Mediterranean Oasis – 2 Weeks in Crete, the Greek Island

Crete - Coast View

Few months ago, in June 2013, I had a 2 weeks vacation on the fascinating Greek Island of Crete. Here are some useful tips and important facts if you decide to go there.

There are two ways to get on the island, by plane or by ferry. Since it’s located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, you definitely can’t get there by train.

Crete is an exotic destination anytime between mid-April until late October. June was a great choice for us. It was mid-season. The weather was amazing with cloud-free days and high temperatures.

I took this trip with a friend of mine and we have chosen Crete because we have another friend, Alex, who works there every year as a photographer.

Getting there

Basically, we took a bus from N-W Romania to Piraeus Port, Athens in Greece. The bus was a bad choice because it was a very long road trip, lasting more than 40 hours. However, being on budget, we thought we could spare some money for partying.

We went from Piraeus Port to Heraklion, Crete in a gigantic 7-story ferryboat. Here’s how it looked like compared to our tiny little bus.

Ferryboat - Piraeus Port

The ferry trip cost was 40 Euros, which is somewhere at $50-$55. We left Piraeus Port at 10 P.M. and we docked in Heraklion, Crete at 7 A.M. the next morning. So, it’s a 9 hours trip. You don’t even know how time flies on a 7-story ferryboat full of restaurants, casinos, sleeping roams (for free), paid cabins, and the amazing top-deck from where you have a beautiful panoramic view. Here are some shots from Athens:

View of Athens from the top-deck

Me with a positive mental attitude

After docking on the Island, we took the bus to our final destination Analipsi, a small resort near Hersonissos (one of the most vibrant and alive Cretan city).

Accommodation in Crete

Alex, our photographer friend, was living in a 2-bedroom apartment in Analipsi. The two bedrooms are one on top of the other and both of them have terraces. The rent is 200 Euros, which is $250 – $270, which is very cheap if you ask me. Rent prices are approximately the same throughout the island. Here’s a view of the place and one from the top terrace.

Alex's Place

View from the top-room's terrace.

The first thing I did after unpacking was to search for mobile phone shops where I can buy prepaid cards with internet for my smartphone. I got a phone-card with number for 5 Euros ($7) and then I had to credit it with another 5 Euros to activate the options that I wanted.

So, the total cost was 10 Euros and I had 500 MB of traffic, which was more than decent for communicating with clients via email, for browsing, and for some FB-ing. The issue was activating the card because everything was in Greek. Something like this:

Greek Text Message

Now, after solving this Internet life-threatening problem, I could turn to something much more fun, island domination.

Thanks to Alex, we had the opportunity to visit the island from corner-to-corner, as he had to take photos in different hotels across Crete.

What I found interesting is that the island opens-up to two seas: The Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Besides wandering around with Alex in his quest for the photo of the month, we rented a quad so that we have the freedom to go to Hersonissos and other places nearby whenever we wanted. The quad’s rent was 10 Euros per day ($13) and we had it for 11 days. If it weren’t for Alex, who knew everybody on the island, the quad would have cost 15-18 Euros per day.

We then actually spent another 50 Euros ($70) for fuel for the entire stay. I think this is pretty cheap, considering we heavily relied on it for moving from one place to another.

What to do, where to go

Here’s what I did most of the days:

1. Woke up at noon, only because the heat in the room was incompatible with sleep.

2. Quickly grabbed something to eat.

3. Took the quad to a nearby resort which had a pool and a bar with free internet. This is the place where I worked for 3-4 hours each day. I was buying a coffee-frappe for 2 Euros ($3) and I could stay there for as long as I wanted. I could also use the pool at my discretion. See how crowded the place was.

Work at the pool

Greeks are very warm people and the lady manager of this resort was a delight. This was the time when I proved my-self that location-independent life-style, that Tim Ferriss talks about in his book The 4-Hour Work Week, is totally possible.

4. After leaving “work”, I had a combo exercising routine. I was doing this routing every other day. It basically consisted of push-ups and jogging. I did 100-150 push-ups in the apartment, then I had a 6 km run (4 miles), and then another set of 100 push-ups.

Two of the best exercising choices that you can make in an exotic location is to run on the seafront or on the beach. It’s amazing. Here are some pictures:

Jogging in Crete

Jogging in Crete

5. The no-exercising days were spent at Starbeach Village (resort) in Hersonissos. The entrance is free, but the sunbeds are 5 Euros each ($7). Starbeach is amazing.

Starbeach Hersonissos

Starbeach Hersonissos

6. After getting to the apartment and eating, we usually head out for partying. Most of the times we went to the clubs in Hersonissos, which are so much fun, but we once went to Malia, which is unbelievable (don’t miss Malia if you go out to party in Crete).

Once again, Alex was our lucky no.7. He knows all the good places and all the bartenders out there, so the prices we had to pay for the drinks is visible only under the microscope. You have to book Alex if you plan to hack your trip to Crete. 🙂

Eat and Drink

Even though I sometimes ate out just to check the Cretan cuisine, I mostly did my low-carb meals at Alex’s place.

When eating out, I loaded with sovlakis or gyros, both with tzatziki sauce. Yummy!

When eating at home, I had my daily vegetables with eggs, bacon, and cheese. I was particularly following the Slow-Carb diet plan that the same Tim Ferriss promotes in his book The 4-Hour Body.

The prices of food in the supermarkets are decent, even though they are a bit higher compared to the prices in continental Greece, probably because it’s an island. What I found to be very cheap are the dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt) and olives.

Alcohol prices are fair within the supermarkets, but they can be higher in the clubs and restaurants. Home warm-ups are excellent if you travel within a certain budget.

The total cost of this trip was 650 Euros (~$870).

Conclusions

Even though this sounds like so much fun (and, believe me, it was), this is not what I want to point out. You can have an amazing vacation where the fear of adding a few pounds doesn’t chase you like a tiger chases its prey in the savannah. I actually lost 2.5 pounds in this vacation.

The idea is that you can find time to exercise between sessions of partying like a pro.

You can also find time to work and do it in the most enjoyable way possible. All these add up to a balanced vacation where the need of accommodation after getting back home does not exist.

I mean that it wouldn’t be difficult for you to jump back into your working and exercising routines since you never left them.

If you are bolder, you can even do this for a living, as long as you are not location dependent and as long as you understand that your long-term health and wellbeing requires boozing to be a rare activity and not a habit.

This trip was my first exotic travel and I will definitely come back in the future (L.E. – I actually got back one year later, in 2014).

What is your dream travel? How are you planning to get there?

Sources of inspiration:

Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich.

Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Other photos from Crete:

Crete 2013

Crete 2013

Crete 2013

Crete 2013

Crete 2013

Crete 2013

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