, the Roman ruins at Gortyna, the views from mountain tops (especially at Platea restaurant in Myrthios via a short road train journey), reading books, walking the eastern cliff of Plakias Bay, the chilled-out-ness of the area, frisbeeing in the sea (plenty of room to do it safely!), the friendly people, the heat of the sun and our tans, sharing our meals with cats at the tavernas.

PlakChat / maps
« on: August 06, 2005, 06:31:05 PM »
It was hard to find a decent map of the village - here's the best I found (courtesy of Monza Travel) and 1 I did myself.

PlakChat / general lowdown on plakias
« on: August 06, 2005, 06:07:10 PM »

The people

Very helpful, no beggars/touts/hard sellers of timeshares, very child-friendly, almost always great customer service. There were enough tourists for the village to feel quite busy without being packed and they were predominantly from the UK, Germany and Czech Republic.

The Greek macho culture grates a bit though.

The facilities
Everything you could reasonably need – pharmacy & medical point, town hall, a travel & tour agent, supermarkets (5?)/a greengrocer/3 bakeries/a butcher, public phones (2?), 5 hotels/dozens (?) of small apartment blocks/youth hostel/camping site, arts/crafts/souvenir shops (4? – we recommend Natural Collection, Stadio Zorba & the one opposite Ariadne restaurant/taverna), 2 nightclubs, 2 (?) cashpoints, Laundromat, hairdressers, photographic shop.

Possible improvements: a centralised government-run tourist info centre, a good map of the village, more watersports and wider/flatter pavements.

The prices

As reasonable as expected - 1 starter, 2 main courses, 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of beer, bread & 2 Rakis were usually 20-25 Euros at restaurants/tavernas; cigarettes, alcohol, postcards, bus tickets, car hire, bottled water, local fruit & vegetables were also cheap.

Only specially imported things were dear, as you would expect.

The weather

Virtually cloudless, late 20s to mid 30s centigrade, windy at times.

Sometimes VERY windy – we even saw a small tornado!.

Beach etc

Very long beach (1+ km) which is sometimes narrow, “Blue” standard (i.e. clean & safe), long promenade follows the beach, average sand, cold sea, 2 (?) cold fresh water showers, sun umbrellas & sunbeds available at c5 Euros a day, separate naturist section (eastern end) and rocks at either end of the bay (good for snorkelling & for kids who like rock-pools).

A few possible improvements: wooden paths on the beach as the sand is often too hot to walk on , wind-breaks.


No global multinationals like McDonalds, no high-rise buildings, seemingly slow expansion.

Some locals finding it hard to adapt to such quick change.


Apart from the beach (where you can swim, snorkel, sunbathe, play your own beach games, build sand castles and read) and restaurants/tavernas & bars, it is a great centre for walking (either along the longest gorge in Europe or shorter local walks – there is an excellent small book available), it has 2 (?) diving centres (we recommend Dive2Gether for their safety, friendliness & patience), live sport on TV in some bars, occasional street festivals and there are excursions available to many sights & activities elsewhere on the island (Minoan/Roman archaeological sites, beaches, caves, Santorini, lake).

Down-sides: it is quite a remote place so it can take 2-3 hours to travel to see some sights (more for Santorini) – we chose not to.

The access

Quite good for people with disabilities & the elderly (by Greek standards) as the village is flat, daily boats east & west down the coast, bus services to Rethymno (Crete’s 3rd city) & east, regular coach trips to most major sights/activities (see above), cars/cycles/scooters/ motorbikes/quad bikes to hire, a train (well a vehicle that looks like a train) that goes to a different attraction nearby everyday (donkey sanctuary/rare animal farm, waterfall, mountain villages, beaches, monastery – great view from Myrthios, a local village in the mountains).


Great location (nice shaped bay with impressive small mountains surrounding it), pretty safe in terms of crime (though sometimes Greek males were over-persistent with female tourists) and good mobile phone reception.

Down-sides: Depressingly hard to find the traditional culture, no market, health & safety standards are lower than in the UK (like the UK in the 60s?), police station is nearly an hour away and it is 2-3 hours transfer time from the airports (worth it to get there though!).

For eating & drinking & accommodation – see separate posts.

All in all, Plakias is very much recommended!

Where to eat...or not! / restaurants & bars
« on: August 06, 2005, 06:02:16 PM »
Attached is a report on our experience of eating and drinking in Plakias in June 2005. Hope it's useful!!

Where to stay / alianthos beach hotel
« on: August 06, 2005, 05:54:03 PM »


Big main room, in a separate block across the road from the main part of the hotel and in a half-basement (therefore cooler) with good facilities (fridge, hairdryer, TV, towels, clothes airer/dryer on balcony, air con, loads of cupboard space) only about 50m from the beach and 1 to 15 minutes from all the village’s facilities (see below). A few possible improvements: floor should be tiled not carpeted, not well soundproofed, shower designed poorly so wet whole bathroom floor, very few TV channels (not relevant to us but others with children mentioned it), no bin in main room.

Central hotel facilities
Pool, internet access, restaurant, money exchange, cashpoint, car/bike hire, leaflets on activities, safe deposit box, play equipment for children (again not relevant to us but others with children praised it). Two possible improvements – an in-house laundry service is desirable and 1 main course at the hotel restaurant was poor.

Hotel staff

Our room was changed to one with a double bed and a sea view within minutes of requesting it; a problem with electricity in our room was sorted out immediately; and the reception staff were helpful and knowledgeable. However, customer service in the hotel restaurant from one particular member of staff was below average.


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