Crete: Plakias and Kalyviani: Sept 2007
Western Crete: 2 weeks at Plakias on the south coast, then a week in a small village near Kastelli-Kissamos in the north-west of Crete.
See our other Plakias pages for more detail about Plakias itself. We booked a BA flight from Gatwick to Heraklion. This time we stayed for two weeks in the Atlas Apartments, Plakias, run by Petros Glentzakis and his wife. We then moved to the Olive Tree Apartments in Kalyviani, near Kastelli-Kissamos for a week.
In the Atlas Apartments, Plakias, our room was large and clean, with a well-equipped kitchen area, and a shower room. There was always plenty of hot water. There was a TV and a big balcony with a stupendous view out over Plakias Bay and the village. The apartments are just a few minutes' walk into Plakias village for the shops and tavernas. There is a butcher's, a baker's, and a big supermarket at the bottom of the steps below the apartments.
We can thoroughly recommend these apartments with one reservation. The downside of the fantastic view is that it's a steep (very steep) climb up to the apartments. From the car park behind the Alianthos Beach Hotel, there are 99 steps up. You then cross over a road, and walk up the steep narrow approach road to the apartments. This road is about 200 metres long, starts off with a narrow right-angle bend on a 33% slope. Although the slope eases off towards the top, you need to be reasonably fit to be able to walk there.
We had a 1000cc rental car, and it didn't have enough oomph to get up the hill when fully loaded. The first time I tried it, I kept grinding to a halt, and having to rev the engine up and slip the clutch in order to get going. There was a strong smell of burning clutch in the car when we finally got to the top. The car had little power below 2000rpm, so thereafter I had to have a run at the hill to get the revs up, which was tricky with the blind right-angle bend at the bottom of the hill. So Linda had to go on ahead on foot to check there was nobody coming down the hill before I charged round the blind bend revving like mad in first. Recommendation: Get a car with sufficient power to start off from rest on a 33% slope.
You can drive up to the top of the steps by following a side road off the main road into the village - but you still have the apartments' approach road to contend with.
We had booked the apartments, and the transfer from Heraklion airport, through Anso Travel Services (www.ansotravel.com) in Plakias (Tel: +30-28320-31712, email: email@example.com). The apartments were 40 euros a night. Aircon was extra, but we didn't need it in September. The two-hour transfer from the airport in a taxi was 80 euros. Alternatively book direct with the owners (tel +30 28320 20038, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
We rented the Toyota Aygo car for a fortnight from Just Rent a Car (www.justrentals.gr), for just 23.50 euros per day, with a 35 euro delivery fee to the apartments. The car was fine, apart from struggling with the aforementioned hill. Just Rentals were very professional.
The weather in Plakias was mixed – some good, hot, sunny days on the beach, but also some very windy (gale-force) days when we couldn't even go for a walk in the hills, because we'd have been blown over by the gusts. On these days, we used the car to go sight-seeing.
Olive Tree Apts
We booked the Olive Tree Apartments on the outskirts of the village of Kalyviani direct with the owners for 50 euros per night, but in all honesty I can't recommend this accommodation a couple of km from the sea. Our apartment was reasonably-sized, but the layout of the kitchen was a mess, rendering it almost unusable for cooking. The fridge was dirty and needed a defrost and a clean before we could use it. The balcony was small, with no sea view and no shade. Maybe other apartments in the block were better. The worst aspect (though not the apartment's fault) was the rural noises at night. It was difficult to sleep through the cacophony of chickens, goats, dogs and geese. I know - that's what you get when your apartments are out in the country, but we didn't expect the dogs to bark all night.
There was a great restaurant called Bambouses about 500 metres away in the middle of the village.
We visited the well-used beaches at Fallasarna at the north end of the western coast. Recommended, but they can get busy. We also drove the long way down to the Elafonisi beaches at the south end, which was massively busy. It must have been absolutely beautiful here 30 years ago when it was little-visited. Now there's a new main road there, and there must have been several thousand visitors, mostly Greeks.
Seven or eight pictures totalling approx two MB per page.
Of our two weeks in Plakias, one was spoiled by the gale-force winds which are common here. With good weather, this is still a great place to holiday, although tourist development has clearly stepped up a gear, and will transform Plakias for the worse over the next five years.
We wouldn't go back to Kalyviani because the surroundings weren't as attractive as Plakias, and the apartments we stayed at weren't to our taste.